Zuda Comics: Round One (DC Comics/Zuda)

zuda-header.jpgDC Comics’ much-ballyhooed entry into the world of webcomics debuted October 30th. We take a look at the first round of entries.


FC; free online at www.zudacomics.com  


A panel from Alpha Monkey (W / A: Howard Shum and Bobbie Rubio)

Battlefield Babysitter (W / A: Matthew Humphreys)

Black Swan (W / A: Mulele Jarvis)

Bayou (W / A: Jeremy Love)

Dead in the Now (W / A: Corey Lewis)

The Dead Seas (W / A: Pop Mhan)

The Enders (W / A: Tim Smith III)

High Moon (W / A: David Gallaher and Steve Ellis)

Leprenomicon (W / A: Greg DelCurla and Fernando Ruiz)

Raining Cats and Dogs (W / A: Sho Murase)

This American Strife (W / A: J. Longo)


An image from Zuda Comics is the new webcomic craze that combines the exclusivity of DC with the inanity of online message boards. But DC won’t say that, they’ll say it’s the future of comics. Well, if this is the future of comics, I’ll start digging the grave.


Zuda is a good idea executed horribly. What’s supposed to be a competition to find the next great talents in comics is more or less a showcase of semi-professionals’ work. Maybe that’s why there are so many tired ideas. Basically, half of the comics up for voting (readers vote on winners to go on to syndication) play on the same old, "Comics are goofy, here’s some jokes about clichés" formula, while the others simply are cliché. This just illustrates (no pun intended) the need for a true way to get fresh blood into comics.


The first Zuda winner, Jeremy Love's There are very few standouts of those on display right now. The 17 page, DC-picked instant winner Bayou is an original and gloomy comic about the old South. This American Strife, a bizarre series of non-sequitur gags, adds something fresh to the site while still capturing the essence of webcomics. Dead in the Now, on the other hand, pushes the web medium to the edges and comes off as a potentially brilliant take on zombie stories. Other comics like Leprenomicon, Black Swan, and High Moon have some great moments, but overall, the Zuda site isn’t anything to e-mail home about.


And speaking of the Zuda site, it’s not very well done. On the surface, it looks fine: each 8-page comic is presented in Flash, and there’s a full-screen option. But, given the shoddy lettering in most of the comics, this isn’t an option unless you own a gigantic monitor. The full-screen mode is nice, except for excruciatingly long load times between pages. I’m not sure why the folks at Zuda can’t take a piece of software that can successfully emulate classic console games and make it render one page in less than 15 seconds. Granted, the loading graphic is cute, but there shouldn’t be a need for a loading graphic at all. Given the slow loading times and fairly bland content, by the time the next page was ready to go, I’d forgotten why I even wanted to advance through the story in the first place.


An image from On top of that, readers can post comments on each comic. That would be great if the comments were constructive. Instead, it seems like all of the dolts posting stupid remarks on YouTube got tired of all the videos and decided to give comics a chance. While the comments section is supposed to give artists feedback on their work, I don’t think bigoted diatribes will influence any of these creators.


The painful mediocrity of Zuda could be anathema of its original goal. Instead of showcasing bright young talent and furthering webcomic technology, the site makes the whole medium look like it’s done by a bunch of sarcastic insiders who cling to print industry standards while being web-savvy to absolute fault. But with the way Zuda is being done, I doubt its purpose was so noble. Instead, I’m of the firm belief Zuda was made for the same reason as so many second-rate Batman or Superman spin-offs: to make DC money. | Gabe Bullard

Read all of the first round picks for yourself at ZudaComics.com.

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