Thursday, July 12, 2007
Have you heard of DC's new online web comic deal, called Zuda? If you haven't then you've not been paying attention because I know I get about 10 Google alerts a day about it. It's been talked about not only on the on-line comic book 'zines, but also in the more main stream press.
It is a site owned by DC where people can create their own web comics. And for people like me who don't have the talent to write and/or draw comics, we can still participate via voting for comics we like and giving editorial comments. The site is supposed to go live in October.
I do wonder what the goal is here for DC. Is it to get their brand out there? Is it to develop their own web comic portal where they can eventually sell their regular titles via the web? Is it to get a feel for what's popular and use that to develop their own printed products?
I've read a few of the many articles about Zuda, and they just keep saying that it was time, and that they want to foster this creative community. It's all great, but what's in it for them???
They have staff, lawyers, etc all working on this. They have to maintain the site and monitor content when it goes live... there is money involved in this undertaking. I did see on the CBR interview that they're going to sell banner ads on the site. So that will provide them with some revenue, but will that be enough? Or, will there be other pay-in features available down the road? I would have to assume that they don't intend to loose money on this, so somehow they have to get enough money to pay the staff of people who are in charge of the site. Plus they're going to give paid contracts to some of the creators that are "discovered" via the site.
Overall, I think its an interesting idea. Web comics are popular, and so far they have not hurt the popularity of print comics. If anything, print comics seem to be in a boom right now, with their popularity on the increase, thanks in large part to movies, video games, and other merchandising. And it is always great to have another venue for people to share their comic book creations. I believe that the current comic book industry does need more diversity, and this could be just the ticket. But, do we include web comics into the comic book industry, or is "the industry" mainly print and web comics are something different? There are lots of writers out there who do a variety of fan fiction and other things, all on-line. But isn't the goal of a writer to be published - to see his or her words put on paper and bundled in a package with a shiny cover? Is that the same goal for a comic book creator? To make the leap from on-line comics to print? Or are we moving into a digital age where as long as the product is sold and one can profit from it, we don't need paper and shiny covers anymore? They even say in the CBR interview that DC would like Zuda to be able to physically publish, on paper, some of the web comics -- so I'd say that yes, paper is still an important part of the comic book industry.
I do hope that vehicles such as Zuda help bring more people into the comic book genre, and help bring some diversity to comics. I hope some people there get a chance to see their work on paper, sold for money in comic book stores like mine.
The next obstacle... getting people to not automatically think "super hero" when they see the words "comic books." Yes, there are lots of great super hero comics, and I've got several favorites. But, there are lots of great non-super hero comics too. However, what still sells the best in most comic book stores is the super hero stuff.