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Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof #28

Welcome to the latest edition of Proof Positive where Alex and I talk about all things Proof. This month we are talking about the end of season 1 with issue #28! Things come to a head, our lead makes a life altering decision and things take some very shocking moments. So let's jump right in as this is an in depth one!

Eric Ratcliffe: Wow, that was one hell of a cliffhanger ending to leave us out on, Alex.

Alex Grecian: Thanks!

Eric: My first question is a doozy, so I apologize about its length ahead of time, Alex. In the future issue [#25] we met up with future Wayne who was now in charge of the lodge but seemed to still be the Wayne we all know and loved as a character. But in this very issue it seems to be revealed that the Wayne we knew as a character is gone and replaced by the creature that was inhabiting Leander's skin. So can you elaborate on this at all for readers, especially myself. I'm curious as to how long fake Chupacabra Leander has been around.

Alex: Great question and I'm happy to finally answer it, since I've been waiting for this question to pop up ever since #25 came out (even though I knew nobody would ask it until after they had a chance to read #28). First, though, there are some hints in this last arc about how long Leander's been something besides a jolly bearded dude. We'll be getting around to telling his whole story at some point, but you could probably figure it out if you were to re-read the entire first series.

The big question (for me, at least) is who was that Wayne-looking guy in #25? That issue was a nightmare to try to write because I wanted to play fair, but I didn't want to give away all the surprises. I did try to leave Easter eggs there for anyone who might go back and look at it again. Remember that, by the time "Aftermath" happens the Leander Thing will have been running around in Wayne's skin for about a year. If you look at the way Nadine's speech patterns have evolved over the course of the series, it's obvious that this species (Chupacabras) sort of grows into their skins after a while. They learn from their environment and seem to naturally blend in according to the expectations of others around them. They try to become whatever it is they look like. Still with me? So the Leander Thing will change the way he talks over the course of the next year and begin to sound more like Wayne.

But he grows a beard because he's used to having a beard. And, unlike Wayne, the Leander Thing isn't gay. When Dachshund tries to insult "Wayne" with a gay slur, "Wayne" replies that Dachshund's mistaken. Subtle, I know, but I didn't want people guessing too early that Wayne was going to die. There was already a poll on the boards about which character was gonna die next.

Eric: I know a few posters on the Image message board predicted what the Mothman was, but I'm pretty sure I called it first during a previous commentary. Was this something that you purposely tried to mislead with at first, afraid that astute readers would be able to pick up on the hints that were laid out?

Alex: Actually, I was pretty worried that I made it too obvious. There was a backup story in #19 that made it pretty clear the Demon was a baby, and his abilities have always mirrored those of the actual Mothman sightings, rather than the actual Demon sighting. When he started predicting his own "death," in #16, he never actually said he would die, just said that he wouldn't be able to sneak soon. He's a lot bigger than he was. I'm pretty sneaky myself.

Eric: So how exactly did Proof not realize that Wayne wasn't Wayne? I mean if I was there in that room it would seem pretty obvious by his speech pattern alone. But none of our main cast seem to even question him.

Alex: Believe it or not, I think it's probable you wouldn't notice. Granted, Proof and friends are surrounded by weirdness much of the time, but that prepares you for external danger, not the idea that your best friend might suddenly be somebody else. Especially not the idea that your best friend is now actually your boss. That takes a big leap in logic. Remember everything that Proof's been through in one night: he just got laid for maybe the first time ever, a colleague he thought was long dead turned up alive and well, soldiers and giant fairies are running around his home shooting at each other, and he dropped some of his best China on the kitchen floor. On top of that, the evidence he's been looking for his entire life, the proof that his family may be alive somewhere in the world, was just handed to him. He's got a lot on his mind. And his heightened sense of smell would actually work against him. Leander's scent is still in the room, true, but so is Wayne's. That's not a shapeshifter, that's Wayne's actual skin. So he smells just exactly like the guy he appears to be.

So... naw, you wouldn't notice.

Eric: How tall is the Mothman? If I had to guess it looks like he's around 9 feet. Does he have any new powers?

Alex: He's a little taller than Proof is. You'll have to wait to see what he can do, but I will say that while his powers are time-related, they're not confined to visions of the future.

Eric: I also really love the Cryptid that you put in there connecting the reported appearances of both creatures. Do you think there could be a connection with the sightings?

Alex: Not really. But the original sketches and descriptions of The Dover Demon sounded and looked to me like something vaguely larval. Somehow that combined with my curiosity about what the Mothmen were doing in Point Pleasant, Ohio all those years ago and presto: spawning cryptids with a long mating cycle.

