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Eric Sits Down With Alex Grecian


About a week ago I was reading the latest issue of Proof with a big smile on my face. An excellent idea struck me, and I posted on Image's Proof board and then emailed Alex. I figured current fans and those looking for a new book would love a cool behind the scenes writer's studio type of supplement to read after each issue. So, here it is comic lover: Proof Positive, the new column where I discuss the latest issue of Proof with Alex Grecian!

Eric: I think we should do a quick overview for people new to the Proof universe. What is Proof?

Alex: Proof is an ongoing series about The Lodge, a top-secret government organization jointly funded by the US and Canada. The Lodge is headed by a mysterious man named Leander Wight whose goal is to ensure that humans and cryptids live in harmony. Cryptids are monsters that might actually exist, creatures that have been witnessed, but never caught. The Loch Ness Monster, El Chupacabra, The Mothman, Bigfoot... All cryptids.

Speaking of Bigfoot, The Lodge's star agent is a sasquatch. He's the only non-human agent and he goes by the name John Prufrock. His friends call him Proof for short. He's a stylish guy who cares deeply about his appearance and manners, but for obvious reasons, he can't interact with the public. Proof's partner is Ginger Brown. She was a rookie FBI agent and was recruited by The Lodge after she met a golem while on a case in New York.

Other agents include Elvis Chestnut, who came to The Lodge after his mother was killed and inhabited by El Chupacabra; Wayne Russet, Proof's best friend and lead cryptozoologist; and Noel Russet, Wayne's estranged son.

The first story arc (issues 1-5) is collected in the "Goatsucker" trade. In it, we're introduced to all these characters, plus an agent named Autumn Song, who isn't terribly nice, but is good at her job. The second arc (issues 6-9) is called "The Company of Men," and will be in stores this December. That arc takes the Lodge agents to Africa in search of a baby dinosaur, then to Seattle to find Elvis a new suit.

Currently, Proof is in the American Midwest, dealing with giant thunderbirds in the arc "Thunderbirds Are Go," which also follows Ginger back to New York to wrap up loose ends in her life there. Ginger and her former boss are tracking a golem through the sewers, while Proof tries to deal with the effects of avian flu. Meanwhile, Noel has brought the last living ink monkey to The Lodge as a gift for Leander.

Lots going on!

Eric: The book seems to be able to handle juggling a few different plot threads at the same time, which is always nice to see. Do you find that easier to write for as the series progresses?

Alex: I'm actually kinda looking forward to the next batch of stuff I get to write, which will still interweave different characters and plot threads, but in a less hectic manner. There's just so much going on in this arc that the trick becomes getting everything I want to say into 22 pages each month.

There's much less room right now for the quieter character moments I enjoy writing and, while I'm not saying we're going to slow the book down, I'm at least going to give myself a little more breathing room in the next few arcs. There's still a lot we don't know about these characters and I'd like to explore that a bit.

There's a reason we've packed so much into this arc, though. This arc is the end of what we're calling "Act One." After this, all the major characters and big ideas will have been introduced and we'll be able to start building on those. The Proof Mythology will be firmly established. Then we start moving into the events that will shape the end of this series.

Eric: Going into issue #12 Proof finds himself in a very weird position as the toxin infects what he's seeing. Is this going to be playing a major factor next issue with an apparently big name Image guest star?

Alex: That's a tougher question to answer. This is definitely the weirdest guest appearance by The Savage Dragon in Image history, I think. Proof reacts to the flu a little differently than humans do and he doesn't have a lot of experience being sick, so it's hard for him to sort out what's real and what's not as he hallucinates throughout this arc. But whether The Savage Dragon is one of those hallucinations or is actually there, I'm not saying. You'll have to read on and decide for yourself. :-)

Eric: The preacher being blind becomes evident in this issue, is that significant in any way to the overall arc?

Alex: That's more of a thematic choice than a plot point. If you notice, he also doesn't say a whole lot that isn't a quotation. In other words, most of what he says has already been said by someone else. But that doesn't mean he's not smart, just that he's put his own life in the service of others and there may not be much of him left by now. How he chooses to react to the climax of this arc will be pretty important.

Eric: When we finally get a glimpse of one of the "thunderbirds" it seems to be very dragon like in appearance. Was this noted at in the script or was this Riley having fun with the name?

Alex: That's definitely in the script. There are two "dragons" in this arc. The guest appearance by The Savage Dragon is just a gimmick unless he fits the story and has something to do with the character arc that Proof's going through in this story. Meeting The Savage Dragon is going to change something fundamental about Proof and how he approaches the world (not to mention his interpersonal relationships) as the series moves on from here. We really didn't want to throw a guest star in just to do it, but when Erik offered to lend us The Dragon, I started trying to figure out how that could possibly work and what impact it would have on the characters. So, yes, Riley had the challenge of trying to make the mother Thunderbird look like the other Thunderbirds, but with a little Savage Dragon mixed in. He pulled it off pretty damn well, didn't he?

