After wrapping the first volume of the series with Proof #28, Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo return in December with Proof: Endangered #1 from Image Comics. I grabbed writer Alex Grecian for a few questions about the return of our favorite sasquatch.
Josh Flanagan: Proof: Endangered #1 is back out in December. Was it always a sure thing that you were going to come back to Proof?
Alex Grecian: Oh, yeah! Some other cool opportunities were presented to both Riley (Proof artist) and me and we ended up not saying "no" to anything and getting completely bogged down. The book started running late and Image suggested to us that we take a few months to get caught up and then relaunch.
Image always wanted the book back on the schedule and we're glad of that because, although we've had a good run on Proof, we haven't finished the story we set out to tell. I've always said that we could probably keep going forever on this book, but that there's a definite arc we're telling here.
So, we're absolutely going to finish the story we set out to tell over the next couple of years and then see where things stand, how tired we are, and how much demand there might be for more stories set in this world we've created.
JF: Was this story always part of the overall Proof story?
AG: Well, even though I was just talking about having a goal in mind with the overall story, I'm a little hazy on the middle bits. There are definite beats we need to hit along the way in order to get where we're going and those beats are clear in my mind. But getting to the end wouldn't be nearly as much fun (for me) if I knew every step we were going to take along the way.
So there are things that are happening in Proof: Endangered that were planned from the beginning, but there are other things happening that have been a complete surprise to me.
One advantage of having some wiggle room in the middle of the overall story is that we can decide how to present the story in order to get the attention of both old readers and new. We've been able to ratchet up the action and suspense in this arc and pull out some pretty big surprises. Of course, the biggest coolest moments were planned all along, but there's a new villain in this arc who just stunned me. She gets introduced in a cool and pretty grizzly way and I think readers are going to be pleasantly surprised. (And then later they'll be pretty mad at us.)
JF: What's something you really enjoy about writing the character, John Prufrock?
AG: Mostly I find Proof to be enjoyable company. He's the sort of guy I'd sit down with and we'd discuss literature over a good brandy. He's a gentleman. In that sense, he's much much cooler than I'll ever be and it's fun to write someone who's an idealized version of some aspects of my own self that I wish were more refined.
Right now, it's also fun to start tearing down his cool exterior and getting at the angry frustrated guy who's been sort of dicked around for the last couple of centuries and is ready to nail someone to the wall. That's an idealized version of some aspects of myself too.
JF: Are there any characters who organically became a bigger part of the story than you originally envisioned?
AG: Sure. That's one of the advantages of leaving the middle part of the overall story loose. We have room to explore some things and let some characters grow naturally and do what they would do if we gave them some rope.
Elvis was sort of famously slated to die way back in #2, but he zigged where I meant for him to zag and somebody else died in his place. When that happened, a whole new rule about how chupacabras operate got established and then Elvis went on to become an important part of the ongoing story. He sort of became the stand-in for Riley and me, a relatively normal guy caught up in this bizarre world.
The chupacabra that was supposed to kill him became a larger character too. She ended up in an old lady's body, an old lady named Nadine, and now she's become sort of the litmus stick for all the weirdness in the book. She plays a surprising part in Proof: Endangered.
And so does Colonel Dachshund, another of the bad guys. Really, all the villains in Proof have expanded their roles a lot because it's incredibly fun to explore their motivations. They all want things that are very logical human things to want, they just go about getting those things in ways that aren't really socially acceptable. Which is what makes them fascinating to write about.
JF: Do you have a massive file of cryptozoological stories and facts waiting for future Proof stories?
AG: I do. And I have a two-volume set of cryptozoology textbooks here in my office within arm's reach at all times (Mysterious Creatures by George Eberhart).
But, for me, the creatures in Proof are just the spice. The book's really about the main characters, including Proof himself, and where they're going. If there's a cool animal that can get in their way, I'll throw it in there, but I've never built a story around one of those animals.
And speaking of cool animals that may or may not exist, Proof: Endangered features three chupacabras, a ningen, Mongolian death worms, Scottish blue men of the Minch, a yeti, an oni (sort of), and, of course, our resident Bigfoot. And, who knows, if Proof succeeds in finding more of his kind during Endangered, we might have a whole tribe of sasquatches in there somewhere.
But I'm not promising anything.