Questions about the comic itself
Questions about the characters and story
- Why is the comic called "Negative One"? Because it shows the distant history of some characters I originally invented for a fantasy novel series. The books don't have individual titles; they're part of The House That Ivy Built series but each one is just known as Book 1, Book 2, and so on to Book 5. Later I decided to write a prequel, detailing events before Book 1, and I affectionately called that "Book 0." When I decided to use material from BEFORE Book 0 for this comic, it seemed only natural to me to call it Negative One.
- When and how often does it come out? Every Friday, without fail, there's a new update.
- What genre is this considered? It's character-oriented fantasy drama, basically.
- How many issues will there be? Dunno.
- Is it ever going to be in color? I don't plan to ever color it. Coloring kind of eludes me.
- How come this doesn't have fancy graphics? How come the site's so unadorned and whatnot? 'Cause I just like to draw and I didn't feel like getting schmancy. I'm not really a Web designer, but I play one on TV.
- When I post a comment it doesn't post immediately. What's up? That's because it's really an e-mail forwarder, so I can review stuff before it gets posted. I hate when people misuse message boards.
- Will you submit this to a "real" comic hosting place? I planned to, but I didn't feel like learning their systems in return for hosting space and probably an ad on my page. I'll stick here for now where I know my html. I'm hosted on Dreamhost with my own domain and I'm happy here.
- These storylines seem unrelated. Why are they in the same comic? I'm afraid that since this is a derivative work, the people's future connection makes more sense to THTIB readers. All I'll say here is that Meri Lin and Fred's baby ends up meeting Adele before she's five years old, but we've got a ways to go before then. And Weaver and Dax actually meet Adele before baby Amanda joins that storyline--she's on her own for a while still.
- The Meri Lin and Fred storyline isn't fantasy and the other storylines are. Why have you got two genres in the same comic? Why not separate them if one is more like a family drama? Because the Meri Lin and Fred storyline DOES end up being fantasy. Just sit tight and you'll see why.
- So far I've seen gray, blue, and rusty red-tinted frames. What does it mean when you change colors? Gray is regular pencil scans. Blue generally shows like a flashback or distant past. And I use the rust for recent past events that depict earlier that day or week, ones that aren't old enough to "feel" blue to me.
- What's your process in making the comics? I think about the next plot I'm going to do and block it out on pieces of scrap paper while I'm pretending to be busy at work. Then I draw the pictures with a mechanical pencil, using oh-so-professional Q-tips for my blending/shading. I scan the pages. I separate them into individual frames, paste them into (lordy!) Microsoft Word, resize them to fit a standard black square or rectangle, and add talk bubbles with the AutoShapes feature. Then I paste it into my image editor and mess with the tint if it needs it, save it, and upload it to my Web space. After they're all done, I html it up with code I wrote myself and attach it to the rest of the comic. And then I brag to everyone that I did another one and rag them all constantly until they go see it and give me props and votes.
- In the info pages I keep seeing references to "Ivy." But there's no Ivy in the comic. Who's Ivy? Ivy's the central character of The House That Ivy Built. If I don't want to spoil anything, I'd better not tell you much about this, but I don't think it will hurt you to know that "Ivy" is a name that Meri Lin and Fred's baby ends up going by in the distant future. You'll see the name pop up with a clearer explanation once you read far enough.
- What kind of critter is Adele supposed to be? She doesn't look quite human. Yeah, that's intentional. I dunno. She's from some other dimension. What do you expect?
- You use a fancy font when Meri Lin talks to her parents. How come you did that? Weak attempt to show she's speaking another language. Her parents speak Mandarin Chinese almost exclusively despite having lived in the U.S. for many years. When I use that font it's supposed to mean she's talking in Mandarin.
- Adele mentions speaking "Shioan." What's that? People from the dimension Shio speak Shioan. And they settled Adele's dimension so that's what she and her family speak. It's spoken in a high timbre with a lot of vowel sounds and the occasional gentle fricative. When I type the actual Shioan words people are saying, I write them in the regular font in italics, but if they're supposed to be speaking Shioan and I want you to understand it, I use a spacier, smoother font. You should be able to see the difference easily if you compare them, like in #0024: lost in translation.
