Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #20

Welcome to the latest Proof Positive where Alex Grecian and I discuss all things Proof. This issue had Robert and Proof sharing a nice heart to heart, Proof gets rejected and Gilgimesh slowly starts to become the character we all know him as in the future. So let's jump right in!

Eric: We are back after a full month and I believe a few weeks off. For readers who don't know, Alex, what happened that caused the delay?

Alex: I'm told that the printer either misread the shipping date or mis-entered it into their computer. Either way, this was sort of a printing error, but it didn't affect the look of the book so we can't complain too much. Frankly, our printer usually does a fantastic job with Proof and it took 20 issues for anybody to make a mistake, so Riley and I aren't too upset about it. The upside is that we don't have to wait long before the next issue.

Eric: The man taking care of Jack is also good friends with the circus?

Alex: Yes. The man taking care of Jack works for the circus. He worked for Robert, who died this issue.

Eric: Oh and Alex I have to be honesty here... I'm not sure if I feel bad for Julia, having been involved with Lent, if she's going to treat John that way.

Alex: Oh, that's too bad. Personally, I think Julia's a good person. We've all got hang-ups and hers involves being mistaken for an animal by the uneducated people of her time. Dating Proof wouldn't help that perception. Most of us have been turned down when we've asked somebody out. It hurts, but it doesn't make the other person bad. Just means it wasn't gonna work out. In Proof's case, there's so much going on under the surface with both of them that it resonates quite a bit more than it would with most people (or sasquatches).

As far as her relationship with Lent goes, that points again to her need for acceptance. A reasonably good-looking man was willing to marry her and that gives her a certain legitimacy in her own eyes, some self-importance. She's willing to put up with more than she should in order to maintain that self-image. I see her as being on a par with a lot of battered wives who stay with the assholes who abuse them. She doesn't see that she has much choice and may feel she deserves to be treated badly.

Eric: The man who is taking care of Jack also seems to have a very familiar name. Care to share that with the readers of the column? (Alex kind of let the name slip on the Proof boards.)

Alex: Hmm. Yeah, I did. Okay, I wanted this character to be Nicola Tesla, but that ended up being impossible. I was already straining to get Spring-heeled Jack's timeline to line up with Julia Pastrana's life and I cheated a bit here and there. I'd have to cheat an awful lot to fit Tesla in, though, since he would have been only three or four years old when this arc takes place.

So... The old man is named Tesla. He's an eccentric inventor. I'm going to maintain that he's Nicola Tesla's uncle. But you can bend time if you want, to claim that he's the famous Tesla, and I won't argue with you.

Eric: Speaking of Jack, is it safe to say that we have not viewed the creature's actual appearance? Without obviously revealing a major plot point about the character, it seems to need a metal husk to protect it?

Alex: You may, in fact, have seen Jack's actual appearance. Or appearances. I shouldn't say more than that. You'll be able to piece Jack's story together after reading #21.

Eric: So this was the issue where we say goodbye to Robert? Do you think his heart acted up because of his size overall?

Alex: Absolutely. If you look at the history of sideshow attractions, the giants rarely live past their early 40s, and they generally have laundry lists of health problems. We're just not meant to grow that large. Robert's heart was too big. That scene, by the way, was the first time I've made myself tear up while writing a scene. I loved that character and hated having to say goodbye to him.

Eric: Gilgamesh started to show himself as the man we know him as in the future. Do you think Robert was his moral compass for a while?

Alex: Nature versus nurture is obviously one of the big themes in this series. Robert was the nurture part of Gilly's equation, but he may not have had enough time with him. The death of a parent is hard on anyone, but I think Robert's death hit at a point when Gilly was still trying to find his place in the world. Bad timing all the way around.

Eric: So it's safe to assume that was really the starting point into turning him into Mi Chen Po?

Alex: Yeah, he's basically a teenager in this arc (although in human years he'd be much older than that), playing around with ideas he thinks are new and fascinating. I imagine this is what I was like as an angry young man, reinventing the wheel, lashing out at the establishment while everyone around me rolled their eyes.

