What Is Zuda Looking For?

I thought I’d stop by and check out this month’s Zuda entries, which made me wonder about how similar they were all becoming. I noticed that many of them were tagged either Super-Hero, Action/Adventure, or Horror. There were smart-alec animals, girls in their underwear, bloody fights, talky conspiracies, and always, too much time spent waiting for the viewer to load. The content reminded me of what I can already get elsewhere.

Also typical: lots of setup, no real story. With only 8 panels, it’s tough, but I shouldn’t learn more about the premise of your comic from the text synopsis than I do from reading it. The one I like best, the one I could see continuing to read as a webcomic, was Vigilante Granny, because it’s funny and unusual and loads quickly (it’s black and white). It’s also currently in last place. Figures. The current first-place holder is something called RockStar, which looks like a whole lot of other superhero comics.

Is the audience self-selecting for things they’re already comfortable with, given that they’re participating in this project from DC Comics? Or are superheros and fights just what’s easiest to do in 8 “screens”?

70 Responses to “What Is Zuda Looking For?”

  1. David Gallaher Says:

    There aren’t many superhero comics on the site, certainly a handful, but horror comics certainly dominate the site.

    In terms of what Zuda is looking for? Good comics – and there are certainly a few on the site that are stellar. But, Zuda’s turnaround on submissions is 90 days. So, some month’s comics are certainly not as good as other months in terms of content, craft, or storytelling.

    Zuda loads on my computer really quickly, [like almost instantly] but I adjusted my Flash settings.

  2. Brigid Says:

    David, what’s the trick? It takes forever on mine, and I have heard others make the same complaint.

    Zuda does have a lot of sci fi and horror, but there are some great fantasy comics as well. And the biggest problem I have with a lot of their comics is the opposite of yours–not enough setup, so I’m plunged into the middle of the action without enough clues to what is going on. I agree with you though that the info should be in the comic, not the synopsis.

  3. David Gallaher Says:

    Here’s the trick if you are on a PC. Go to a Zuda page. Right click inside the browser. A little menu will pop-up, scorrl down till you you see the ‘Settings’ option. This will open up the ‘Adobe Flash Player Settings.’ There are a series of icons on this menu. Click the third one. [It looks like a folder.] This will tell your computer how much information to store from zuda. The default is 10k, which isn’t a lot at all. I set mine to ‘Unlimited’ … which really does the trick. I get few, if any hiccups. You computer stores the page, rather than relying so much on your internet connection. These days, I can read all of HIGH MOON without an internet connection!

  4. BlaqueSaber Says:

    I agree with you that the comic should stand on its own. In fact, I don’t even read the synopsis, unless I need clarification on something I read in the comic it self.

    I feel as if there isn’t ENOUGH straight superhero (superhero comics NOT clearly mixed with another genre).

    I wonder if having a complete story done in eight pages, with a little hook on the end in case you win, is the way to go?

  5. Johanna Says:

    BS, I would welcome seeing complete stories at Zuda. I don’t think enough competitors have taken that approach.

    I can see why people wouldn’t try regular superhero stories — what can be said new about them these days? Why would people care (especially in 8 pages) if they weren’t already familiar characters?

    I end up reading the synopses because I get to the end of the strip and think “obviously there’s intended to be something more going on here — I wonder what it’s supposed to be”?

    David, thanks for the Flash trick.

  6. David Gallaher Says:


    No problem. Maybe I’ll make an instructional YouTube video. I like the player – in paricular in full screen mode – so it bums me out when I hear folks not digging it (mostly because it means folks can’t read my comic!).

    Also, great post.

  7. Alan Coil Says:

    Comic book fans are IDIOTS!

    Some who might read that will know that I recently posted the same sentence over at The Beat. But it’s true. Even if I modify it to say ‘comics fans’, it’s still true.

    I love superhero comics. But I also enjoy other types, too. I read Usagi Yojimbo, Zorro, Lone Ranger, Muppet Show, The Boys, etc. I was one of the first in my neighborhood to GET Sandman. I like reading older comics, too. Yogi Bear, Tarzan, Space Family Robinson, Hot Stuff, Casper, Popeye, etc.

    Here we have a way of having a virtually unlimited variety of types of comics, and the B&W one is voted last, and a superhero comic first.

