Besides comics and movies, the biggest topic at this year's San Diego Comic-con has been the ever-increasing attendance, particularly after the convention announced that along with Saturday, Friday has also sold out. The convention had already sold out of four-day and three-day passes, leaving Sunday as the only day available for walk-up admission. Last year’s attendance was just over 120,000, and Comic-con veterans are already speculating about a large increase for this year. SDCC spokesperson David Glanzer said, "You never want to be in a situation where you advertise an event that people can't attend."
There wasn't much big news Thursday—other than endless lines and a jammed exhibition floor—but that will change today when Dark Horse announces a relaunch of Dark Horse Presents, a seminal 1980s b&w periodical anthology, as a free online comic in collaboration with MySpace.com. DH is the latest comics publisher to launch a digital comics venture. The revived anthology series debuts today at MySpace.com/DarkHorsePresents, with a new issue each month starting in September. The first issue features a new story by Buffy creator Joss Whedon called "Sugar Shock"; a story from DH's upcoming Umbrella Academy series by Gerard Way, front man for the popular band My Chemical Romance; and a two-page story by nonfiction comics legend and San Diego homeboy, Rick Geary. DH expects that eventually the new online series will publish new talent that Dark Horse editors come across on MySpace.
Dark Horse editor Scott Allie says the company have already started looking at MySpace member profiles for that new talent. The new creators will maintain ownership of their work, with Dark Horse having the exclusive right to run it on MySpace as well as the rights for a limited print run. Future Dark Horse Presents contributors will include Hellboy's Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez, and more are expected to turn up in the coming months. "MySpace is another way the Internet is changing the fabric of our culture, changing the lines of distribution," DH publisher Mike Richardson said, "and comics are no different than any other medium."
There was more discussion of digital comics at the GoComics panel on comics for cellphones. Mobile comics provider GoComics debuted new titles for download, among them Jeff Smith's fantasy favorite Bone and a dystopian sci-fi series called Elephantmen from Active Images. Tokyopop's Jeremy Ross and GoComics's Pete Maresca both discussed the need for more original mobile content and broadening the current monthly subscription model, which is now being offered by most major carriers. A new nonsubscription selling model, called the "mobile comics shop," is under development and will offer a la carte downloads of a variety of comics, wallpapers, games and animated content for phones and is expected to launch in October.
Odds and ends around the floor: Minx, DC Comics new imprint for teen girls, is working. Groups of 10-year-old girls were spied carrying copies of PLAIN Janes and looking a bit starstruck as they walked up to author Cecil Castellucci. SDCC has become the movies-based-on-comics-con, and bestselling novelist and comics writer Neil Gaiman is reveling in the Hollywood spotlight this year. The film adaptation of his novel Stardust is out; he's screenwriter for both the forthcoming film Beowulf and an adaptation of comics artist Charles Burns’s acclaimed graphic novel Black Hole, published by Pantheon. Viz Media had copies of its much anticipated omnibus manga, Tekkonkinkreet, and announced a new imprint called Viz Big, which will release really big books, omnibus-sized editions that collect three volumes from ongoing series. And in a rarity for Comic-con, there was an all-women panel featuring fantasy/vampire novelists Laurell K. Hamilton and Samantha Sommersby. Although Sommersby sets her novels In San Diego, she joked, "What vampire in their right mind would live in San Diego? It's sunny every single day?"
Reporting by Wil Moss, Douglas Wolk, Kai-Ming Cha and Jody Culkin.