A few years ago I created a short webcomic called The Red Rope. It ran for 70 days consecutively, in which I posted a new frame every day.
Below is some of the feedback I received. Some of it arrived during the daily updates, and some arrived once the story was complete.
It’s probably worth saying there are SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven’t read the story yet, you might want to do that first.
Thanks for reading.
Let’s start with a series of text messages I received from the same individual over a 2 month period:
Loving the comic. Getting slow now though. I get it. There’s a rope. Give us some action!
Loving how the rope is heating up. Loving it.
The slowness is now paying off. You’ve made me wait. Now you are delivering!
Dude, forget the critics. the whole thing is building like a Sorkin finale.
Um. WOW. That. Is. Huge.
I am sad for the pretty red head who climbed the red rope. I want to climb the rope and pull her back to earth. The grass isn’t greener, red head girl, it’s just older. Hideously older.
Thanks for sticking with it to the end.
How’d you get my mobile number?
My plan is to determine the purpose and meaning of the red rope before final frame day. So far I’ve been right. I don’t believe it’s the future, per-se. Possibly a plane of fear or self realisation. I’m staying tuned.
You sound smart.
Your comic is awesome mike. You are awesome. Now I look forward to each weekday…
Thank you. But if I am your reason to keep going, seek help.
Nice one Mike! I felt too much was left unknown at the end, I wanted to see aliens, or god holding the rope! Great work though!
Thanks! Sorry! Thanks!
– Man, I love your work! I really do! I love the clean lines. I love the colours. I love how you capture people’s body language and facial expressions. I love your use of light and the panels signifying the passing of time.
– I love how you build suspense by delaying the discovery of the rope, and then picking a few of the reactions to the rope (love especially the teen parties, and the “grounding”!)
– And I love the dramatic tension of panels 34 and 35 when the red-haired girl (red like the rope!) decides to climb it.
– Panel 37: Felt like everything looked a bit the same–that you needed more variety of body shapes and types. Everyone was also a very similar height! That said, I love her expression just as she’s about to climb the rope. Ditto panel 39. (She actually reminds me of Buffy! It must be the clothes and the determined attitude. Hope that’s not a bad comparison …)
– I liked the twist on it–that the red-haired girl was actually the old woman at the end of the rope–but I felt the story had a bit of an anticlimax. I guess I wanted to know what the deal with the rope was–answering the questions raised at the beginning: what was the rope for? Why was it there? What did it signify, if anything? (Opportunities lost? A wasted life? Time travel?) In addition, the two people who were the only ones who knew why she climbed the rope: what did they know? Why did she do it when so many chose not to? Have I missed something?
Thanks for thinking about it all so deeply. You haven’t missed anything – I probably could have explicitly answered all of those questions in the story, but in the end decided that if I left some of them a little more open, the reader would hopefully engage with the story in a deeper way, reflecting on some of the loose ends and joining the dots in a way that is personal to them. I admit that even writing it now, it seems like a pretty lofty aim for a 70-frame webcomic, but I thought it was at least worth a try. Thanks again.
So I’ve showed my housemates. They were seriously moved by it.
In fact they questioned my blood relation with you.
PS. you’re wasted in advertising
You’re a good cousin, cousin.
PS. Don’t dig too deep into the blood relation thing. Trust me.
Firstly, i liked you web comic.
Highlights for me were frames 34/35 very stylish (not that i’m really any judge, actually probably quite the opposite… you better think about changing those frames actually). Also frame 57 i like the attention to detail with the little old lady kicking up dust as she shuffles along at breakneck speeds.
Suggestions, well maybe this says more about me than it does about you but i would have put the lead character (the rope climber) in a skirt, i can guarantee the comic would be even more of a hit, although possibly it would attract the wrong kind of attention to the comic. But it would provide a convenient motive for the crowd to gather.
Now from this point you can twist the story in many directions, if you want a comedy you could have a the character wearing a pair of frilly bloomers or a pair of those one piece underpants with the flap at the back old men sometimes wear.
If you want a mystery/thriller you give just a hint of cheek but leave the readers wondering, could she be pants-less or could it be a g-string. If you want a gritty real-life drama you add just the hint of a skid mark on the undergarment….
In all seriousness, as I said, I did really like the comic and you certainly are a talented artist. I wish you all the best with your future works.
A lot of people seemed to like frames 34 and 35, but you are the first to suggest the undergarment angle.
Taut concept, polished artwork.
My succinct thanks.
Nice work on the webcomic! I enjoyed tuning in each day, and especially enjoyed the occasions where I had skipped a day and found 2 new frames for my viewing pleasure.
Thought the animation was awesome, loved the hero.
