Negative One is a weekly Speculative Fiction webcomic created by swankivy, which has been updated every week since May 20th 2005. It functions as a prequel to her as of yet unpublished novel series, but can be read on its own without any difficulty.
It is unusual both in terms of format (about half the panels in an average comic are just text), medium (black-and-white pencil sketches) and story telling. Each comic is narrated in first person by one of the main characters, initially alternating between two, but this number has since grown to five. Exactly what connects the two initial narrators still isn't clear.
The original narrators are:
- Meri Lin◊, a young Asian-American woman who, as of the first comic, has just discovered that she is pregnant. Her comics heavily feature her partner, Fred, and occasionally her sister Lissa Lee. Initially her story seems quite mundane as they prepare for the arrival of their child, but then things get a little strange.
- Adele◊, a young woman from another radically different dimension called Ailashuo. Her appearance, though humanoid, is quite alien. Adele is a seer, and as of the first comic, she is studying with her human teacher, Tabitha, for the day when she will leave her home world to teach in a new one. But interdimensional travel has a catch — she will lose almost all of her memories of her old life. Her comics initially feature various family members and friends in Ailashuo.
Since then, the comic has begun to feature three more narrators:
- Weaver◊, a small blue bat-like creature who accidentally travelled from his own world to ours with nothing but his sword. Confused and amnesiac, he is quickly captured by a mysterious man who wants to add Weaver to his collection of strange animals.
- Dax◊, who probably comes from the same world as Weaver, but belongs to an utterly different species. Upon arriving in our world, he meets a group of hippies, who are tentatively welcoming towards him, and eventually accept him as part of their group. He and Weaver's storylines have since overlapped, with the two characters becoming good friends.
- Ivy◊, Meri Lin's telekinetic daughter, who turns out to be very hard to contain. Her comics have come to feature a young girl called Melanie and a homeless black woman called Theresa ('The Resa') who have become her unofficial guardians.
Due to the nature of the webcomic, each of these characters has their inner feelings (and, where possibly, their backstory) explored in great detail. The story is slow and not terribly dramatic, but fascinating.
It can be found here.
Negative One provides examples of:
- Alien Among Us
- Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The people in Ailashuo speak their own language. Adele only speaks English because she was taught by Tabitha.
- Another Dimension: Ailashuo from the reader's perspective: Earth (Thee-ileo) from Adele's.
- Because Destiny Says So: Why Adele has to go to Earth.
- Benevolent Alien Invasion: The backstory for Adele's world. It was 'settled' by neighbouring Shio. They share a language and a lot of their customs, and the Shioans are in charge. It's not clear what Ailashuo was like before being 'settled'.
- The Big Guy: Dax.
- Big Little Brother: Dax calls Weaver "little brother" at one point, but Weaver privately suspects that he is significantly older than Dax, though neither of them know their ages.
- Black Cloak: Not worn by a villain, oddly enough. They are worn by all seers in Ailashuo. Adele uses hers to conceal her face once she gets to our world, because doing otherwise would look considerably stranger.
- Character Development
- Color-Coded Wizardry: The seers wear different colored robes according to how much training they have.
- Conlang: Shioan.
- Cute Little Fangs: Weaver.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Averted. None of the dreams featured in the comic have turned out to be significant beyond character development, even though Adele is a seer and Meri Lin is hinted to be slightly psychic.
- Faint in Shock: Meri Lin tends to faint when she's upset.
- The Fair Folk: Mentioned briefly. Faeries are visitors from another world that is very close to ours.
- Fish out of Water: Adele, Dax, Weaver.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Amanda, and it's not just a consequence of the art style.
- Free-Range Children
- Gentle Giant: Dax.
- Gut Feeling: Meri Lin. She's right surprisingly often. But unfortunately not when it matters most.
- Humans Are Bastards: Humans are considered small-minded for thinking theirs is the only dimension, and it's mentioned often that they respond to the unknown with fear and violence.
- Humans Are Special: Adele is impressed with their drive to grow, improve, and succeed, apparently unique among sentient life, and can't help but respect them for it.
- Humanoid Aliens: Adele comments that all known sentient species share several structural similarities — number of arms and legs, eyes, ears, mouth, etc.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: The majority of the protagonists are not human, so this happens a lot.
- In Harmony with Nature: Dax. Weaver, to a lesser extent.
- Inner Monologue
- It's Probably Nothing: Fred's response to his daughter's developing telekinesis.
- Mars Needs Women: Discussed. Weaver and Dax agree that while they find human women visually pleasing, they can't really be attracted to them.
- Muggles Do It Better: Adele suspects that humans are so much more scientifically and technologically advanced than Ailashuoans because they have so few prophets, and always had to work to find their answers.
- The Multiverse: There is even a map of it◊.
- My Own Private "I Do": Meri Lin and Fred in ~0007, as a reault of the Parental Marriage Veto below.
- Mysterious Past: Tabitha, Dax, Weaver, later Adele. In an interesting example, none of them know what happened either. Adele may even count as an inversion — while she knows almost nothing about her past, the reader knows exactly who she is and where she comes from.
- Nobody Poops: Averted:
- Meri Lin notices that being pregnant makes her have to pee more often.
- Weaver's first task after finding himself in a cage is convincing his captor that he doesn't intend to soil his cage like the parrots do. He manages to make use of the feeding trays for this purpose.
- Being a baby, diaper-changing and eventually potty-training are significant parts of Amanda/Ivy's life.
- No Periods, Period: Averted. Not long after Adele arrives on Earth, she sees a commercial for feminine hygiene products are realizes she needs to look into how human women handle that.
- Pardon My Klingon: Shelshay in #0024.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Meri Lin's parents want her to marry a Chinese man.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Weaver.
- Portal Network
- Portal Pool
- Psychic Powers
- Single-Biome Planet: It's implied that our world is unusual in not being one of these.
- Webcomic Time: The comic updates weekly, with a different character each week, so at present it can be anywhere between one week and three months before each storyline gets updated. But generally speaking, not much more than a few days have passed In-Universe.
- Wham Episode: The aforementioned Open Window. The comic where Adele finally leaves Ailashuo.