Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof Endangered
Welcome to another edition of the Proof Positive Column in which I sit down and talk with Alex Grecian (well we email back and forth) to discuss each issue of proof and just what's happening in the book. This month may be our most controversial issue ever as a fan favorite character is caught in the crossfires which leads to some very shocking changes for the book. So let's jump right in!
Eric: First question for this edition, Alex: we've talked a bit about death in comics before. Heck, we've seen it dealt with in both the future and the past with characters like Mike and Autumn...was there any other way that worked out in your head before the "trigger" was pulled and you wrote out that scene? Or was Elvis always the one who would die here?
Alex: I have to admit it was a very hard scene to write. I love Elvis. In a lot of ways, he represents me in this story. At the same time, it was exciting because this is one of the big dramatic moments we've been working toward all along (well, at least since the end of the first arc) and I knew there'd be fan reaction. Not knowing what the fans would say about it all, and knowing that a lot of people weren't going to be happy with us, makes the whole process a little more electrifying. And terrifying.
When I started writing that scene, I kept holding back, thinking maybe we didn't have to do this yet. Maybe we could stick somebody else in that shop. But it wouldn't have worked.
Elvis was always slated to die. (If he's actually dead; that last page wasn't very final, was it?) I'd originally planned to have that happen a bit later in the series. But we knew that we needed something in Endangered that would make it an "event," that would make it worthy of being the first Proof miniseries. We wanted to grab our readers and make them sit up and take notice. It's not just another arc in the ongoing series. It's Endangered and that means something. We don't have to adhere to a status quo in this book; we own it, lock, stock and barrel. We're working without a net.
I want to assure you, though, that this means something. It's not arbitrary or cruel or a stunt. To get to where we're going with Proof, this needed to happen.
Eric: Not to drag another death into the mix, but I think it has to be said that, when it comes to image, it seems dead actually very much means dead. As opposed to something like Marvel where with The Human Torch bets are already being taken on when he'll return. I know you guys take death in the Proofverse very seriously. (Looking at "Thunderbirds" as an example.)
Alex: Yeah, when we kill someone in Proof, he stays dead. Unless he wasn't really dead to begin with.
Marvel and DC are corporations with long-standing iconic properties. Nothing against them, but that's a different sort of thing than creator-owned comics. At Image the creators generally go into the deal with a complete story they want to tell and that means character arcs and that means the possibility of death. The story will end. Marvel and DC have no interest at all in letting stories end. The creators who work for them are caretakers, not owners.
Again, nothing wrong with that, it's just a different way of looking at things and means that if I do a DC book and kill off The Flash, I'll know ahead of time that The Flash probably isn't gonna stay dead. He's just dead for the duration of my time on the book.
Eric: I think that may be my favorite recap page ever. A lot of info on just one page that fills in the reader on pretty much everything. It also seemed to have a small amount of humor to it.
Alex: It's kind of amazed that the recap page seems to have been mentioned in every review we've had. I'm glad folks like it and even more glad that it seems to be doing what it's supposed to: catching people up to speed on what's been happening in the book. I'm definitely not changing anything about that page in future issues.
Eric: I'm not sure how much of this will be revealed in the next two issues so I'll do my best to tread carefully. When Po was in the sewer with Ginger, how much time passed in order to even plant that hypnotic suggestion in her head? And was it basically a "kill" switch?
Alex: You'll find out a little more about it issue four, but we're not gonna reveal the extent of the damage or exactly how it was done. There are some things that are better left to the imagination. Given Proof's own pheromone-enhanced powers of persuasion, though, I think it's safe to assume that Po's better at hypnosis than most folks are.
Eric: What was the decision on putting a Cryptoid right on the cover? I don't remember seeing you do that before.
Alex: Yeah, that's why I did it.
Actually, I was ready to put that issue to bed, having completely lettered it and realized that I didn't have any Cryptoids. What's more, I didn't want to interrupt things with Cryptoids. I wanted that slow build to the final scene to be smooth. So it occurred to me that the cover was uncharted territory for us and that there was plenty of room there. Once I'd put one on the cover, though, I ended up going back in and using another one to explain what the Ningen is. I'll tinker with an issue forever if the deadline isn't too tight.
Eric: Ginger has obviously moved on from her relationship with Marc but as we all see in those first few pages, it's safe to say there are a lot of unresolved issues which, thanks to the man himself, probably aren't going to ever be resolved? Was Marc just a pawn to Po the whole time? Something to use as a catalyst so to speak?
Alex: Well, yeah, Marc is Po's agent and a human. I suspect Po always planned for that to be a suicide mission. He clearly uses people for his own gain, but he doesn't respect or value us.
And Ginger had definitely moved on. In every possible way. What Po, and by extension Marc, have done to her is indescribably cruel and evil. She's going to have to live with the repercussions of all this for the rest of her life. (Although who knows how long that'll be.)
Eric: Now your version of the ningen is completely made of water? I notice the coloring seems to have it translucent?
