Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #19

Welcome to the latest Proof Positive where Alex and I discuss all things Proof. This issue had more about the Springheel Jack mystery get even more deep, Proof and Lent have a very interesting showdown in the hospital and we lose a member of the circus. so let's jump right in!

Eric: Can you believe we've been doing this for this long now? :)

Alex: Crazy. :)

Eric: There was something very odd about Charles Huston's last words of dialogue and how they appeared on the page. Care to elaborate about them at all?

Alex: Nope.

Eric: So obviously something was happening as he died and sputtered those final words in a different font and word bubble? Come on, you have to give something here. ;p

Alex: Don't know what you're talking about. ;)

Eric: Mckraken was the first to attempt CPR? Obviously not in reality, but in the Proofverse?

Alex: What do you mean? The Proofverse isn't reality? :)

No, McKraken wasn't the first, but he mentioned that he'd studied the first attempts by Dr. H. R. Silvester. Silvester's research was published a couple of decades later than the events in this arc, but those early methods were so oddly cool that I couldn't resist including that stuff. And Riley had a great time drawing it.

I left the basic choreography to Riley for that segment. Here's that page of the script:

Page 6 --

1 -- McKraken's in his shirtsleeves, pulling the much bigger Huston out of the trailer, his hands under Huston's arms, dragging him backward. Huston's still smoking, but no longer on fire.

2 -- And here comes Proof, carrying Julia out.

3 -- From behind Proof, looking down as McKraken arranges Huston on the ground, crossing Huston's hands over his chest. Throughout this next section, Julia's trailer continues to burn.

Is he--?

4 -- McKraken looks up at Proof as he pushes down hard on Huston's arms, in effect giving him a crude sort of CPR by exerting pressure on Huston's heart using Huston's own hands.

There's still hope. How is she?


5 -- McKraken pulls Huston's arms up over his head.

What are you--?

I recently read a monograph by Doctor Silvester on cardio resuscitation. I haven't had a chance to attempt it yet. No idea whether--

6 -- Huston coughs.


Eric: That scene in the hospital honestly just became my new favorite Proof moment. That was some strong stuff between Jon and Lent, does he seriously think he could take Proof in a fight?

Alex: No, Lent isn't the sort of guy who'd try to take someone in a fair fight. You've known guys like this. He's a complicated character. He hates himself because he married Julia -- someone he's not attracted to -- for money, but Proof loves her for who she is. So he's gotta hate Proof. 'Cause Proof is clearly a better man than he is. And rather than try to figure out how to be a better man or else just move on, he's got to try to make Proof miserable and bring him down to Lent's level. He's not evil, just miserable and really really unlikable. There's probably a little bit of Lent in most people, to be honest.

Eric: Springheel Jack has someone watching over him?

Alex: Sure seems that way. You'll see a lot more of the old man on the boat in the next two issues. The big fight with McKraken, Gilly and Proof against... Well, against Jack, but probably not in the way you expect... That's gonna happen in issue 21. You'll get a couple of huge hints at Jack's identity in issue 20, but I think there'll still be some big surprises and the kind of physical action people want to see in 21. I've seen the art and it's bloody.

Eric: Robert and Gilgamesh are family? Well obviously probably in an adopted sense right?

Alex: Robert (The Gentleman Giant), is sort of a foster father to both Proof and Gilly. He's the only human who's ever been able to look them both in the eye and he's earned their respect and love. The difference is that Proof was raised by Thomas Jefferson, so there's a history there of relating to strong human beings, people Proof could respect and look up to, even if they were shorter than he was. Gilly's only ever had Robert, so that bond is much tighter, but it's also a bit constraining. Gilly's torn. He loves Robert, but he scorns other humans.

It all ties into the overarching theme for this entire series, which is "what does it take to be a man?"

Eric: Something tells me we all might know who Julia's child belongs to; could this also be the reason Springheel Jack went after her?

Alex: Not sure where you're going with this one, but I will say that Jack has nothing whatsoever to do with Julia's baby.

Eric: So is there a specific reason Jack targeted Julia? Will we be finding that out?

Alex: In a roundabout sort of way, Jack has his reasons, but they're tied, again, into theme. Once you find out who Jack is, much of it'll make sense.

