Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #18
Welcome to this month's edition of Proof Positive. We join Proof as we take a bit of a jump into his past when he worked for the circus. While there, we meet new friends like Julia alon with some very familiar looking faces. All this is happening as the mysterious Spring Heeled Jack is on the prowl. So let's jump right into things!
Eric: My first question this month sir, did I just see the Dover Demon in a dress? Or was that one of his ancestors?
Alex: Madam Wormwood is the same kind of creature as The Dover Demon. The difference being that she was found in Wormwood (which was, at the time, a big empty area) and The Demon was found in Dover, Massachussetts. Wormwood and DD are not one and the same. Of course, we still haven't answered the question of what these creatures are and how long they live.
In the script, I asked Riley to put her in a dress, because she talks and could, therefore, be considered a person. In Victorian England, there's no way she'd be allowed to run around naked the way DD does. Riley didn't just give her a dress, though. He stuck a wig on her and gave her a pet cat. Takes her one step further into weirdsville.
Eric: The past seemed to have more then one familiar face. Is this where everything truly started for our hero and the way his world is now?
Alex: One long-standing feud is beginning here, in the "Julia" arc. We're finally revealing why some of the things that are happening to Proof in the present are occuring. Once you know the background between Proof (Gulliver) and his "brother" (Gilgamesh), the reasons for everything coming to a head in the present day will maybe make a little more sense.
This isn't a random point in Proof's life. We seriously considered starting the whole series with this arc, but I'm glad we waited. Now, some of these revelations are going to have more resonance and seem much more tragic, rather than just being exposition.
Eric: Proof or Gulliver, as he's called here, works for the circus? What does his job entail?
Alex: Like most sideshow attractions of the day, he may have worked some odd jobs behind the scenes, but his main duty is to bring in the rubes, the paying customers who want to see a "wild man." This was a whole different chapter in Proof's life. He wasn't a secret agent, he was on display for everyone to see. He and his partner, Gilgamesh, basically stood on a stage while people filed past and looked at them.
Eric: Julia seems to be kept against her will a little here, almost as if this man controls her overall life?
Alex: Like most attractions of the day, Julia had a manager. If you've watched the movie The Elephant Man, the relationship between Merrick and his "owner" should give you a rough idea of how that all worked back then. Thomas Lent essentially bought and sold Julia. It was his job to place her with the best show and make sure she was properly utilized. He ran her career. I'll be running a bio of the actual Julia Pastrana (she was one of the most famous bearded ladies of all time) in a future issue and you'll be learning much more about the real-life Thomas Lent. We're sticking pretty close to the facts in their lives (except, of course, for Proof and Springheel Jack). This guy was a real piece of work. Riley and I hate the guy and we're happy to have the chance to see some justice finally done, even if it is 150 years after the fact.
Eric: So what's the background on Spring-heeled Jack? Really loving what Riley has done design-wise.
Alex: Yeah, Riley went through a few designs before we settled on this one. It's just perfect. Springheel Jack was a very famous cryptid. He was the "bigfoot" of his day. Lots and lots of people witnessed this thing bounding over rooftops in broad daylight and there's never been a real explanation that fits all the facts.
We'll be exploring some possible options in this arc, but we'll also be running a serialized essay by the guy I consider to be the worldwide expert on Springheel Jack. Much of my research has come from Mike Dash's articles on the subject and he's uncovered new evidence and new theories for a book he's putting out. We're fortunate to be able to publish the Springheel Jack material for the first time ever in the back matter of Proof, before Mike's book comes out. It's a real coup for us. We're actually breaking cryptid news.
We're also playing with history a bit, though. Jack's timeline was tantalizingly close to Julia's, but didn't quite fit. Since Julia was a real person and Jack was... well, who knows, we wrapped Jack's history around Julia's and took some liberties to make him fit within this story.
Eric: Breaking cryptid news must be pretty big for you guys? I know a huge attraction to the book for me was the fact that so much research is done into these extraordinary creatures.
Alex: The research is part of the fun. I like to ground my stories in some sort of reality. It makes the fantasy elements easier to swallow, I think.
I'm excited because we're offering the sort of back matter I've always worked toward with this series. Now that we've got maybe a little more clout things are becoming available to us.
Eric: Gilgamesh at least artwise was as tall as Proof. Is he pretty much "the giant" that you'd see at these shows?
Alex: In this arc, Proof is among "his kind." He feels more human, maybe, because he's able to look his friends in the eyes. Not only is Gilgamesh (the yeti) roughly his size, but his best friend, Robert, is at least as tall as he is. Robert's a giant in the traditional circus sense of that term.
Eric: I like Robert who seems to be an interesting fold to Proof in the past. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of him and Gilgamesh throughout the arc?
Alex: Yup. In fact, the events of this arc are what will eventually prompt Gilly to move back to Tibet and change his name.
Eric: Wait, so Gilgamesh is Mi-Chen-Po and Proof's brother? Did you just accidentally reveal that here?! Because that's kind of big, Alex.
Alex: Um, some of what you just said is true.
Eric: Love seeing the metropolitan police before they moved into their famous home, can we be expecting more from the inspector we met this issue?
Alex: Yes. In fact, we had big big plans for Inspector McKraken, but recent developments have meant that we need to rework those plans a bit. (More on those developments in a later edition.) McKraken will at least be around through the rest of this arc. I like him a lot.
Eric: It's interesting to see all the cryptids in the circus as it seems to fit very logically, was this an idea you had all along?
Alex: You bet. Proof mentioned his time with the circus way back in issue four, but we had this arc in mind long before that. This was absolutely the best time and setting for Proof to travel around the world without having to hide who he is. And if he can do it...
Eric: Will we be hearing more from Ginger in the future with Proof as they escort the body of Julia? I always like to see their relationship evolve more and more and I think this is probably a huge part of his life to let her in on.
Alex: Yes, there'll be more to the framing story. There's so much of the main story to get to, though, that it's gonna be another couple of issue before we can come back to the present.
Eric: Jack breathes fire? Was that an actual reported fact on him back in the day when people witnessed him?
Alex: Yes. The "real" Springheel Jack blew fire into a couple of women's faces. Strangely, he first asked for a candle or a lantern and held it in front of his face before breathing fire. Suspicious, huh?
Eric: So what can we expect from issue 19? More from our Victorian cast obviously?
Alex: No, strangely we've decided to go even further back in Proof's past to his time with the Aztecs. Then, in #20, we'll be fast-forwarding a bit and featuring Space Proof in the 23rd century against Commander Dachshund and the Chupacabra Planet. By setting every issue from this point on in a different time period, it'll help keep us from getting bored with the book. Eventually, maybe five or 10 years down the road, we may come back and finish this Victorian story. :)
Yeah, issue 19 has at least one grisly death, a major revelation... and Proof loses his temper big time!
As usual I thank Alex for talking with me about the latest issue and if you have any questions for Proof's writer you can email me here at firstname.lastname@example.org and see your question in the next edition. See you all next month!
Continuing the Preview
Eric Ratcliffe is a young writer/pop culture journalist/interviewer currently working on pitching a project named the Hunter chronicles. When not reading his weekly stack Eric can be found watching dvd's, playing on his 360 (gamertag: Zack Hunter) or just surfing online trying to find a scoop or two. Brand new to the Comic Related family, Eric is a fun new voice.
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