    Comics fans are IDIOTS!

  8. Barney Says:

    Frankly I tried Zuda when they started and navigating their interface wasn’t worth the hassle when there are plenty of high quality comics already on the net that don’t rely on flash viewers. Almost everything I’ve read on Zuda could be improved if their creaters spent a few hours reading through the Girl Genius archives.

  9. Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast : Links: Opportunities for creators and readers alike! Says:

    […] of Zuda, Johanna Draper Carlson is not too impressed with what she sees–a lot of the same type of comic, not enough exposition, and a reader that […]

  10. David Gallaher Says:

    >> Almost everything I’ve read on Zuda could be improved if their creaters spent a few hours reading through the Girl Genius archives.>>

    As of this writing, there are 205 comics on Zuda. And over 20 continuing series – and certainly not all of them are gems.

    And while Girl Genius is excellent – comparing that to BAYOU, MELODY, or I RULE THE NIGHT is like comparing apples to spaghetti. I understand your point, but I think that’s a gross over-generalization that dismisses the work and craft of some amazing creators.

  11. THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 7/13/09 Says:

    […] Johanna catches up with the evolution of Zuda, DC’s online comics initiative which is going on two years old. I thought I’d stop by and […]

  12. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes Says:

    […] Webcomics | Johanna Draper Carlson checks in on this month’s Zuda Comics competitors, and questions a lack of genre diversity. Discussion continues in the comments section. [Comics Worth Reading] […]

  13. Al Schroeder III Says:

    I do one of the few superhero webcomics out there, but I enjoy the huge diversity of true webcomics, and I find the ZUDA interface a discouraging and unnecessarily restrictive template, and I find the eight-screen restriction unnaturally confining. I also find the competition demeaning and quick to grab the high flashy concept rather than the quality material.

    It makes economic sense of DC, and if your ambition is to work for DC, yes, it’s a good introduction. But expecting quality webscale work on the scale of say, Dresden Codak or Kukkiburri or Gunnerkreig (sp?) Court from this is like expecting the next Bob Dylan to arise from AMERICAN IDOL.

    Sorry. Not my cup of tea. And I’ve been reading comics for a looong time (used to be a letterhack under Al Schroeder III) as well as doing webcomics for over five years.

  14. Thom Says:

    What do you mean, David? Apples and spaghetti are almost identical items in every way.

    Yes, my world is a weird one.

  15. BlaqueSaber Says:

    “and I find the ZUDA interface a discouraging and unnecessarily restrictive template”
    I don’t understand why so many people have an issue/problem with Zuda’s interface. I think it functions well. It’s easy to use, clear instructions, somewhat intuitive and I have no problems/issues with it at all.

  16. Al Schroeder III Says:

    Because you don’t need a Flash interface that needs to be configured for your computer to do webcomics. Thousands of webcomics are produced every day without such an ugly interface. Additonally, many workplaces (where, actually, most webcomics are read) have restrictions on users updating their Flash without desktop support, because they’re afraid of worms and viruses. Ergo, Zuda is cutting its nose to spite its face, since obviously that’s not a request you want to make officially at your workplace, unless you work somewhere that specifically supports online comics. So they are, by the decision to USE such an interface, losing a significant number of hits.

    HTML, jpgs or pngs is all you need to produce a good webcomic. Many do, without any such interface at all.

    Aesthetically, I also think the frame is both clumsy and ugly, but that’s a matter of taste and opinion. But the flash interface itself is preventing a significant percentage of the readers from reading the comics—which is a web design problem, and an unnecessary one.

  17. BlaqueSaber Says:

    Maybe I stand alone on this issue but I prefer a flash interface to html buttons that force the entire page to reload.

    Also, it is my opinion that setting up a flash interface (which is easy to do, there are lots pre made codes you can find)sets you apart from a standard webcomicer giving your page a bit more of a professional look and feel to it.

  18. Johanna Says:

    Ultimately, BS, it doesn’t matter whether a Zuda creator understands or agrees with the objections or not. The important thing is that a significant number of readers feel that way, and ruling out a big chunk of potential fans because of a stupid (imo) proprietary reader may not be the best way to go.

