[webcomic] - DC's foray into webcomics: Zuda

Oct 31, 2007

So... DC comics has decided to "enter" (try to take over?) the world of webcomics with Zuda.

Here is a good article about it from Webware.com

The reason why they are trying to do this is obvious... print comics crashed and are still having a hard time, but webcomics seem to be on the up and up, both in terms of talent available AND the incentives. Only recently were people able to go "pro" being a webcomicker, but there are more all the time and I don't think we've hit a demand ceiling yet.

The reason I'm somewhat wary about this situation is this:

webware.com wrote:

On Tuesday, they launch Zuda Comics, their first foray into webcomics, throwing the full weight of a major publisher into a game that has been dominated by independent and self-published creators.

... the thing is, I kind of LIKE that aspect of the industry. Not only because it gives talentless hacks like me an actual shot at the internet pie, but I like it as a reader. I feel like there's a whole layer behind webcomics that's not available in print comics-- the life of the artist. This is going to sound stalkerish but I really really enjoy reading what the artists were thinking/feeling when they made the strip ("ugh I worked really hard on this blablabla"), what they're into, what's going on in their lives...

That whole aspect seems absent in Zuda.

So, seriously, DC. Don't fuck webcomics up for us, too.

Anyway, if this wasn't made by DC I might not perceive it as such a threat, so I'm going to go over my impressions otherwise.

The concept behind Zuda is that they are making a sort of webcomic "competition".

webware wrote:

Once a month, Zuda's editors will pick 10 submissions and post them for members of the Zuda community to vote on. The top vote-getter will be offered a one-year contract for 52 episodes. In theory, these will be published once a week...

I'm not sure how I feel about the 'competition' aspect of the whole thing either. Another thing I like about webcomics is that it's up to the reader to deem you worthy, and that allows for some very interesting and out-there concepts to fly. So the whole competition thing (that you first have to be accepted into), STILL has the overbearing DC deeming you "worthy".

The comics themselves seem to be multi-genred and mutli-styled, which is nice, but they all use a kind of flash-based "comic viewer" clone. I originally didn't like this so much until I tried reading it "full screen". Reading the comics full screen is VERY nice for reading through 'archives'... but if I were checking back weekly I might find it annoying.

I'm really liking what I'm seeing as far as content is concerned. If these artists had their own sites with their own comics, I would bookmark them all immediately. So I'm kind of worried where these comics will "go" after they don't win (because 9/10 won't.) I haven't read them all yet, but definitely check out "High Moon" and "Dead in the Now" if you go.

From commentary and reading around the site, it seems like Zuda's concept for "a webcomic" excludes the aspects of 'infinite canvas' and 'customized sites'. They seem VERY strict about the art itself...

Zuda wrote:

Zuda Comics are presented in a very specific way and submissions are no exception. You will need to upload exactly eight screens that represent your comic. Remember, your entire submission, including these eight screens, should be about a single concept. The screens will be read in the order you upload them from the top of the list to the bottom, with the top being the first screen and the bottom being the final screen. Finally, each screen must follow our technical specifications in order to be uploaded.

... so it's logical to assume they will be strict about other things as well.

Comments like this also concern me:

JLongo artist of This American Strife wrote:

...the last page for the Jesus comic isn't even here!!! (originally the skeleton comic and the car crash panel were on one screen) I dont know what to tell you folks but hope it doesn't sway your vote......dammitt


I wish I had control on how to dictate the separation between snippets and stories for the readers ...Because of the lack of control I have over this site and how my comic is displayed, I can only hope that viewers catch onto to where each piece ends.

I don't know what a winners "contract" would entail, exactly... I assume it would mean the artist gets SOMEHOW paid, which is a good thing for a webcomic... but how much and how often, etc, I can't tell you. [Edit] found it in the contract. I think you get paid $1000 if you make it to a monthly competition, and if you win you get paid $250 per "screen" and a cut of merch. 52 screens/contract would mean $13 000/yearish, which is not bad but not exactly a glamourous salary. P/T job at best.

The first winner's comics are free to read... but will the others be...?

So, in conclusion, Zuda is I guess an interesting experiment. I personally consider it more of a "crossover" between print and webcomic, because of the submission aspect and the restrictions, but a lot of the content is definitely worth checking out.