Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #22

Welcome to another edition of Proof Positive where Alex and I discuss all things Proof. In this edition Gulliver and crew head off to russia in search of Julia, Lent and their unborn child only to find out some very shocking things when they arrive. So let's jump right in!

Eric: For those readers not in the know, you were in San Diego last week though I was surprised to hear that you weren't involved in the Image panel. How was the reaction to the book at the con?

Alex: Very positive. It seems more and more people are jumping on and reading the book. I even signed a copy of the third Proof trade for Samuel Jackson. Lots of ProofReaders came by during my signings. And I heard that I missed a lot of folks by not having a table there. Too many people apparently came by at the wrong times and couldn't find me. The show's just too big!

Eric: Were you and Sam Jackson able to hold a full conversation during the chaos at San Diego? I find it extremely interesting that he's gone on record as a huge fan.

Alex: Oh, no, there was no opportunity to have a conversation with him. It's very cool that he's a fan, that he's said Proof is one of his all-time favorite comics. Knowing what a fan he is of comics in general, that's a huge compliment.

Eric: I'm still trying to process what I read Alex. I'm honestly disturbed by the Julia content in the issue. I take it this is the issue where you were going to be at least a little worried about people's reaction to it?

Alex: Not this issue. There are issues where I sweat the reaction, but this time around I feel good. Proof is, ostensibly, a horror book and the content I assume you're trying to process (I don't want to spoil anything for anybody who didn't read #22 yet) was, and is, the most horrific situation I can imagine. Particularly as a parent, I can't put myself in Thomas Lent's shoes at all. But it's something he would do.

With this issue, we were wrapping up the last of the historical facts we have to work with. But the facts are sketchy in some places and, while we know that a couple of these people died, and when, we don't know precisely how. Given Lent's craven personality, it seemed logical to make a big historical supposition. There's no actual evidence to support the scene as we portray it, but it's not much of a leap to suggest it.

So I'm not worried. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the reactions and the feedback, but even if readers hate the scene, I feel confident that we'll make a powerful impression on them and that's always our main goal.

Eric: Yeah, Lent at the end of the day is really beyond scum, isn't he? Obviously he drank a lot to even dare what he did to that child. Probably the most disturbing thing to be viewed in the book yet.

Alex: Well, thanks. There's plenty of disturbing stuff yet to come (and #23 has what I'm going to go ahead and say is the most graphically violent scene in the book so far), but Lent went, in this issue, from being an amoral opportunist to being genuinely evil. In real life, he probably wasn't an evil guy, but he was a shameful douchebag, so I had no problem pushing him over the edge.

Eric: So the original Jack was a robot?

Alex: The first couple of historical appearances of Springheel Jack were markedly different from later sightings. He acted very different. It's not too big a jump to suppose that they were two separate entities. One may have been a copycat of the other(s).

Within the fictional world of Proof, my theory is that Tesla's robot Jack never worked properly. So he dressed up an orangutan to keep Jack alive in the public imagination while he worked at retooling the original clockwork Jack.

Two Jacks for the price of one.

Eric: The nurse seemed just a little against what John and Julia are. Why would she be?

Alex: Well, of course, Proof and Julia aren't the same sort of thing at all. Proof's a sasquatch and Julia's a human woman with an unfortunate genetic condition. But in the Victorian Age (and before and since) there were bigots who had some strange notions about who ought to be making babies. The nurse said that she didn't think Julia should be having children because the nurse was an ignorant bitch.

Eric: So is it safe to say we know the father of Julia's child now? Or does the baby just share the same genetic traits as its mother?

Alex: Let me turn the tables and ask you a couple of questions...

Who do you think is the father of Julia's child? And why do you think that?

Eric: Well the more I think about it, the more I think it's John. Paying attention to the little dialogue clues you set up and the relationship between the two, there was something between them. Maybe it was a one night fling before Lent swept her off her feet or maybe it was just John hoping that she was one of her people. I just really feel that Lent was not with her in that sense. A lot of it is in her writing that I am drawing this theory from. I could be completely and utterly wrong. ;p

Eric: Loved seeing the interraction between Po and Proof here. It definitely delves into the future just a tiny bit more. How interesting is it to write the two as they feel like polar opposites?