Eric: Moving on to some of the other plots going around in the book, and being introduced to Qi the ink monkey, is he only around for this arc or is he going to end up as more of a dover demon like character? The fight scene starting in this issue between him and Tink the fairy is obviously not over yet?

Alex: Qi's going to be a very important member of the supporting cast. Funny you should mention The Demon. When Riley was drawing the opening scene for issue 15, he emailed me to say that if we aren't careful Qi's going to become cooler and more popular than DD. The Dover Demon's probably the most popular character in Proof, but I think Qi's going to catch up to him pretty fast. As far as that fight goes, you'll just have to wait to see the consequences.

Eric: Back in New York it seems like Ginger has decided to ignore her boyfriend and search out Joe the Golem again, is this more for Joe's sake or for her running from her problems?

Alex: Oh, Ginger's definitely running from that relationship. Her boyfriend Marc seems totally unsuited to her now that she's been away from him for a bit. She has a little perspective now and, while Marc's not a completely bad guy, he's way too clinging for someone like Ginger.

Again, though, whether things work out between Ginger and Marc or not, there'll be consequences for other people. Ginger's extremely independent and if she cuts Marc out of her life I think she's going to be pretty reluctant to start another relationship anytime soon.

Eric: How does it feel to be a year in to the series officially? And how many "acts" do you have planned for the series? Or has that yet to be determined?

Alex: It feels great. It's a little rough to be as far ahead as Riley and I have been (although our huge lead has largely caught up to us by now) and have stories planned as far ahead as we do and yet still have readers and retailers largely expecting Proof to sort of disappear, since that's what happens to so many new books by fresh creators these days. But with a year under our belts, we both feel like we've got less to prove (so to speak).

The whole series is basically a three act structure. Our first act, which ends with this current arc, introduces the characters and situations. Once "Thunderbirds" is over, you'll know the important people and creatures in the book and how they relate to each other. There are still plenty of surprises we've been holding back about those characters. We've hinted at quite a bit. But the foundation is laid for the rest of the series.

Act Two will last about three years. Now that everything's been introduced, we've got a chance to roll up our sleeves and explore it all, the whole mythology. We'll be shaking some things up and changing the status quo, but we've got that status quo in place now to be able to change it. We're going to be telling a lot of the stories we initially pitched to Image. Some fun stuff we've been dying to get to. We'll also be filling in some of Proof's back story, some of the things that happened to him before he joined the Lodge and we'll be finally telling the story of how The Lodge was founded and how a couple of our characters went from being the best of friends to becoming bitter enemies. That's a very cool story that I've been itching to tell.

And then, of course, comes "The Cryptid War," which will begin with an arc called "The Squid and the Mountain." That's Act Three. All the build-up and hints we've strewn throughout the series will be picked up and tied off and we'll probably end the series there. But Act Three will take about a year and half because there's so much to deal with. Man, I can't wait! Anyway, there's still about five years to go before we get to our ending.

Eric: And Alex, as the first edition of Proof Positive, what can you tease as we head into issue 13?

Alex: It's a big issue for us. It's weird too because we initially talked about having it be a fill-in issue, so we could have as little involvement with it as possible. Riley and I are both phobic about the number 13 and looked for any way we could avoid even having a 13th issue. But it was just impossible and we bit the bullet and ended up with maybe the most important issue to date.

Mi-Chen-Po will finally be revealed in 13. This is the main villain for the whole series. This is the guy who's been pulling the strings from the beginning of the book. For those who've been reading from the start or who picked up the trade, Mi-Chen Po sent the chupacabra to find Proof before issue one began. He's been watching Proof for about 150 years and he's decided it's time for Proof to step up and stop living in the shadows. He's engineered a lot of events to draw Proof out of hiding and make the world notice him.

When we started planning this series, we didn't want random coincidence to determine how Proof would meet other monsters and we didn't want every adventure to begin with a mission. We wanted there to be a reason things would happen to our main characters, something driving the mysteries. That's Mi-Chen-Po. He's behind everything.

We've also got a back-up story that highlights one of our supporting characters and why she's at The Lodge. It's beautifully illustrated and pretty creepy. If you like windigos, don't miss it. Plus, there's an original Screamland Halloween story and an Archie Snow adventure.

Oh, yeah, and we rip The Savage Dragon in half in the first five pages. Fun stuff!

Eric: Join us next month as we talk about lucky #13 and a very special guest star. Till then, this has been Proof Positive!

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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