Proof Vol. 1: Goatsucker (Image Comics)

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proof-header.jpgA bigfoot in a business suit works as the mediator between the human world and the things that go bump in the night.



128 pgs. FC; $9.99

(W: Alex Grecian; A: Riley Rossmo)


One word to describe the new Proof trade paperback from Image Comics? Fun. In fact, not just fun, but very fun and very well executed. Proof works because Grecian's story obeys the consistent internal logic so necessary for a comic like this to thrive. It doesn't hurt either that Rossmo's art is enjoyably accomplished. Don't let anyone tell you the art is messy or scribbly. It's not. Full of frenetic, almost contagious energy, Rossmo calls to mind the work of the great Bill Sienkiewicz. Each seemingly random squiggle or half-sketched background element (be it plant, animal, human or inhuman) is a purposeful expression of a consistent style, perfectly complimenting Proof's consistent premise. Simply put, Bigfoot is real and he's two hundred years old. He goes by different names, the most recent of which is John Prufrock, and works as something of a mediator between the human world and that of the cryptids, biological entities existing outside the confines of publicly acknowledged, everyday science.

The cover to Proof vol. 1 by Riley Rossmo.In terms of concept, I am favorably reminded of Mike Mignola's Hellboy. Physically abnormal by human standards and therefore visually unique, Proof evinces very human character traits. Plainspoken and perhaps a little bit sad, our hairy hero is a well adjusted misfit, Sasquatch in a suit. John Prufrock lacks Hellboy's aura of lingering doom, but is haunted by a powerful loneliness, a desire to find others of his kind, which casts a similarly tragic shadow. Like the BRPD of Hellboy, Proof works for the Lodge, a covert government agency with the stated mission to investigate creatures going bump in the night. However, these monsters, including the titular Goatsucker, are crypto-zoological in nature rather than supernatural and demonic, the idea being everything in Proof should be scientifically feasible (as feasible as comics get anyway) rather than magical, and that isn't the only difference. The Hellboy franchise is already steeped in its own mythos. Proof is creating its own world as it goes and marking the trail with handy signposts in the form of cryptid factoids known as, you guessed it, cryptoids. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. For instance, Proof is seemingly not the brawler Hellboy is. Hellboy wades into battle like Sgt. Rock. John Prufrock comes off like the male lead in a police procedural or one of those movies about FBI hostage negotiators. This makes Proof unique, but also leads to my one big disappointment. We never get to see the all too human Proof truly cut loose, to seem, however briefly, more animal than man. One can only guess that Grecian and Rossmo are saving Proof's wilder side for something really big.

As things stand, my appetite is suitably whetted. In fact, I'm probably not gushing enough, but I'm trying to be objective. A lifelong fan and armchair student of oddities such as the Skunk Ape and the Beast of Gévaudan, Proof is tailor made for readers like me. I've devoured this trade five times since it landed in my hot little hands. Knowing the bare minimum about the premise (Bigfoot in business attire works for the government) and next to nothing about the creators, I went in a blank slate and came out a fan. A comic book reader can't really ask for much more than that. Unless, of course, one were to ask for a fishing trip with Mr. Prufrock. I imagine he might have a line on where to catch some furry trout. | Greg O'Driscoll

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