Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #21

Welcome to another edition of Proof Positive where Alex Grecian and I discuss all things Proof. In issue #21 we had the big reveal of Springheel Jack, the brothers arguing a bit and McKraken showing how much of a badass he can be. Not to mention Alex teases a new project coming up. So let's jump right in!

Eric: So Alex... Snikt! Isn't that copyrighted by a certain mainstream company?

Alex: Pretty sure you can't copyright or trademark a sound effect. It was a spur-of-the-moment in-joke for comics readers.

Eric: The reveal with Jack... Care to speak about the writing process on this one? You laid out a few hints throughout the arc that readers might have been able to pick up on.

Alex: In researching Springheel Jack, I ended up relying on Mike Dash's essay more than anything else. He uncovered a wealth of information on Jack and exposed several century-old hoaxed sightings. He also made a good case for the possibility that Jack was more than one person or creature, since its MO and behavior changed after the first couple of times it appeared. I wanted to include some steampunk elements in this arc, but since I can't even keep my wife's Dell running properly it's always seemed unlikely to me that a Victorian robot would be all that efficient. It worked beautifully for me to have Jack start off as a robot, and for its inventor to have to replace it at some point with a stand-in that wouldn't break down.

I was afraid we'd tipped our hand too much when animal trainer Charlie Huston died in #19. His last words were "One of mine-- Not a man." I stayed away from showing the apes for the rest of that issue, but showed the orangutan at the start of the next issue. Fortunately, the robot bits threw most readers off the scent. We definitely played fair with the mystery though. Nothing came from out of left field.

Eric: But why the need for the suit? Was it to make the orangutan walk up right? The design, really looking at it, has a bit of a Re-Animator feel to it.

Alex: Well, obviously Tesla had a screw stripped somewhere, but I imagine he wanted his robot to succeed. When it didn't, he recreated the robot around the ape and looked for some satisfaction in that.

Riley went through several designs for Jack. Usually he designs new characters on the page. In fact, the only previous character I can remember going back and forth on was Isabella (who will come back in a big way in #24). But we actually wanted "Julia" to be our first arc so by the time we got to it Riley'd had plenty of time to design and redesign the villain. Some of the first stabs had powdered wigs and poofy velvet jackets. This final design was just obviously the right way to go.

Eric: McKraken has a few tricks up his sleeve, huh? Must be some sort of expert marksmen to hit Jack the way he did?

Alex: McKraken is such a cool character. In the end his involvement had to be pared down. We were going to spin him off into his own series. In fact, the first couple of issues of this arc were written with that in mind. At the last minute, because of some legal issues, we had to backpedal on that. We'll still be doing that other book, but McKraken can't be part of it. So he has less to do now with the eventual resolution of this arc than we thought he would. I'd still like to come back to him at some point.

Eric: So, is the spin-off book going to happen with Image and stay in this time period? Or is it too early to talk about yet?

Alex: It's too early to talk about yet, but we'll be talking about it a lot sometime next year.

Eric: A friend of the book and fellow long-time supporter and reader: Brikhed found his way back in the book in a cameo form. How'd that come about? For readers who didn't know about the contest?

Alex: We ran a contest a while ago, looking for creative ways to bring new readers to Proof. Brikhed is arguably our most vocal ProofReader and he ended up winning the contest by creating a very nice

Proof Web site that's constantly updated with new art and any tidbits of news about the series he can find out there, including links to these (and other) interviews, etc. Check it out:

The grand prize for the contest was an appearance in the book and a page of original art. So he's on the last page os #21 as a tattooed man.

Eric: So what was going on with the second suit? Tesla's robot was finally successful? He brought life to it?

Alex: Well, it helps if you keep in mind that the robot was the first Springheel Jack, so it was initially successful in its beta phase. (That'll be cleared up for good in the beginning of #22.) When the robot version failed, Tesla dressed up the ape, but kept working on the robot, trying to get it back on its feet. There are a couple of scenes in earlier issues where it's pretty clear he thinks he's close. Anyway, Gilly turned the damn thing on, so I guess he's the one who "brought life to it."

Eric: Speaking of Gilly, things really started to change heavily between him and gully this issues. Obviously their father's death last issue really put the starting tear in the relationship? But this issue really cemented it.

Alex: Yeah, but it's not fully cemented yet. Just wait...

Eric: It was good to see a little foreshadowing with the madam back in this issue. Will we see her next issue as well? Or is her story done?

Alex: Nope, not done. She's involved in the whole arc.

Eric: So Julia and Lent get to leave huh? That feels a bit anticlimactic to me.

Alex: Well, it's not a climax, it's just a story beat. There are still two issues left in this arc. Patience, Grasshopper.

Eric: Is it safe to say that sasquatches have a stronger healing abilities then most creatures?

Alex: Sasquatches are badass.

Eric: Alright Alex so what can we readers expect from issue #22? The second to last issue in the arc.

Alex: Proof's people finally come for him and take him back to his home among the stars. Or Proof goes to Russia to track down the woman he loves. One of those.

Well that's it for this month folks, as usual thanks to Alex for taking the time to do this with me. Next month we change things up a bit, after two this month. All I can tease is that Alex has a question or two for me. See you in 30!

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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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