    Aside from it being ridiculously slow, which interrupts reading, there’s also the sharing problem. If I love a particular installment of Sinfest, for example, I can link directly to it. If I want to point a friend towards a particular screen of the latest Zuda strip, I can’t. That’s sort of anti-web.

    I’m guessing DC thought they needed it out of fear of copying, but that’s sort of putting the cart before the horse. They’d need to have a strip that popular and desired for sharing first.

  19. Kenny Cather Says:

    I just want to say I generally *hate* Flash. I can see a use for it in on-line video games, where ActionScript coding works *really* well, but on the whole, I try to stay away from Flash stuff as much as possible. The standard format for webcomics was more or less established before Zuda came along – .jpg files. So, why bother changing it, other than to make an impression?

    I enjoy Achewood, Girls With Slingshots, XKCD, etc. My webcomics reading list is already pretty huge. I don’t feel the desire to mess around with a Flash interface to read more.

  20. Caanan Says:

    “They’d need to have a strip that popular and desired for sharing first.”

    Wow. Just wow. I think I should give up now and go work as a telemarketer. Right now. Yep. That’s it, I’m done.

    Caanan here. I do Celadore. The ‘one that shouldn’t have won’ according to probably a lot of people.

    I just wanted to say, I love the flash player, personally, but professionally, I wish every reader out there had the option of full screen Flash or jpgs because to only have one limits my potential audience. Which is why I never really advertise Celadore. What’s the point when a lot of the internet population won’t even give it the time of day solely because of that little Zuda logo?

    We’ve been seeing hints that Beta is about to be busted wide open, so I really hope this is something they’re working on.

    And, well, I wanted to say a lot more, but frankly what would I know? I haven’t read Girl Genius, so I know nothing about comics.

    (Oh wow. Look at that. Generalising IS fun.)

  21. Al Schroeder III Says:

    BlaqueSaber: that’s certainly your choice, and I understand how easy it is to do a Flash interface. However, I know that many places of business do not allow fiddling with even such a minor feature without desktop support.

    I also know that many of my page visits come during work hours, go down on holidays and weekends, which argues that many are browsing from work.

    So…is the interface worth losing a significant slide of a potential audience?

    Of course, DC is really aiming to put some of these in graphic novel format, to make some money thereby. To them, the relative tiny money generated by advertising given on the site is negligible. To them it makes good business sense. To the creator, however…I’m not so sure.

  22. Johanna Says:

    Caanan, I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of Celadore, and (more to my point), I have never gotten an email from someone saying “hey, you should check out this Zuda comic” UNLESS they were the creator themselves. With “regular” (non-Flash) webcomics, friends have frequently sent me links to particular strips. My point is that Zuda, by not following accepted conventions, doesn’t really feel like part of the same community. And maybe they don’t want to.

    If you’d included a link, I would have gone to check it out, Zuda logo or not. And I’d like to hear more about your experiences — how did winning one month help you?

  23. BlaqueSaber Says:

    I can see everyone’s viewpoint here and respect them all. I agree with alternative formats on the same site so that everyone and every computer can participate.

  24. btnash Says:

    I feel the need to defend DC here because, aside from the instant winners, the fans choose which comics continue… The instant winner strips have been very diverse (genre wise). Not a superhero among them = P

    So in order to get away from superhero strips (if that’s what we’re talking about here) DC either needs to bring in a non comic reading audience, or change comic readers minds…

    Good luck

  25. Johanna Says:

    That’s an excellent reminder, thank you, that the editors have picked some alternate topics. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that visitors to a DC-sponsored site should have certain tastes.

  26. Paul Housley Says:

    I think it’s important that someone chime in in opposition Al Schroeder’s insistence that .jpg and .html are the superior format.

    I shunned webcomics (and still avoid most non-Zuda comics) due to the poor presentation of nearly all of the .jpg comics I’ve run across.
    I shouldn’t have to scroll up and down in addition to clicking forward through the story, and sadly most of the time I’m forced to put up with that crap. That issue is like an elephant compared to the miniscule ‘one-time-only’ 5 second load time of the Zuda viewer.

    When Girl Genius is properly formatted at 4:3 AND I don’t have to scroll up and down to read it, then I MIGHT give it another try. Probably not though. I never cared for it.

    And I’m not exactly sympathetic to his ‘slacking off at work’ dilemma either. Read comics on your off time like the rest of us.