Eric: Proof isn't exactly the smoothest man on the planet when it comes to women, pissing both Ginger and Bella off at the same time. I feel bad for our hero.

Alex: Well, it's a pretty typical guy move he makes and we've all probably been there, in one way or another.

It's important for him to remember as he goes off on this mission we've set up now, this hugely personal thing he's doing, that he's not alone in it and if he gets tunnel vision, if he tries to run off on his own, he's just gonna succeed in alienating the people who care about him.

Eric: What exactly is up with Nadine? I take it she realizes what is up with Wayne and is protecting her own?

Alex: That's exactly right. Oh, and she's really weird. We spent a lot of time showing how caring and motherly she is and I didn't want anybody to forget how batshit crazy she is too.

Eric: Will Proof be off on his own or will we be seeing some of our supporting cast leaving with him?

Alex: Proof: Endangered has everybody kinda split up. Wayne (I'm just gonna call him/it Wayne from now on) is still at The Lodge trying to keep a lid on everything, but that's going to be much harder to do when the new government liaison shows up. We're very excited about that character. But then some of Proof's friends have chosen to leave The Lodge with him and things are very different out in the real world outside the safe confines The Lodge.

Eric: Not sure if anyone else picked up on the callback to the first story arc of Proof's cat being around the dodo birds, though this time he seems to be hunting/killing and scaring them. Can you elaborate on this scene at all as I know I was a bit confused. Is there a hint via the word balloon looking rather ominous as he meows?

Alex: Maybe there's a hint about my being a better letterer than when we started this series, but that's the exact same word balloon I used in the Dover Demon's prediction story that appeared as a backup in issue three. It showed up at the end of the very first trade. That's the dodo that the Demon was talking to in the "Foreshadowing" story. Seemed fitting to end "Who Killed the Dover Demon" with the last of his predictions for volume one.

Eric: How far into production are you guys on season 2 so far?

Alex: What's Season Two? Should we be starting it? :)

Eric: Ginger's gun going off was completely out of her control right?

Alex: Well, Ginger's always been a little trigger happy but, yeah, that wasn't all her. That said, she probably shouldn't have had her gun out on The Habitat.

Eric: Should we be suspicious of Gloria or is she really on the up-and-up? I get the sense that we can trust her so far, especially with not knowing exactly what was going on with fake Leander/Wayne.

Alex: I dunno. :) Actually, while you were supposed to be suspicious of her right off the bat, she was pretty much distracting you from the real danger: her ex-hubby.

Eric: So with you saying that... we really can't trust it Wayne? Is he on the same level as Mi-Chen-Po?

Alex: Very few people choose to be bad. Everyone has a reason for what they do and they usually think it's a good reason. It's really hard to take a step outside your skin (so to speak) and objectively evaluate your own behavior and goals.

For instance, Nadine's just trying to survive. Right now, she's well cared-for, so she's not doing anything bad. Colonel Dachshund is, I suppose the Proof-verse version of a bigot in that he genuinely doesn't see Proof as a person. Animals and humans are completely separate for him and when he's interacting with other humans he's a perfectly decent dude. He would die for you because you're of his species. Animals are there to be food or sport. (I actually wrote a stand-alone issue for him that we never got around to publishing. In it, he hunts down a Nazi war criminal. And I have a miniseries I'd like to do with him. Bigotry and racism are fantastic motivations, as far as I'm concerned, because those are people absolutely in the wrong, but absolutely convinced that they're doing the right thing.) Mi-Chen-Po comes from the opposite direction: people are just sort of in the way and cryptids, which are in danger of dying out, deserve a chance.

We've spent a lot of time setting up gray areas for our characters. Whether New Wayne is a good guy or a bad guy is going to depend on whether you agree with his eventual agenda.

Um, to answer your actual question... I dunno whether you can trust him or not.

Eric: The only character I think didn't get too much screen time this issue was Elvis. Is it because you were juggling so much as it was?

Alex: Probably. We ended up with three issues to cram a year's worth of stuff into. In re-reading it, I'm pretty happy with the arc, but I might've used the big 25th issue to develop more things if I'd known then that we were so close to rebooting the series. I would've liked to spend more time developing the relationship between Elvis and Ginger, Proof's relationship with Bella, what Mi-Chen-Po's setting up, Joy growing up... In the end we just sorta ran out of time.

The upside to that is the decision to move forward with miniseries, because it really ups the ante on each upcoming arc. Things have to move faster because of the format.

