Eric Chats With Alex Grecian About Proof Endangered

Welcome to the return of a column that I have always enjoyed doing where Alex Grecian and I talk all things Proof. This edition we talk about the return of the book, what the characters are up to and what we can expect in the future. So let's jump right in!

Eric: To start off this edition of the column, I'm curious if, for readers and my sake, you'd like to talk about the format change and what it means to season two. Will we be seeing an almost Hellboy like approach to things?

Alex: Well, we started off doing very well and staying on-schedule for the first couple of years of season one. But we discovered that it's very, very hard to put out a monthly book if anything at all happens to push you off-schedule. Once we started to fall behind, there was no way for us to catch up. So it made more sense for us to kind of hit the the reboot button and put out an arc at a time, making sure we were caught up and able to breathe between arcs. We don't want to be late anymore than readers and retailers want us to.

So, yeah, we'll be releasing Proof in one-arc miniseries from now on. Each new arc will have its own numbering on the covers, but we're keeping the ongoing numbering within the indicia inside so it'll be easy to keep track of everything and keep the series in order if you're a long-time reader.

Eric: Is the first arc of season two completed yet or are you guys still working away on it?

Alex: Riley's drawing issue three now (mid-November) and Frank's finishing the colors for issue two. So we're well ahead of schedule and feeling much better than we did during the previous arc.

Eric: I was surprised to see just who followed Proof out of The Lodge, mostly Nadine. Is it due to them running into the chupacabra that I can only assume Proof is hunting down as a lead?

Alex: Well, first of all, huge spoilers here! Don't read this unless you've read the issue first. That settled? Okay. Secondly, Nadine didn't follow Proof. In the unspecified amount of time since Proof left, The Lodge lost two of its other best agents and Wayne has apparently recruited Nadine to work with Belinda. Why he trusts her and how the two work together are details that haven't been revealed yet, but there are hints if you read closely.

And Proof has no idea the ninja chupacabra's out there at all. He's gone to Rain Song to follow up on the one clue he's got: the sasquatch finger. The Lodge is following up on Ninja Chupe through normal government channels. That's why Belinda and Nadine are there. Belinda's communicating with Elvis on the sly.

Eric: If you can without spoilers, talk about the characters you decided to have leave The Lodge and why. I know I was surprised as a reader to see Elvis/Ginger/Bella all leaving their jobs behind to follow John.

Alex: It made sense for Proof's girlfriend to support him and follow him. Bella talks about that a bit in her conversation with Ginger. And after the speech Ginger gave Proof back in issue 28 about partnership, she pretty much had to go along and help him out. Elvis was at The Lodge in the first place in order to be close to Ginger, so naturally he's gonna follow her. Proof emptied The Lodge of its best people just by walking out the door. And Belinda's clearly willing to keep them in the loop about what's happening back there with Wayne and company.

Eric: How much time has passed since the end of 28 till now? It seems like our crew is set up pretty well where they are as opposed to where The Lodge seems to be coming under the new management that was teased in 28.

Alex: Well, the government tends to run pretty slowly. My best guess is that it's been a couple of weeks. But nobody told me for sure.

Eric: Will chupacabras be playing a huge part of this arc or is this the only other one we'll be seeing for a while?

Alex: There are currently three chupacabras running around (that we've seen), and we're gonna try to work in as much interaction between them as we can. Nadine is the only chupacabra who's completely out of the closet. The other two are mostly under cover.

Eric: Mi-Chen-Po has shown himself, which I think is never a bad thing for the book. Does he have agents out there similar to The Lodge like what we saw in this issue?

Alex: Yup. The biggest and baddest will show up at the end of number two.

Eric: Belinda seems to be still actively working with Elvis and Ginger here. Do they still have that connection to The Lodge or is that something she could probably get in trouble for filling them in on?

Alex: They're just friends and, yeah, she could probably get in trouble, but Wayne's got his hands full at the moment.

