Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #23

Welcome to a new edition of Proof Positive where Alex Grecian and I discuss all things Proof related. This month's edition has the end of the Julia arc where we learn the conclusion of the story and see the start of Po's journey. We go over a lot here and a few things are teased, so let's jump right in!

Eric: First question for this edition, Alex... Are you completely satisfied with everything you were able to put into the "Julia" arc? Or are you wishing that you could have put more in?

Alex: There's so much more I could have included. I would've liked to have the room to include more about the actual circus performers of the day. It would've been nice to explore the genesis of Springheel Jack a bit more too, 'cause there were still questions we left unanswered there. (We will be seeing him again though...) And, as I've mentioned before, McKraken was slated to play a much bigger part in this arc, but I'm really hoping we can go back someday, either within the pages of Proof or possibly in a separate miniseries, and showcase him a bit, along with his family and the circus. We hinted at some of the developments in his life and I'd love to expand on that.

Eric: Elvis and Ginger going out for dinner... Is it safe to assume this could evolve into something romantic in the future?

Alex: "Something romantic," huh? Gee, I hadn't considered that. Let me think about it.

Eric: Yeah I know, dumb question ;) Speaking of McKraken, we viewed a very interesting side of him as he talked Gulliver down from doing something very stupid. We also saw that he managed to stop another very famous Jack. Is it safe to say it was always in the cards to have the character be like this? Obviously there's more to him that we didn't see, right?

Alex: Oh, McKraken's a very cool character and, like I said, I wish we'd had a little more time for him. We'll make time later.

That scene was important because we've hinted all along at the unseen bits of Proof's personality. He's kind of a passive hero. He's not as proactive as most comic book characters would be (or should be). And that's because he's incredibly repressed. He's scared of what he's capable of doing. So what would push him over the edge? The death of Julia and her baby, Lent's stuffing them, would seem to be the likeliest catalyst for that, but we're not ready yet, so McKraken needed to be there from the very beginning to stop Proof when the time came. Po certainly wasn't gonna be the one to stop Proof from killing a human.

Eric: I turned the page to see what Po was doing and I was definitely a little shocked. That's a bit Hostel-like for the book. I guess it does explain why you were researching torture though...

Alex: Ha! Yeah, my Facebook status for a bit there was that I was uncomfortable with the torture I was researching. That was it. I went through several methods before settling on that scene. If you look, Po bites down on the bone from Lent's forearm, which he's removed while Lent was sleeping. The intestinal crank was the worst, though.

To be frank, Proof has always been listed as a horror book, but we don't include a lot of real horror elements. If you go back and look at the first issue again, you'll see that the potential for this was always there. We just had to lull you into a false sense of security before we hit you with it.

Keep in mind that it was Po performing the torture and, while we hope he's a relatable character, he's not a good guy. And Lent killed his own infant son in the issue before that. He deserved a gruesome fate. Stuffing him while he's alive and conscious seems fitting (in a Hostel-like way).

Eric: Speaking of the whole stuffing thing, I still find it horrible with animals to do it, but with humans it's even worse. It's kind of nightmarish to even think about. Was there research put into that? It also seemed to prove Lent wasn't right in the head.

Alex: It is horrible to think about. Proof's like me in that I have trouble understanding the things people do to each other and would kinda like to trot off into the woods by myself a lot of the time.

BUT... it really wasn't an uncommon practice. We used to stuff famous people or embalm them for exhibition purposes all the time. Outlaws in the Old West were regularly put on display outside general stores to bring in business... Human abnormalities were often pickled and shown off after they died... Hell, look at Lenin's body in Red Square. But to have it done to your wife and son in order to make a buck off their corpses does smack of pure naked greed. Lent's not a guy I'd have wanted to know.

And, of course, he probably wasn't right in the head, considering where he actually ended his days.

Eric: Proof really is kind of a pacifist and overall. Just kind of non aggressive, but was it your point to show it heavily in the "Julia" arc?

Alex: Very much so. We kept pushing him and pushing him and he wouldn't act in any kind of self-interested way. Part of that was the Victorian Age he was trapped in and part of it was his absolute desire to be a man. When we act selfishly, we're letting a bit of the beast out. Proof IS a beast, or at least fears that he is, so he can't allow himself that without losing his notions of who he is.

