Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Zuda Comics

Cory over at Boing Boing made me take another look at Zuda Comics with his review of Bayou. So I thought it might be time to revisit the site and see how they've gotten along since it debuted.

I ignored it when it debuted mostly due to complaints about unfair contracts. I can't find any indication that they've improved the contracts at all, but there seem to be a number of comics being published on the site now so apparently those contracts weren't a concern for many people.

The site itself is a bit annoying. There's a Flash interface instead of nice plain images. However, as much as I dislike Flash, I'll grant that this is about a simple an interface as could be managed for this purpose. The default size of the image isn't too bad, unfortunately some of the lettering in Bayou was unreadable at the default size on my computer screen, and I had to zoom in to read the text, which is annoying at the best of times. There is a fullscreen option, but I usually avoid going fullscreen because I'm pedantic about having access to other programs while browsing. Still, it makes the comic much easier to read, and it's good to have the option. I don't see any indication on the page of when the comic is updated, which is annoying. I got to the last page of Bayou and now have no idea when the comic will next be updated. Most webcomics have either a schedule or note that updates are irregular. Note: After a search of the website, I found a link to a blog that seems to indicate that Bayou updates on Wednesdays, but I don't see any indication of that on the comic page itself, which is unfortunate.

There's a link to "Explore Comics" which takes you to a page with a snapshot of various comics, a list of genre's to explore, and the information that there is nearly 200 comics to choose from. Given some time and a desire to try something new, I might start to explore, but for the moment I'm overwhelmed. There's no "highest rated" or "most hits". Even a "recently viewed", "recently updated" or "random" would be nice. Just something to narrow it down a little.

The link to "Competition" supplies a page of titles trying to get one of those infamous contracts. I'll note right now that my friend Danny Donovan has a comic in the current competition. But until writing this note, I had not registered, so hadn't yet voted for it. I decided to register to vote for Danny's comic, Kogoshii. The process was simple, but requires an e-mail verification. I haven't got my verification e-mail yet, and may not for awhile, so I can't comment on what it's like to be a registered user.

Overall impression of Zuda? It's an ok site, with at least one or two outstanding works so far. There are a great many improvements that could be made, including RSS feeds for individual comics (just to let readers know when they've updated) and more options for display size of the comics. More annoyingly, I can't tell if the 194 listed comics on the site are all ongoing comics, or every single submission. I do see the June 2009 submissions listed in the total list, so I'm assuming that the comics include all submissions. Maybe some indication of which ones were ongoing would be useful.

Without an RSS for updates on individual comics, I don't think I'll be regularly reading this site. I may make an attempt to keep up with Bayou, and I'll certainly follow how Kogoshii does in the competition, but at the moment the site is still too unwieldy for a reader like me.