Right Number Parts One and Two

By Scott McCloud
Published at scottmccloud.com

Growing, I always tried to find patterns in numbers. Telephone numbers, addresses, the numbers on the odometer of my parents’s car… you name it, I’d be staring at the numbers carefully, flipping them around in my head to find their secret code. Is this normal? Not terribly, no. But I feel positively mundane when compared to the protagonist of Scott McCloud’s webcomic The Right Number.

An accidental misdialing of a phone number brings our protagonist out to dinner with Julie… when he meant to call his girlfriend Jodie. A single digit is all that separates Jodie and Julie, but their phone numbers aren’t the only similar things. In our protagonist’s eyes, Julie is a better version of Jodie, one that he was able to find thanks to finding the right number. After a break-up, he begins to date Julie—but what if using combinations of numbers he’s able to find someone even better still?

What really grabbed me about The Right Number was how McCloud takes a spark of interest and slowly, over the course of 110 panels or so, turns it into an unhealthy obsession. When we meet our nameless protagonist, he comes off as a really nice guy who is given an opportunity to take a bad situation and exchange it for a better one. It’s only as the story progresses that we start seeing the other side of him, with his attempts to “trade up” forever running through his head, and the lengths to which he’s willing to go. It’s the story that really makes you think the further you progress, making you question everything you were told about Jodie in the first part as well as wonder just what he’s going to do next.

McCloud’s two-color artwork is nicely appealing; he’s always shown a good sense of the human form, easily able to display emotion. For a story told entirely in small panels on display one at a time, he’s able to get a real sense of sequential progression. Having each panel expand out of the center of the previous one works much better than I would have thought, and McCloud occasionally adds a little twist in movement of the panel to get your attention. One thing I was really happy with was how McCloud is able to use the limited palette of colors to still achieve a lot of depth; he’s able to use it both to darken an area as well as to draw attention. It’s a very attractive comic.

For just twenty-five cents an installment courtesy Bitpass, I decided it was worth taking a chance on The Right Number. Let me just say now that not only did I get my fifty cents worth, but I got far, far more. This is a tremendous bargain; a great comic and with a clever delivery system. Don’t believe me? The first half-dozen panels are free, but even then… it’s just a quarter to try the first part. You can’t even find a gumball for that much these days! Definitely give it a try over at scottmccloud.com.

2 comments to Right Number Parts One and Two

  • […] There is a sweetly unsettling similarity between this real-life story and Scott McCloud’s The Right Number (here’s a summary of the major premise). […]

  • M. Northstar

    You should check out the recent movie “The Number 23”. It’s about a man with an extreme version of what you describe. It’s really good, and so refreshing to see how well Jim Carrey can act when he’s not clowning around.