DC’s Webcomic Play: Zuda Comics

Thanks to Gordin McAlpin for the tip: DC Comics has a press release out on their forthcoming (an October launch date is mentioned) webcomic site: Zuda Comics. The NYTimes has an article on it this morning as well. From the press release (with my comments/questions/snark interlaced):

Already established as the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world, DC Comics announced today the creation of Zudacomics.com, a new web comics imprint. The home to such iconic characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Sandman, DC Comics will soon publish new, never before seen online content featuring new characters and concepts through Zudacomics.com.

Is this really true? Does DC put out more than any of the newspaper syndicates?

The site is scheduled to launch this October and will feature multiple ongoing web comics. Following the site’s launch, the majority of the web comics will be selected by Zudacomics.com’s visitors, who will vote on new web comics presented to them in periodic competitions. Winners of the competitions will receive commissions to create a year’s worth of their web comics for the site, and will have their work published in print formats as well.

"There is an explosion of creativity in web comics," said Paul Levitz, DC Comics President & Publisher. "We want to build a great stage for this new generation of creators to perform on, a solid system for their work to reach audiences online and in print, and for the creators to share in the profits their creations can generate. In this time of rapid technological and cultural change, DC wants to be a good publisher for the evolving and growing community of online comic creators, so that we can be their partner for showcasing new kinds of works to entertain future generations."

Interesting. I haven’t heard of any recruiting going on so it may be that the initial lineup features work from comic book regulars (or simply repurposed comic book comics). Contests are always fun. Of course the above doesn’t explain who gets the copyright (DC traditionally does work-for-hire), how much the year’s worth of webcomics commission (i.e. pay) is and what the deal will be for ancialliary stuff like books, t-shirts, etc. Mentioning that the creators will share in the profits actually makes me suspicious that DC does in fact intend to treat this as work-for-hire.

Creators will be encouraged to send submissions that run the full gamut of comic book genres—from humor, romance, science fiction, fantasy and superheroes. Editorial for Zudacomics.com will be handled by Ron Perazza, DC Comics Director of Creative Services and Kwanza Johnson, DC Comics Online Editor, and overseen by DC Comics SVP-Creative Director, Richard Bruning. Johnson and Perazza will be charged with selecting the submissions for the site’s competitions; additionally, the editors can declare as many as six submissions as instant winners during the calendar year. All Zudacomics.com creators who are instant winners, competition winners and competition finalists will be paid by DC Comics.

What can I say – editors are great. If all of this helps to make the overall Zuda Comics site consistently great in terms of quality it’ll help immensely to build the traffic to the site. Plugs in the DC line-up of comic books will also help a lot with site traffic too 🙂

Zudacomics.com’s official tagline is "click here to continue." The site will have numerous variations of a site logo that reflects the scope and ambition of the imprint. "In designing the Zuda logo, it was important to echo back to the interactive nature of the web, the creativity of our medium and the diversity of the comics community," said Richard Bruning. "We soon realized that there shouldn’t be just one logo. We wanted to reflect the different ‘faces’ of web comics that we are looking to publish. It’s all about the diversity of the readership and the medium."

Have no idea what they’re talking about but I predict lawyer-grams to anyone who dares utter "click here to continue" in the future…

Unlike a traditional comic book page (which traditionally measures 6 5/8" X 10 1/4"), a Zuda web comic will consist of a series of 4:3 aspect ratio screens, so that users will be able to read a web comic installment without opening an additional window in their browser or excessive scrolling. Ongoing Zuda web comics will run for at least 52 total installments, in addition to the initial submission.

Interesting. These aren’t the most restrictive guidelines they could put out if they’re trying to create a uniform experience at the website. There are more details on what they mean by a 4:3 aspect ratio here.

DC Comics has chosen IBM Global Business Services to design and build the new Zudacomics.com site. The site will embrace leading Web 2.0 technologies such as blogging, commenting, rating and tagging to encourage maximum community participation and feedback on artists’ submissions. The DC Comics creative and technical teams are working side by side with consultants, visual designers, information architects and developers from IBM’s Media & Entertainment practice to design everything from the technology architecture to the look and feel and overall user experience for the site. Through the use of open source technologies, the new site will enable collaboration and innovation as well as flexibility to allow DC Comics to continue to enhance the site with industry leading functionality over time.

Interesting as well although I wonder if IBM and DC will be contributing any new code back to these open source projects they’ll be using for the site.

The Zudacomics.com teaser site will go live in July, timed to this year’s San Diego ComicCon; the teaser site will allow pre-registration for the site and provide updates for the imprint throughout the summer. "Zuda Comics will be a transparent publishing operation," said Ron Perazza, Online Director. "We’re asking the community and the creators to participate in the growth of a new business. They need to have access to every bit of information we can provide, so we’re going to roll out our submissions process, our contracts and agreements throughout the summer, well before our October content launch."

Smart marketing. Let us know what you see at ComiCon this year and we’ll try to keep everyone updated. (UPDATE: a good article at ICv2 compares this to other publishers’ web efforts.)


Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.

Comments are closed.