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Scott Kurtz makes nice with Zuda. Also, lions lie with lambs.

Typically, the established webcomic community has been very critical of Zuda.

Gary Tyrrell at Fleen, for example:

I’ll say this — that portion of the panel that I did see didn’t really change my mind about Zuda and its operations; I think that the service is a corporate version of an independent production model, and philosophically I prefer the indy approach. It’s not that Perazza, or Kwanza Johnson, or David Gallaher, or any of the other people I’ve met from the Zudaworld are bad or wrong people — as I’ve written before, they’ve been unfailingly polite to me in all our dealings, especially given the skeptical approach I’ve taken to their production model. It comes down to the fact that we have different mental definitions of the word webcomics.

Also not a big fan of Zuda, Spike from Templar, AZ at the same site.

Based on the enthusiasm of Team Zuda at the Harveys, though, long time Zuda critic and Ding! creator Scott Kurtz may be reversing his opinion:

So as you know, I’ve been critical of Zuda Comics in the past. I’ve never liked the idea of a large company like DC treating new talent like American Idol contestants but that seems to be a new direction the industry is heading. Not something I want to get behind. Not something I would ever do myself.

But this weekend I had a chance to witness first hand a couple things about Zuda Comics and it stopped to make me rethink my position a little bit. And I feel it’s only fair that I be as vocal about this thought as I have have been in the past about my critical thoughts. If I’m gonna to jerk my knee around like this, it’s only fair to report when it jerks in the other direction as well.

This weekend, three Zuda Comics were nominated for Harvey Awards. One of them, HIGH MOON, not only debuted a new print version of their book at the show, but won the Harvey for best online comic strip.

I witnessed the Zuda crew at their table at the awards ceremonies. They were all excited, having a good time, and most importantly, brothers in arms. Its the same camaraderie that I’m blessed to experience with my buddies at Halfpixel.

Ron Perazza has always been a really gracious and level headed guy, even when I’ve been really critical and snarky of him. He was a real sweetheart during the ceremonies and looked back at us when he was presenting to confess that he was so nervous to be up there his hands were shaking. This is after I introduced him to the crowd by announcing “Our next presenter was chosen from an online contest where he competed against 9 other talented presenters for the opportunity to be here tonight.” The Zuda table erupted with laughs and cheers. After the show they all took time to tell me I had done a great job and to remind me that even though we fight online, they understand that my heart’s in the right place.

So, passing the High Moon booth on Sunday on the way to my own table, I had to ask myself a very pointed question: if David, Steve and Scott had taken MY advice and gone it alone with HIGH MOON, would they be here a year later with a full color graphic novel, their own booth at the Baltimore Comicon and a Harvey Award? Possibly. But can I say probably? I don’t think I can in all fairness.

I would never sign up for Zuda comics. I still don’t like the idea of turning creators into competitors. I still don’t like the idea of spec work or building someone elses brand instead of my own. But I’m a results-oriented person and I can not argue with these results. And I can’t say in all honesty that David, Steve and Scott would have earned what clout they have this year going it on their own. Certainly they could have, but WOULD they have? That’s the real question.

What next? Locusts with the faces of women erupting from the ground? Babies having babies? Strange times, indeed.

Also, a long time ago, High Moon’s David Gallaher forwarded me an interview he did with Zuda Comic’s Vice President of Creative Services, Ron Perazza on Robot 6. Check it out!

(h/t Evan Dahm via Twitter)

Posted in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics