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Zuda is officially pronounced dead

The sad news comes from Robot 6. DC Comics is doing some housecleaning… with an axe. Among the divisions getting the axe: the Wildstorm imprint, which was the home of comics like WildCATs, The Authority, StormWatch, and Gen13 (which comic diehards probably remember mostly under the Image banner); and, of course, former webcomic imprint, Zuda Comics, home to Harvey-winning comic High Moon, Eisner-nominated Bayou, Azure, Night Owls, Lily of the Valley, Black Cherry Bombshells, and LaMorte Sisters. No word yet on whether these titles will simply cease to exist or whether they will be folded into DC’s existing brands (like Vertigo).

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UPDATE: Actually, it seams like The Beat is on top of this (as they always are; yeah, yeah, it was also mentioned in the Robot 6 piece but I totally missed the second link thanks to a lack of quotable quotes). From a note by co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio:

After this week, we will cease to publish new material under the ZUDA banner. The material that was to have been published as part of ZUDA this year will now be published under the DC banner. The official closing of ZUDA ends one chapter of DC’s digital history, but we will continue to find new ways to innovate with digital, incorporating much of the experience and knowledge that ZUDA brought into DC.

Whether the formerly Zuda titles can compete with the existing titles or not remains to be seen.

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What’s killing these brands? Superheroes.

“These organizational changes reinforce the strengths of DC’s greatest legacies – most importantly its people and its creative talent – and offer greater opportunity for maximum growth, success and efficiency in the future,” said Nelson. “Our two offices will stretch and build their respective areas of focus, while prioritizing and aggressively striving to connect and cooperate more strongly than ever before between them and with their colleagues at Warner Bros.”

“This strategic business realignment allows us to fully integrate and expand the DC brand in feature films as well as across multiple distribution platforms of Warner Bros. and Time Warner,” said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, to whom Nelson reports. “We are creating a seamless, cohesive unit that will bring even more great characters and content to consumers everywhere.”

In other words: “We totally missed the superhero movie gravy boat that Disney/Marvel have been riding on, and we need to get rid of all the distractions.”

Zuda already was functionally in the ground when it shut down online. Now it’s time to put the dirt on the coffin.

Congratulations to Dean Haspiel!

Dean Haspiel, visionary and co-founder of the New York based Act-I-Vate webcomics collective (whose webcomics are more upscale and adult-oriented than your typical fare), recently won himself an Emmy for the main title design of HBO’s Bored To Death.

Congratulations!

Let’s not forget, the Emmy is the first step to the elusive EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). I’m guessing Mr. Haspiel, though, would probably be closer to acquiring an Eisner (which he’s been nominated twice for, including “Best Webcomic”) and a Pulitzer first.

Haspiel had also signed on to do a comic for Zuda Comics. He shared his idea for what he expects Zuda to represent now that it is no longer providing free comics online:

A tough racket this comics making business. But, if there’s one thing I’ve come to believe, it’s good to be different. And, if Vertigo, my bread and butter publisher the last few years, has been dubbed “the HBO of comics,” then I posit that Zuda is “the IFC of comics,” where, like ACT-I-VATE, alternative concepts are refined online with the distinct intent to expose and develop fresh voices that could otherwise be lost in the gutters.

“The HBO of comics” and “The IFC of comics,” huh? That sounds like highfalutin Emmy winner talk to me. Still comics are now more closely tied to the Hollywood entertainment industry than ever before, and Mr. Haspiel has shown that webcomics and webcomic creators are coming to the party, too.

Zuda shut down, part 2: Creator responses

Dave Harper of Multiversity Comics posts some of the reactions from a few of the Zuda creators (David Gallaher, Peter Timony, Caanan Grall, Brock Heasley, James Fosdike, Niki Smith) upon hearing the news of Zuda’s demise. (h/t Robot 6) David Gallaher (High Moon, reviewed here) and Brock Heasley (Monsterplex, the non-Zuda SuperFogeys which was reviewed here) have posted on this site in the past, making their accounts of the matters somewhat personal.

Gallaher is more collected, since High Moon has established a bit of a name for itself.

David Gallaher: Zuda lives on – both as an imprint — and as a community of innovation professionals that embrace ‘no fear’. For aspiring professionals and the industry as a whole I think it should be q wake up call to not hold back with your art and storytelling. Be bold, be fearless — find like-minded creators and go forward!

On a personal note, I’ve always wanted to read the entirety of High Moon at some point. Looks like I’ll have to wait to get an iPad.

Brock’s reaction, on the other hand, is rather pained. He’d just won a contract February of this year, and he’s now considering talking to DC to get the rights to Monsterplex back.

Brock Heasley (writer of February 2010’s winner Monsterplex): I felt like I’d been kicked by a mule. I got word via official email (like the rest of the dispatched creators) about a half hour before the rest of the world found out and it was…not what I was hoping for. I mean, I’d be lying if I said that it was completely unexpected. I had my suspicions something was coming after the competitions were shut down in April, but to shut us down so completely before we even got a chance to produce more pages (Monsterplex won the February competition and had been in a holding pattern since then), that’s what really stung at first. I don’t expect the world to be fair, but by any reasonable estimation we got handed a raw deal. That said, we were luckier than most and I recognize that. We did win and that will always be so.

But for a lot of them, there was also an air of inevitability. While the news was surprising, the writing was already on the wall. To quote Mr. Heasley, “this is a sad day for webcomics.”

Zuda shut down

WHAT? (Care of The Beat)

Apparently, Zuda is no more. It’s being folded into DC Digital, which means Zuda’s webcomic status is revoked. The website has been shut down. (The brand apparently still exists, but … I don’t have high hopes for it existing much longer myself.)

Oh, MAN. I really admired the independent spirit of the Zuda creators, so having it being absorbed into the parent company is an incredible downer for me. Goodbye, Zuda Comics website. You were too beautiful … and Flash reliant … for this world.

Here’s the official announcement on the Zuda blog from Ron Perazza.

Also, the Techland blog reveals the likely fate of Zuda’s existing titles:

Already available through the new platforms are original Zuda launch titles Bayou and High Moon, with John Zito and Tony Trov’s Black Cherry Bombshells, Dan Govar’s Azure, Andy Belanger’s Bottle of Awesome, Sheldon Vella’s Supertron, and Adam Atherton’s Lily of the Valley announced to follow. Meanwhile, BleedingCool.com’s Rich Johnston has a round-up of tweets from other Zuda creators that suggest that their strips will not be continuing in this new format, and the ZudaComics.com URL already redirects to Perazza’s post on the Zuda blog, meaning that archives of any strips, continuing or canceled, are no longer available.

In closing, twas the iPad that killed zudacomics.com. Well, at least it lasted longer than the Microsoft Kin.

The Webcomic Overlook #125: Bottle of Awesome

If Andy Belanger’s Bottle of Awesome has anything going for it, it’s got a helluva title.

Not that calling anything “awesome” makes it immediately… uh… awesome. If you inflect the pronounciation wrongly, like by giving it a high pitched sing-song sound and drawing out the last syllable, you tend to sound like something the odious comic relief character on a Nickteen show would say.

Additionally, you run the risk of sounding like a total tool. Hey, anyone remember the name of Rob Liefeld’s short-lived comic studio after he left Image? That’s right: Awesome Comics. Ugh. Say it out loud to determine how incredibly dorky it sounds. That’s, like, Poochie levels of trying to hard to sound cool. So not awesome.

Put into the right context, though, awesome can become a wonderful adjective that can substantially boost the semi-ironic quotient that you so desire in a competitive product. Who would want to read a comic called Bottle, for instance? English lit majors? Hell, that sounds like a depressing black-and-white indie comic about a man’s descent into alcoholism.

But affix of Awesome at the end, and you’re back in business. Someone can actually contain the essence of inspiring awe? And somehow it’s the adjective form and the not the noun (“awesomeness”)? Aw, snap… that’s my jam, son!


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DC enters the world of online comics on the iPad

Robot 6 and Comics Beat are all over DC’s new app on the iPad/iPhone. (And, in one case, the PSP… holy crap, that thing still exists?) Not actually owning an iPad, I can’t say that this news affects me much (though I think I will download this for my iPod Touch tonight when I get the chance).

Notably, at least as long as this site is concerned, the app offers a few free comics — Batman Black and White, Superman #700 … and the Eisner-nominated Bayou, which I reviewed here and was my personal favorite of the nominees.

I (and others) have railed at the clunkiness of Zuda’s online Flash interface. Quote from Comics Beat: “Bonus: Now we can finally read Zuda comics without that horrible Flash interface, since Flash is to Apple mobile devices what garlic is to vampires.” I wonder, though … does Zuda play better through the iPad/iPhone app? Will the DC Comics app prove to be Zuda’s true home?

Zuda nix voting picks; Six Chix on webcomics kick

Couple of items you might have missed while I was chilling on the cold, cold beaches of the Pacific Northwest and seducing space hotties as Commander Shepard:

The Webcomic Overlook #101: Azure

As the month transitions from summer to fall and eventually winter, we’re caught up in an absolutely magical mood. All across the country, people start putting up decorations and turning on tiny lights to give beauty to the night. At the same time, we begin to wonder: wouldn’t it be cool if the world ended right now?

My pet theory is that this hunger for post-apocalyptic imagery is fueled, in part, by childhood fears that the end of the calendar year coincides with the end of the world. (Laugh all you want about childhood innocence, but is this really so different than the current 2012 mania?) Hollywood is only happy to oblige. During the Christmas season, movie theaters are filled with end of the world scenarios like I Am Legend, The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, and The Day After Tomorrow, which laughably featured a first-person view of killer cold.

This year is no different. Blockbuster movie buffs can thrill to the collapse of the world in 2012. On the other hand, those with more art-house sensibilities who look down upon people who enjoy mindless orgies of explosions can bathe in the more muted desperation of The Road. See? You CAN be a hipster AND an end times enthusiast!

So it should be no surprise that I’m kicking off December with a webcomic that foresees the end of the world as we know it. It’s an offering from Zuda Comics called Azure, a webcomic written and illustrated by Dan Govar. Azure is set in a world where the polar ice caps have melted and most of the world is under the waves of a new globe-spanning ocean.


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