When I was a kid, I loved creature features. Whether it was Elvira, USA’s Up All Night, or something a little more local, these shows had me transfixed. So the set-up for David Dastmalchian’s Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter immediately drew my attention. TV reporter Jerri Bartman finds her career downgraded to where she’s hosting a creature feature? Hmm, love it. To see if I loved the series, though, here’s my Count Crowley review.
But First, A Refresher on the Plot
image via Dark Horse
In case you missed our introduction to the Count Crowley comic, then here’s what you need to know. After her high-profile gig (as “Jerri Butler”) in the big city of Cleveland ends in humiliation, Jerri takes a job at the only place that will take her, her family’s TV station in smallish town Missouri*. But after she flames out with a drunken rant at the local Renaissance fair, she finds herself demoted. The creature features host has mysteriously stopped showing up to work, though, so there’s luckily still work available for her. And as the new host, she learns that not only are monsters real, but also that it might now be her job to take care of them. It’s a lot to swallow, to say the least, especially if you’re a (barely) functioning alcoholic.
As you can imagine, once the monster shenanigans begin, Jerri finds little help. The weird things that happen seem to happen only when she’s alone. So when others, like her boss, Ben, who is also her brother, see the aftermath, they don’t assume monsters. They assume Jerri’s reaching rock bottom.
Count Crowley: The Review
At just under 100 pages total for all 4 issues, this series is an easy, brisk read. There are layers of mystery here–why Jerri left Cleveland, what the Count Crowley legacy is all about, the far-reaching implications of real live monsters, etc.–and the story is constructed to keep you turning pages. Although Jerri seems obnoxious at first, Dastmalchian skillfully introduces detail after detail that lets us get to know the vulnerable yet capable woman she really is.
But the books aren’t just the story, of course. The artwork, by Lukas Ketner (with coloring by Lauren Affe), is also a vital piece of the whole package. Ketner’s images feel like a throwback without feeling outdated, and the inclusion of little features like a fake ad, for novelty items like an exploding fountain pen, are just charming as heck. (“THEY’RE JUST SHRIMP,” clearly a reference to comic ad mainstay Sea-Monkeys, which are actually brine shrimp, definitely made me, a 155-year-old swamp werewolf, smile.)
— Lukas Ketner (@LukasKetner) October 23, 2019
If I had one major quibble with the series, then it would be how slight it feels. The story’s just getting going by the time we get to the last page of issue 4, which ends on a kind of cliffhanger. I waited until all 4 issues were available before I read the series. However, if I’d had them parceled out to me, one by one, then I imagine I would have found the whole thing frustrating. (In the words of the poet Jay-Z, “I got no patience and I hate waitin’.”) But thankfully, that’s also a moot point for y’all.
So yes, I would recommend this series. I didn’t find it that scary–again, I’m an eldritch monster–but, of course, your mileage may vary. What it did do for me, though, was hearken back to a time that doesn’t exist anymore, but that I still miss like crazy. And if you’re nostalgic for the low-budget, cheesy old days, too, then you’ll probably dig this series.
Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter is available through Dark Horse, as well as your local comic book shop. And before y’all go, here’s a blast from the past, from one of my local stations:
Did you grow up watching creature features? Have you read Count Crowley? Tell us in the comments here or on social media.
*I will also award the series bonus points for describing Missouri in its marketing as part of the midwest. You, a sweet summer babe: “But Salomé, I think it’s part of the upper South.” Look, I will go Ozarks, but no further!
featured image via Dark Horse
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.