Eric: This Chupacabra seems to have a particular skill set that, say, someone like Nadine or the fake Wayne don't have. Is it safe to say each of the kind have a unique skillset or training that differ from the others?

Alex: Well, I imagine they're like people. We're all different and can't be represented by a generic pink biped. This particular chupacabra has been training for years for a specific mission. And she's been training in Tibet so her trainers have been non-Western and she's learned things you and I certainly don't know.

What's interesting to us is that chupacabras (at least in our Proof World) are particular about the skins they inhabit. Look at Nadine. She's only ever taken female skins because she's female. As far as we know, that's the way these creatures operate. This one, though, is a female in a male skin (by the end of the issue). Is she a crossdresser? How will that play out when she meets Wayne?

Eric: Are those Mongolian death worms, Alex? This is certainly one screwed up family that Proof made a deal with. Will we ever find out anything about the people he made the deal with or just the children as we are seeing here?

Alex: Those are Mongolian death worms, Eric. Now we see how they got on the habitat (we saw that they're there in the futrue in issue 25 of season one).

The Song family's history with Proof is worked out completely, but I don't think we're going to have room for it in this arc. I've already started working out the next arc, though, and I think we're going to see how all this went down when we get to that one.

We will get to see a little of Proof's history with Thomas Jefferson and his family starting in issue two.

Eric: So we'll get another look into Proof's past at some point in season 2, similar to the Julia arc?

Alex: Yes, except that we learned a lesson with the Julia arc. As much fun as we have delving into Proof's past, it hurt the book to be away from the main cast so much for six issues. So we're going to give little three or four page snippets of info going forward. What we show will have some sort of bearing on what's going on in the present.

Eric: Has Ginger had any sword training in her past or was that more instinct to find the closest weapon possible?

Alex: I don't think so. She likes to have a weapon in her hand and that was the closest thing after her gun (which she gave to Bella). She's not expert with a sword, which is going to be a very good thing for at least one of her friends.

Eric: I have to note that I believe this is the most Cryptoids we've seen in some time. It's nice to see them coming back a little more prominently in this volume. Did you feel that you weren't writing as many towards the end of volume 1?

Alex: Well, there are only two of them in issue one, but I guess that's still more than in the last couple of issues of season one. To be honest, my interest in them waxes and wanes. That last arc of season one moved quickly and there was a lot to get done so we could move on to Endangered. Shoehorning Cryptoids in wasn't a priority. Here, with the new start, there's more to try to communicate, to catch new readers up and to nudge the memories of our longtime readers. If there's a logical reason to have them there, they're a joy to do, but if they're there just to be there, not so much. The new design helps too, because I feel like they're more successfully integrated into the page layout and feel more natural, less of a constant interruption.

Eric: It seems things are in a pretty bad spot for everyone right now, was that an important cliffhanger to set up for all the story points?

Alex: Which one?

Endangered moves very fast. And even then, there's too much story for me to try to cram in, so the cliffhangers are thick as flies throughout the book. Riley called me after he read the script for issue two, to talk about the surprises at the end. I'm very much about using the serial nature of comics in this series to try to propel the plot and I think it's among the best things we've ever done.

Eric: Elvis and Ginger seem to be getting more comfortable as a couple in the one scene we see them together in. I'm curious to find out about your writing process behind the couples in the Proofverse and what seem like (at least so far) healthy relationships. Unlike say what Marc and Ginger were as a couple.

Alex: Well, obviously, Ginger's made some poor relationship choices, but Elvis is a good guy and has won her over. Elvis and Ginger have been going out for a couple of weeks, they've known each other for months and are on a sort of extanded vacation together. It seems pretty natural to me that they're going to wake up in the same bed.

Riley and I are both involved in reasonably healthy normal long-term relationships and I think it's good to represent that kind of thing in comics, where you generally see horrible relationships, there onloy to provide a sort of false tension and drama. If you don't believe the characters or believe that there's something real about them, the whole story falls apart.

