Mr. Erick owns a convenience store where he happened to be working when Melanie and Ivy came in to steal candy during issue #354. Since Ivy was distracted at the time that Mr. Erick caught Melanie filling her pockets and couldn't save her, she got stuck explaining what she was doing, and Mr. Erick was surprisingly sympathetic. He got the story out of her--that she was a nine-year-old taking care of a toddler--and offered to give her free (but expired) candy if she'd just ask instead of stealing from him. Their relationship began.
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Sometimes Ivy would come into the store on her own and sometimes with Melanie, and Mr. Erick would give them small snacks and whatnot. He got a little involved when he found out that Melanie was having home issues, and helped arrange some circumstances that Melanie couldn't on her own. He seems like a fair and level-headed person, but also seems like he holds himself at a distance despite his generosity.
My favorite Mr. Erick pictures (click on the small pictures to see large, good quality scans):
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