Eric: Something I was thinking of when you mentioned the grandfather of Tesla, it's something you've only made passing reference to before in the series but do you try to put real historical people in as the story suits? Or do you try to stay away from that?

Alex: I work hard to ground Proof within a historical context. The core concept of Bigfoot in a suit is so over-the-top that I think it's important to bring it back down and reference things that are relatable, that people know about and have heard of. That said, I don't want to go overboard and turn the book into the guest-star of the month. Obviously, we've got Thomas Jefferson as an important touchstone in the book, Lewis & Clark, Julia Pastrana, etc. But then I also goof around and turn actual people into fiction: Theodor Lent, Nicola Tesla... I'd much rather make up my own characters. They become more real for me because I don't have to figure out what they would've done, I know what they'd do.

Eric: So Robert left the circus to John in his will? Obviously this might help cause the tear between Gilly and him?

Alex: Yep, the circus is technically Proof's. I don't really think Gilly would care to own it. But Proof's gonna have to make a choice between his various responsibilities.

Eric: Julia's it Lent's or John's? I ask because it really seemed to be hinted at that it's John's.

Alex: Yes, it is Julia's baby.

Eric: (Heh, I tried readers.) So the old Norwegian man has Springheel Jack's exoskeleton as well as the body of Julia? What other wonders does he have?

Alex: Lots of cool stuff. I don't know that we'll necessarily visit this place again soon. Proof and company will have their hands full very shortly.

Eric: That backup story with Autumn was a lot of fun. I take it this is right after she left the Lodge?

Alex: Yeah, she disappeared during the fight with Dachshund in Africa and popped up again in Shanghai at the end of the second trade. And she still had a key to the back gate of the Habitat. She's been making her way to Tibet. (Keep in mind that, although a whole arc passed between the second trade and now, it's only been a week or so, in comic-book-time.) It would appear she's either switched allegiances, or Po instructed her to cozy up to Dachshund for some reason. Hmm. Either way, this probably isn't a good thing for Leander.

Eric: So the deathworm was an interesting cryptid, even if it didn't last long in a fight. We viewed the reaction that Po had to it which I thought showed a unique level to the character and of course Autumn's guide wasn't too happy with her.

Alex: Yeah, I would've liked a little more room to play with the deathworm. This is a big-deal cryptid in Asia, at about the level of the chupacabras here. And, as you're seeing in the current arc, Mi-Chen-Po doesn't have a lot of use for people, but cryptids are the future of the world, as far as he's concerned. So he'd be a little put out that a human killed a cryptid, even if he could understand the reasoning behind the death. Autumn's guide will be appearing again. He's not a throwaway character. In fact, we've had big plans for him from the beginning. Just took us a while to get to Tibet for the first time and finally introduce him.

Eric: Why did Autumn call Po "your highness" though?

Alex: Because he's the king of Zhen Ying.

Eric: So Autumn's guide is a main character? Is he the last of our main supporting cast? Or are their still people that will be introduced down the line?

Alex: Well, the main-main characters were all introduced by the end of the "Thunderbirds Are Go!" arc. That arc ended the exposition phase of this series as far as I'm concerned. But there are still some minor characters left to introduce, most of whom won't show up until near the end of the Cryptid War stuff.

Eric: Will Marck be doing any more of the back up stories in the future?

Alex: We don't have any plans for that. But I did just get his pinup for our big 25th issue yesterday and it looks cool.

Eric: So Alex, what can people look forward to next issue?

Alex: Well, you won't have to wait long, since #20 was delayed. Number 21 is the big action issue this arc. Proof and Inspector McKraken throw down against Springheel Jack. And against Springheel Jack. Gilly gets injured and someone else dies. The Springheel Jack problem will be resolved once and for all... At least until he pops up again. :)

Well that's it for this edition folks, join us in just a few short weeks when the next edition of Proof Positive comes to the site!

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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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