  27. BlaqueSaber Says:

    @Paul Housley
    I knew I wasn’t alone in enjoying the flash viewer. I’d also argue that any EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL webcomic has a fairly progressive site, maybe it has flash & maybe it doesn’t but progressive none the less.

    .jpg site take longer to load, and far more often then flash sites…on the other hand I think we may be digressing just a bit from the original topic

  28. Tyler James Says:

    Lack of diversity? This month? Have you been paying attention at all? I feel like this is one of the most diverse months yet. There’s horror, action, comedy, a political thriller, a depression-era noir story, a super hero…I mean, how much diversity are you looking for?

    Granted, I’m somewhat impartial, in that my comic Interrogation Control Element is competing this month. But really, I don’t know that lack of diversity is even a justifiable claim, especially this month.

    And regarding the Flash viewer…adjust the flash settings and put it on full screen, and there is not a better, prettier, more immersive webcomics experience out there. While there are other things missing from the Zuda interface that should be improved upon (supporting material, characters, chapter navigation, etc.) the presentation of the actual comic is second to none.

  29. Foz Says:

    Firstly, I LOVE the way zuda comics are presented. I LOVE the full-screen viewing option. It rocks my socks. You have a comic page taking up the whole screen, and all you have to do to ‘turn’ the page is click right for forward and left to go back. You can even zoom in to find all the finer detail. I really don’t see what all the fuss is about, if you’re not reading it in fullscreen, then you’re a drongo. Also, how lazy are you when it comes to sending links!? All you do is type in http://www.zudacomics.com/deadly (or any other title) and tell your mate what the page number is. How hard is that? Remember the time when we had to WRITE letters and take them to the post office to be sent? And people here are saying it’s hard to write almost an entire sentence!? It reminds me of the humans in Wall-E… As for quality, go read http://www.zudacomics.com/supertron http://www.zudacomics.com/celardore http://www.zudacomics.com/irulethenight
    and of course, the big two, http://www.zudacomics.com/bayou and http://www.zudacomics.com/highmoon and THEN tell me that they’re not ‘desirable’…and I’ll call you a douchebag, because those, and many others on the Zuda site are awesome comics that I’d have no problem paying cash for in the shops. Yet here we can get them for free, awesome!

  30. Somebody Says:

    The few decent entries I saw at Zuda ended up at the bottom of the competitions. I think crappy comic artists have more friends who vote for them or voters simply like crap better.

  31. Chuck Melville Says:

    I rarely look at the Zuda comics, and the reader is the chief reason why. I don’t like webcomic readers to begin with — I’ve run across one or two others out there apart from Zuda — they’re slow, indirect, sometimes buggy, and don’t allow for linking to a specific day’s strip. I haven’t had patience enough to see if it allows you to read the current strip or if it requires you to begin at the start — I think it stays current, but I honestly don’t remember. It doesn’t matter how many good or great strips Zuda has — so long as it has a reader mechanism in place, I won’t be reading them.

  32. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » July 16, 2009: Smart-alec animals, girls in their underwear Says:

    […] “I thought I’d stop by and check out this month’s Zuda entries, which made me wonder about how similar they were all becoming. I noticed that many of them were tagged either Super-Hero, Action/Adventure, or Horror. There were smart-alec animals, girls in their underwear, bloody fights, talky conspiracies, and always, too much time spent waiting for the viewer to load. The content reminded me of what I can already get elsewhere.” – Johanna Draper Carlson […]

  33. Patrick Brown Says:

    The flash interface, no matter how good it is or how easy to use, is a barrier to entry. You want to have as few of them as possible.

  34. darrylayo Says:


    I actually enjoy Zuda Comics’ fancy comics reader. But, confusingly, it’s the main reason why I scarcely go to the site. At work, it’s impossible for me to use, it’s not iphone compatable and at home, I typically have about ten tabs open at a time on my browser and never the inclination to be fully absorbed in any one of them.

