I Just Needed Proof!

We all know that you can’t read everything. Well, you could, but then your eyes would hurt, you’d be out of money, and there’s a good chance it would cause marital problem. Plus, I’m just not that obsessive. Yet, a new series comes out pretty much every week. I do my damnedest to keep up, but it just can’t always be done.

But, we do make mistakes.

Conor wrote a little write up of Proof a while back, extolling the virtues of the first couple issues, and it has popped up on the audio show here and there since then. Even Tom Katers at Around Comics, talked about it lovingly on his show. It is not a question of awareness, but one of interest. The pitch, as I heard it was, it’s like The X-Files with Bigfoot, and Elvis, and a chupacabra. Now, that sounds lovely, and I can see that many people might like it a great deal, but I’m not so into that stuff, so I told myself I’d get to it eventually, and I’m sure it’s pretty good, but I’m not that into the idea, so good luck to them, and let’s move on.

Then I find myself in San Diego, holding the camera, while Ron interviews Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo, about their book. The guilt was staggering. Immediately after we’re doing the chit-chat, and I’m doing the smiling, and the nodding (utterly ignorant), and I blurt, “well, I guess I’ll buy this now,” followed by an explanation of how I had meant to pick it up all along, and was just waiting for the trade, since I’d missed the initial issues. Said trade had been out quite a while, and was something like $10, which isn’t really a king’s ransom. Hence, I picked up Proof, Book 1: Goatsucker.

I get home, and toss it on the stack, which, as an aside, is bigger than ever, haunting my dreams. But yesterday, I cracked it open, the book having jumped several places in the pecking order, likely due to the aforementioned guilt, and what do you know? I really dug it.

But I didn’t dig it for the reasons previously stated. All that Unsolved Mysteries stuff is well and good, but what impressed me was that the story was written exceptionally well, and the method they chose to reveal the story and the characters was exceedingly good at making me wonder “what comes next?” and “who are these people?” on a consistent basis throughout the whole volume.

Straight away, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The formula is equal parts Hellboy and Powers from what I’m reading. There’s a secret arm of the government in charge of rare and mythical creatures, but they’re naturally occurring and as real as they come. An agent is brought in because of her edgy attitude, and she’s partnered with a Sasquatch. The Sasquatch is nicknamed Proof, and we see the rocky beginnings of their no doubt powerful and loving eventual partnership.

However, if it was just a cheap ripoff of things we’d seen before, I wouldn’t be talking about it here. Most apparent to me is the idea that this book feels as if it has been thoroughly thought out. There is a big world here, and it’s been imagined to a large extent, and the creative team’s job is to pull back bits of the curtain here and there, showing us just enough to make us want more, and keep us reading. In that way, it’s not unlike a book like Fables, where Bill Willingham clearly had plans from the get go, and knew everything when he started, yet took years to tell us that much. One way Proof accomplishes this is by cutting between scenes just as they’re getting interesting. You get to the end of a page, and just when you are about to learn something, you go somewhere else. It’s maddening and masterful. People talk about action movies keeping you on the edge of your seat, but this style of narrative, when done well, does it for me every time.

In the category of “things that could or should be annoying, but for some reason aren’t” are the frequent cryptoids found throughout the book. Allow me to explain.  Think of it like Pop Up Video for comics, but relevant to the story, and frequently entertaining. They’re captions explaining some relevant facts to the story. They’re a little bit funny, and a little bit smart, and they’re just right. It would be very easy for these to take away the flow of the story, and slow down the story, disrupting pages. But in this story, they’re appropriate, and forward the story, giving information that actually proves useful.

While I feel the basic set up is similar to those books I’ve mentioned above, I must say that, above all, I don’t have a sense that I know what’s going to happen. And I very much want to know what’s going to happen. That’s all in the telling and characterization. Ginger is interesting, and I want to know more. Proof is interesting and I want to know more. Elvis is… you get the point. I’ve read through 5 issues. It was effortless, and fun, and at the end, I felt like I had read more than that, and am conspiring to get the remaining issues, and then jumping to weekly releases. It’s so much fun to do that, and I haven’t had a book like that since The Exterminators, where you read it, and you just know they’re getting it right.