Alex: It's interesting, but it'll become more interesting as we move into The Cryptid War and we get to (and expand on) the moment hinted at way back in issue three. How far will Po go to get his brother on his side? How "human" has Proof become? Right now I'm just setting this stuff up. When we get to the meat of it, I'm sure I'll be in Writer Heaven.

Eric: McKraken has really become a character that has grown on me. Is there any chance that we'll be revisiting the past with him in it? A mini or something? I didn't know if things have changed since we last spoke on him.

Alex: I was just talking to Riley about this. The original series we were going to spin out of Proof, starring McKraken, will be coming out in a different form next year and McKraken won't be in it. (Complicated legal reasons for that.) But we should talk more about this after #23 since you'll know much much more about how McKraken's life will eventually turn out. I would very much like to revisit this character at some point.

Eric: No comment on my personal theory, Alex? ;)

Alex: Well, you and I disagree, but I enjoy a bit of ambiguity. For me, Somersby was spoiled when Richard Gere told Jodie Foster that he wasn't actually Somersby. So who am I to say what my story means? I mean that in a serious, non-ironic way.

Eric: I really enjoyed seeing Elvis comforting Proof as he told both of them about what happened to Julia. I didn't know he was with him and thought he was on his mission with Belinda already.

Alex: His first mission with Belinda hasn't been shown yet. The framing story was important in this arc, but we'd really only shown Ginger so far. Elvis is a hugely important part of this book and I desperately wanted to get him in there somehow.

Eric: I smiled a lot at the back up story. Good to see she really wasn't working with the Colonel. Some nice deception there.

Alex: Ah, well, you'll have to wait quite a while to see how that all shakes down. There will be some big hints coming in #25...

Eric: Something I don't believe we've ever actually talked about before is that you also letter the book yourself. Do you have some kind of technique behind your lettering? I definitely feel it adds some fun into the book especially with the Dover Demon/Madam Wormwood lines. That's really where I think it shows the uniqueness of the lettering the most.

Alex: Well, thank you. I don't know if I'm an especially good letterer. I do it out of necessity, more than anything else, and I really sweat it. It takes me far longer than it should and that frustrates me. I should be writing. But it gives me a chance to take another pass at each page and make sure the final art matches the dialogue. A lot gets changed, rewritten, at the lettering stage. Since Riley knows I'm going to be lettering the book and sort of redirecting everything, he takes a lot of liberties with the script.

Each of the critters has its own lettering style. The two "Demons" have that white on black look, Joe has his chunky brown balloons, the fairies have their spiky green balloons, etc. I try to give everything a distinctive look that hopefully conveys something about how they sound and interact. The font I use for Joe's dialogue is just hard enough to read that it might slow you down a bit while you're reading it. I'm just trying to force you to slow down to the speed at which he's probably talking. He's not a fast talker. When we started the series, I toyed with the idea of giving Proof his own font and balloon style, but ended up abandoning that idea. He's the main character and I didn't want to have to deal with something over-complicated month after month. I am, after all, not really a letterer. :)

Eric: Po and McKraken's one-page discussion gives a lot on both characters perspectives, would you say it's a scene that that helps to flesh out Po's character more for the readers?

Alex: I hope so. Po's philosophy is actually a lot closer to my own than I'm really comfortable admitting. People who worry about their legacies... We're animals. We'll die and our grandchildren will remember us and then that's it. Maybe, if you've built something or written something or painted something, you'll squeeze out an extra generation of remembrance, but mostly our only real legacy is our impact on the environment and everything else is waiting for us to go away so they can have the world back. Human hubris gives us the false impression that we're important.

Proof's basically me, if I were bigger and hairier and maybe nicer. At least, that's how I try to write him. But he's better than I am, more optimistic. He's a little further along the road when it comes to making the right choices. Po's sort of in his terrible twos and Proof's the wiser older brother.

Eric: So, Alex, what can readers expect coming up in the last issue of the arc?

Alex: Full frontal nudity!

(Sadly, that only means that Riley and I created that issue while nude. Has no bearing on the content of the comic.)

You'll see the final fate of everyone involved in this arc. And I mean that. We're awfully proud of this arc and feel like we've created a satisfying conclusion. You'll have to let us know.

See you next month for the end of the Julia arc and a happy anniversary to the twelve edition of the column!

Have a question for Alex? E-mail Eric and let him know.
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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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