    Speaking of work, I will take issue with the commenter Paul who chastises people who read webcomics at work. As some have alluded to, a great deal–even a majority of webcomics’ business appears to rely on daytime browsers. Some people are on break or taking lunch at their desks. Others, such as myself are flagrantly browsing the internet while doing their jobs. Your value judgements aside, at-work appears to be the primary condition during which webcomics are read. Any webcomic website that doesn’t allow for that is operating with an obvious handicap. In other words, webcomic readers aren’t missing out on Zuda, Zuda Comics is missing out on a lot of webcomic readers.

    Also, as other commenters have noted, it seems a bit extravagant and excessive to have a big Flash production when a simple HTML setup would work nicely. A lot of what makes webcomics sweet is that, apart from projects like Zuda, a person doesn’t need to install anything special–they just need access to the internet. Most webcomics are run on glorified blog software. And the beauty, as they say, is in the simplicity.

    Having said all of that, I like a lot of what Zuda has to offer and one of these days, I’ll train myself to set aside some time to explore more of these comics at length.

  35. Bryy Says:

    “I think crappy comic artists have more friends who vote for them or voters simply like crap better.”

    That’s the downside of it being a COMPETITION, though. You can’t have one without the other.

  36. Chuck Melville Says:

    “I think crappy comic artists have more friends who vote for them or voters simply like crap better.”

    “That’s the downside of it being a COMPETITION, though. You can’t have one without the other.”

    Then it isn’t really a COMPETITION… it’s a POPULARITY CONTEST.

    A competition suggests that the material would be judged on its merits by experts or pros, as opposed to being voted on by its supporters.

  37. robberry Says:

    “Caanan, I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of Celadore…”

    Caanan Grall has been a participating member of the Zuda community since its inception and his strip CELADORE has just completed its second 60-screen season on the site. For those of you who’ve not read it yet, I highly suggest it;

    For those of you, like the author of this post, who operate blogs that claim to be reviews of “Comics Worth Reading”, I’d suggest that having some working knowledge of one of the major comic features on the particular site you’ve chosen to discount might just be, uhhm, the most basic level of research for intelligent reporting. Though perhaps that’s not what the author is concerned about. Intelligent reporting requires some level objectivity and a patience clearly over-looked in favor of a faster way to read and share free comics.

    Free comics, or any new web-based media, makes concessions to existing and emerging technology such as the Flash player or the conversion to the more convenient screen format that Paul mentions above. Media changes effect content changes and, personally, I feel Flash and the landscape format are a good glimpse of what’s coming. I could wish for faster loading times, sure, but those are coming (as in the shortcut David mentions) as the site grows in depth of content and builds its community.

    And that’s what all web-based material is after, including this blog. Community. In order to build a community outside the retail comicshops where fans can gather, critique and vote upon content they’d like to see as well as be given the opportunity to learn the craft and submit comics of their own, DC has come up with Zuda and now, nearly two years later, that community has built some momentum and substantial catalog of free and available content.

    Johanna, the last thing any new and growing small town or community needs is to have people like yourself rushing by on an expressway of their own intentions making judgments on the quality of what they do there. Slow down and meet some of the people before writing such casual summations of the entire community. You might be surprised by what you find. But in the meantime reviews like this, particularly on a blog with such a lofty title, are just travel logs from someone who’s never left the airport.

  38. Kidgloves Says:

    To say that the 8 page restriction is limiting or confining is horsesh*t and small-minded. If you can’t engage a reader within 8 pages then you probably shouldn’t be writing. Every bit of ESSENTIAL information can be delivered within those 8 pages, either with art or words. That’s not to say EVERYTHING about a story should be, but the things that are necessary to hook a reader can be. Some competitors do accomplish this, while others seem to think they’re writing Gravity’s Rainbow or Infinite Jest.
    Hell, we managed to do a complete story in 8 pages http://zudacomics.com/node/477 It didn’t get us the win, nor did everyone like the idea of it being a complete story. Can’t please everyone.

    And yes, Zuda is a popularity contest, which as a creator sucks. But as a business, which DC is, it’s the best situation. If you were trying to sell something would you hire the guy who could bring you 2 costumers or the guy who could birng in 1500? Yeah, those 2 costumers might be really, really intelligent and hip, but those 1500 are gonna make you a hell of a lot more money.

