Comic Shots #2 with Chris Neseman: El Chupacabra and ‘Proof’

July 24, 2008


Each week Chris Neseman drops by to pass along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.

 



This column is all about enjoyment and making time for the little things in life. I’m a big believer that life is a journey and finding new things to stimulate the mind and senses is what keeps you from going crazy. Keeping that in mind, I realized that I’m happiest when I’m actively seeking out new experiences and expanding my horizons. One of my favorite times of the week is when I can come home after a long day and mix up a new and different cocktail and enjoy a few comics. Last week’s column was more about comfort with an old fashioned cocktail and an old fashioned feeling comic, but this week we’re going to stretch into some new territory.

Folklore, fantasy and mythology have always appealed to me and my hope that there really are other worlds under my feet, around the corner or just out of sight. This certainly fuels the imagination of others because you can find stories and legends about mystical and mythical creators in just about every corner of the globe. One of the most bizarre examples of this is the Latin American Chupacabra or Goatsucker. The Chupacabra is a kind of Bigfoot in Latino culture, and the inspiration of one of my favorite X-Files episodes. The Chupacabra is also a cryptid, or a creature that despite eye witness accounts there is no actual evidence or proof they exist. The fact that there is a relatively new legend about a vampiric Mexican Bigfoot that feeds on livestock fascinates, frightens and amuses me. Apparently I’m not the only person inspired by the possible existence of such a creature because it didn’t take long for me to find this delicious little concoction. I present to you the El Chupacabra cocktail.

El Chupacabra

  • 1 oz Apple Vodka
  • 2 oz Sweet And Sour Mix
  • 2 Maraschino Cherries
  • 4 Ice Cubes


Mix the Apple Vodka and sour mix with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain over ice in an old fashioned glass (you should have one from last week) and garnish with cherries. Goats blood is neither called for or suggested for this or any other cocktail.

This is a very tart and refreshing cocktail. Be warned, it’s very tasty and goes down easier as the weather gets warmer. Just like the creature it’s inspired by, it can sneak up on you and you could be finished before you know what hit you. Enjoy an El Chupacabra on a warm summer evening while you’re reading…

 

Proof
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Alex Grecian
Artist: Riley Rossmo

Proof was an automatic choice for me when I started thinking of books to recommend to people in Comic Shots. The obvious pun on the name proof and a column about cocktails and comics couldn’t be ignored. Besides that, this book appeals to almost all of my comic book and entertainment sensibilities. Proof is odd and humorous with a nice touch of darkness but it still has an underlying hope in humanity and the good that people are capable of. Proof has a pretty simple message that the world can be an incredible place if we can just get past our fears of the unknown and embrace the strangeness around us. If you can imagine the most basic concept for the X-Files and replace Mulder with an intelligent Sasquatch and a team of B.P.R.D.-like agents you have a good start on why Proof is easy to enjoy. At the heart of the series is a secret government agency that both protects the public from cryptids and provides the often (but not always) innocent creatures a safe haven away from the dangers of society. As you can imagine, it’s a complicated job being part monster hunters, part environmentalists and part zoo keepers. The headquarters of the agency, The Lodge, is an unassuming refuge for hundreds of cryptids and training ground for the agents who track, capture and care for them. The Lodge is a fascinating location that’s rich with storytelling potential.

Proof successfully walks the thin line of humor and horror in a way that had me both laughing and cringing… sometimes on the same page. In Proof the ridiculous becomes almost plausible, and for just a moment you think fairies or the Dover Demon might actually exist. As smart as the series reads, Proof doesn’t make the mistake of taking itself too seriously. When the story reaches those peaks of believability it reminds you that this really is fantasy and we’re all here for a good laugh. It makes sure we don’t forget this is about an orphaned Sasquatch who is a federal agent after all. One of the brilliant ways Grecian accomplishes this is the use of Cryptoids, or interesting bits of information (you can’t call them facts) about the origins and behaviors of cryptids. The Cryptoids do the service of eliminating any cumbersome exposition and sneak in unexpected jokes at the perfect moments.

Riley Rossmo’s art is fantastic. It’s easy to get lost in the expressive scratchy style, but there’s solid storytelling here. Rossmo sets a tone and mood in Proof that keeps you glued to the page. The creepier aspects of the stories are hidden in shadow till the last moment when they have the most impact. As with the writing, Rossmo’s art is able to capture both humor and horror in a way that makes the two seem like close cousins. This isn’t the style I want for The Avengers, but it’s a perfect fit here. It’s certainly a case where I couldn’t imagine a book being drawn by another artist.    