Alex: Seems like it. I sent Riley a bunch of visual reference for this critter, but rather than make it the traditional white, he went with transparent. No idea why, but it looks cool as hell. Frank colored it so that it appears watery and that influenced a key scene in #5 as I wrote that script. We built on each other's elements and made something new and entirely unexpected. Ah, collaboration!
Eric: Marc, while treating Ginger as badly as he does, seems to regret things at the end. Do you think he tells her he loves her to get her not to kill him? Or do you think there was a part of him that still genuinely cared for her?
Alex: I think people are complicated (much more so than they're depicted in comic books) and Marc probably did everything he did in order to get Ginger's attention. I suspect he would have killed her if it came to that, but mostly he just wanted her to respect him. If he couldn't get that, fear was the next most viable option in his mind. So, yeah, in keeping with his definition of the term, he loved her.
Eric: Can we trust Rain? Seems the little chicken is just running away from his sister at this point and, other than finding the girls, he really didn't add much to the situation.
Alex: I wouldn't trust Rain. He's played a smaller role in this series than I originally imagined (there was just too much story to cram into five issues), but he's a pretty typical person: he does what he needs to so he can get what he wants and survive. Hmm. I seem kinda cynical this time around. People can be good, but I think that most people will only do the right thing in a situation if it benefits them as well. Or at least doesn't inconvenience them too much. We're selfish bastards at heart, aren't we?
Eric: I guess the positive of having Rain around is tracking everyone but... what happened to his men? Wouldn't they have stepped into a situation like what happened to Ginger?
Alex: Well, we're sort of implying that a few things have happened between scenes. Autumn and Rain were apparently tied up and left behind by Proof and Elvis. Belinda and Nadine were going to mop up after them, but the siblings had already escaped. We have no idea how that went down, but I imagine there was some family drama and the henchmen took off.
Eric: Always good to see the Lodge agents, especially Nadine. We know she's always had the connection to Elvis. Is her sense of danger similar to how cats and dogs can sense storms?
Alex: Pretty much. At least in this case.
Eric: So that's Nadine screaming over Elvis's phone in the background on that last panel?
Eric: I'm still confused as to Po's end game here, does he want the world under his reign? Does he want humans to die off?
Alex: Right now he just wants his "brother" to join him. He figures getting rid of everybody else that Proof cares about will leave him with one option.
Eric: So a hypothetical question when it comes to Po then: if it finally clicked in his head that the only way to reconcile with his "brother" was not to kill everyone around him, do you think he'd change his ways? I mean sure, he comes off as villianous right now, but we still don't know what our chupacabra at The Lodge has been up to this whole time. There is still a chance for Po to reform in the long run and change his methods right?
Alex: I don't believe in "bad guys," only people (or cryptids) whose motivations are at odds with each other. I can't remember who said it first, but there's an old adage that says everyone is the hero of his own story. As far as Po's concerned, humans have nearly obliterated cryptids. That makes us the bad guys in his book and justifies (at least in his own mind) any means he uses to balance that scale. Mostly, though, he's lonely. He's not setting out to be an evil bastard. Just like Proof, he doesn't know who his family is. Proof's the only family he knows and he wants to win him over. He's lost sight of how to do that because he never really understood what Proof's all about.
Eric: I know you've said on several occasions that this was the ignition to the "Cryptid War" and everything would really change. Obviously without spoiling the next two issues can we talk about why turning Ginger into a sleeper agent and killing Elvis becomes a catalyst as opposed to everything else up to this point?
Alex: Elvis's death (and the way that Elvis died) needed to happen to get us to the end of the entire series (not necessarily just the end of "Endangered").
(It's also kind of our commentary on the ridiculousness of having "real people" in comics. Jimmy Olsen wouldn't last two days if he were really Superman's pal.)
But the "Cryptid War" storyline has changed quite a bit from what we originally had in mind. We've borrowed elements from that future story to use here in "Endangered" because it was clear to us, after seeing the sales numbers on the first issue, that we were going to have to squeeze as much as we could into this miniseries. Things were going to have to speed up because we didn't have the luxury of finishing Proof the way we wanted to. That's tremendously disappointing for us, but it's the reality of the comics biz these days.
So the ignition of "The Squid and the Mountain" is Elvis's death. The ignition of "The Cryptid War" is Kogami taking over The Lodge. Those two things are going to overlap, rather than play out end-to-end. And that's why there's so damn much happening in this five-issue story!
Eric: So what can readers expect from the next issue? Will we be getting another funeral issue at some point or is there just too much insanity going on in this part of the story?
Alex: Sadly, Elvis isn't gonna get a funeral. At least we're not gonna see it.
Next issue, we will see some of the repercussions of his death (assuming he really is dead). We'll see Dachshund and Kogami in a showdown. We'll see what Nadine does when she sees what happened to her skin boy. And we'll see Ginger wake up.
Join us next issue as we discuss all things Proof! As always if any readers have questions, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be sure to get them in the next edition.
Take A Look Inside Proof Endangered #3
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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