Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof: Endangered #5 (of 5)

Welcome to the latest and the last edition of the Proof Positive column for a while. In this edition, Alex Grecian and I discuss all things Proof with the last issue of Endangered! In this issue we had our heroes fighting a rather epic battle, things set up for the next few stories and a beautiful epilogue that will bring a tear to your eye. So let's jump right in!

Eric Ratcliffe: First question for this month has to do with Autumn who, as we can see in her bio picture towards the back, has evolved very interestingly as a character. Was most of her evolution Riley on art or was it specifically in the scripts?

Alex Grecian: Hmm. Not sure what you mean by her evolution. Her look, including the tattoos, was Riley. Character arcs, story elements and personality were my department, though, for good or bad. Riley didn't exercise much input on plot.

Eric: I just meant that her hair has changed a bit and her overall look is different from when we first met the character. Part of it probably has to do with Riley's style changing over time.

Alex: Oh, well, yeah. That's all Riley.

Eric: We've known Autumn for ages but didn't know much about her family life, which seems to be all about gaining a bit of love from her father? Is it safe to say that's where a lot of her hate of cryptids comes from?

Alex: Yup. She comes from a long line of cryptid mutilators.

Eric: I'm a little confused as to why Nadine killed Autumn's brother. He wasn't tied to Elvis's death and other than that conversation was fighting on team Proof during the chaos?

Alex: Rain was there with Elvis while Nadine was with Autumn in another part of the neighborhood. So he was a suspect, since she still doesn't know who killed Elvis. We may assume that Bella and Mr. Lee are in a fair amount of danger at this point.

Eric: As Nadine hints in the dialogue...chupacabras can move around in the shell they are currently wearing? So the head shot was just on the skin or did it actually hit her?

Alex: Your guess is as good as mine.

Eric: It's an interesting moment, though, between Nadine and Autumn as you really have to wonder if Nadine would have 100 percent killed her if she took another shot on her. I have to wonder if Nadine knows of all the fairies that Autumn is responsible for killing.

Alex: Yeah, but if I had to back one of them in that fight, it'd be Nadine. Autumn would put up a fight, for sure, but... I guess maybe we'll see one of these days.

Eric: So one of the teasers that we are given is another look into Proof's past. When the time comes to return to the book will this be similar to the Julia arc in tone? Or is this a much different version of Proof than we've seen in most flashbacks as he seems to be a teen at this point.

Alex: Poplar Forest would directly follow the short story that ran in, I think, the second trade, that showed Proof being discovered by the Lewis and Clark expedition. We've envisioned it as an OGN, detailing Proof's voyage back to Washington DC and his time living with Jefferson. If we ever get to do it, we wanna fill it with journal entries and maps and all kinds of cool stuff that you can't normally do in a monthly comic.

Eric: So like "The Black Dossier" for the Proofverse? (The Black Dossier is of course the third League of Extraordinary Gentleman book by Alan Moore.) Would it have any modern story telling devices as well?

Alex: Exactly! And we haven't really had much of a chance to mull it all over yet. We've been talking about it for a year or two, but we're not sure there's a market for it just now.

Eric: So when a ningen is split in half it just falls over and dies? Would it eventually "melt" and wash away?

Alex: I think it was probably still alive, just crippled. But it's possible that Proof himself killed the thing by burrowing through it to escape.

Eric: The ningen is such an interesting cryptid from both a visual standpoint and a creative standpoint, do you think when returning to the series that it will get a little more of a spotlight?

Alex: Hard to say. I sorta doubt it, though. Riley and I have discussed a return to the series and the direction we take might surprise a lot of people.

When we come back, we'll probably take it back up after the epilogue in issue five. That seems to make the most sense for us at the moment, rather than trying to drag along all the backstory. When and if we do get to the "to be continued" stories, I imagine they'll be self-contained OGNs or flashbacks or something we haven't thought of yet.

Starting over would need to be a relatively continuity-free reboot, I think

Eric: How many cryptids did Po bring to the fight? I think I personally lost count as I was reading.

Alex: A bunch!

Eric: Before we go back to talking about this issue itself, that just brought up a really interesting question. When we do return to the book, it will be the "5 years later" ending and going from there? I find that a really interesting idea and it must be really unique via a writer's perspective?

Alex: Yeah, I think it's a lot more interesting than going through the motions of stuff we've already set up. There'll be a lot more surprises. We'll get to reintroduce older concepts and characters, but in new ways. And we'll get to move on to new characters and concepts without having to wait to get the other stuff out of the way first. We'll make sure everybody gets caught up with what's happened in that five year period though.

I just really love the idea of pushing the reset button and having a series with Bigfoot, a female FBI agent and her little boy, traveling the world and having cool adventures.

Eric: I think the things I loved the most about the way that scene was set up is that Ginger finally looks to be at peace, Proof is rather dapper in that suit and you can see the now 5 year old kid just looks up to the man who I am guessing is his godfather/guardian.