The world that Grecian and Rossmo have created is dense, often innovative and always entertaining. Outside of it’s tone, the real strength of the series is in its collection of characters. The title character alone is worth the price of admission. Agent John Prufrock (or Proof), the intelligent Sasquatch is the perfect ambassador between our world and that of the cryptids. He has a similar story to Hellboy in that he’s found a home with humans and works with them as a guardian against the strange and unknown. Like Hellboy and other characters of that ilk, he shows us our own humanity through his quest to understand and become more human. It’s even mentioned in the series that Proof is destined to be alone because he can never be truly human, but has embraced humanity too much to ever go back. As entertaining as he is, Proof is not necessarily the star of the series. He is just one of three central characters that offer different perspectives on The Lodge and the world around it. Proof’s new partner, federal agent Ginger Brown and small town sheriff Elvis Chesnut complete the trio of investigators that will have you going back and forth on which one is your favorite character. Grecian has been careful to match the three up in pairs so we can see the development of their relationships in small calculated steps. Ginger is an FBI agent who isn’t quite sure that this career move is the right one, and Elvis’s world has been turned upside down as he’s caught up in the events of the first story arc. Watching this team come together promises to be a fun ride that should educate, alarm and ultimately entertain.

If any of this has peaked your interest you should know that Image has released the first five issues in a trade that retails for only $9.99. It’s a great low investment way to jump into a great new series. I hope you enjoy the El Chupacabra, and Proof. Both are refreshingly different and the perfect way to take a break from the Summer heat. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back next week for another round of Comic Shots.

 


Chris Neseman is the host of The Around Comics podcast and a co-host of the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. You can contact him at chris@aroundcomics.com and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy only the amount of comics that you can till your wife or significant other threatens to throw things away.

Comments

  1. "… Goats blood is neither called for or suggested for this or any other cocktail…."

     

    Apparently you’ve not been to the same small town bars in Mexico that I have.  It’s an essential ingredient.  😉 

    Great article Chris.  I’ve been wanting to give PROOF a go for a while now, I just need to free up some $$$.  When I do, the TPB will be consumed immediately.

     

     the Tiki 

  2. You go ahead and drink that goats blood.

     

    I’ll be over here sipping on some bourbon and RC. 

  3. Today is National Tequila Day and no tie in with that?

    Best way to start today was Tequila for breakfast and then sleep till tomorrow.

  4. Neesman, look on youtube for a Kids in the Hall Skit called "Girl Drink Drunk"…looks familar doesn’t it? I tease…good stuff and good review…

  5. Hey!

    That’s why I have the e-mail address at the bottom. You folks are supposed to keep me in the loop on stuff like National Tequila Day! 

  6. I am stunned that a drink named after the goat sucker doesn’t have tomato juice or V8 or something bloody in it. This sounds downright palatable!

  7. @ Alex G 

    "Yes, I’ll have a Squashed Strawberry Alley Cat please."

    Brilliant!

  8. I know what I’m having for the drink roll call tonight! WOOT WOOT!

     

  9. Hah you mentioned it on Around Comics, and I said ‘it’s gotta be proof’ but then the first week was some OTHER book (also good).

    Glad to know I had guessed right, if a week later.

    Proof really is alot of fun, not yet an ‘I HAVE to know what happens next’ kind of thing but I’ll be grabbing the second trade when I see it.

  10. I enjoyed the first trade, but wasn’t knocked on my ass by it.  I really loved the little Cryptoids in the book.  I’m looking forward to the second trade, where hopefully things amp up a bit.

  11. Proof is great. The cryptids are such great additions to their world.

  12. Great review.  And the drink sounds like a winner.

  13. Tom really liking your posts( even if i don’t drink). Proof sound great i’ll have to check it out sometime of course i say that adout a lot of things so who knows when that will be. 

  14. I don’t drink, but after such a nice review I say "BOTTOMS UP!"

  15. @superfriend82 /whisper… You’ve got the wrong Around Comics guy. 🙂

  16. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    This sounds fantastic.  I know there’s a copy at my lcs, so I’m grabbing this on Wednesday.  Being a B.P.R.D. fanatic, this is right up my alley.  

    Great write-up too.  Loving the column so far!