It was one idea out of many the actor had be tinkering with since childhood that made their way into his new project, Dark Horse Comics’ Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter, hitting stores Wednesday. The comic takes place in 1983 and centers on Jerri Bartman, a once-rising TV journalist who moves back to her hometown in the midwest due tor struggles with alcoholism. She hosts the nightly Creature Feature, but soon learns her job comes with hidden duties: hunting monsters. Count Crowley, her missing predecessor, was one of the last of the appointed monster hunters in the world. Monsters are actually real, and are trying to control the world’s news and information.
Dastmalchian is known for acting work in The Dark Knight and the Ant-Man films, and also has a role in the upcoming The Suicide Squad. Count Crowley is the perfect storm of his interests and life experiences, as the actor grew up a comic book geek in the midwest, and is 17 years sober after struggling with addiction issues.
“I’m dealing with all these issues relevant to my own sobriety,” Dastmalchian says of the series. “My own struggles with interpersonal relationships. The way I relate to my family, dealing with feelings of shame, guilt, the giant growing pains we’re going through as society as a whole, and thinking about how all that filters through the metaphor of monsters battling monsters.”
Dastmalchian has been thinking about this story for years, and at first conceived of it as a TV series, asking producer Peter Lenkov for advice. The producer made the introduction to folks at Dark Horse, and Dastmalchian and the publisher hammered out details for a series at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018. Dastmalchian teamed with editor Megan Walker, with Lukas Ketner coming aboard as artist.
Dastmalchian, who is set star in Hulu’s Reprisal, tends to split his time between blockbuster movies and starring in indie passion projects that he writes for himself. He notes that despite the demands of big projects, there’s also downtime for him to dream up things like Count Crowley or his most recent indie feature, All Creatures Here Below.
“I feel like in many ways, Marvel Studios helped finance the writing of my independent films, because I would be sitting in between setups on Ant-Man, writing All Creatures Here Below ideas or thinking about Jerri,” says Dastmalchian.
This year’s Comic-Con marked one year since he and Dark Horse had set plans for Count Crowley. In July, he was moved to see a giant-size rendering of issue No. 1 at the Dark Horse booth, after years of dreaming about it.
“It was an amazing moment in my life to see that,” says Dastmalchian.