The other upside is that I've always had a final issue ready to go. There's a final scene that I have written out. There was no way we could continue the series after that final scene. But I didn't want to completely leave this universe Riley and I have created. With miniseries there's more freedom and we could keep going after that "ending" if we wanted to, just changing the name of the series a little bit and focusing on the characters left standing at the end of it all.

Eric: So what will be the length of the first miniseries?

Alex: I've told Riley and Image that it will be five issues, but I tend to run long, so it may be six issues by the time we get it all done.

Eric: Which is technically the start of season 2 right?

Alex: Yeah, Proof: Endangered starts "Season Two." But in condensing things the way I have, it seems like the whole thing ends up being two "seasons" long.

Eric: To see what the market will allow for?

Alex: We'd love it if the market would support this series indefinitely. We both have families to support, but we love comics. We want to be able to tell Proof stories forever, but at the very least we're committed to telling the stories we've always had in mind for this character. If, after that, there's no interest in more Proof, we'll move on to something else. But these characters have earned our full attention until we've told their stories.

Eric: I know you and Riley have both suddenly become crazy busy with projects you can't talk about yet and the workload is just getting bigger. Do you think a lot of that has to do with Proof's success and critical acclaim?

Alex: The critical acclaim, yeah. I will say that one of the spinoffs of Proof that I wanted to do got suddenly turned into a prose novel by a major publisher. So I went from trying to do a graphic novel about some of the Proof characters to suddenly launching a whole second career. It's very exciting, but it's a lot of work. And Riley has offers pouring in. He's in a position where he has to try to say "no" to some things. Neither of us is naturally inclined to say no to much of anything. It's very cool.

Eric: Can you elaborate on the novel at all? I'd love to hear more about it and when we can hopefully see it?

Alex: The original plan with the "Julia" arc (in the fourth trade) was to feature the Scotland Yard inspector, McKraken, pretty prominently and then spin him off into his own Victorian-era crime series. Unfortunately, due to restrictions in the option we had with Sony we decided to trim his story-line back and leave him out of the spin-off, which suddenly made the spin-off series completely unrelated to Proof.

Once Proof wasn't in it, I went in a very realistic, historically accurate direction with that story and it became a graphic novel proposal instead of a series. We were talking to one of the big book publishers in NY about it and they suggested that, rather than a graphic novel, I should take a stab at writing it as prose. They made me an offer based on the first completed half of that book, but I decided to go ahead and finish the whole thing before making any final publishing decisions. Right now, my nose is glued to the grindstone and I'm working furiously to finish this book.

It's a police procedural set in the year after the unsolved Jack the Ripper murders, when morale in London was at an all-time low and there were roughly a dozen detectives to deal with more than 90 murders a month. It's gruesome and gritty and sad. And it's taking a ton of research. But I'm very happy with it and I think it's gonna be a pretty damn good read once I get it all done and out there.

Eric: Are there any other Proofverse related books in production?

Alex: At the moment? Just Endangered.

Eric: Did the disappearance of the book between 27 - 28 stop fan mail at all?

Alex: We've had a bit of it after #28, but it's fallen off considerably these last couple of arcs, which is why we rarely have letter columns anymore. I'm not sure what's up, but I'm guessing we just didn't run letters often enough to get people on-board with the idea of it. Or maybe readers prefer posting on the message boards, since I'm there a lot and can give people almost instant answers to their questions. There's still a handful of decent letter columns in comics, but it's kind of a lost art. I'd like to reinstitute a letters page in the new series, but I don't hold out much hope.

Eric: So to end this edition of the column, what can we expect from Endangered in December? And are there other projects we can look out for from you/Riley/Kelly and Dave during the break?

Alex: Dave's hard at work on an original graphic novel that he's illustrating completely. Kelly's busy creating tiny dioramas using dried cicada shells, Riley has a couple more issues of CNV due out between now and then and I've got my hands full with my collection of belly button lint. Between now and December, the Hack/Slash Trailers book will be out and Riley & I have a story in there.

In Proof: Endangered, Proof is on a mission to find out where the severed finger came from that was handed to him at the end of #28. He's got a couple of friends with him. We'll be introduced to the teenager who claims to have the title to Proof's remains and he'd really like it if Proof would die already so he can claim the body. We'll also meet an extremely deadly chupacabra that has an agenda involving The Lodge. Everybody around Proof is in grave danger just because they know him. The title Endangered really has more to do with the human characters than anything else. Not all of the supporting cast are gonna make it out of this arc alive.

Watch in December for the return of Proof Positive during "Endangered."

Have a question for Alex? E-mail Eric and let him know.
Learn more about Alex's work at www.alexandergrecian.com.

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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