Let’s Watch Other People Talk About Things ~THE~ Zuda Is Broken Edition

I’m so glad we don’t have any backing from DC Comics. Otherwise, posts like this following one probably wouldn’t be possible.Zuda Sweating image

Ever since we started our Zuda Watch feature on the site (WAY back in March of the ’08) I’ve developed a more personal bond to the fledgling webcomics competition. When someone has a problem with either the site or the content, I now stop to check their words before moving on with my life (before, I would have just moved on with my life). With that in mind, I discovered a write-up over on The Scienteers website (via Journalista) where blogger hpkomic (don’t you just love the Internet?) lays into the Zuda service in a number of ways.

First up, hpkomic’s summation of his argument:

I don’t think there is nearly enough criticism of Zuda’s method for displaying comics. The Flash player is absolutely terrible and kind of implies that the people behind it have no idea how important usability and simple navigation is to a webcomic site. Why is the webcomic site model virtually unchanged across so many webcomics? It’s because it’s a good model, functional, and the best we have. Zuda’s method is totally against what webcomics should be.

While I will agree that the webcomics display method of choice, typified by Tyler Martin’s Comicpress model, is not broken and so there is no need to fix it, I appreciate DC coming at us with something new that they want to present in a new way. Is the viewer slower than just clicking from JPEG to JPEG? Slightly, but that speed is slim enough for me that the difference is negligible.

The post goes on to quote an article from CNET.com that went live shortly after Zuda was birthed and spanked. Seth Rosenblatt, writer of the article, actually managed to talk to several webcomics luminaries like Richard Stevens, David Willis, and Kaja and Phil Foglio on the subject and all had interesting things to say. Most are dissenting voices, but Kaja eventually concedes a point or two:

Zuda is not likely to change the field of webcomics, since having another source for comics doesn’t limit the ability of all the thousands of others to still reach their readers, but having an editorial screening may result in an overall higher quality of comics offered.

Zuda Flash Player imageSo the overall feeling among both posts is that the method of viewing the strips (via Flash) is just the use of technology for the sake of using it, not improving the experience. But does this really hinder the usefulness of this endeavor enough that it will detract from the readership? Personally, I’ve only been using it for a month or so, but I find it to be a competent and Flash-y, if possibly unnecessary, method by which to scroll through the small archives.

What say you, readership?

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Watch Other People Talk About Things ~THE~ Zuda Is Broken Edition

  1. Same reason why comicbooks and graphic novels look fairly similar to their text counterparts… it just sort of works.

    In the same way, Tyler’s legendary wordpress theme makes analogous blogs and webcomics.

    It’s a good way of not frightening off potential readers that have little or no experience of the medium.

  2. Yeah, but it does load slow. As someone pointed out on the original post, the files are 1.2 Mb, which they seem to think is much larger than necessary.

    Also, with the Flash you can’t link to an individual episode, which will be a problem as the archives grow.

    I do think the comics look great in full-screen mode, but the flipside is that the smaller versions look terrible. I wonder how many potential readers are put off by that and never get to the full-screen view?

  3. Brigid’s point is the one that matters most to me: file size. I’m aware that less than 1/3 of the internet users in this country are still using 56k modems, but that’s still a lot of people — a lot of poor people, actually, a lot of potential comics readers, that have to wait for over two minutes for each screen to load, and that’s a serious usability issue. Offering the comics at their print resolution seems to me, utterly pointless, especially since I haven’t seen a single Zuda competitor (myself included) whose work really needs to be scrutinized at 300dpi.

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