Eric: So what did happen to Robert? The scene wasn't very clear to me. Did he pass out?

Alex: If you look closely, Robert's clutching his chest before he falls down. He does it again in the hospital. Robert suffers two heart attacks in this issue. That's very common with people that large. Takes a lot out of a heart to keep a body that big going.

Eric: Going back to Jack's identity a little bit: does that mean that that is a mask? Oh, and his keeper: does he purposely look like Einstein or is that a coincide?

Alex: Maybe. The keeper's not Einstein. :) You'll find out his name at some point in the next couple of issues and you're not far off your guess there (not that you actually thought he WAS Einstein).

Eric: So Jack's keeper may be a historical feature? Comfortable with harboring a murderer?

Alex: Jack's companion isn't based on any historical people at all. That said, he may be related to a historical figure. Or maybe not. We're leaving it ambiguous so readers can have fun with it if they want to and ignore certain hints if they'd prefer. Either way, it has nothing to do with the story.

Eric: Absolutely love the back up feature starring Proof searching for the Dover Demon. Has that been something you've wanted to write for a while?

Alex: Sort of. Dave and I had fun with the "Butterscotch Pie" story a while back and wanted to do another story together. His schedule only allowed for three pages, though, and most of the backups I want to write are considerably longer than that. This story was originally meant to come after another, longer story, but it works well on its own. Eventually you'll see the story leading up to this one and a lot of the Dover Demon's mystery will be revealed all at once.

Anyway, Dave did a great job and shows that he's an illustrator in his own right as well as being one of the best damn colorists out there.

Eric: Proof's ability to disguise himself via smell doesn't seem to be an issue here. Care to elaborate on that at all for the readers?

So far, we've only seen Proof in two settings: the circus and a hospital.

Proof's appearance would be a non-issue at that time in a circus sideshow. People went to the circus expecting to see human abnormalities and strange discoveries from exotic lands. Those acts would have been sensational and popular and Proof would have done very well for himself, but we're not showing that side of his life so much (although we probably will in backups or a one-shot down the road a bit).

Since a giant man was admitted to the hospital and had received many strange-looking visitors, Proof and Gilly would be unusual there, but not unexpected.

And, who knows, Proof may be using his odor to create a little privacy for himself in the quieter scenes this arc.

Eric: So i'm not sure if we ever went over this before but Springheel Jack and Jack the Ripper... theoretically could they be connected or possibly be the same being? Or is it just coincidence that they were around at a similar time?

Alex: I'm not sure if it's a complete coincidence that Victorian folk seemed to name all their mysterious murderers "Jack," but there's no reason to link them. They actually operated a few decades apart from each other and had completely different MOs. We're not going for a Jack the Ripper thing here at all (but we are in another small project Riley and I are working on).

Eric: Writing the supporting circus cast and all these cryptids in another time must have been pretty exciting for you and fun for Riley to draw. Was this always in the longterm plans of the book and a lot of research going into it more then previous arcs?

Alex: Actually this arc takes a lot more research for Riley than previous arcs have, but a lot less for me. At least when it comes to the sideshow. I've always been fascinated by circus folk and human abnormalities. Other kids might've had posters of skateboarders or movie stars on their walls, but I had Johnny Eck on mine (he was the most famous of the legless guys). I really wish we had more room in this arc to explore that stuff, but I guarantee you we'll be coming back to this place and time in some backups, one-shots or miniseries down the line.

Eric: The overall tone of the arc reminds me of another circus story in James Robinson's Starman series. Were you a reader of it back when it was coming out, Alex?

Alex: Absolutely. I was a huge fan and have the full run, but haven't read it since those issues first came out. James Robinson's a terrific writer and now you've made me wonder whether I was unknowingly influenced by Starman. Now I have a reason to reread that series. Thanks! :)

Eric: So what can people expect next issue?

Alex: Next issue reveals the emotional core of this whole series. After reading it, you'll have a much better idea of who Proof is and what motivates him. We're getting into big action stuff starting with issue 21, but before that, issue 20 is the heart of Proof.

Well that's it for this month, join us next month as we discover more of Jack's identity and over all mystery and I'm sure we'll find out more about what's going on with Julia and her child.

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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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