Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #14

Welcome to this month's Proof Positive. As usual Alex and I discuss everything that happens in the issue and tease what's coming up next.

This month had everyone's favorite Rabbi meeting up with Mi Chen Po and Joe. This all takes place as Joe learns about the life of his people before he became the last one. Ginger/Elvis and the others continue their way through the sewers and Proof and the Dragon share a private moment before they head off to battle. So without further ado, read on fair readers.

Eric: Autumn had a very bad childhood didn't she? I mean the horror's that are found in the

Alex: Heh. Yeah, Autumn was working for Colonel Dachshund while she was with The Lodge, but that wasn't all that was going on with her. She wasn't just a double-agent. More Autumn to come...

Eric: So is Leander more of a man of science than faith? Judging by his conversation with one of his clean up crew members.

Alex: Yeah, Leander's very much (VERY much) a man of science and you'll see more of why that is later in the series. He has good reason not to believe in angels. We've sprinkled some hints throughout the early issues, but a blatant one is the presence of his wife, Gloria, in the picture Autumn left for him to find.

I worried about this exchange because while I was revealing a little bit of Leander's character in that scene. I was also tying into some of the themes of this arc. Obviously, many people (and many of our readers) believe in angels. And, just as obviously, Leander doesn't. He was a bit rude to poor Perry, but that doesn't mean he's intolerant. He's just maybe experienced some things Perry hasn't.

Eric: I didn't think Leander was coming off rude to Perry though... that wasn't the way i read it. I just read it as a guy who feels a little awkward about faith. Obviously that's eventually going to be revealed as to why?

Alex: Oh, most definitely. We'll be exploring Leander's past in the arc that deals with the founding of The Lodge. That'll be a bit after the Julia arc. We don't want to follow one story that's set in the past with another right away, but it'll be a doozy.

And, of course, faith or belief, is what this arc is all about. As opposed to Proof. ;-) Leander represents the secular point of view.

Eric: That werewolf in the bathtub... Any hints as to which kind of werewolf that is?

Alex: Leander was right when he said it was an Andean wolf, not a werewolf. Werewolves aren't cryptids, per se, but Andean wolves are. I've got a picture here of the pelt of one and, if it's not a hoax, it's a cool critter. It's a big bad-ass wolf with a golden mane. For the most part, we're not gonna feature people turning into monsters. The cryptids are all on a par with endangered animals that need to be rescued.

Eric: Jumping around just a tiny bit, Ginger going back for her gun, does that show that she's not afraid of the creatures fighting the alligators or is it more that she doesn't like losing things and feels that she needs to prove herself more?

Alex: Ginger's not someone who's motivated by fear. But she makes a lot of stupid decisions anyway. She just feels better when she has her gun (remember way back in issue five [The Goatsucker trade] when she took her gun with her to the tennis courts and Elvis nabbed it? Anyway, she'd go back for her gun, even if it meant getting separated from the others down there in the sewers.

Eric: So Ginger is going to get herself separated from the rest of the group? Mi-Chen-Po's dogs seemed to completely ignore the rest of our team. Was this because they had a specific mission or because they could care less about humans?

Alex: Po wanted them to keep the alligators at bay so that he could talk with Joe. He also wanted them to keep a specific human safe, but you're not gonna find out who until next issue. Other than those commands they were following, the dogs really don't care about the people at all. And, yes, Ginger's separated from the rest of the group.

Eric: Mi-Chen-Po isn't exactly coming off as a bad guy here. He's coming off as just another side of the coin. Is this the way you wanted him to be? In a grey area?

Alex: There's an old adage that no one is the villain of his own story. In other words, most people don't think of themselves as bad guys, even if they do bad things. They have reasons for the things they do. I try to keep that in mind when writing about "villains."

From his own point of view, Po's a good guy. Noble even, but his plans aren't necessarily good for the rest of us. You pegged it, though, by calling him the flip side of the coin. He's the flip side of Leander, and Proof is definitely on Leander's side. So they're going to come into conflict. You're going to see much more of that and the events that set Po on the path he's on when we get to the long-awaited (but up-coming) "Julia" arc. Exactly what makes Po different than Proof and why those differences could end everything Proof cares for will drive most of the last couple of years of this series.

Eric: How did the rabbi know where Joe and Po would be? Or is this something to be revealed in 15?

Alex: He lucked out a wee bit, but we telegraphed it with a scene in a previous issue... I didn't clearly indicate who it was, but if you re-read Ginger's one-sided dialogue, the rabbi obviously called her on her cell phone and asked where she was. But, he didn't come down with Elvis and Marc. So he guessed that Joe might be a bit farther down the road and spent some time looking for him.

Eric: Proof and Dragon seem to be hitting it off pretty well sitting in the cave as he heals. I even noted that it seemed Bella was talking to both of them. So it's becoming pretty obvious that he's there...or are you not going to reveal that?

Alex: I'm not. The Dragon's there for a specific purpose. If you read her dialogue, 'Bella may or may not be aware of him there. I have my own opinion about whether he's there or not, but I'd like it to remain open-ended. If you really want Proof to have met The Savage Dragon, there it is. He's there. But if meeting the Dragon doesn't make sense to you, given that Proof and Ginger are running around our own world, not a world that's teeming with superheroes, then Dragon must only exist in Proof's delusional mind. Personally, I'm a huge fan of The Dragon. And Erik's been terrific in letting me use his baby. So I'm not going to say one way or the other.

