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Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #13


Welcome to this month's Proof Positive where Alex Grecian and I sit down and talk about the latest issue of Proof. I'm hoping next month we can add Riley, but we'll see how that goes. This issue had a guest star and two great back up stories, one leading right into the Screamland land trade which was also out this week. So let's get right into things!

Eric: Okay, so first things first Alex, how was your Halloween?

Alex: Pretty good. My son trick-or-treated friends and family in a custom-made Iron Man costume. He got lots of attention and brought home enough candy to keep us all fat for months.

Eric: What a packed issue, by the way, what was the decision process behind that?

Alex: My friends Harold Sipe and Hector Casanova had their Screamland trade coming out the same day as Proof #13, so we decided a bonus back-up story would be a nice way to sort of bring some attention to their book and give ProofReaders an extra story instead of a letter's page.

With the regular "Archie Snow" back-up feature and Connor Willumsen's Isabella Bay story, we actually ended up running over our regular page count a bit. But Halloween's a good holiday to do that on, since Proof is sort of a horror book. I didn't want to push Isabella's "origin story" back to a later issue because she's going to become much more prominent soon and it's a good idea for readers to get a better feel for where she comes from now. Besides, Connor drew that story months ago and I love it. I was tired of sitting on it.

Eric: Don't worry, I won't say the number that comes between 12 and 14, though my readers will probably wonder why. ;-)

Alex: Oh, it's okay. I recognize the existence of the number 13. I just seem to have bad luck when I encounter it. I can't wait for issue 14 to come out so we'll be over this superstitious hurdle. :-)

Eric: So which agent was our friend Brik from the message boards? And what was the story behind naming a character after him?

Alex: BrikHed was Agent Michael Smith, who was gruesomely dispatched by the Thunderbirds. He was originally a background character who was named in the script, but not in the dialogue. He was the rare character in Proof who existed solely as a plot point.

BrikHed's done a lot to help promote Proof in the past few months, including starting the Proof Blog site and running Proof's MySpace page. He's really gone above and beyond and I felt like we needed to acknowledge that. So when I sat down to letter #13, I decided on a lark to name him after Brik (who's real name is Mike Smith). It's not something we'll make a regular habit of, but I guess I was feeling impish that day. :)

Eric: Is Savage Dragon really there?

Alex: I'll leave that for you to decide. There's a level of ambiguity there because Proof operates in the real world. But as Erik Larsen has defined Image crossovers, all Image characters exist in different forms within the worlds of the other Image books (sort of). So whether Agent Dragon is a product of Proof's imagination or a bizarre-looking Lodge employee is up to the individual reader. I will say, though, that whether he's there or not, he allows us the opportunity to explore a side of Proof we don't often see and he'll give Proof some pretty good advice next issue. His presence in this arc will change the way Proof interacts with other people and will lead to a new development in his life.

Eric: Has the sickness worsened in Proof as the dialogue hinted at?

Alex: Proof has a hyperactive immune system, which is why he doesn't get sick often. When his body encounters something new, though, it sorta tears him apart while it deals with the virus. So his sickness is coming in waves as he fights it and it fights back. The same thing happens with us when we get the flu, but here Proof's dealing with something that kills normal people. It's taking a lot out of him.

Eric: And let's talk about Isabella a little here as we found out exactly how she ended up at the lodge. She had an experience with a windigo? Is her story important to the big picture of the Proof world?

Alex: Sure. The windigo will be back eventually. Meanwhile, that story helps illustrate not only why Isabella's with The Lodge, but also why she's alone and what her attitude may be toward non-humans. Cryptoid: In real life, there's a network of psychiatrists and psychologists who deal specifically with people who believe they've been abducted by UFOs. If you think you're an abductee, you can be referred to one of these professionals who've specialized in this exact thing. Within the world of Proof, there's a similar network of therapists who deal with cryptoid encounters. Isabella's not just one of those therapists, she's also a believer (with good reason), which makes her uniquely suited to work at The Lodge.

Eric: And speaking of the windigo, an extremely creepy cryptoid was described like this in the script without research---is this a brand new take on the legend, or faithful to the classic legends?