Alex: That relationship is something I look forward to exploring.

Eric: So with the ending in mind and your plans for the future, will we ever get any pay off on things at the lodge, other than what we saw in the 1 year later issue?

Alex: I guess we'll have to see whether that will fit in organically with anything we do next. We really haven't cemented anything for the future yet.

Eric: The title of the issue was "End...Angered," which I thought was interesting. Is that in response to the actual end for a while or more of the mindset of pretty much the entire cast of the book?

Alex: It referred more to Proof's mindset at the climax of the issue. But then there's that epilogue, in which he seems to have lost that edge a bit, huh?

Eric: I'm not too surprised that Bella can seemingly hold her own on the battle field. We've never really seen her have to fight before, though - has she been getting self defense lessens from Proof and Ginger off panel? Though I believe, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, she must have taken some sort of self defense classes after losing her husband?

Alex: Bella's a pretty headstrong, independent woman. And she was cleared for field work before the Thunderbirds arc (she shows up in a pretty dangerous place there), so she's probably had some training in how to take care of herself.

Since you mention it, I'd take defense lessons from Ginger before I did Proof. I'd have a Scotch with Proof, but I don't know that he's necessarily a good fighter.

Eric: That actually opens up something I'm not sure we've ever talked about before: Proof's fighting style. He's much more a brawler than, say, a tactician. He lets his anger work towards his goals before using his brain. Obviously, probably not the smartest way to fight, but in the end it gets the job done for him. Now to make this a bit longer and more long winded on my end, when writing a character like this do you actually look into different kinds of fighting/boxing/wrestling? Or is Proof's fighting style more just from the top of your head?

Alex: I think violence is usually fast and ugly and artless. When two people fight, there's no time for art to enter into it. You go at the other person until he goes down or you do. Proof's big and he's always relied on that to get him through a tough spot. One of these days, it won't.

Eric: The chupacabra at the lodge has quite the personality to her. She seems pretty flat out sadistic to me.

Alex: Yeah, she's scary. Also, possibly the first cross-dressing cryptid ever. Riley's kind of in love with her.

Eric: Fake Wayne seemed to lose his cover there when he thought the other chupacabra was going to kill him; do you think it's becoming obvious to either of the other men with him that he's not who he seems?

Alex: Well, the real problem's going to come when and if Dachshund figures it out, but we see in the One Year Later story that he hasn't yet. In that issue (25), Dachshund makes a gay joke about Wayne, which would seem to indicate that he thinks he's still the same guy he was before.

Eric: That Asian store owner is awesome, he's really stolen the few pages he's actually been on.

Alex: Mister Lee's pretty cool. I had no plans for him, but then he asked Belinda out and I suddenly realized he's gonna have to come back.

Eric: Speaking of Belinda, it's been under a year since she joined the lodge right? She adjusted real fast.

Alex: Well, she's been a cop for a long time.

Eric: I know Ginger's going through a lot, but you have to wonder if when she calmed down she felt bad for what she said to Bella. I mean sure, Ginger killed her boyfriend thanks to a cryptid, but Bella lost her husband to a wendigo...pretty sure she knows what she's going through to a certain extent right?

Alex: Maybe so. But Bella's husband was murdered. Ginger killed her own boyfriend. Granted, she didn't do it on purpose, but that's sort of a double-whammy. I'd feel bad if my wife died, but I'd be carrying around a whole different set of baggage if I killed her.

I don't think Bella will hold a grudge about being yelled at.

And anyway, I think Ginger was venting in general, not yelling at Bella specifically.

Eric: I love all the chaos that's going on around the main characters throughout the character stuff, especially when it's Nadine beating up another cryptid. I don't know why, but I think it's a fun dynamic of the action going on as things are kind of "quiet" with our leads.

Alex: You felt like things were quiet for the lead characters? After one of them was being killed, another was killing him, one was going through the worst family reunion and... well, Bella was mostly helping everyone else. I guess we didn't do our jobs if it felt quiet. :)

But, yeah, I'm not a huge fan of talking heads. It works fine in film or TV where there's some motion no matter what's going on, where actors can communicate tension through body language or inflection. Or in prose, where you're zipping through dialogue before you can wonder about what's happening. In comics, you have static moments of action and I feel you need to have something going on during those moments. Most of the time.

Eric: I meant quiet in the sense that you put, which is the "talking heads" thing, which is what a writer such as yourself is very good at. It seems to be, for me, something that I think is the most fun in a book like Proof. Moments like Proof, Ginger and Bella or The Dover Demon talking to Elvis at the funeral many moons ago.

Alex: That's still my favorite issue.

Eric: Proof being kind of a pacifist about his "brother" intrigues me, especially after everything he's caused. Is it mostly due to the fact that he's afraid of being the "last of his kind" or is it mostly due to not knowing if he'd ever find out where his blood related family was?