As always, you can’t have a comic book story without art, and Riley Rossmo is a unique case. Honestly, at first glance I wasn’t struck. It wasn’t bad, but it’s very loose, and a bit sketchy. It seems as if it’s a bit unfinished, at first impression. Yet, as you read, it all clicks. It all works. There are likely words to describe what this alchemy of story and art is, but I’m not sure if I have them. But I can articulate some of the things I like about the art. For one thing, it doesn’t look like anyone else’s art. The sketchiness actually makes for some very nice, naturalistic lines. The people aren’t gorgeous in this book. They’re people. They’re old, a little overweight, tall, skinny, or just regular. There’s a scene where a woman (more or less) pops out of a cave in her underwear. It’s not lascivious in the least, but rather, she looks like a regular woman in her underwear. So despite that the lines of the story are so stylized, the feeling of that scene is extremely grounded in reality. In that way, Rossmo’s art is perfect for this series which has to meld the real with the unreal. The art is dirty and grimy, and perfectly complimentary to the words.

So after all the good words I’ve heard, it turns out that Proof is all it’s rumored to be. I also believe that this isn’t going to be the kind of book you can wait around for. If you’re interested, buy it now, because I don’t think the sales are going to guarantee that the book will be around forever. If you’ve been thinking about it, make the leap, pick it up. Sell out the first trade. If what I’ve said makes you curious, give it a shot. There’s nothing more fun than finding a new series that feels fresh and is fun to read to a jaded comic book reader like myself. And I’ve got to pay for my books to, so for every “Damn you iFanboy for making me buy another book!” know that I too feel that pain, but more importantly, I love reading a good comic book.



  1. Guess I’ll bump this up in my "to get" list.

  2. That image of the woman holding herself, half-dressed and crying is sorta distressing. She looks brutalized and I am too timid to click the link for a larger version.

    In any case, I can’t stand this sort of Bigfoot/Elvis/American kitsch mythos stuff. 

  3. I find that Proof is very much like The Exterminators as well. Both are truly great, fun reads.

  4. katers already made me buy this

  5. Yeah, I’m onboard for the trades the first one was a lot of fun.  I too enjoyed the cryptoids.

  6. @Labor – I don’t like that stuff either.  Hence my delay in reading this.  Did you even read this, or did you just come to say you don’t like it?

    Also, that woman is not a woman, but rather has been inhabited by a chupacabra wearing her skin, so yes, she should be beat up a bit.

  7. I picked up the first issue of this when it came out just based on the idea and have been with it ever since.  It has that "comfortable" feel to it.

  8. Excellent book here, grabbed the first trade a little while ago.  Can’t wait to get the second volume!

  9. @Josh, Did not say I dislike Proof. I was talking about the subject matter dealing with Elvis, Bigfoot chupacabra and whatever else. I hate that stuff. I would not read such a book, but have heard others speak highly of it.

    Intended as a "not my cup of tea" comment.  

  10. God dammit… Now I have to pick this up… Sonuva…

  11. I have been thinking about this one for a while now. I like the idea but it did not seem original, but I am often to quick to right things off with out giving them a chance. I will check this out.

  12. I picked up the trade when it first came out and have been reading single issues since then. Personally I think it’s pretty good (not amazing) but I am really surprised at how few people pick this up. More people need to give this a try. The cryptoids are great.

  13. This type of thing definitely IS my cup of tea, but I’m often wary of books like this because they can be so poorly done. Thus, when such a book can convert someone NOT interested in the genre, that’s actually the BEST recommendation I can hear. Because this means that the book is not "just another copycat" so heavily devoted to being as much like Hellboy as it can be that it fails on every other level.

    Which is me saying: now this is on my MUST BUY list. 


  14. There goes Josh, writing a better review of the book than me.



    Ps. Try out that trade folks. It’s only $10! 

  15. @ChrisNeseman – things that were posted the week of San Diego Comic-Con may as well not have happened to me.  Me, I like the idea of different takes on a book, and you were coming from a different angle than I was with the book.  So, if betweent the two of us, Conor, and all these other folks, we can’t get the pulls up for this book, it’s just not gonna happen.