Alex: This is more than a little frustrating... Months ago, while I was researching that story, I came across that little tidbit of information. At least one Native American tribe described the windigo as a band of extremely tall gaunt men who rubbed themselves with sap, then rolled in sand and gravel so that they looked like they were made of rock. These weirdos would then blend in completely with the trees and landscape around them so they could jump out and eat people. There were some warrior tribes who did the same sort of thing, but I only found one reputable source that claimed the windigo did it. When I went back to find that reference, while I was writing the Cryptoids the day before the issue was due to Image, I couldn't find it anywhere. I checked all my books and all the Web sites I trust with that kind of information, but no dice. So I wrote that Cryptoid from memory and stayed much more nonspecific than I wanted to with it.

Anyway, it's a cool visual and a creepy idea. Hopefully I dig up my original source before the windigo make a return appearance. The notion that the trees hide zombies is a great one.

Eric: So does Proof have a wolverine type of healing factor going on? Or is it more of a biological thing showing? Just how different Sasquatches are from humans?

Alex: No, not Wolverine- or Savage Dragon-level healing powers, but more of a natural phenomenon. Proof's immune system follows an antibody behavior pattern that's actually possible, if unlikely. I mean, if you chop off Proof's arm, he's just not gonna have an arm there anymore. But if you expose him to smallpox and his immune system manages to fight it off, he'll be immune to smallpox after that. We don't really know yet how long the average sasquatch lives, but when you consider the fact that Proof's been kicking around for more than 200 years, he's probably not gonna die of pneumonia.

Eric: Do we know why the thunderbird is as angry as it is? Or how it came to be blind or has it always been blind?

Alex: The mama thunderbird is the last of her line and those things have been kept in caves for generations while the good folks who belong to that sect in Illinois have taken care of them. It's blind, like most cave-dwellers are, and flightless. But it's not so much angry as it is spoiled.

Eric: So a certain big bad finally shows up, Mi Chen Po who looks pretty interesting. He looks like a slightly elderly Sasquatch. He's meeting with Joe the golem, which I assume that Joe meeting Ginger and getting her to work with the lodge was all part of the plan? Or am I thinking a bit too much into that one?

Alex: Well, Mi-Chen-Po is actually another accepted Asian name for the Yeti. But he is pretty darn old. You'll get a better idea of what he wants with Joe in issue 14, which unveils some (hopefully) interesting tidbits about Joe's past. I will say that this is the first meeting between Po and Joe. It does look, though, like there's another character who popped back up in this arc who's met Po before.

Eric: Just what are those dogs that are guarding him? I think I have a guess at the cryptoid, but I just want to see if I am correct in my guess.

Alex: There are lots of folktales about big black dogs, including "The Beast of Bodmin Moor." That critter turns up in The Hound of the Baskervilles and other modern stories, so it's a fairly common cryptid. We've got a cool essay about The Beast in the back of issue 14. It seemed likely that Mi-Chen-Po would have an entourage for his visit to New York (he lives in Tibet). Of course, the dogs aren't all he's brought with him.

Eric: And more on Joe the golem, does this make him a bad guy meeting with our big bad? Or is there more to this?

Alex: There's a lot more to this. Joe's not a bad guy. But he's not a good guy either. He's sort of an innocent and that makes him valuable in the coming Cryptid War. Which way Joe jumps is going to be very interesting for everyone involved.

Eric: Wow, I was actually thinking hound of the baskervilles/a little ghost busters kind of hellish dog. Any hints as to anything else he's brought with him?

Alex: Nope. Because it's a pretty huge plot twist. We'll definitely be talking about it in a near-future installment of this column. In fact, it'll probably be the main subject. And it'll tie into another series of questions you're asking here. I do like to hint. :-)

Eric: Marc also continues to show that Ginger's choice in men is lacking a little, don't you think? Rushing to his girlfriend's aid like she needs help and then referring to the rabbi in an anti-Semitic way? Winner at life that man?

Alex: Oh, boy. Marc's a guy Riley and I both dislike, but there's a lot more to him than we've shown yet. There are a couple of cool twists coming before the end of this arc and he's not gonna be disappearing anytime soon. I kinda feel sorry for him. I kinda feel sorry for Ginger and Elvis too. Elvis obviously has a little bit of a crush on Ginger, but she's been burnt and is gonna shy away from anything too serious for a while. At least, that's my assumption. These characters sometimes end up surprising me.

