Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Web Comic Portals, Part VIII

Sean Tenhoff's fascinating project The Bean Men 
is a member of Transplant Comics.
©Sean Tenhoff

Mixed Porridge

In my dotage I managed to split the installment on voting sites. Most of it appears in Part III, and today I'll cover Zuda, followed by some sites without voting. It will all be rectified in the end, when I reassemble all the sites by type, and offer recommendations for the worthiest.

Zuda is DC Comics' web comic skimmer. Readers vote on the comics submitted, and the top comic each month gets a publishing deal. I'd read the rules carefully before posting, especially the part about all artwork becoming property of DC.

A recent visit found popular (as in, simple enough to be broadly appealing) trumping worthy in the voting. With a contract at stake, there would seem to be an incentive for some people to game the system, and I saw a strip of limited merit being vigorously defended by a crowd who include personal connections to the author in their profiles. Meatier and more challenging stuff may fair poorly here against cute and vapid. The secret to winning may be to get all your friends to vote early on day one, putting you on top, where inertia makes it easy to defend the perch. But what are you defending if you've already lost the rights to your strip?

Web Comics Z links to about 300 comics and offers voting and top comic lists. Each comic is two clicks away, as you are brought to a preview page first. Submissions are by filling out a quick form, and if the owner likes, you're in. Readers can set up a "My Favorites" page.

There are brains behind Transplant Comics, and they won my heart with these lines from their application:

"If you author a manga, furry, or sprite comic be prepared to defend yourself. All three of these genres suffer from widespread problems that make it worth our time to encourage authors using these styles to think twice before applying. Manga webcomics are usually devoid of substance, as well as painfully derivative; furries are mostly juvenile, vaguely erotic, and entirely too creepy; and sprite comics often use the cut-and-paste nature of the visuals as a crutch without backing it up with inventive writing."

There's also a blistering anti-Web Comics Choice Awards editorial and subsequent volleys with a dissenter.

Despite the show of spine, the overall tone is welcoming. The site is on a mission to promote unique voices and web comics generally. Nonetheless, only a few of the "hosted" comics appear to be roosting on the site. I'm also unclear what "Sponsor Comics" are (there are nine of them). Total links: 25. There's been some attrition from comics that lost their will to continue.

The site has produced an 82 page print anthology of comics appearing on the site. 

Next: I attempt to compress the history of some of the largest and most important sites into a few eviscerated paragraphs.