DC is going into the webcomics business, and the site may provide an opportunity for creators with more talent than connections to break into the biz. The site is zuda.com, and there’s a placeholder up right now. Publisher’s Weekly has an overview, and ICv2 has more detail. Even the New York Times has picked up on the story (registration required).
The Times gets it right away, describing Zuda as “a virtual slush pile, accepting submissions from the public and paying for the best comics that come in.” Creators submit an eight-page sample, and every month, starting in October, DC Director of Creative Services Ron Perazza and Comics Online Editor Kwanza Johnson will choose 10 submissions for readers to vote on. The winner will get a 52-week contract for a webcomic and the work will appear in print as well, either as a collection of a single series or an anthology of several Zuda comics. If the editors find a comic they really like, they can skip the voting and declare it an instant winner. DC is encouraging creators to submit work in all genres, and according to the ICv2 article, for all age levels, as they seem to think screening mature material from minors will be pretty easy. The comics can be any format as long as the page has an aspect ratio of 4:3. Everyone whose work is chosen for the site will be paid, and, from ICv2:
Ownership of the [intellectual property] will be shared, with “a deal that’s consistent with the other types of deals we offer for new talent for new properties,” Perazza told us.
While Zuda will carry advertising, the main purpose of the site is to develop new properties and build a following for them. Despite the contest format, they seem to be looking for submissions from professional creators. In the Times article, CEO Paul Levitz is bullish on over-the-transom submissions:
â€œWeâ€™ve always found interesting stuff in submissions,â€ said Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics. â€œOne of the problems that comics have today, I think, is that open door is much more closed. This creates a more open door.â€
This all ties in neatly with DC’s investment in the Japanese company Flex Comics a few weeks ago. Flex, a new company, presents its comics online before printing them and also publishes webcomics for cell phones.
UPDATE: Hmmm, Dirk Deppey has just weighed in, and he is deeply skeptical. He seems to think that the shared-ownership thing “on a practical level really means that DC will own it lock, stock and barrel.” They run your comic for a year, drop it, and own it forever. And with so many webcomickers making it on their own, he doesn’t see any incentive for creators to flock to this site. I dunno, it seems like the DC name still carries some prestige. But yes, a lawyer is always a good investment. Their standard contract is your starting point for negotiations. Anyway, Dirk has lots of comments and more links, so check it out.