David Dastmalchian remembers his first comic purchase like it happened only yesterday.
“I was 9 and my dad took me to Clint’s Comic Books on Main Street and I walked inside and saw all these amazing comics and fell in love,” Dastmalchian said. “That’s why this Saturday is going to be so surreal and wonderful.”
Dastmalchian has been counting the days until he returns to his hometown and favorite comic book store where at 11 a.m. Saturday he will be autographing copies of the comic book he authored, “Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter.”
“I’m so excited to get back to Kansas City, to meet fans at Clint’s. And I plan on getting there a little bit early to purchase some comic books to take down to the kids at Children’s Mercy Hospital. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend.”
While he is a lifelong comic book fan, he started his career as a writer. His gut-wrenching, semi-autobiographical indie film, “Animals,” takes a look at his five-year heroin addiction, which he has kicked. He wrote and starred in the film.
He also wrote and starred in last year’s gritty drama “All Creatures Here Below,” which takes place in and around the metro area. His most ardent fans know him from his role as one of the Joker’s henchmen in “The Dark Knight” or the wrongly accused suspect in “Prisoners.”
But he’s best known for his roles as Murdoc on “MacGyver” or as Kurt the Russian hacker in “Ant-Man,” and its sequel, “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”
But today, a spooky and frigid Halloween, belongs to Dastmalchian the comic author.
“As a kid in Kansas City I would sneak downstairs on Friday nights to watch Crematia Mortem hosting the Friday Creature Feature on TV 41,” he said.
“There, I got to experience the classic monsters, the incredible performers like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price – I was transported. It was a similar experience to how I felt the first time I wandered into Clint's Comics in Kansas City.”
“And now, I’m back home getting to meet fans of Count Crowley. It’s just amazing to me that something like this is happening. God is so good.”
The Count Crowley comic book series is set in 1983 and features Jerri Bartman, a reporter whose career is going nowhere.
Instead of being a news anchor, she is assigned to host the channel’s Creature Feature segment, because the old host – you guessed it, Count Crowley – has disappeared.
Along with introducing B-grade horror flicks – which Karloff, Lorre and Lugosi would scoff at – she is also being groomed to be a monster hunter. In fact, Dastmalchian has some fun with the media moguls as actual monsters controlling the media message.
“This was so much fun to write,” he said, “and working with Lukas Ketner made it even more amazing.”
Ketner is a well known comic artist who has provided the artwork for the first Count Crowley comic.
“Lukas is perfect for Count Crowley because he understands how to tell so much story through the eyes of the characters,” Dastmalchian explains. “Lukas can do so much without dialogue, and he's helped me trust myself more as a writer. I have included a lot less dialogue because of the power of his imagery. Lukas also nailed my vision for the monsters of Count Crowley 1,000 percent.”
Ketner was thrilled to be a part of the Count Crowley team.
“It's been really amazing!” Ketner said via e-mail. “David is a phenomenal writer, and he's taken to the comics medium like a merman to a lagoon. The premise of Count Crowley really hooked me before I had read Page 1, and I saw a great opportunity to draw classic monsters in a 1980s setting.”
“It’s everything a first story with new characters can and should be – funny, scary and sincere in all the right places. Considering his writing and directing work, it wasn't a shock that he knows his way around a great story.”
And both men love the 1983-1984 setting of Count Crowley.
“Count Crowley also lets me draw monsters in a classic and timeless way, and I absolutely love it!” Ketner said. “There are surprises about them yet to be had, but I'm enjoying the fact that they mostly look like their classic film counterparts.”
It’s no accident Count Crowley has arrived during the Halloween season.
“Count Crowley is the perfect addition to every Halloween horror collection,” Dastmalchian said. “I can’t wait to visit with fans in Kansas City and see what they think of Jerri Bartman. I love her, and I hope they do, too.”