The Eisner-winning free webcomics anthology “MySpace Dark Horse Presents” turns two-years-old this week, and is back with a brand new digital issue -- sans the “MySpace," that is.
CBR News has confirmed that following a very public round of layoffs that saw over 400 people lose their jobs last month – including every single person associated with comic book content -- MySpace.com is presently unable to accommodate Dark Horse’s latest virtual issue of “Dark Horse Presents,” which includes new work from Gilbert Hernandez, Mike Kindt, newcomer Mike Lawrence, and Joss Whedon & Jo Chen, who debut this week a brand new “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” story created exclusively for the online anthology.
Series editor Sierra Hahn told CBR, “Because of everything that’s going on with [MySpace] – they have to reorganize and there are a lot of things in transition, they’re under a lot of pressure to reestablish MySpace – we’ve kind of taken a step back and said, well, what’s the best way for us to get this really great content out and getting it out on time?”
The answer to that question, it turns out, is for Dark Horse to bring its former flagship title back home -- specifically, to DarkHorse.com’s eComics section, where “Dark Horse Presents” #24 is is available to read right now.
However, Dark Horse hopes the move away from MySpace is only temporary, and that if and when the wounded social networking giant stabilizes, “Dark Horse Presents” will return to the site. “We’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to figure out what our relationship with MySpace would be from here on out and what we wanted to do with the anthology,” Hahn said. “It’s really important to us to keep it alive. Once they have reestablished the roles and we have a secure contact there, we want to continue that relationship and see where it will go.”
Since its launch in 2007, “MySpace Dark Horse Presents” has become a hugely successful endeavor for the Portland-based publisher, one they measure both creatively and financially. “We have some of the best creators in the industry involved with the anthology like Mike Mignola and Joss Whedon, certainly, and Gibert Hernandez,” Hahn explained, noting that the anthology also spotlights new talent every month. “And a lot of people who know the history of ‘Dark Horse Presents,’ the print anthology, have a lot of confidence in the kind of quality that comes through [the web version]. And I think people have been really excited that it’s online and accessible for free. It’s also allowed us to work with talent that we don’t necessarily have ongoing series with. They’ve come to us and said, ‘I’d love to do a short story with you guys, can I do it on “Dark Horse Presents?”’ That’s let them establish a relationship with Dark Horse and talk about future projects; new characters and new properties, like ‘Sugarshock!’ by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon.
“Financially, well, it’s a free anthology. We do sell the [collected print editions of ‘MySpace Dark Horse Presents’], six months worth of content. The benefit that you can’t really quantify is that it’s a way to get the word out on our books. Hopefully, you get people to read a short Mike Mignola story and say, ‘This is really intriguing, who are these characters, what’s going on in this world?’ and eventually pick up that trade. Or Eric Powell’s ‘The Goon’ or something Joss has been doing with Buffy. It’s not just driving sales of our ‘MySpace Dark Horse Presents’ print anthologies but of our backlist as well.”
This month’s virtual issue of “Dark Horse Presents” features a short story that will definitely attract attention, a new Buffy tale by creator Joss Whedon and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” cover artist Jo Chen. “It’s a three-page story. Usually there’s three eight-page stories and one two-page story, but Joss and Jo had such an amazing story to tell that we were able to give them three and break the rules!” Hahn laughed.
As for the story itself, it is tied-in to the continuity of Dark Horse’s ongoing Buffy book, although more of a standalone tale. “It’s something that I think will surprise fans and certainly get them talking,” Hahn said. “Visually, it’s stunning. If you’re familiar with Jo Chen’s work and the amazing covers that she’s done for us on ‘Buffy,’ you can only imagine how gorgeous these characters are going to look. There’s some people, some gentlemen from Buffy's past that make appearances and cause some tension for her. I think fans will be really excited. Some will be happy and get a good laugh. Some will probably be really annoyed. But as long as it gets them talking and gets them involved about the Buffy universe then I think we’ve done our job.”
Should the MySpace arrangement resume, Dark Horse intends to supply the site with this month’s issue of “Dark Horse Presents,” as its particularly enticing contents were designed to celebrate the project’s two-year anniversary. “If that isn’t going to happen, which we should know in the next coupe of weeks, then we will be looking for the next best option of keeping ‘Dark Horse Presents’ alive and online, not necessarily through our site but through something else,” Hahn confirmed.