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Zuda leaves competition in the dust


Friday afternoon news dump as Zuda Comics, DC’s webcomic imprint, makes it official that they are leaving their competition format behind. VP of Creative Services, Ron Perazza, who has spearheaded the imprint since its inception three years ago, blogs that the competition system — in which several web strips vie each month for the majority of a popular vote — has “had its ups and downs”, Perazza admits, resulting in some of the best series getting abandoned after 8 screens:

The format absolutely has merits; engaging the community and giving them real decision making power, giving creators a level of exposure that they might not have otherwise had and encouraging an ongoing dialogue about storytelling, quality and what makes good comics. However it’s also had its shortcomings; accusations of cheating, confusion about the process, spamming in the the name of promotion and argumentative, dismissive or even aggressive behavior.

Is there a better way to achieve the former without having to endure or encourage the latter? I think so. The comic industry needs a steady influx of new creators and new ideas. We should consistently explore the medium, looking for new ways to tell great stories. I think that if we, as a company, are committed to those goals we would be foolish not to pursue them.

In our humble opinion, the move to install editorial mandate over popular choice is a sound move. Many of the Zuda winners we saw tended to fall into the “Wild ‘n crazy action humor” genre — if that is even a genre — and had more nerd-appeal than staying power. Instilling a bit more quality control should up the entire’s line’s profile.

Speaking of Zuda, its latest print collection, Celadore, by Canaan Grall, is coming out this fall, according to Amazon. So the web-to-print model is working. After this move, we’d expect to see it working even more.


  1. Zuda should be abandoning that miserable, awful, terrible Flash reader they have. I can’t stress enough how awful it is to read comics with that thing. Ugh….

    Avatar makes Freakangels work with .jpgs, why can’t DC make it work?

  2. I think too that it’s a step in the right direction, but the competition format garnered fun series like Nite Owls and High Moon, so you can’t call it a waste.

    Of course, Zuda passed on Awesome Hospital, which might be one of the funniest web comics out there

  3. “…the move to install editorial mandate over popular choice is a sound move.”

    Whaaa? You mean that fans don’t know how to run a comics company? The message boards will be shocked.

  4. Yay!
    I’ve been so tired of my Facebook mailbox getting spammed with Zuda contest voting, and promotions.
    Plus now we can see a bit more of the better stuff.

  5. I’m afraid I’ve been predicting this among friends for a while now. There were were too many things stacked against the competition format:

    Easy to rig
    Poor ROI considering the IP they were getting
    Slow eyeball growth (according to Alexa)

    I’ve been thinking the system would get retooled since Diane Nelson took over – I would expect the new system to have a significantly different cash flow model.

  6. Zuda used Flash to keep the content on their own sites. I’ve always thought the interface was one of the biggest issues with the presentation, not necessarily the quality of the strips (which was usually pretty good when I was reading.)

    Also, it’s a lot easier to make web to print work when the artists and writers are both getting a page rate while the work is being done. This is a pretty obvious point, but one that often gets overlooked.

  7. Democracy is fun until it starts messing everything up.

    It definitely makes sense from a business standpoint – I can see this model working on a smaller, for-fun kind of website (seems like there used to be a lot more of those) than something DC is running and making money off of.

    Absolutely give them credit for sticking to it for so long. I think this is the same thing that happened with Marvel when Jemas attempted to redo the Epic line as totally submission base – except they abandoned that idea before anything was published.

    we live in fascinating times!

  8. Frankly though, I do find the standard has been quite high. Bayou is fab, Lamorte sisters and War of the Woods is indeed intriguing, I can’t say there have been total duds, but there’s been a wave of last minute changes in ranks that showed that something needed to be done.

  9. And to be fair, a few others were selected by editorial, not by the voting process (HIGH MOON comes to mind, but I think there.)

    Additionally, Epic did actually select a couple winners that got published. NOWHERE MAN (drawn by now- CAPTAIN AMERICA artist Mitch Breitweiser, apols if that’s misspelled) and a title by Daniel Way got run with the Epic imprint.

    I’m just bitter that they didn’t select my Ka-Zar in space pitch…

  10. Though my favorite Zuda comic battled and won through the competition, I cringe at mob rule. I’ve seen too many good comics from established pros get strangled in the crib at Zuda and it’s just disturbing to me.

    I hope the guys at DC saved Corey Lewis’ phone number.

    I eagerly anticipate Zuda’s upcoming submission changes. I have heard from friends in the grind that the editors at Zuda are top notch and I think it will only become a stronger line once they take a more direct role in the project selection process.

    Regarding Zuda’s much criticized Flash format. As a reader, I don’t mind the Flash system so much, but at the same time, I am less likely to casually browse the site because of it. It is a bit of a chore as a reader, to be perfectly honest. That said, I’ll put up with a bit of discomfort in order to read new pages by Sheldon “Supertron” Vella.

  11. Love the site redesign! I’ll miss the old look, it felt literary, but this is exciting. I like the logo version that says ‘enter a gateway to other worlds…’

  12. P.S. I agree with Matt M. I don’t have an issue with individual Flash comics per se (sometimes it’s just the best way to achieve an interactive goal), but an entire comics platform mandatorily based on Flash (if I understand it correctly) to me is not a desirable thing, either to publish into or to frequent as a reader.

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