Well, here’s a small story that may have somehow slipped by everyone today. DC is launching a reader-created webcomics site called Zudacomics.com, and is partnering with IBM to build the site. The New York Times kicks off the coverage:
The imprint, called Zudacomics.com, will permit aspiring cartoonists to register at its Web site and submit an eight-panel sample of their work. Starting in October and each month thereafter, editors at DC Comics will select 10 entries, post them for public view and invite people to vote for their favorite. Editors may also declare as many as six submissions to be instant winners during the calendar year.
“We’ve always found interesting stuff in submissions,” said Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics. “One of the problems that comics have today, I think, is that open door is much more closed. This creates a more open door.”
Well, you can say that again. Richard Bruning and Ron Perazza, the masterminds of the Zuda initiative, are honest about this being a chance to create IP to spin off into movies, TV shows, toys or even comic books. A long article at ICv2 has more details:
DC Director of Creative Services Ron Perazza, in an interview with ICv2, described the business model for the site as “a long game for DC.” Although the site will carry advertising, its primary purpose will be to develop new intellectual property which DC can then use in its publishing, licensing, and other operations. Publishing could be in either single title collections, for which it would take a considerable amount of time to accumulate enough material, or in anthologies of multiple Zuda titles into a single volume. “It may take years for one of these IPs to develop into something more than a Webcomic,” Perazza said, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest the time and effort to grow that IP.” Ownership of the IP will be shared, with “a deal that’s consistent with the other types of deals we offer for new talent for new properties,” Perazza told us.
Newsarama has an even LONGER interview with Bruning and Perazza which goes into details of the selection process, and the purpose of the site:
NRAMA: This announcement of Zuda is coming in around the same time as the debut of the iPhone, and of course, a large thrust of online content over the past few years has been to move it off the desktop and laptop to phones and other devices. Will Zuda’s format allow for that?
RP: Obviously we can’t predict every device that’s going to come out, and we can’t necessarily plan for every business relationship that DC or Warner Bros might enter into, which is why we went with that 4:3 aspect ratio – it’s an industry standard. It’s a monitor size, a television size. If your device can handle that, they should be able to work with Zuda.
NRAMA: Richard – why now for DC to focus on webcomics as opposed to three years ago or three years from now? Obviously, as both of you have said, webcomics have been around for a while – what took so long for DC to both notice and get on the boat, so to speak?
RB: That’s a fair assessment of it. A lot of times, in all honesty, DC has never been the kind of company to jump on a bandwagon just because we saw one pulling out of the gate. Sometimes we’re frustrated that we didn’t, and other times we realize that we were pretty smart by holding back. Just before the internet bubble burst, we had talks about putting all of our comics online, and move a lot of things online, but overall, it just didn’t feel right or ready yet. In retrospect, that probably made sense, because we would’ve lost a fortune doing it.
Official Zuda fact sheet
While DC’s webcomics initiative has been rumored for months — and Online Editor Kwanza Johnson has been quietly developing content for the site for months — the open ended submission process should send the world of the wanna-bes into a tizzy. Fortunately, the 4:3 format will prevent every Thomasina, Dick and Buzz from polishing off any old crap they have kicking around to submit — well it may not prevent them from submitting it, but may prevent it from being accepted, let’s say.
Whew, and you thought MINX was a departure for DC! We’ll have the best of the reactions from the webcomics community throughout the day. Just remember, though, they’ll be competing with this (click for larger version.):