|Update Schedule||Updates every Friday|
|Launch Date||May 20, 2005|
This is the story of Negative One. The best category to describe it is a fantasy drama, but it is NOT a sword-and-sorcery type or an epic fantasy--no magic, elves, dwarves, dragons, wizards, Ultimate Chosen Ones™, or saving the world. This is a very quiet and personal story of some rather unusual people . . . the everyday lives of the extraordinary.
The storylines are each told in first person from the narrator's point of view, switching off between (currently) five individual people. Characters speak and interact in the usual talk bubbles embedded in the art, but there is also a fair amount of internal dialogue inserted in separate text blocks. Most issues are rather text-heavy, but the extra text helps connect the reader with each narrator's unique thoughts and feelings.
The drawing style is attempted realism, in gray and white graphite with no inking and digitally-added text.
The comic is called Negative One because it is a prequel to a fantasy series called The House That Ivy Built. The series had four books and a fifth in progress before the author, SwankiVY, decided to document some history of her characters' lives before the first book had started, and she informally referred to that prequel as "Book 0." When she decided to try a webcomic, she chose even more distant history from this established universe as her subject matter, so it seemed logical to call it "Negative One" (as its events occur before "Book 0"). Depending on how long Negative One continues, though, it could end up blending into Book 0's territory. The House That Ivy Built is currently unpublished (and, unfortunately, is reportedly on the author's back burner), and its protagonist is the teenaged version of the baby born in the Meri Lin storyline of the comic. Old excerpts of the novels, circa 1996-97, are available through the author's Web site.
Meri Lin. A young Chinese-American woman finds herself pregnant, unmarried, and living with a man her parents do not approve of because he is not Chinese. Meri Lin and Fred uphold their devotion to each other as the pregnancy develops . . . and they find their foundation is tested when they become the parents of a very unusual baby. Their child will be unlike any baby born in the history of mankind, and this ordinary, clueless, and somewhat frightened couple has to figure out how to mold what nature has handed them into a happy, healthy child . . . even if normal is out of the question. Meri Lin's story in this comic begins when she discovers she is pregnant.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow
Baby Amanda looks a little different from the other children, so right from the beginning she's a curiosity--most notably, she's missing her pinkie fingers and pinkie toes, and her large eyes surprise people. Later she begins to look even more unusual because her hair comes in blonde and her eyes settle on a light green color (odd for a half-Chinese baby), and her ears--assumed at birth to just be crimped--end up looking rather pointed, giving her a somewhat elf-like appearance. But when her parents discover that Amanda has begun to move things with her mind, they realize her unusual appearance only scratches the surface of her overall uniqueness. After doing some research on the power of telekinesis, Meri Lin is frightened to find that there are no records of others like her child and decides she and Fred have to hide Amanda's powers from the outside world. This may or may not be the right choice, and the parents' struggles as well as Amanda's development are the main theme of this storyline.
Adele. Meanwhile, in another dimension. . . . Adele is a talented teenage prophet from the dimension Ailashuo, learning her craft from her older and wiser teacher, Tabitha. Her purpose is to hone her prophetic abilities under Tabitha's tutelage and travel to the human world--the world Tabitha is from--to begin a quest to establish a prophet network. But there's one issue: Ailashuo is distant from the human world, and the distance she'll have to travel will affect her memory. Adele has to try to learn her lessons so well that they become second nature rather than specific memories, and then she must face going to another world where her people and her abilities are unheard-of. Trying to learn such important lessons is difficult for her because she's also dealing with the idea of losing her friends and family forever, seeing as how she will probably forget everyone once she leaves and never be able to return. Her storyline begins at the beginning of her last year of study.
Weaver and Dax. Later on, two new narrators come into the mix: Weaver and Dax. They each have their own more occasional comics, and both of them are attempting to learn more about the human world after going through an interdimensional pool that has taken away their memories. Weaver is imprisoned by a mysterious man who took his only weapon and lets him watch TV, while Dax has been befriended by pot-smoking hippies. Their adventures and their ultimate decisions regarding their situations are their little part of this comic.
Ivy. The latest narration line, entitled "Ivy," is when the baby born to Meri Lin and Fred finally starts to tell the story from her perspective. She's only a two-year-old baby at the time that she gets her own storyline, so the perspective is rather disjointed sometimes, but it's at this point that she just begins to make decisions and form her self-concept, so this is when the story finally enters her head. She is the central character around which the future of the comic orbits.
This comic will not be interesting for those who like lots of action and "butt-kicking," or outright humorous comics. There is occasionally some action and conflict, and it is sometimes funny, but it's not a "fighting" or "joke" comic. It can be heavy at times and it's very character-oriented and emotional.
Please be aware that there is occasional tasteful nudity (think breastfeeding moms and incidental nakedness, not sexual drawings), occasional "adult situations," some drug references, and (especially in Weaver's storyline) bad language. It is NEVER done in a purposely lewd or provocative way.