The Scariest Things Podcast Episode LXXVI: An Interview with David Dastmalchian

Scary DVDs! Woo!
In order to celebrate our friend David’s starring turn in The Suicide Squad, for which he has been receiving numerous accolades, we revisit our initial meeting with him at Portland’s Rose City Comicon from 2019. He was a treat, and you can learn about his Comic writing career in addition to his acting performances. Congratulations, David!
Mike and Eric got the privilege to interview actor and newly minted comic book author David Dastmalchian sat down with us at Rose City Comicon. We got to talk about all things horror, and especially his Dark Horse book, Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter!

You may not know his name right away, unless, as we like to say around here, you have been baptized in geek sauce and follow all things genre. But you will know who David Dasmalchian is because he is one of those instantly recognizable “That Guy” actors in Hollywood. David has made a living being a memorable supporting player in some very big productions over the past decade-plus, including The Dark Knight, Blade Runner 2049, The Belko Experiment, The Flash, Bird Box, and Prisoners. His upcoming slate will be exciting, as it includes, among other things an appearance as Piter DeVries in Denis Villeneuve’s take on the Frank Herbert classic Dune, plus some big things that are just percolating under the surface. He is a Hollywood growth stock, for sure.

It was a great surprise when David and his team reached out to The Scariest Things to schedule this interview. I have said this before when we’ve been fortunate enough to meet and interview movie professionals, that the Horror Genre has some of the best people. Markdown David as one of those generous souls, and a first-class charmer. As I got to spend a little more time with David on the Rose City Comicon floor, he did something really special that showed what kind of character he is.

My friend and fellow podcaster Roberta Pennington’s high school niece Jenny, an aspiring illustrator, flew into town for the convention, having been told by her parents that art couldn’t lead to a productive career (and life.) Roberta brought her into the con to show her the convention Artist’s Alley, which she and I both love, to talk with the artists about how to make it as a pop culture artist. Enter David, who got the “elevator pitch” from Roberta, and he was so engaging and encouraging without any prompting with Jenny, who afterward was practically floating through the convention hall beaming from ear to ear. If he inspired her to follow a path as a career artist, he’s earned his good guy stripes for the year.

You might be wondering, The Scariest Things is a horror focused outfit, so why would we be talking to David? In addition to his growing acting career, he has now created his first comic book, for Dark Horse Comics, Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter. It turns out Mr. Dastmalchian is a huge horror nerd and has been since he was a little boy, where he watched Crematia Mortem’s Creature Feature in Kansas City. Back in the ’80s, every UHF channel seemed to have its own late-night horror host. ( For Eric, it was Bob Wilkins in Oakland KTVU 2.) Crematia, as David notes in the podcast, is a Portland native, and we would LOVE to talk with her about her days as a horror host!

David has created a comic in homage of those fabulous old-school horror hosts, with Count Crowley. His protagonist, Jerri Bartman is a woman who is stumbling down the journalism professional ladder due to a confrontation with her boss over harassment in the office. She finds herself slumming it at her brother’s small-town UHF station when the late-night horror host fails to show up, and she gets drafted into the role of Count Crowley for KSKB’s Friday Night Scream Theater. She performs the role, half-drunk (OK maybe completely drunk) and despite her snarky and sarcastic take on the role, became a huge hit. And now that the mantle of Count Crowley has been passed to her, she finds that it comes with some truths that are completely sinister (and full of monsters!)

If you are a comic book fan, and specifically, a horror comic fan, this is a MUST ADD to your pull list. Not only is David’s story engaging, and tremendous fun, but the Art would be perfectly at home in EC Comics. Lukas Ketner (Witch Doctor) has art panels that are reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson (The Swamp Thing, Eerie, Creepy) and EC legends Al Williamson, Al Feldstein, and Wally Wood. The little touches that these guys did to create this really nail this as a must-have book. The character circles on the cover. The cheapie “advertisements” at the back of the book. The use of shadow in the background.

The book feels like Jessica Jones meets Elvira meets Tootsie, Glow, and the full roster of Universal monster movies. Needless to say, the publisher knows what they are doing when it comes to our beloved genre. Dark Horse has been the gold standard for horror comic properties, as they are the caretakers of all the resurrected 50’s EC titles including Vault of Horror, Weird Fantasy, The Haunt of Fear, and Shock Suspense Stories. Dark Horse also was able to relaunch Eerie and Creepy magazines, which in the ’70s and ’80s, got around the Comic Code Authority by making the material a magazine rather releasing that content in comic book form, and therefore ensuring that horror fans got unsanitized scary reading material. Huzzah!

Dark Horse, of course, is also the home of great original horror publications like the legendary Hellboy, B.P.R.D., Aliens, Harrow County, Manor Black and The Goon. Count Crowley looks to join that terrific stable of books, and we at TST hope that it has met that threshold (and more) and we hope it gets a second volume! It touches all those nostalgic feels, while remaining something very fresh and relevant for today. Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter Book 1 hits comic book stores on October 23, so reserve yourself a copy, and put it on your pull list!

Here is the Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monter Hunter comic book trailer, featuring David as his horror host persona Dr. Fearless…

We thank David for his time and terrific storytelling, and we surely hope that we can bring him back on the show. He’s enormously charming and we loved to hear about the working actor’s path through Hollywood. I think you will agree, he is an absolute blast to have on our program!

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