Much of the tone of that arc came from Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence. So much of human interaction back then was anchored in subtext and we've lost a lot of that, for good or bad. People don't pick up on subtle social cues anymore. Proof, like most people back then, was horribly repressed.

Eric: How many years did he go off on his own for? Till the starting of The Lodge right?

Alex: He emerged from time to time. And we hope to be able to tell some of those stories at some point. But, yeah, he didn't re-join human civilization until the founding of The Lodge. We'll be going back and telling that story too at some future point.

Eric: The same happened with Po where he went off to be the king of a certain place, right?

Alex: Right. Po left when his "brother" did and started his own kingdom, where he wouldn't have to answer to humans at all.

Eric: Seeing the what-if pages really ends things on a perfect note, I think. Would Proof still have worked for The Lodge in that possible life?

Alex: Maybe. Really, his "perfect life" wouldn't have been perfect after all. He would have watched the woman he loved get older and die, then he would have outlived his own children. Sounds horrible to me. In retelling the story of his past with Julia, Proof's coming to terms with certain things. He's ready to move on, knowing that he's never really going to be happy among humans. He just can't get past the idea that it's what he wants.

Eric: Of course, Proof telling all this to a certain love interest was a great step in the direction of their relationship, wasn't it?

Alex: I hope so. Proof's growing up, in a way. Bella's going to have her hands full with him (and I don't mean that in a dirty way; shame on you).

Eric: Shame on you for trying to pass the blame on me. I honestly think Bella and Proof could be healthy for each other. I guess we'll find out when the date happens next issue, right?

Alex: Yup. Except that's gonna be #26 now. We shuffled things a bit. Number 24 is the story of little Joy's search for his father. That's gonna explain a question a lot of people have been asking for a while: Why are fairies allergic to iron and how was Nadine able to take her "daughters" to Colonel Dachshund's home when she delivered the pie?

But then in #26 we'll get a better feel for Bella and Proof as a couple. And it'll be a one-two punch, since we'll be showing Ginger's first date with Elvis at the same time.

Eric: The spin off series... Is there a possible announcement coming soon?

Alex: There is a REALLY big announcement coming soon, but it doesn't concern a spin-off.

Eric: How long does the Dover Demon's species live? Could Madam Wormwood still be alive?

Alex: Could be. If so, though, I think she'd be unrecognizable. Hey, maybe you've already seen her. Maybe not. I don't know.

Eric: So #24 is the fairy issue, #25 is the future issue, and #26 is the big date issue, followed by #27-#28 being the "Who Killed the Dover Demon" arc?

Alex: Exactly right. They all feed into each other, though, to make a sort of loose arc, when you take them as a chunk. We spend a lot of time with Joy, the fairy, in #24 and then come back to him a year later in #25. But 25 also opens up a lot of questions that we begin addressing in #26. And the cliffhanger at the end of 26 will lead directly into WKtDD.

I think the cliffhanger at the end of #28, though, will be the big one for quite a while after that.

Eric: Really excited over 25 by the way, though your facebook hints have humored me. The fact that most of the main cast isn't in it was proving tough for you, huh?

Alex: It was more a matter of not being able to show some things and whether showing certain characters would spoil what's going to happen next or bleed out any of the book's suspense. We're not showing Proof or Ginger because of the future continuity of the series, but there are other characters who won't be there, either because they're dead or massively changed. It turned into a little bit of a juggling act.

We also wanted the issue to hold up as a compelling story in its own right, not just be a teaser or advertisement for future arcs. It really fits into the continuity right now, even though we're jumping ahead a year for this issue, because we're able to introduce some characters and concepts that'll continue to pay off. As a reader, you'll already be invested in those things when they're eventually re-introduced.

Eric: So with 24 at the end of the month, will we have a backup story?

Alex: No backup for #24 (except Archie Snow, of course). There are two extra story pages and we'll have a big letter's page.

Eric: Finally, to end this month I thought we could discuss recent cryptozoology news with a possible chupacabra being found. Have you heard anything about it or viewed the pictures?

Alex: Ugh. People keep finding "chupacabras," which they and we know are Xolos (a breed of Mexican hairless dog), but which the gullible or news-starved are only too willing to call cryptids. Seriously, this new one is pretty clearly a mangy stray dog that starved to death. I feel sorry for it. If only someone had paid this much attention to it in life, it might've had a decent meal.

Well that's it for this edition folks, join us back here for issue #24 and possibly a special edition for the announcement that Alex teased!

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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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