Wednesday, December 9, 2009

November Zuda Wrap Up

It's December, and that means a new batch of comics over at Zuda, and that means they've declared a winner for November, and that, my friends, means it's time for out November Zuda Wrap Up where we dissect just what happened in last month''s competition and why. Yes, today we're just full of meaning, which we admit is not usually what we're full of, but there's a first time for everything.

And was the winner? Well, it was none other than In Maps & Legends, the fantasy tale by writer Michael Jasper and artist Niki Smith. When we reviewed In Maps & Legends last month, we commented that the strip was interesting but that the presentation didn't seem to quite live up to the potential. It seemed to be a case where the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

So what can we take away from the fact that it won? Well, besides the obvious fact that people are not yet giving our opinion quite the weight it deserves, it's also interesting to note the similarities (and differences) between In Maps & Legends and last month's winner, Pluck. Both are fantasy titles and, perhaps more importantly, both stories jumped out to a first week lead and held on for the rest of the month despite strong competition.

In the case of Pluck, that competition was from Doc Monster and Where Evils Dare, both of which received an overwhelmingly large number of page views which didn't seem to translate into votes; despite both of those strips starting with 20,000 more views in the first week, the standing remained static for the entire month.

In Maps & Legends, on the other hand, faced a strong challenge from Children of the Sewer, which rose from the middle of the pack to finish at number two in the voting. But while the two finished roughly even in the number of page views, Children of the Sewer actually grabbed a significant lead in the number of readers who selected it as their favorite strip, ending up with roughly 1400 favorites to 1000 for In Maps & Legends.

This is particularly odd because in order to choose a favorite, you have to be registered on the site, meaning that either the people who voted for In Maps didn't pick it as their favorite, or people who chose Sewers as their favorite didn't end up voting for it. Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of it. Pluck's victory could be easily explained by the simple fact that people who were reading other strips may not have felt compelled to register in order to vote. But when everyone is already registered but somehow ends up voting for comics other than their chosen favorite... yeah. Not sure what to make of that.

The other difference between the two winners is the level of competition. While Pluck was a surprise winner thanks to the high level of competition, In Maps caught a bit of a break, as most of Novembers entries were mediocre at best. That's not a knock against, Maps -- after all, you can only play the opponents on your schedule -- but it seems likely that if Doc Monster or Where Evils Dare had been in the November competition instead of the October competition they would have fared better.

But the bottom line is they weren't and as a result, In Maps & Legends is the new winner, despite the strange disparity between it and second place Children of the Sewer in terms of favorites. We're not sure we liked the first eight pages enough to commit much time to reading the next chapters, but we might check them out at some point and we wish the creative team the best of luck in honing their craft and getting the most out of their potential.

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