On the one hand, using creators with some experience means the publisher and readers can have faith that they know how to meet promised deadlines and their work will have a certain level of quality. On the other, this looks kind of like leftovers. But then again, why shouldnâ€™t they reuse the material if it means reaching a new audience? Maybe because it diverts traffic and Google juice between two sites?
Well, as someone who regards leftovers as a tasty, no-prep lunch, I’m pretty much on board with this. Seriously, I sampled the comics on this page and liked most of them. I had seen Finder beforeâ€”it’s hard to avoid, even for someone like me whose interests are pretty specializedâ€”and I had heard of a few of the others, but having them gathered on a single, easily bookmarked page is mighty convenient.
At Publishers Weekly Comics Week, Todd Allen agrees that the lineup is solid but asks: Where’s the money?
There are no ads in the Flash-based Web comics player. There is no merchandise to buy. There are no links to other sites. This is odd, especially when you consider the non-Zuda alumni all have online revenue streams. Using the web to drive sales for Finder graphic novels is how McNeil makes a living, to point out one example, and without so much as a link back to her site and list of available titles, it isnâ€™t clear the extent of benefit thatâ€™s being received for making the material available on a secondary site.
Again, a lack of ads doesn’t bother me (hey, I listen to NPR!), but I do agree that the comics on the site seem to be just sort of … out there. Maybe Shadowline is just setting itself up to be the PBS of webcomics: Classy content, no ads. But does that mean there will be a pledge drive soon?
The page also seems to be missing some of the customary webcomics tools, such as About pages or a list of recently updated comics. This makes me wonder whether the comics posted are simply previews or full-blown webcomics that will continue for hundreds and hundreds of pages.
Right now, the comics include
Action Ohio, an attempt at superhero noir that made its debut on Zuda a few months ago. I remember liking this comic when it first went up, and I hope the creators put up more than the first ten pages.
Brat-Halla, which seems to be a single-page gag comic with a Viking theme. It’s capably drawn, but not my cup of tea.
Chicago: 1968: This is my cup of tea, a drama about the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968.
Finder: This is just one episode of the classic, long-running graphic novel by Carla Speed McNeil, but it’s a generous, 44-page slice.
Hannibal Goes to Rome: History comics! Maybe this is the PBS of webcomics. Don’t let the wordy first page scare you off; this is history at its best, with lively art and plenty of action.
L’il Depressed Boy: I think this is supposed to be a parodyâ€”the blue coloring is a tipoff. Also the fact that it’s about a rag doll who falls in love with salesgirls at the record store and the fast food joint, and the convenience store. You get the picture.
Platinum Grit: This starts with six pages of pure text, which I didn’t read (this place is rubbing off on me), and then becomes what looks like a goofy relationship comic. According to its Wikipedia page, it has quite a following in Australia.
Yenny: The adventures of a lively, scantily clad young lady. I actually liked this more than that description might lead you to believe; the art is cute and the humor is down-to-earth.
I do think the lack of any information hurts the site; with Yenny in particular I felt somewhat disoriented. However, the comics are good, and if the creators keep posting updates and the proprietors beef up the interface, this could evolve into a solid webcomics destination.