    As for the diversity part, not sure I get that. There’s plenty of diversity over on Zuda. Yes, horror dominates the winners, but that’s what readers want or at least what they vote for most of time. But that’s not Zuda’s fault. They don’t force anyone to vote for anything. Horror is hot right now. Hell, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is one of the hottest sellers of the summer (soon to be followed by Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. TRUE!!), which only has about 15% new material in it. Basically, a guy is making millions by taking a Jane Austen book and changing every 20th word or so to “unmentionables/zombies”.

  39. Johanna Says:

    robberry, after getting a nice email from Caanan about Celadore, I’d put it on my “to read” list. I was planning on reading the whole thing once I had some time to explore it in depth. Now, I’m rethinking that, because I don’t really want to follow something that attracts fans like you.

    I’m just kidding, of course. I wouldn’t deprive myself of what sounds like an interesting strip just because you thought being a jerk was the best way to make your point.

  40. BlaqueSaber Says:

    So where 39 comments in, two of my own, but has the blog title question been answered? What IS Zuda looking for…?

  41. Kidgloves Says:

    What is Zuda looking for? Quality(subjective) comics made by creators who are willing to put in the work to market themselves and their comic.

  42. BlaqueSaber Says:

    Which all changes, every hour, every day, every month depending on who’d competing and who’s reading/voting….

    We have it answered!

  43. robberry Says:

    I should also comment on some of the interesting points made by darrylayo here.

    Yeah, currently Flash players are a drawback in hitting the most pedestrian traffic of the web. Its important to state that i don’t mean pedestrian in a negative way but, instead, exactly how darrylayo presents it above. But here’s some things worth considering.

    1)Flash allows for faster download interface as it loads multiple pages of a comic as one file. This means that slower or interruptive download single strength can give you larger files to read on the computer after the single goes away. Think about portability, iTunes store and buffering times versus download times in a competitive market.

    2)Flash integrates animation. This can’t be overstated in its importance as there’s more movement to interfacing with games and animation and youtube. Again, portability, iTunes store and “motion comics” come to mind here as developmental horizons.

    3)Flash, unlike other animation programs, can interact with html. It can be paused and links can be opened directly in this program that you couldn’t do in some other animation, but it still allows for motion. Now, as most people could tell you, I’m a stickler for comics as a static artform and don’t care much about animation. But that’s not how people are reading web content these days. Animation is an important feature to be able to access. Flash is a good system for allowing static and moving pictures to coexist with other types of web content.

    4)Flash is coming to the iPhone. Its as inevitable as the iPhone itself was.

    5)Three manufacturing companies in China recently announced their production schedule for millions of “large format” touch screen readers for Apple. What’s coming is the iViewer (lord knows what they’ll really call it), a tablet for all of the iPhone and PS games as well as a portable movie viewer with internet capability. Bigger iPhone without the phone. Imagine comics in this format. Yeah.

    You’re right in feeling like the major problem of Zuda and all other Flash based comic viewers is that they don’t allow the access we want on everyday devices like work computers and smartphones. But the smart thing about going to a Flash system is recognizing what Flash can provide in the future. Comics take an extraordinarily long time to make. I’d like to believe I’m making them in a style and form that will last awhile and, as the distribution model changes, my work will be compatible for the technology is going. I’m looking pretty heavily at Flash right now. True, its not currently as popular as the rotary dial, but in the long run it might be much easier to switch to pushing the buttons.

  44. Bryy Says:

    I mean, honestly, 90% of the rejected strips are really bad. The rest are good, but hard to market.

    “Then it isn’t really a COMPETITION… it’s a POPULARITY CONTEST.”

    Please. This is a cop-out.

    Johanna, don’t be scared off by Rob. He means well, he just gets freakish passionate (to a fault at times) about this stuff.

  45. Kidgloves Says:

    A creator’s willingness to market themselves doesn’t change month to month. Does the quality of comics? Yeah, but that’s the case at any comic book company or any media. Even Alan Moore sucks sometimes.

    The most successful web comics tend to be the one’s done by the creators who market themselves the best. Not every successful web comic is the bee’s knees nor are the unsuccessful ones crap.

    But blanket statements are easier to make. They require less thought.

  46. robberry Says:

    ” I wouldn’t deprive myself of what sounds like an interesting strip just because you thought being a jerk was the best way to make your point.”

    Glad to hear I made my point.

    If personal emails are what it takes to get you to consider “Comics That Are Worth Reading” I’d imagine your inbox is too full for more objective and thorough criticism.

