Partying With Zuda

"Zuda is live!"

The announcement spread quickly through New York's Lansdowne Road pub, raising a loud cheer amongst both the new Webcomics creators hoping to pitch their ideas and the working professionals that helped put the project together. Zudacomics.com, the much talked-about Web publishing initiative of DC Comics, debuted shortly after 6:00 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night and traffic came pouring in. Many of these visitors no doubt checked the site with the intention of eventually submitting their own strips for a shot at publication via Zuda's instant-win and popular vote contests. The launch party let a few lucky creators give their pitches a personal touch.

Zuda's editorial team of Ron Perazza, Kwanza Johnson, and Nika Denoyelle were on hand to evaluate portfolios, along with DC's Senior VP-Creative Director Richard Bruning, in an effort to reach out to the Webcomics community and search for possible candidates for Zuda's second round of projects.

"We are exceptionally pleased with the quality of submissions tonight," Ron Perazza told CBR News. He reviewed three portfolios over the course the evening, out of a total of 15 to 20 creators who submitted work.

One of the night's first Zuda hopefuls came away with strong encouragement and a lesson in preparedness. "I forgot a vitally important piece," said Mark Dell Angello, who met with Kwanza Johnson during the party. "I forgot the synopsis. He did say it was, quote, 'a visually engaging page turner.' So, I'm going to write out a synopsis and resubmit." Dell Angello's comic is called "Word of Power," which he describes as a musical drama at the end of time.

Others received similarly positive reviews. Ulises Farinas's "Merbotman," an extension of a 24-hour comics project, held some appeal for Perazza, and Bobby Timony held Bruning's attention with "Night Owls." "He said it was a different style than a lot of what he's seen," Timony said. "Which is good. On the whole it was very positive, very encouraging."

After the open submissions ended and assorted fried foods had arrived, the newborn Zuda Comics was projected onto Lansdowne Road's big screen TVs. An IBM technician navigated through panels from Jeremy Love's "Bayou," the first Zuda instant winner, and scenes from the other ten initial contestants announced last week. Those who brought their laptops down to the pub were free to peruse the site at their leisure, thanks to the wonders of wi-fi.

Celebrating along with aspiring Webcomics creators and Zuda staffers were some of the IBM information architects who handled the more technical aspects of the site. Mike Martin, an executive consultant dressed in a warlike kilt, chatted proudly about his team's work on Zuda.

"For a lot of us, this was our dream project," Mike Martin told CBR News. "DC Comics is a legend in this business." Martin said his team had been working on the design and architecture of the site for about one year, with the last four or five months being the most intense in Zuda's development.

"We were looking for technology that DC could easily absorb into their existing Web presence," Martin said. "We built on Drupal, which works well with Zuda's design and content. Also keep in mind that this is version 1.0 of the site, and you might see some new features in the next couple months."

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