MySpacing Comics: Dark Horse Dominates

Over the past six months, CBR News has been tracking trends and "friends" on MySpace.com - the nation's most trafficked website - as they relate to the comic book industry, most specifically with publishers and creators.

In our ongoing effort to deliver the world the premier online comics magazine, this new bi-weekly feature endeavors to share our findings, chat with newsmakers and explore profile movement - be it up, down or sideways.

The big news coming out of the most recent numbers is - thanks in large part to an explosion of 8,000 friends added last week - Dark Horse Comics, which has lived up to its own name and become the first-ever comic book related profile to crack 40,000 friends (40,757). The publisher of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Star Wars: Legacy" traditionally sits third in sales behind Marvel and DC Comics, but now holds a slight MySpace edge over the House of Ideas, who are second with 39,398 friends.

DC Nation is actually fourth with 16,146 friends, trailing TOKYOPOP and its 18,690 count by 2,544, but has a second profile named "DC Comics" which boasts 13,730 friends, giving Dan DiDio and his Super Friends a more in-line grand total of 29,876.

Why is Dark Horse Comics ruling MySpace.com? Undoubtedly the success draws a straight line from the launch of its new online comic book at Comic-Con International, "MySpace Dark Horse Presents," a partnership between MySpace.com and Dark Horse, featuring original content from heavy hitters like Joss Whedon ("Sugarshock!") and My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way ("The Umbrella Academy").

The other publisher making big leaps is Virgin Comics, which jumped nearly 3,000 friends this week. Its Coalition Comix initiative features an opportunity for MySpace friends to create a comic with writer Mike Carey ("X-Men"), and the publisher, like Dark Horse, also has great exposure on MySpace Comic Books, MySpace's official comics portal, partially fuelled by CBR.

In top spot in the Creator category is Tara McPherson ("Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall") who leads superstar writers like Warren Ellis, Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Michael Bendis and Brad Meltzer, as well as fellow artist Jim Lee ("All Star Batman and Robin") with 23,506 friends.

The New York-based multimedia artist told CBR News, "I think MySpace is an amazing tool in the realm of accessibility. I have had tons of people send me messages saying they only just saw my art on MySpace and have subsequently gone out and bought my book or my prints because of it.

"Also for teenagers, who might not have the means to find cool new things, they have MySpace at their fingertips to explore all kinds of artists and musicians."

While McPherson finds her friend count surprising, she is thrilled with the feedback she has received. "I didn't become a painter to become famous, that's for sure," explained McPherson. "I make art because I need to, I have to. So the popularity that comes from it is a complete and odd byproduct of the culture.

"I'm just little old me sitting in my studio for 12 hours a day making art. But of course I'm so happy people like what I am creating and can relate to it."

McPherson estimates that she spends a few hours a week on MySpace.com. "I'll be honest, there's nothing like procrastinating and goofing off on MySpace," laughed McPherson.

MySpace.com recently welcomed Stan Lee to its virtual arena and the comic book legend has already amassed 2,010 friends.

TOP PUBLISHERS (Total friends, monthly shift)

1. Dark Horse: 40,757 (+8,705)

2. Marvel: 39,398 (-218)

3. TOKYOPOP: 18,690 (-116)

4. DC Nation: 16,146 (+27)

5. Top Cow: 13752 (?)

6. DC Comics: 13,730 (+267)

7. Evil Ink Comics: 10,052 (+124)

8. Virgin Comics: 8,793 (+2,933)

TOP CREATORS (Total friends, monthly shift)

1. Tara McPherson: 23,506 (+246)

2. Warren Ellis: 19,175 (+61)

3. Jim Lee: 16,659 (+168)

4. Brian K. Vaughan: 15,702 (+78)

5. Roman Dirge: 14,434 (-112)

6. Brian Michael Bendis: 12,886 (+46)

7. Brad Meltzer: 10,431 (+22)

8. Steve Niles: 10,032 (+266)

9. Geoff Johns: 9,620 (+33)

10. Ed Brubaker: 8,273 (-24)

11. Jim Mahfood: 7,801 (+57)

12. Bernie Wrightson: 5,679 (+80)

13. Eric Powell: 4,731 (+68)

14. Peter Bagge: 4,598 (+11)

15. Allan Heinberg: 4,177 (+2)

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