Marc (the boyfriend she had way back in season one, issue one) will make an appearance a bit later in Endangered and he's still not a well-adjusted person.

Eric: I find that interesting and would love to talk with you more about it. Do you think that a lot of strained and unhealthy relationships in comics are written in a forced way? (Without using examples of course.) Is it important to you to make things feel organic and "real" in a sense?

Alex: Well, strained and unhealthy relationships are, unfortunately, just as real as healthy ones. Maybe more so. But healthy relationships are, I think, perceived as boring in boy's adventure comics. Most of the other comics creators I know are in committed relationships (or at least capable of it), so I'm not sure where it comes from, but women are often used solely as victims to motivate male heroes or they're ignored. There seems to be a fear among the characters themselves, rather than the creators or readers, of dwelling too long on anything that works. Of course, having said that, you've gotta have drama and happy marriages don't often lend themselves to strong drama. Since everything's exagerated anyway in comic books, the demands of the genre (by that I mean adventure comics aimed primarily at men) probably dictate a certain amount of chaos.

Plus, girls are icky.

Eric: I'm about to lose some gamer cred, but... is that Call of Duty in the background that River is playing?

Alex: I had to check with Riley (I don't play video games at all). It is Call of Duty. He says loves that game even though he doesn't particularly like guns.

Eric: Going into talking about River's "office" a bit more should we be looking for easter eggs? I believe I see a mummy, a dragon corpse and some sort of dracula toy to start off with. Was that all Riley or are these items in the actual script and connected to cryptozoology at all?

Alex: There was a list of suggestions in the script (the pickled conjoined twins, for instance were in the script). Very few of the things I listed HAD to be in that office and it was largely up to Riley to put in whatever he wanted to or thought would work well for the scene. He loves to stick Easter eggs in the backgrounds of panels like that. The video game, for instance, was just "a video game" in my script and he used Call of Duty. The Dracula bobble-head was all him, along with the other things you noticed.

Eric: I really like that you guys put in the little guide book to Proof in the back, will you be doing that each issue with a new character?

Alex: I sure hope so. That's the plan. The Proof Handbook stuff is entirely the brainchild of Michael Hoskin, who worked (and works) on the Marvel Handbook stuff and volunteered to do something similar for us. Naturally, we jumped all over that. We're completely geeked out by what he's doing. Definitely look for more in future issues.

Eric: I know a few proof fans who would be angry at me for not asking this as it's been a while since we heard anything: is the cartoon adaption still moving forward?

Alex: I have no idea. I think it may have stalled somewhere along the way, but other media adaptation possibilities have just opened up, so I haven't been as diligent about following up on the cartoon thing as I probably ought to be. Riley and I had zero involvement in the cartoon and it apparently wasn't deemed very important to keep us in the loop. Trust me, I'll let everyone know as soon as I know anything myself.

Eric: What can readers expect next issue?

Alex: A ningen, Colonel Dachshund, more Autumn, more oni, Blue Men of the Minch, more death worms, a knife fight, and probably a few other surprises I've forgotten about 'cause I'm so excited about #3 already.

Eric: I did want to change things up with the very end of this edition of the column as many readers and Proof fans know that Riley has been working hard on both Cowboy Ninja Viking and Proof but the question always comes up on boards and around interviews/columns I see related to Proof wondering....when are we going to be seeing more projects out of Alex? I know you have the OGN coming out some point in 2011 right? and the last edition of the column we talked about the prose book that was originally a follow up to the Julia arc. Anything else you can really hint at?

Alex: After Proof: Endangered, Riley and I are doing a project together called The Bends, which we've already got a running start on. I'm afraid the novel has taken up most of my time lately, though, since I have to have it in by the end of the year. I'll be talking a lot more about that as the publication date nears.

That's it for this month readers! Join us next month for more Proof discussion!

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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