Zuda Winner Circle - Part 1

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Michael Walton’s Dual is the latest webcomic to be honored with inclusion into Zuda, but it’s far from the first. In fact, Dual is the tenth webcomic to win at Zuda. In light of this, Broken Frontier will be reviewing three of the winners week by week.

The Night Owls is among the first webcomics selected by Zuda to be picked as an Instant Winner, and it’s no surprise why. Peter and Robert Timony’s entry just oozes with visual comic book style perfect for its 1926 setting. From the black and white look of the webcomic to the classy funny-book styling, Night Owls is an exceptionally engrossing book, revolving around a pair of supernatural detectives and their pet-eating gargoyle sidekick.

The good news is Night Owls strikes an uncharacteristically original balance between the kind of classic comic strips you’d almost expect from a newspaper along with the visual, over-the-top plotting and continuity. The result is an immersive and satisfying read, although sometimes Peter and Robert Timony seem to get ahead of themselves, launching the story before the audience has been properly hooked with either humor or intrigue. But this is a minor nitpick for an already uncommonly strong work.

Next, there is Bayou by Jeremy Love – and it’s as far from Night Owls as can be. Taking place in the South in 1933, the webcomic tells the story of Lee, a young black girl somehow tied to the eponymous bayou where supernatural creatures and ominous visions alike dwell. Illustrated in lurid full color and written from the visceral perspective of a young girl desperately trying to understand a world of racism and magic alike, Bayou is definitely a rare work.

Though Bayou is capable of an intense and gritty edge not unlike Pan’s Labyrinth, Love doesn’t feel the need to constantly push the envelope – because it’s not about pushing the envelope; it’s about telling the story. Love’s realization of this fact makes Bayou a mature yet vibrantly original work brimming with unbridled soulfulness.

Finally, The Black Cherry Bombshells is just as intensely different from Night Owls and Bayou - falling somewhere between the two in terms of content, yet standing on two, fishnet legs. The webcomic, by Johnny Zito, Tony Trov, Anthony Trovarello and Sascha Borisich, paints women as an endangered species when the men are “taken by disease … and replaced with monsters” (i.e. reduced to flesh-eating zombies). 

The fate of humanity now lies in the hands of warring female gangs, like the titular Black Cherry Bombshells. The story might have ended up like a typical Saturday night movie-of-the-week was it not for the jazzy style of the creators. What the art style lacks in comparison to Bayou or Night Owls, it makes up for in sassy style.

What’s even more interesting is the creators have admittedly and successfully super-imposed female characters over traditional male action movie roles. Unfortunately, Black Cherry Bombshells is one Zuda webcomics you have to constantly zoom in using the navigation to really appreciate the poppy art and snappy dialogue. Though it’s well worth the minimal hassle, it is a reoccurring sign of Zuda’s occasional navigation troubles.  

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