COUNT CROWLEY: RELUCTANT MIDNIGHT MONSTER HUNTER, TPB
Writer: David Dastmalchian
Artist: Lukas Ketner
Publisher: Dark Horse
WHAT IS IT?
A comedic horror story featuring a sarcastic, lovable protagonist.
Think Elvira meets Van Helsing.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
News anchor Jerri Bartman’s life has been in a constant spiral, causing her to turn to alcohol to avoid her problems. After drinking a bit too much and embarrassing the station on live television, she is relegated to taking over for the station’s horror marathon host, Count Crowley. She throws on a costume and some makeup and, to everyone's surprise, becomes a hit due to her insulting and sarcastic banter towards the films.
While she might not be in the public eye anymore, everything appears to be on the upside. But, that proves to be a fleeting fantasy as Jerri is approached by a frantic man yelling "You’re not Count Crowley!" before becoming a werewolf. Little does she know, the old Count Crowley was more than he seemed and this won't be the last monster she has to slay.
Dastmalchian crafts a fun premise, seen through a flawed but sympathetic character. He makes the reader root for her despite her biting words to her loved ones.
The linework of Ketner is crisp, dark, and detailed, harkening back to black-and-white horror comics. Every facial expression is bold and dramatic.
Affe’s coloring is delightfully moody and textured, giving an almost watercolor feel to the story. She makes every panel a visual treat while perfectly matching the tone of the story.
Cvekovic’s lettering directs the eye masterfully through the busy art, ensuring readers take in every detail. Their effects lettering is colorful and bold, reminding one of classic styles of lettering.
Each issue ends with an homage to comics horror hosts, creating a fun bit of nostalgia for certain readers.
Many panels position the characters excellently to make the scary moments even more intense. The reader truly gets a sense of how imposing these monsters are through Ketner’s creative positioning.
Jerri's alcoholism is portrayed sympathetically, but honestly. She hurts her loved ones with her antics and the drinking causes her seeing monsters to be dismissed, but she is still supported and encouraged to seek recovery, even being praised for earning her first chips in AA.
The writing makes everything count. Even small parts of a scene come back as an important plot point.
Multiple panels tell even more story beyond the words through the incredible amount of detail provided. Messy workplaces and people’s homes reveal more of their characters and motivations because of the thoughtfully drawn backgrounds.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: This book contains depictions of alcoholism that could be triggering to readers sensitive to that.
The story attempts to explore gender stereotypes, but they are too blunt at times and some more nuance would have made these scenarios more believable.
While the horror hosts at the end of each issue were enjoyable, they felt abrupt each time they appeared because there wasn't a consistent host.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Count Crowley brings back old ideas and gives them a fresh coat of paint. Jerri is lovable because of her sarcastic and aloof attitude, reminding one of the witty stylings of Vampirella or Cousin Eerie, but also because the story pulls at the reader’s heartstrings and makes them want her to get better. The book isn’t afraid to show that Jerri is a complex woman; sympathetic because she’s been denied so many opportunities, but also condoning her alcoholism and how it affects her loved ones. It’s this fine line that makes her such a great character to be the focus of this story.
Following this style of old-meets-new, the art feels like a modern Tales from the Crypt or Creepy. The detailed lined and heavy shading meets colorful hues creating something unique and perfect for this book. It’s an exemplary example of why art is the meat of a comic as each page has little details that explain, beyond words, who these characters are and what are their deepest feelings in any moment.
A blissful read for anyone nostalgic for the days of classic horror hosts and anthologies, Count Crowley will treat everyone well.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Elvira Mistress of the Dark by David Avallone
Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV & Werther Dell’Edera
Bump by Joseph S. Farrar & various artists
If you like the art:
Witch Doctor by Brandon Seifert & Lukas Ketner
Kill the Minotaur by Christian Cantamessa, Chris Pasetto, & Lukas Ketner
Creepy Comics published by Dark Horse Comics
ABOUT THE CREATORS
David Dastmalchian (@dastmalchian) – Writer
Dastmalchian is an actor and has had roles in several superhero films including Ant-man, The Flash, and Suicide Squad.
He bought his first comic, Avengers #249, in 1984 and has loved them since.
Count Crowley is Dastmalchian’s comics debut.
Lukas Ketner (@lukasketner) - Artist
Ketner has worked for several publishers including DC, and Dark Horse, and drew the debut book for Skybound, Witch Doctor.
He is also a cover artist with his notable work being IDW’s Hellraiser.
Ketner was nominated for the Russ Manning award in 2009.
Lauren Affe (@laurenaffe) – Colorist
Lauren has done coloring for almost every major publisher and is best known for her work on Spider Gwen and Stranger Things.
She is the colorist for the new Comixology original comic, Astonishing Times, written by Frank J. Barbiere and Ruairí Coleman.
Lauren’s coloring portfolio can be found at laurenaffe.com.
Frank Cvetkovic (@gofrankgo) – Letterer
Having a prolific career, Cvetkovic has lettered books for Dark Horse, Image, IDW and Heavy Metal.
He's also prominent in the indie sphere having done multiple books for Monkeybrain Comics, SwordShark Press, and Monkey Pipe Studios.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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