    (see, that was me being a jerk.)

    Seriously, though. How can you rate and criticize Zuda like this without a cursory awareness of its material? Being unaware of Caanan and his contributions there discredits your opinion considerably and, frankly, quite a number of your other posts are just way more informed than that. I really don’t understand why each time you blog about this site you always seem to tell us how little research you’ve done or interest you have there. It’s not in keeping with the other material of blog as it seems bias without any backing.

    You’re an intelligent reviewer with an interesting slant on the material you present and I’m sure a lot of people would find your insights into Zuda much more useful if you actually seemed to have given the site more than a moments glance. But, jerk though that might make me sound, I just don’t see how you’ve accomplished anything other than a misinformed gripe on this one.

  47. Chuck Melville Says:

    “Then it isn’t really a COMPETITION… it’s a POPULARITY CONTEST.”

    “Please. This is a cop-out.”

    In what way? I see it as a straight-forward definition of terms.

    If a series’ worth over other strips is determined by the clamor of it’s fans and supporters, then it’s a popularity contest. If its quality is determined by by a panel of pros who then weigh it against its competitors, then it’s a competition. One is determined subjectively and the other objectively… in theory, anyway.

    I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it being a popularity contest, just that the difference should be recognized and acknowledged for what it is.

  48. Bryy Says:

    The fact that there is an actual prize.

  49. Chuck Melville Says:

    “The fact that there is an actual prize.”

    I don’t understand your response.

  50. Bryy Says:

    Well, I mean the fact that you actually win something other than people’s affection. In all seriousness, Zuda really isn’t doing anything drastically different from how print comics live or die. It’s just that we get to see how well the comic is doing (to an extent).

  51. Chuck Melville Says:

    Um… okay…

    I don’t see what that has to do with the difference between a popularity contest and a competition, per se, but… okay…

  52. Bryy Says:

    If you want to define it as such, then every single industry is a popularity contest (which it is, once you think about it).

  53. Chuck Melville Says:

    That’s true, so far as it goes.

    But the wording at the Zuda site leads one to think that the competitions are to be determined by factors OTHER than a simple popularity vote. (Which may be why they’re calling it a ‘competition’.) Which leads to entirely different expectations.

    And, frankly, the presence of a prize is pretty much irrelevant as to which it is, as a prize can be awarded in either case, which is why I was confused by your mentioning it.

    It really doesn’t matter what it is, as either method is valid; what matters is what they call it and how they represent it, and what expectations they evoke.

  54. paulmckinneyart Says:

    Some months are better than others but so are my crossovers. Nobody’s perfect. ;-)

    Let me start with that I’m a nobody that draws and I like zudacomics with the features they offer via the internet for free. The opportunities for artist are there, but not without some fine-tuning and lots of hard work and dedication. If I ever get into a competition, I don’t care about winning, just want to be able to say I tried. It’s not about money, oh God no. What money?…after taxes. One should pick up a pen and write/draw/color a submission according to their guidelines( http://www.zudacomics.com/submit_instructions ) and then compete. Read. Create. Vote…as I understand it. Sure, there are doubts of how you actually get picked to be in one (probably a lottery, lucky 10 poingers!) but there’s more to zuda if your willing to be a part of it. It’s a tool and how you use it is up to you. There are lots of great contacts and people there that deserve having their comic seen even if it’s not on zuda.
    Also, you want diversity, then how about their fan base doing fan art? Have you checked out the monthly crossover poster action @ http://zudafanart.blogspot.com/ ?
    Just doing monthly crossover posters, that probably piss off a lot, maybe, but really should make everyone happy, even the hasty critics out there. They’re a gift of hard work, and time from someone that’s a nobody that likes to draw. Hehe…(gulp!)

  55. Caanan Says:

    Blaquesaber said – (spelling corrected) So we’re 39 comments in, two of my own, but has the blog title question been answered? What IS Zuda looking for…?

    54 comments in, and I’d say all Zuda is looking for right now is peace, love and understanding. ;o)

  56. Alan Coil Says:

    I hope Zuda is looking for a way to tone down some of the arrogance that comes from some of their creators before said arrogance drives people away.

