by Jeff Eaton on October 15, 2009 // Short URL

Drupal-powered webcomics make it big!

Almost two years ago, DC Comics launched an interesting web site called "Zuda." Built on Drupal, its goal was to provide talented indie webcomic artists with a chance to pitch their ideas, compete against other artists for reader votes, and potentially get signed for The Big Leagues. (Think of it like American Idol for web comics.)

An image of the High Moon webcomic on Zuda.com.

During the final lap before Zuda's launch, Lullabot helped its team with theming training, feature tweaks, and performance optimization. As a long-time fan of webcomics, I was excited to be a part of the project, even late in the game. We worked closely with the Zuda development team during that phase, and were thrilled to see it launch successfully. Drupal's emphasis on social features and support for audience contribution of content provided them with a great platform for development on a tight timeline.

At the time of its launch, Zuda was controversial -- some thought it was a great idea, others in the webcomics world thought that it was just an attempt by a corporation to elbow in on a new market. Everyone agreed, though, that the site itself was a new approach to bridging the free-for-all world of webcomics with the editorially-controlled land of "Pro Comics."

Today it's still going strong, still running on Drupal, and -- even more exciting -- three Zuda winners were nominated for Harvey Awards, a prestigious comics industry award. High Moon, the comic featured in the screenshot above, even walked away with the award for Best Online Comic. Scott Kurtz, the mastermind behind the popular PVP Online comic, had some really cool stuff to say about Zuda after the awards. Kurtz was an early critic of the site, but it sounds like he's come to respect the Zuda team for the passion they have for their vision, and their unique approach to bringing great talent to a wider audience.

It's encouraging to see Zuda evolving into a valuable part of the comics landscape -- and doubly exciting to see Drupal helping them do that. Congratulations, Zuda!

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Comments

Kim

What's the plugin/module

What's the plugin/module used to handle the comic viewing? Looking to build a (much more simple) webcomic site and it looks great!

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eaton

Going oldschool

At the time that Zuda was built -- and it was two years ago, so this could very easily have changed! -- they were using a stock version of Drupal's Image module, with a custom flash player on the front end. The custom-built flash player gave them a lot of control over format and presentation that they felt was critical for the site, and they've been improving it iteratively over the site's life. (The original version didn't anti-alias the comics when they had to be scaled down to fit on a user's screen, but the version on the site today is smooth as silk, for example.)

There's a Webomics group on groups.drupal.org that focuses on the smaller scale projects, and I've poked around there myself. Tinkering with webcomics was one of the projects that brought me into the Drupal community way back in the days of Drupal 4.5 and 4.6!

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Xaviar Xerexes

Drupal as Webcomics CMS

Christopher Wright has one of the best working implementations of Drupal I've seen for an indie webcomic site -- http://ubersoft.net. I've been messing about with using Drupal to think through how to use it for a multi-comic, multi-author site here (http://altbrand.com) but haven't gotten past the stage of functionality to the stage of actually thinking through the design. (This is something Drupal seems to be better suited to then Wordpress)

Neither of these sites use FLASH, but that's because most webcomics don't use FLASH - they use png/jpg/gif files.

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