The first half of the story was great, and moved along with the right balance of suspense and new clues to the story. Thought the end was a bit predictable – as soon as the woman saw herself old in the mirror and looked out to see a crowd of people I kind of knew where it was headed, though I was curious to see if there would be any twist to end the cycle of madness!
Thanks for your email. I hear what you’re saying about the end of the story. I had to think about people who were reading it as it was released, as well as people who would discover the story once it was complete and read it in one sitting. It was a difficult balance and ultimately I structured the end of the story knowing that if I couldn’t offer another twist, I could at least offer (some) closure.
I read your Red Rope comic and I had to write you to say I was impressed. I have not seen this type of art before. everything from the concept, to the images and the writing was very creative and it really leaves you with a powerful message – congrats
The closest I get to art these days is selling advertising on the internet.
That’s probably a lot closer than some people get. Thanks for the feedback.
Really enjoyed The Red Rope, what a dark little mystery it is. Love your illustration, lots of good angles. Feel sad for the poor old lady!! I’ll be sure to ignore any red ropes around here, it doesn’t look good 🙂
Because I hate suspense I had to wait until this was finished to come back to it but I reckon this is fun. Good on you.
The worst thing about suspense is being at the mercy of the storyteller, unable to control the information you are receiving. Weirdly enough, that’s also the best thing about suspense.
Werd that was cool,
I liked the story for sure, maybe someone could have skated past? Nah……….
My only thing would be I’d like it if the text matched better maybe if it was hand drawn.
Hello Mike, the following is the instant messenger conversation we had in my office after reading your comic.
KL: woohoo i get CS4 today!!!
ED: so a new frame gets added to that comic every day?
ED: why did she get old?
ED: i want to know the answer!
ED: is the rope jesus?
KL: if the rope is jesus why would she come back old?
ED: i know!!!
ED: jesus sucks the life out of you?
HS: I think the rope is temptation
AT: i have no eye deer
HS: and the result is hindsight
AT: the comic frames are completed
HS: it’s talking a lot about regret and loss of innocence
HS: it’s kinda like the tree in the garden of eden
ED: you’re so deep
HS: don’t you reckon?
ED: makes sense!
AT: really?! hmmm
KL: yeah i think the rope is bad
HS: Well it’s red man
HS: red = bad
HS: red also equals sin
KL: oooh our logo is red
AT: RED = Our work
HS: our work = sin!! aaahh
AT: go PMS 185!!!!
KL: ok i agree with HS… its spooky tho hey – how she can be in 2 places at one time… the young/old lady i mean, not HS
HS: it’s like the butterfly effect
Did you guys put this conversation on your timesheet?
What the hell is up with frame 49? Is it broken? I’ve refreshed it 15 times and it’s still just black. Fail.
This was some of the gentler feedback I got on frame 49. There was a lot more, but it all got kind of repetitive, so I just included this one.
Thanks to everyone who sent in the frame 49 hate mail, by the way. I guess I felt a bit bad at the time, but not bad enough to change anything, or to deny that I was happy you were checking the site daily. Hopefully the frames that appeared afterwards compensated for any angst frame 49 might have caused you.
Yo Mike.. Top effort man, great webcomic, I revisited a couple of times and managed to get the whole story in 4-5 visits.
I like the twist and the message at about ¾ through, but the end few frames were very anticlimactic, nothing really happened that was worth waiting for.. My interpretation of the whole thing was, don’t waste your life on diversions otherwise you’ll wake up and be old and wonder what you did with your life…
hmmm i read ur comic. maybe im not smart enuf to get it??
I see. Have you ever considered that maybe you’re just smart enough to admit you’re not smart enough to get it? I’m sure that clears things up for you.
yeh….I feel as though I havent got much love from wat u have reveal the last few days….Just waiting for it to climax….I have a feeling a bit more will be reveal in tomorrows slide… I feel as though the last slides were all to similiar…(Dont wanna should harsh…They are all awesome!)…I dont no…Dont listen to me…remember I dont count as a person….. that sounded bad…I love tha strip I am just impatient.. Like I have been looking over the slide a fair bit when I am bored and give ya some credit for some of the detail in the ill’s….. Nice shading etc… Alot of ppl wouldnt even notice that kinda stuff
I tried to spellcheck this one but it crashed my laptop.
Well, that’s it for now.
If you have feedback you’d like to share, send it to me. I might include it here.
— // —
My name is Mike Barry, and I was here.
Tweet Mike – @Mike_Barry
Email Mike – mike[at]mikebarrywashere.com
Insta Mike – @mikebarry
and since you’re here…
Subscribe to the official Mike Barry Was Here email newsletter – right now!