  57. Kidgloves Says:

    I’m pretty sure comment #41 answered the question, What is Zuda looking for?

    Oh, and yes, Celadore is a wonderful read.

  58. David Gallaher Says:

    How Fast is Zuda? This is how fast it takes to load on my HP Pavilion ze2000 in Firefox: http://bit.ly/v9O9K

  59. Joe Williams Says:

    “Then it isn’t really a COMPETITION… it’s a POPULARITY CONTEST.”

    This seems to be news to some people, but the entire business of comics is a popularity contest and not a competition based on merit. People have built careers in comics based on the fact that they have lots of friends in the business who give them jobs or help spread word of mouth and contribute to the “buzz” behind their books. People win awards because their friends vote for them. People get jobs because they hung out with the right person at the bar after a con. Don’t kid yourself.

  60. Chuck Melville Says:

    Doesn’t matter how well liked or how popular any individual is — if he doesn’t have the skills or the chops, he’d not as likely to be hired as someone who does.

    A successful career hinges on a number of things falling into place at the right time: a superior competency of skills, education, successful networking, a popular connection with the clients, and plain ol’ dumb luck.

  61. Sean Says:

    It’s so funny to me how people get so caught up with (a) the Competition, (b) the Contract, and (c) How do I get in.

    It’s actually pretty simple. You make a bad ass comic that you’ve put 100% of yourself into, you should get in. And if you don’t, so what — if you feel super passionate about it, put it up somewhere else. If you get in and lose, sometimes (believe it or not) that’s even better. You still retain the rights to your work, you meet a whole array of other creative talent whom you can maybe even collab w/ latter (ie: The Hammer).

    Any way you look at it, it’s a win/win scenario.

    I was a former competitor and came in 10th place, but it was a great experience. Even if I hadn’t gotten in I’d still be doing what I am right now: Self releasing/publishing my comic on my own site.

    Zuda isn’t for everyone… but for those that don’t really “get it”, it’s about way more than just winning the contract.

  62. Chuck Melville Says:

    Sean for the win. I completely agree with that assessment.

  63. Johanna Says:

    Sean, that’s great advice for anyone considering participation in Zuda. I’m glad you got so much out of it.

  64. Steve B. Says:

    I’ve been thru the Zuda mill three times and the contest I enjoyed the least was the one where I decided I NEEDED to win. I came out of it feeling vaguely slimy. I enjoyed it a lot more when I just took it as an opportunity to put work out there, get some feedback, and just be part of the whole mishegas for a month. I know in our culture that’s Commie talk (contests are for WINNIN’,hippie!), but I’m not really relying on Zuda to be my “way in”. I think if you set it up as that then you’re bound to be disappointed. Just enjoy it for what it is like Sean said.

  65. The Webcomic Overlook #101: Azure « The Webcomic Overlook Says:

    […] the same time, Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading grumbled over what she perceived as how Zuda Comics and their terminal lack of originality. I thought I’d stop by and check out this month’s Zuda entries, which made me wonder about how […]

  66. isaacbidwell Says:

    Does anyone know what the prize is for winning. It looks like $500, for the 8 pages and DC keeps the rights? Am I reading this right? If thats the case, it’s a horrible deal. It also seems you get $1,000 per trade publishing….again a bad deal.

    Maybe thats why the work is what it is. I read Bayou, and loved it, but they didn’t win any contest. DC brought Bayou on.

    Thoughts? I’m just learning about this DC off branch and am trying to learn more. Thanks.

  67. Bryy Says:


    $500 for getting into the competition.
    $1000 for winning.
    $250 per page.

    The ownership of the copyright/trademark is 50/50. All of this is up on Zuda’s website (although a bit hard to find with the new layout).

  68. isaacbidwell Says:

    hmm….not to bad then.

    maybe i’ll try.


  69. Zuda Eliminates Competitions » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] every month… that’s a lot of competitions to manage, and the material was becoming a bit same-y. Now if they would only do something about their technology — especially since it’s […]

  70. Response to end of Zuda contests restrained but largely positive | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson: "I think this move makes sense for them — at the time Zuda started, they shook up the digital comic world, spawning lots of discussion, but 2 1/2 years of having to crown a winner every month… that’s a lot of competitions to manage, and the material was becoming a bit same-y." […]




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