Zuda, Zu Zu Zu Zuuuu-daaaa
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Zudacomics went live yesterday. I checked it out, mostly, I’ll admit, to see “High Moon”, which on its face seems exactly like the cogent plot elements of my OGN MURDER MOON, only in color and in a webcomic. Oh yes, and to see “Bayou”, which I had high hopes for.
Let’s talk about the good. “Bayou” is the most fully realized of the offerings, with an intriguing setting/cast and charming art that I’m sure belies the real nature of the storyline. It’s the first continuing series to be named at Zuda, and deservedly so. I look forward to reading this as it continues.
“Dead in the Now” is also a good read, though you don’t read Rey’s work so much as you absorb it. It’s big, bold, energetic, unafraid to eat up page space, learning lessons from manga without simply aping the styles. There is story there, believe it or not, though it’s presented unadorned and unfettered. No messing around. I’ll be reading this as well, though I can see how some folks might not be digging it.
“High Moon” actually has some lovely art, but the story isn’t doing it for me. However, I’m biased since I’m gonna have to take grief for “hey, cowboys and werewolves, just like that Zuda comic.” “Leprenomicon” is intriguing, but I’m going to need more before I’m convinced.
“Alpha Monkey” has some vibrant art but doesn’t do much for me (though my son will probably dig it.) “Black Swan” suffers for having a distinctive look that is only used in flashbacks and not in the main storyline (which in and of itself is pretty average). I’d probably like “The Dead Seas” if I was in its target audience bracket (I’m not, by probably twenty-five years or more).
One of the biggest problems seems to be pacing for webcomic pages, and that’s a big one. It took me a long time to understand (some would argue that I don’t get it yet) how a page and a series of panels needs to flow for story/dialogue beats to work. It feels like too much is being packed into some of the strip pages (while some don’t have enough going on at all or following what is there is tricky.) This is a problem that is solvable.
I have to confess I’m not wild about the shockwave-based reader and inability to jump to a bookmarked page, for instance. I might have missed it, I’ll admit. But the interface can be changed once the content is placed.
The quality of the offerings is variable, either in the art or the writing (and yes, I know it’s unfair to judge writing on the basis of eight pages, sixteen in the case of “Bayou”. On the other hand, I knew that Cameron Stewart’s “Sin Titulo” was good on the basis of three pages, maybe four.) Granted, there’s no way I’m going to be enraptured with “The Dead Seas” or “The Enders” or “Raining Cats and Dogs”. They’re aimed at literally a different generation of readers. And there’s a chance that DC/Zuda will connect with some of them.
Costwise, there isn’t much to lose, from DC’s perspective. Sure, there’s page rates (I’m assuming that there are page rates), but a vastly reduced cost of production comes into play when playing on the digital ballfield. And that cost only drops after you’ve eaten the initial development (though I’d hope they’d spend a little money on a plain interface for mobile devices, etc.)
But please don’t ask me to make a prognostication as to how this is going to turn out. There’s some good stuff there, most of it’s readable (but largely not my thing), probably enough to keep people coming back, if the content comes in regularly and is updated often. Besides, DC shouldn’t be aiming this at me; they should be aiming this at folks who aren’t reading comics yet but could possibly be talked into it.