Alex: Proof has always been a pacifist. Getting him to do anything is a chore. That's one of the central conceits of the series and probably a big reason why this book hasn't done as well as everybody involved would like. He would much rather read a book than fight someone. He wasn't conflicted in this last issue, or taking a stand. He was just reluctant to hurt Po.

Eric: Po really seems to be mostly regretting his actions during the big confrontational scene; is that fair to say or would you say that he'd say anything for Proof to just come home with him?

Alex: Oh, I don't think he'd just "say anything." Nor do I think that the possibility of defeat hadn't occurred to him. He's a very smart guy and has probably got some failsafe plan that Proof and company have now blundered into. Come back next month and find out what... Oh, never mind.

Eric: So do you think you and Riley will put out an omnibus like collection some point soon with everything? I can see a crazy amount of extras included as well. Mind you, a book like that would probably cost at least $75 to $100 and probably be a very limited print run, but I personally believe it would be an instant sell out to the diehard fanbase.

Alex: For 50 grand, Riley and I will handcraft such a thing.

(Editor's note: Obviously Alex is kidding, but I wonder if we somehow managed to put together an insane amount of money like the Firefly fans tried to do if we could actually get something like this?)

Eric: On a less serious note, you totally wanted Proof to be in a t-shirt and jeans in that epilogue didn't you? The suit and fedora was another Riley idea? ;) (joking of course)

Alex: Ha!

Actually, the island they're on, Inishbofin, is a place my wife and I visited a few years ago. I proposed to her on that trip and thought it would be a nice place to set Proof's happy ending.

Eric: Do we know how long Po's been sitting on the information connected to Proof's father?

Alex: Well, the finger was sent to The Lodge in the last arc of the regular Proof series. I think Po's had Proof's father (or at least his finger) for a long time now. Years maybe. Just waiting for the right moment to use that info.

Eric: I know we talked about it a little last month, but I would like to bring it up again. The happy ending as you said...was it really important for you to show that to readers in order to ease the pain of not reading the book for a while? A sort of "here's the ending" kind of thing?

Alex: Well, sure. We were dangling three cliffhangers in front of everybody, but then not saying how soon we'd actually wrap them up. Some sort of closure was necessary so people wouldn't throw tomatoes at us at conventions.

Plus, this was the ending I've always had in mind for the series. I wanted to be able to get it out there, just in case. I didn't want this to be one of those things that people follow and then never see an ending for. Including me. I wanted to see that ending.

Eric: I really like the fact that even at the end of this part of the book you're still showing people who have mixed thoughts on the series on the letters page via the post from CBR. Why did you include that if you don't mind me asking?

Alex: I've always liked letters pages that are more than just fans stroking the creators' egos. The pages with more bite are the ones where there's a mix of positive and negative opinion. Erik Larsen does a great job of that in Savage Dragon.

I thought the CBR guy made a good point. I don't necessarily agree with him, but I can see where the difference in pacing would bother some longtime readers. And he was right: there was a bit of a rush to get a lot in there. As I said in that last essay, if I'd known we were going to have to take a hiatus when we started Endangered, I would have trimmed some of the elements that were included in the first couple of issues. Wrapping all of those up quickly was a bit of a juggling act and, while I'm reasonably happy with the way it all turned out, I might have tried for a more leisurely pace if I had it to do over again.

Anyway, I appreciated his opinion as much as I appreciated everyone else's. He was reasonable and I always listen to reasonable people.

Eric: It bums me out that we aren't going to be doing this monthly for a while, Alex. I'm trying to figure out if there's anything that we've really missed discussing.

Alex: I'm a little bummed too.

But there are five teasers here for future stories (I'm including Scott's brilliant back cover, which was entirely his idea). And Riley and I still love Proof. We have to take care of some other projects and we have to try to get to a place where we can bring more people back with us to Proof. Once we do that, we'll be back here and Proof will still be here waiting for us.

We both sincerely hope that you (and I mean all of you) will be here waiting too. Without everyone who's taken a chance on us and on our special brand of Bigfoot, we wouldn't have made it this far.

Thank you!

Well that's it for now, folks, the end...well for now at least. This column will return when the book does, and of course both Riley and Alex will hopefully be on the podcast some point down the line. I would really like to thank people that checked each of these out. I've been doing this column with Alex for around 2 years now, maybe a little longer and I've loved every second of it. Proof was and is one of the most unique books I've had the pleasure of running across in the comic industry and I really feel it will always be something special.

On a personal note, I really do have to thank Alex for doing all these with me. It's been a pleasure getting to know such a great writer and he's done nothing but help improve my interview style as well as just being an overall great guy. It's still funny to me that we've sadly yet to meet. Hopefully that will change at a convention sometime in the near future. Anyways, as I've mentioned, we will continue to bring you news on all things Proof when we hear about it as well as any and all projects Alex and Riley are working on!

Have a question for Alex? E-mail Eric and let him know.
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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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