- Sometimes you type people's dialogue in a very small font. Why? If something's in small font, it usually means it's not the focus of the narrator's attention or that they don't understand what's being said. This happens in Dax's storyline when the hippies talk and he doesn't understand, or when the baby is narrating and adults are speaking but she doesn't know what they're talking about.
- What is the deal with this "pool" thing? It's a distance-ignoring water portal. Special people can change where it opens to (always into another body of water). Mostly they're used for getting around one world, but they *can* make them cross dimensions.
- Can I see that dimension map without anybody's hand covering crap on it? Yeah, okay.
- Since you don't color the pictures, can you describe the people in terms of colors for me?
- Meri Lin: Has a typically Chinese complexion, obviously black hair and dark brown eyes. (Same with everyone in her family.)
- Fred: Blonde with blue eyes and light skin (though his cheeks always seem to be blushing).
- Amanda: Light blonde hair, light/pinkish skin, and bright green eyes.
- Adele: Her skin is brown with a slightly red tint (maybe like people think of American Indians as being "red"), but you can't see it mostly because her light brown peach-fuzz fur covers most of it. She's got blood-red hair and brown eyes.
- Adele's family: The other members of her family have similar descriptions except that they all have brown hair of various shades.
- Tabitha: She's got kind of a "redhead" complexion with blue eyes and, as Adele would say, ORANGE hair.
- Shelshay and the other Shioans: Paper-white skin and mud-brown hair, and that mask-looking thing around their eyes is an almost-black brown. Their eyes are usually gray.
- Weaver: He's a weird blue color mostly, except his fuzzy little hairdo and his fashionable goatee are black. His skin and his eyes are blue too, though the top parts of his wings are black. His little horns and teeth are yellowish.
- Dax: He's a light tan color but the curly hair on his head (including his goatee) is snow white. He has shiny red eyes, and horns and teeth that match Weaver's for the most part.
- Alix: Fairly tanned skin, blonde hair, gray eyes.
- Neptune: Paper-white skin (she's albino), reddish-pink eyes, white hair.
- Melanie: Light/pink skin, medium brown hair, brown eyes.
- Theresa: Medium-brown skin, black hair and very dark eyes.
Questions for/about the author
Mail me to contribute to this FAQ!
- Where'd you learn to draw? I didn't, really. I haven't taken any art lessons. I'm kinda faking it. Everything I'm showing you here is kind of trial and error self-taught stuff.
- Why'd you start this comic when you have so many other projects on your plate? I dunno. Change of scene? I just wanted to.
- What're your influences? Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the defunct online comic The Midlands (the artist, Ben Riley, goes by "RMG"), and Jhonen Vasquez's stuff, though you can't tell at all. I definitely got reassured that webcomics *could* succeed with lots of text because of The Midlands, even though I didn't read it for very long and it disappeared off the Internet to become something else.
- Are these characters or storylines based on anyone you know or anything you've experienced? Er, no.
- Where can I read stuff from later in the THTIB universe? Start here. This is the main THTIB page. You can read three chapters from each of the six novels listed, and beyond that if you really want to read more, mail me and we'll talk. They're really not publishable novels so they're pretty terrible. The page I'm linking to has TONS of info about the books and they WILL give up lots of spoilers, especially if you go digging in the THTIB online encyclopedia. You are duly warned.
- Do you accept fan art? Sure. Check it out and submit your own.
- Do you ever do guest strips? I've never done so. I don't plan to do so. You can submit fan comics, but they'll always be of issues I'm also doing. I've never missed an update, but I think if I was going to do so, I'd make plans that did not involve someone else drawing the actual canon story for me. That's just a little too weird for me, way outside my comfort zone.
- How about link exchanges? I have a page featuring my favorite webcomics, but right on Negative One the only way to get a link from me is to send in fanart and get a credit. If I don't personally follow your comic, no offense but I don't wanna put a link to it. Anyone who wants to can link to me--feel free to choose a banner.
Main Negative One Page