  16. I liked your "sober" take on the book 🙂

    Keep spreading the Gospel brother Josh!

  17. Actually that’s iFandog.

  18. Josh, you’ve really got a skill for selling the things you love.

    I have a feeling this trade will end up on my stack soon, along with "Starman."

  19. I picked this book up at the same moment that Josh did.

    I loved it.

  20. That was a great review & defintely made me wanna read it … but, like Josh said "you can’t read everything" & I’m not rich enough to buy every comic I want, or else my pull list every week would be like 50 books.

    Who am I kidding? I’ll probably buy it tomorrow.

  21. While I’ve been a big fan of Proof from the day I picked up issue one on its debut week, this review is making me rethink my decision to drop The Exterminators around issue 21.  I’m going to try to pick it up again and fill in the gaps from what I’ve missed since then.  I forget why I dropped it initially.  I think it had something to do with cutting down my pull list so that I could pay my tuition, but I think I’m going to add it back on since 4 or 5 minis I was reading have ended and I have some extra room in my budget.

    Thanks again Josh!

  22. @Labor, if you read that story, the context that the seemingly brutalized woman appears in makes a lot of sense and you find out quickly that its not what you think at all.

  23. Yes. Good on Josh for getting on the train.

  24. this is one of those rare books that i jump on the first issue, for some reason it dosen’t click, i keep hearing about and come back to give it a second go round. i can addmit when i am wrong, and i was wrong, this book rocks.

  25. @actualbutt, I am not too interested in Proof or finding out what happened to that woman, to be honest. Based on the images, the book does look suitably creepy/scary. Brr.

  26. @actualbutt, As much as it pains me to say, Exterminators didn’t end all that strongly.  When they got word that they were cancelled, the wheels came off the horse a bit.  I liked it, but there was a lot of rushed plotting, and it just wasn’t the same.  Too bad.  If it hadn’t been cancelled, I think we would have seen the quality maintain.

  27. Nice to have you aboard, Josh (and the others). I’ve got to thank Katers for turning me on to this one – I heard him talk about it on Around Comics the week after it debuted and picked up the first issue, and have been there ever since.

    I can’t recommend this title enough. It’s not just a ‘Hellboy’ knockoff – it seems Grecian and Rossmo have very specific story beats they want to hit, but leave room for developments along the way. For example, according to back matter stuff somewhere in the first few issues, Grecian comments the Elvis character was supposed to be killed off, but Grecian came to appreciate the character so much, he added him to the cast.

    Something you may want to look out for is the Monster Mash-Up Image released a few weeks ago. There’s a great short Proof story in there that seems to be a very important link to Proof’s past. I’m sure it’ll turn up somewhere in a trade down the line, but it’s an interesting peek at some of the ideas these two are coming up with.

  28. I dug this when I read the first trade.  I buy too much on a weekly basis, but I will definitely scoop up subsequent trades.

    Also, I got the impression that the Elvis in the book is not actually Elvis the singer.  Is this true or did I miss some completely obvious hint/clue?

  29. @Neb – the character is named Elvis Chestnut, and no, he isn’t the real Elvis (so far anyway). He was a small-town sheriff in the first arc. There is some resemblance to the King, but he doesn’t wear a white bedazzled jump suit or anything.

  30. so i never ever heard about this series. I heard much about this series and i got very very intrigued. i picked up from issue 6-10 so im gonna start reading this cuz i really enjoyed those issues. im picking up the trade also.

  31. This is my favorite book out right now PERIOD.  If you wonder if this is your "cup of tea" if you are looking for smart writing and incredible art then this is it.  The story is so much about character development that many of the cryptids become the backdrop in a similar fashion that The Walking Dead has little to do about zombies and more about the plight of man.

    Do yourself a favor and pickup the trade – I have told countless friends to pick it up and if they didn’t like it I would refund their money…. not one friend has asked for their $10.  

  32. @Josh, I didnt even realize exterminators was canceled!

  33. I didn’t realise exterminators was cancelled either… ooh