[NEGATIVE ONE]

FRED

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Fred Fisher is a responsible and passionate young man who begins the Negative One story at twenty-four years old, though he tends to be mistaken for older because of his mature demeanor and his stately mustache. He's very devoted to Meri Lin, whom he considers his wife despite their lack of vows, and though his parents don't approve of her as his mate ("them Chinese people, they're Communists!"), he cares nothing for conventions.

In the first comic, he learns that he is going to be a father, but unlike some men who end up in that situation accidentally with women they aren't married to, Fred supports Meri Lin all the way and intends to stay with her and raise their child. He works at a just-above-entry-level position in an insurance firm and makes enough money for them to squeak by on rent in their small New York City apartment. He has a kooky sense of humor and values intelligence very highly; it's what attracted him to Meri Lin in the first place.

Fred sees Meri Lin all the way through the pregnancy and birth in an exemplary fashion, caring for her with humor and compassion. But when he becomes the father of a rather unusual baby, his skills are tested. Please don't read further if you're not interested in learning some of the surprises about the baby; spoilers follow.

When Meri Lin reveals to him that their daughter Amanda has some kind of unusual and unheard-of ability to move things without touching them, his first reaction is denial, which moves into a less specific denial: "Maybe it'll go away like childhood asthma." But the couple has no such luck, and they are stuck trying to figure out the best way to parent a kid who apparently needs to be hidden from the world until she learns to control and limit her ability. Fred is a little more lighthearted than Meri Lin about this heavy prospect, but he also has a more straightforward attitude toward disciplining the baby. . . .

In any case, Fred loves being a father, and tends to call baby Amanda silly things like "Daddy's little cupcake."

Another big spoiler follows.

When Fred finds his role changing after the loss of their child (who mysteriously vanished out the window), he is shown to have a tendency to self-medicate with alcohol and withdraw, though this is not a big part of who he is. Meri Lin struggles to return him to the man he used to be, and he finally begins returning to his previous mental state when they discover some evidence that their baby is probably all right. He and Meri Lin have another baby--Benjamin--and he continues to provide for his family, having been promoted in his company for his good detail skills (or his awesome ties).

My favorite Fred pictures (click on the small pictures to see large, good quality scans):

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