Eric: So, what you're trying to say about Marc is that he really means well, he's just a bit of an idiot? That's what I'm getting from him in his first few appearances.

Alex: Well, like many people (maybe most people), Marc means well when it suits him. Marc's out for Marc's best interests. He hasn't taken a step back to see what Ginger wants or needs from him because he's too busy filling the role in her life that makes him feel good. And maybe that dovetailed with Ginger's needs for a bit, but now that's she's broadened her horizons, it doesn't work anymore. Marc's too dumb and too self-absorbed to notice. He's not a bad guy, but he's not a particularly nice guy either. I certainly wouldn't want to hang out with him. But I've known a lot of people just like him.

Eric: Elvis ended up pushed to the background a little which he seems to be correcting. Was it because he became such a big character in the first few arcs?

Alex: Yeah, unfortunately there's just so much going on in this arc that the Ginger-Elvis-Marc love-triangle, which I really wanted to explore, sort of got pushed into the background.* Poor Elvis. His timing is just off, that's all. Elvis is the opposite of Marc in some important ways. But whether Ginger can see that or not is up in the air.

*We've got the intro of Mi-Chen-Po, who's been pushing Proof's buttons for a long while, albeit from behind the scenes. We've got the origin of Joe the golem. We've got the intros of new characters Qi (the ink monkey), Marc, Dr. Tan (staff physician) and the preacher (plus one more new critter that shows up near the end of the arc). We've got more on the mysterious rabbi, Isabella Bay, Belinda Drake (Ginger's former boss), Gordon Plum (The Lodge's staff veterinarian) and the history of cryptids. We've got The Savage Dragon, thunderbirds, hellhounds and alligators in the sewers. We're exploring Proof's physiology and his emotional hang-ups. Plus, we're delving into Autumn Song's past crimes against the cryptids at The Lodge. It's a lot for one arc.

Eric: Wait! I thought you said the preacher wasn't sticking around after the end of the arc? So a handful of the characters we've met specifically in this arc are sticking around in the supporting cast?

Alex: Whoops. No, the preacher goes away at the end of this arc, but who knows? He could come back if he doesn't die. And, yeah, several characters and/or creatures who've been introduced (or re-introduced) in this arc will be sticking around for the long haul. And one character who's been gone for a bit will be returning at the end of the arc. Hmm. I'm being kinda vague. Okay, the ink monkey will be around for a good long time and will be doing some damn cool stuff. Isabella Bay is primed to take on a bigger part in the book. Mi-Chen-Po will be around. I'd rather want another issue or two before saying much else or I might ruin some twists that are coming up.

Eric: Will there be more guest artists on the back up stories coming up? Or was this a one of a kind thing?

Alex: Connor did a fantastic job on the back-up story. We were really happy with his work. Dave Casey, who did the little two-pager in issue 12 is doing another short back-up. Paul Fricke's drawing a back-up that'll appear in issue 16, Kelly Tindall's drawing a long story for issue 17. Wes Wedman's doing a beautiful story that should show up soon. Marck Labas just called to let me know he's almost finished with the story he's been working on.And I'm writing back-ups for a couple of other artists. After that we'll have to see. I've largely written all the big side stories. All these back-ups are important to the continuity, but if I keep going I'm afraid I'll just be writing filler. Nobody wants that. So expect a few more small stories.

Eric: So what can you tease for next issue without spoiling anything?

Alex: Sorry to be so cryptic about all this. :) This arc finishes setting up the whole series and it would be really easy to give everything away by saying the wrong thing.

So, yeah, issue fourteen's a big one. We finally reveal the origin of Joe the golem, what he really is (since there's no magic in the world of Proof) and his relationship to the mysterious rabbi. Ginger runs into more trouble in the sewers than she can deal with (which will lead to some serious consequences in the future). Mi-Chen-Po lets us in on his motivations. Proof gets better after having a long talk with The Dragon. That talk will turn out to be incredibly important (and I've probably already given away too much of the reason for that) and will lead to a significant relationship for him going forward.

If you're a Proof fan, this is a pivotal issue. If you're not, I guess you don't like comics.

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

Learn more about Alex's work at www.alexandergrecian.com.

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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