Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Count Crowley creator and writer David Dastmalchian about the journey he’s had making the comic and his personal connection to protagonist Jerri Bartman. Volumes 1 and 2 of Count Crowley are now available for purchase.

Spencer Legacy: We talked a little bit about it before, but Count Crowley as a series has had quite a journey between the pandemic and it being shelved for a bit, and now the ongoing strikes. How do you look back at the experience and the time working on the comic, and how did those experiences inform your writing of it?

David Dastmalchian: I have so many strong and powerful connections to Count Crowley that span so many different aspects of my life. First and foremost, there’s 12-year-old David, who always dreamed of monster movies and comic books, who’s getting to just completely excavate all of the inspiration of his childhood into the pages of a real staple-in-paper comic book for Dark Horse. Then you’ve got David the grown-up, who has struggled with anxiety, depression, and addiction, who’s getting to write about all these themes that strike fear into my heart in the form of a comic book, while at the same time, the things that I struggle with — depression and anxiety, 21 years into recovery. Having this amazing project that has been there for me during the stress and strain of the pandemic, the stress and strain of not knowing what was going on with all the upheaval and the social upheaval in the last number of years in our lives.

It’s been such a buoy, a life raft, a gift for me creatively, and now into what is a very important and necessary strike as actors and writers. It is an outlet for me creatively to continue to tell stories and write stories while I am waiting for us to finally get some resolution with the contract negotiation. So it just continues coming back to being this amazing source of inspiration and output, and an opportunity for me to create even in some of the most difficult times that I’ve faced in the last couple of years.

Similarly, with Jerri being a character that comes so much from you, how challenging and and how rewarding is it to put a character who has so much of you and your life and your interests and your struggles out there for the public to experience?

It’s such a great mirror for me when I’m writing Jerri, because she is someone who feels incapable of overcoming the things that she battles, which is something completely true for myself. She’s someone who has a very hard time relying upon others for help, which is something that is incredibly true for me. She’s someone whose struggles and personality defects tend to stem from a very, very frightened child who lives within her, and that is incredibly true for me. A lot of the struggles that I have faced with depression, self-loathing, abandonment anxiety, all go back into my childhood. I think the person that I was born to be on this Earth and the reason why I feel a strong sense of purpose in all of this was that, the spiritual journey that I’ve been on has taken me to a place where … doing the work, fighting the monsters, battling the demons and monsters that are within me, but also in the world outside of me has taught me that with each step forward, I am just one step closer as opposed to being done.

And that’s really wonderful when you’re doing serialized writing, like with a comic book — say with Jerri — you’ve got a hero who may win a really important battle, but as soon as she waves the victory flag or she thinks, “I don’t need to do the work anymore, I got what I needed, I’m good,” that’s when we’re our most vulnerable and I’ve been a victim of that. As a husband, where I go, “I don’t need to work on my marriage anymore.” As a father, “I understand what it means to be a dad, I’ve got this crap figured out.” As a recovering addict, “I don’t need to keep doing the work. As someone that struggles with mental illness, “I found the right solution.” As, as soon as I have done that to myself, I always end up falling apart and realizing, “Oh no, this is this journey that just never ends and it will continue for the rest of our lives.”

And there’s a beauty in that. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t pat ourselves on the back and that we don’t love ourselves and celebrate ourselves for our victories. We just celebrated my 21 year sober anniversary, and trust me, I blew it the eff out. I had a good time celebrating the way I celebrate, which is by eating unhealthy foods and playing games and being a nerd and spoiling myself with comic books and toys. But still, that’s good. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be proud of our accomplishments, but you can’t think you’re done or that the work is done. There’s a danger in that and we see that in everything, man. In art, in social issues. It’s very easy to go, “Well, women can vote now. They’re equal. We treat them the same.” Or, “People of of color are allowed to eat at the same restaurants as us — this isn’t a prejudiced society.” There’s so much work we’ve got to keep doing, you know? There’s a million examples I could give you, but I think that, going back to your question, that’s something that makes the writing of Jerri and personal connection to me so enriching and so satisfying, you know?

My favorite thing about Jerri is there’s no clean resolution because life is cyclical. So it’s really fun to see a character, who has more coming every time there’s a victory — and I imagine it also helps make writing a continuous story a lot easier when there’s always more coming.

That’s true for life, right? In our relationships, I think you’re dead in the water as soon as you’re like, “Me and my parents have finally solved all of our BS,” orm “Me and my partner, we finally solved all of our stuff,” “Me and my coworker.” Sure, we get into really great grooves and we find wonderful ways of working, but we always have to keep working on ourselves and improving ourselves. And Jerri is going to keep challenging me as long as I get to keep writing Jerri Bartman — which I hope is as long as I may live — she’s going to keep challenging me to dig deeper. Dude, what’s so fun about this is that then I get to meditate on what is the best metaphorical monster for this next challenge she’s going to face. If you’ve read the comic — which you have, and hopefully when your readers get a chance to read it, they’ll see — we’ve taken traditional, classic, beautiful, gorgeous Lucas Ketner-drawn monsters, but completely subverted their ways and their mythologies into something that hopefully feels really relevant to a 2023 reader.

If you were to adapt it into a different medium, do you think that live-action or animation would be more to your preference for Jerri’s story?

I feel like Jerri … I want to see the live-action version of Jerri doing all of the stuff that has happened but is yet to come on a live-action set. To me, that is the dream. Animation-wise, one of the many, many, many, many, many millions of joys that have come out of the Count Crowley experience have included me really developing a longtime fun character that I’ve worked on, which is my own personal horror host persona, Dr. Fearless, who I use to help do advertising for Count Crowley, the comic book. I think there’s an animated something for Dr. Fearless out there, which would be really fun. I don’t even think it has to be a kids’ thing. I think it could be PG-13, it could be R-rated animation, who even knows? [Laughs]. I think that it’s the Wild West out here right now with animation stuff, and I think that would be really cool.

Those ads are really fun. I hope that you do more for future volumes of Count Crowley.

Oh, trust me. I’m always going to use a good excuse to put on that wig and those teeth because there’s nothing that annoys and yet entertains my wife more than me showing up as Dr. Fearless.

By Sandra Winters

Writer | Author | Wordsmith Passionate about crafting stories that captivate and inspire. Published author of [Book Title]. Dedicated to exploring the depths of human emotions and experiences through the power of words. Join me on this literary journey as we delve into the realms of imagination and uncover the beauty of storytelling.