The similarities between Proof and The Perhapanauts was somewhat disconcerting and got in the way of me really enjoying the series. I had read Proof a fair while before but it had made a good impression – I had been sold on it as a kind of Hellboy / X Files idea and the art had a charm and quirkiness that made the characters seem warm and real. As I read further and further into the series and the characters gained greater depth and became their own thing it distanced itself from easy comparison and I began to read it without thinking about these other titles.
Both books came out at around the same time, so it’s not like one is copying the other, and as they draw from similar mythologies and areas of interest there is going to be some overlap. Proof was one of those things that transcended its source material – seeming to have sprung fully formed into being.
The Perhapanauts was unable to do that for me. I have to admit that I started reading it under the misguided impression that it had to do with Proof, was some kind of spin off, or alternative universe spin on that story. Until I worked out this wasn’t the case I was kind of thrown off by the way the characters were written. Once I knew it was its own thing some of the problems I had with the book still stood – there was a flatness to the book, and this was true of both the art and the writing. Characters seemed like ciphers whose only function was to drive the plot forward, changes happened too swiftly and the consequences had that unreality you get where you sense a certain safeness of the characters, where the writer is unlikely to let anything really bad happen to them. The art wasn’t bad, in fact the clean lines and some of the colouring really worked, but the lack of any sense of texture or depth was sometimes a stumbling block for my enjoyment.
I would say it’s worth going out there and getting the books and working out for yourself whether you like them – they aren’t something I would warn people away from. Whereas Proof was something I was glad to have invested my time in Perhapanauts was merely a pleasant way to kill some time. I suppose it depends what you are asking for from a book.