“Bigger fish to fry”

panel from This American Strife by J. Longo

Abhay is tearing apart most of the launch titles of DC’s webcomic experiment Zuda. I’m still forming my own reactions, but poking around has turned over one interesting new piece of the story:

One of the more common complaints I’ve seen so far (aside from the amount of T&A midriff exposure) has been about J. Longo’s This American Strife, a “random gag” strip that people are finding unfunny. Like most commentators, I don’t think the strip is “ready for prime time,” but I noticed in the comment section (unfortunately, Zuda’s emulation of YouTube extends to this feature as well) that Longo posted a link to his blog “to advertise, explain and promote This American Strife.” The blog contains an entry which reveals that This American Strife got chopped up a fair amount by Zuda editorial: requiring changes for inappropriate content, cutting one screen into two (and rather clumsily — the “skeleton” panel and the “car crash” panel were apparently two halves of a single screen) and completely omitting the third page of the “J & Jesus” story. The first time Longo saw his work in its final form? On the web, at the NYC release party, after the site had gone public.

THEY OMITTED THE LAST AND FINAL PAGE OF THE JESUS COMIC. In the comic, I’m being handed a towel by the Savior and then—nothing. It’s bad enough that already complaint-comments are coming in about how disjointed ‘This American Strife’ is when it’s meant to have no continuity (particularly compared to all the other competitors). That page gave finality and resolution to what can otherwise be interpreted as offensive and I really feel that I should have been informed that the final page wouldn’t make the final cut.

Feels like a lot of balls got dropped here, by several parties:

  • a “random gag” just random I guess strip nestled amongst fantasy serials and insufficiently distinguished from them
  • a few head-scratchingly obtuse oblique gags (see above, and below too I guess)
  • the confusing decision to include both single-panel gags and multi-page gags
  • and Zuda’s clumsy editorial hackjob (both cutting up one page into two, and cutting the last page out of a three-page strip — all, apparently, without consulting the artist).

Longo again: “To clarify, I did get an explanation which said the last Jesus page [of the Jesus story] was taken out upon the request of the higher-ups and god knows everyone below was scrambling to get Zuda off the ground with much bigger fish to fry.”

another panel from This American Strife by J. Longo
And what’s up with the pixels along the bottom here? Just more image noise from the Flash interface, or signs of a hastily-executed reformatting?


3 Responses to ““Bigger fish to fry””

  1. 1 jlongoart November 5, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Hi there! Well, if there are any questions, do feel free to ask me.
    In the mean while. . .

    L: “the confusing decision to include both single-panel gags and multi-page gags”
    J: The fact that these were taken from my journal and formatted to fit Zuda screens aside, who ever said this project had to follow a set guide? If there were, I’d understand peoples disatisfaction. I like splash pages too. This entry is a taste of what could be, and although not as polished or as preferred as other submissions, every comment like this helps shape and hone This American Strife into a better comic wherever it ends up.

    L: And what’s up with the pixels along the bottom here? Just more image noise from the Flash interface, or signs of a hastily-executed reformatting?
    J: Its from when they cut that strip from its intended page and put it on a black background by itself. It had a light blue background to pop the comic.

    L: “Like most commentators, I don’t think the strip is “ready for prime time”
    J: Well, not much really is. I don’t enjoy most of the comics I see in general, even some of the other competitors, but I still respect the art and ambition. Still, I’d like the chance to go on to “prime time” and develop my comic. It can be done.

    I understand how ‘This American Strife’ doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s my journal, it’s just me. I never chose the word “quirky” and I’m not aiming to make people laugh every time. As a representative to the amazing Top Shelf organization, you must be steeped in comics about other peoples lives. That’s all ‘This American Strife’ is. I don’t need to find Craig Thompson funny all the time because I lovelovelove his art. I don’t wholly enjoy Liz Prince’s drawing style but am (incredibly) endeared to her snippets. You didn’t rag on my comic so much, but I feel like it can’t hurt to respond. . .y’know, as a guy being outvoted for more T&A

  2. 2 Leigh Walton November 5, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Hi J, I responded over on your blog entry.

    As for your specific comments here: yes, it was jarring to have two single-page gags followed by two continuous pages. Maybe if you had something saying “J and Jesus, continued” or “part 2” or something. Though that may be more difficult since Zuda doesn’t have titles for each page the way some webcomics do.

    As for the pixels — yeah, that’s what I was suggesting with the “hastily-executed reformatting” line. It’s a criticism of the editing/production staff rather than of you. The whole post is, mostly. “Clumsy hackjob” and all that.

    And I have no objection to comics about people’s lives — I just found yours difficult to get into and was intrigued to discover that part of the reason lay outside your control.

  1. 1 stuck in the middle with who « J. Longo Art Trackback on November 5, 2007 at 5:01 pm

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Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).


Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.

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