Local comic book creator talks about series

Sam Sayler / Washburn Review

Unsolved mysteries have long plagued the curiosity of people. The unknown and unexplained work their way into fiction as artists attempt to explain the world to themselves and others.

Topeka writer Alex Grecian explored similar themes in his recently completed comic book series “Proof” from Image Comics. The series sees Agent John “Proof” Prufrock locate officially undocumented creatures called cryptids such as chupacabras, jackalopes and thunderbirds.

However, Grecian has his own way of explaining the series.

“It’s about a guy going through his midlife crisis,” said Grecian. “Only he’s Bigfoot and he works for the government.”

Grecian originally incepted the idea for the series when one of his friends brought a random and trivial notion at dinner.

“One of my friends said the reason we can’t find Bigfoot is because the government already found him and he’s working for the C.I.A.,” said Grecian.

Though he admits the joke was silly, Grecian wrote the idea down on a napkin and emailed artist Riley Rossmo, who had previously collaborated together on the graphic novel “Seven Sons.”

“We had already been batting around 16 different notions for a comic book series,” said Grecian. “All of a sudden, the sixteen went away.”

Through developing the series, Grecian changed Proof’s employers from the C.I.A. to a joint venture with the U.S. and Canada called the Lodge. Additionally, Grecian changed Proof to a passive character and gave him an aggressive partner in Ginger Brown.

Having thoroughly researched cryptozoology for the book, Grecian made sure that any evidence existed for the cryptids in the series and that anything had the potential of happening. In Grecian’s mind, if he had not given himself rules for the series, he may have gotten into creative trouble down the line.

“The balancing act and the trick for the whole series was only to use things from mythology or cryptology that could actually exist and not have any magic pop in to save the day,” said Grecian. “It’s supposed to be realistic with an unrealistic twist.”

Before becoming a full-time writer, Grecian worked in advertising and admits that his former job both helped and hurt the series upon its release.

“It helped me in that I knew what I was supposed to do,” said Grecian. “It didn’t help in that I was pretty burned out on advertising and didn’t want to deal with any of it. We kind of went under the radar because I was lazy at first.”

Aside from scripting the comic, Grecian also served as the letterer, adding word balloons, captions and helping design pages, which he describes as a completely different process.

“To be honest, I didn’t always enjoy it,” said Grecian. “It also just took me forever to do. I’m the slowest letterer in the world just because it doesn’t capture my attention very well and I end up wandering off and doing other things.”

Having written his first novel in high school, Grecian always knew he wanted to be a writer and went to college intending to write the great American novel. However, he soon learned it was easier to break into comics than prose or screenwriting.

“I could either write poems that no one would ever see or write comic books that no one would ever see,” said Grecian. “I went with comics and married the two things that I love.”

While most writers move to bigger, faster-paced cities like New York or Los Angeles, Grecian is content living in Topeka.

“It’s not a very stimulating city to live in if you’re creative, which can work for you,” said Grecian. “There’s definitely nothing to drag you out of the house or the office and entice you away from writing.”

According to Grecian, he took inspiration from his father’s career as a Topeka playwright to show that he may be successful as a local writer.

“I could see that you could work anywhere, and you could make a living as a writer,” said Grecian.

For more information on “Proof,” visit www.proofcomic.blogspot.com. Follow Grecian on Twitter @alexgrecian.