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David Dastmalchian's Count Crowley Fights Monsters and Toxic Patriarchy

The Suicide Squad and Dune actor joins CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast to talk about his new Dark Horse Comic. Even better, Bubblegum (aka Polka Dot Cat) makes a cameo.

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Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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Patrick Holland
3 min read
David Dastmalchian

David Dastmalchian with the first issue of Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter.

Storm Santos

You might know the actor David Dastmalchian from films like The Suicide Squad, Dune, Ant-Man, Blade Runner 2049 or TV shows like MacGyver, Twin Peaks and The Flash. You might also know him as the cat dad to the 2021 viral sensation Polka Dot Cat. He adopted the cat, whose real name is Bubblegum (full name: Abner Bubblegum Polka Dot Cat), while filming The Suicide Squad in Panama. Last summer, a picture of them on Dastmalchian's Instagram account went viral.
Dastmalchian is also a comic book writer and the author of the 2019 series Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter for Dark Horse Comics. The comic is set in 1983 and follows Jerri Bartman, a washed-up TV journalist who moves back to her hometown in Kansas after her struggles with alcohol. She ends up hosting a local midnight monster show, where she learns that monsters are real. With a new purpose, she learns to hunt monsters and protect her town from a vampire.

In March, he released a second volume of four issues, aptly titled Count Crowley: Amateur Midnight Monster Hunter. Dastmalchian stopped by CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast to talk about his comic and its lead, Jerri Bartman.

"There's a woman [Bartman] who's up against the toxic patriarchy and the battles that she has to face trying to climb her career ladder in a world that's dominated by abusive people. In the story, she is confronted time and again with people who disbelieve her just because she's a woman," said a passionate Dastmalchian. "She's also someone who struggles with inner demons. She's an alcoholic, and she struggles with depression and anxiety. So watching her figure out how to battle those demons is hopefully entertaining, nerve wracking, and also inspiring in some way. And finally, as we can tell by the cover, this is a world that is engrossed in horror and monsters."

Dastmalchian found inspiration for Jerri from Crematia Mortem, the host of his hometown TV station's Friday night horror movie in the '80s. He wondered what would happen if Mortem actually had to hunt and fight monsters when she wasn't making her show. He also cites The Lost Boys as inspiration.

"Crematia was hilarious. She was safe. She was like the person who introduced me to the joy of horror cinema," said Dastmalchian. "No matter what it was, she was there to welcome me every Friday night. She made me feel like I belonged."

During our interview, Dastmalchian shares how he used the struggles he faced with his own depression and addiction to create Jerri's character, how Polka Dot Cat is doing, and how he's into the ways the younger generation is fighting injustice.

"I'm super obsessed with the young people who are rising up in the face of abject bigotry against these ridiculous new movements that are happening in the old guard, where they're trying to really harm young people and take away their rights," said Dastmalchian. "I'm seeing just an incredible movement of people who are getting much more active, involved and educated than I ever was at 16, 17-years old. It's inspiring to see the way they're coming together to make sure that this is a country that is not only safe, but inclusive and equitable for everybody, regardless of their age, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, identity, etc."

You can pick up new issues of Count Crowley: Amateur Midnight Monster Hunter at your local comic book shop or online through Dark Horse Comics. You can listen to my entire conversation with Dastmalchian in the podcast player above. Subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.

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