Eric: I'm curious....when was the last time John asked a woman out?

Alex: 1858. The guy's got good reasons for being tense. I tell you that now, but you can read it yourself in "Julia." I was talking to Riley earlier today and he wondered aloud whether he and I were the only people who were anxiously awaiting "Julia." I sure hope not. I keep talking about this (and promise you, we'll be talking about this much more in a couple of months), but if "Thunderbirds" sets in motion the beginning of the end of Proof, "Julia" shows why he's the person he is and how he and Mi-Chen-Po became such different creatures.

Eric: I'm looking pretty forward to Julia actually. It's a past story which means we get a lot of dots connected to the history of John and the lodge and that certainly has me excited. Can you tease any more about it?

Alex: "Can I tease anymore...?" C'mon, that's just a silly question, Eric. Okay, "Julia" predates the formation of The Lodge by about a hundred years, so most of our supporting cast won't be a part of it, except in a framing story. (No worries, though, we'll be including back-up stories that are set in the present day, so there'll be a little Elvis in there.) But we will be showing Proof and Mi-Chen-Po as relatively young men (at least young by sasquatch standards). Proof wasn't so buttoned-down as he is now. And one of the most popular members of our supporting cast will be represented in what I think is going to be a surprising way. Plus we've got Springheel Jack, which was one of the more disturbing cryptids to ever bound over a Victorian-era rooftop. A surprising number of people witnessed this thing in broad daylight, so it's going to be a lot of fun to explore what that was all about.

But, the biggest reason for me to be excited about this arc is Julia herself. I've been fascinated by Julia Pastrana's life for just about as long as I can remember and have always wanted to write about her. She was an amazing person, who lived a truly heartbreaking life. To be able to incorporate her true story into the mythology of Proof is a dream come true for me. And Riley's gearing up to draw it all. His style is absolutely perfect for this stuff. He's worried and excited all at the same time. We've got a couple of issues (16 and 17) in which he's stepped back a bit from the illustration end of things, so that he can get a big head start on the next arc. It's gonna look beautiful.

Eric: The Rabbi and Joe, how far back do these characters go? Obviously this is something we will be seeing in 15?

Alex: Yes, this arc is, more than anything else, about Joe. We'll be showcasing the nature of his relationship to the Rabbi and wrapping that story up for the moment. I really enjoyed the scenes with them together. The rabbi has depths of character that surprised even me a bit.

Eric: 15, the end of this arc and helps build toward what everyone's been looking towards. Any more teasers?

Alex: Well, the inside back cover doesn't have that big bold word "Genocide" for no reason. We've largely tied a big knot in many of the subplots that ran through this arc. There are a few things that are left kind of open-ended, things we've set up in this arc so that they can play out over the next few years, but I think it's a pretty satisfying issue. Riley and Adam (our tireless colorist) worked hard on it because I couldn't quite tell all the story I wanted to tell in 22 pages. It's a 26-page main story and I had to push the two-page epilogue back to the next issue, so we could squeeze in Archie Snow. There wasn't even room for back matter. It's a doozy!

Eric: I know there have been a few readers who have wondered about the price increase, but it's all extra content being thrown in and barely any ad space correct?

Alex: Well, Proof has always had extra content and very few ads (I think we've had three house ads in 14 issues). We really want our readers to feel like they're getting their money's worth with an issue of Proof. But it's very time-consuming and the costs involved are going up. A lot of Image books have been $3.50 for a long time now and many Marvel/DC books are $3.99. We kept the cover price at $2.99 for as long as we could, but at a given point, if we wanted to continue, it was unavoidable.

Eric: Finally for this week, how much has gone into getting a guest star like the Savage Dragon into the book? Give the fans a little behind the scenes to cameo's like this.

Alex: It was a nightmare. Erik Larsen had all sorts of conditions we had to meet and there was a huge licensing fee we had to pay. ;-

Honestly? It was completely painless. Erik likes Proof and offered to let us borrow his character if we ever wanted to. I've been a huge Dragon fan for years and jumped at the chance. The problems, then, were how to fit a superhero into the "real world" environment of Proof and what kind of impact The Dragon would have on Proof's continuity. In other words, I didn't want it to be a stunt. If we were going to include him, I wanted it to be for a reason and I wanted it to change things for Proof.

Issue 14 was the big important conversation between them and I sent Erik the script before Riley started drawing, so Erik could make changes or suggestions. He changed roughly two lines of Dragon's dialogue and that was it. I was amazed that he let us get away with the "Little Dragon" joke, but he actually laughed about it.

So, all things considered, it was a cake walk. The only real difficulty was just the tension I felt, having to be responsible for someone else's character. Particularly since The Savage Dragon's a very action-oriented book, while Proof's much more about internal tension and long conversations. Hopefully it all worked out.

Eric (in closing)... I'd like to thank Alex as usual for taking time out of his schedule to do this for me. Join us for the next edition when everything really does change. Well not everything, but we slowly get into season 2!

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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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