Out of idle curiosity, I've been spending some time trying to work out exactly when Buffy season 8 takes place.
Firstly, it's pretty clear it's autumn in the northern hemisphere:
1) In issue 1, Buffy tells Dawn "you have to be at Berkeley." It's a reasonable assumption that Dawn is a student at the University of California, especially given that she's talking about "guys on campus" in issue 7. The Fall Semester at Berkeley starts in late August.
2) In issue 6, Giles says the apocalypse will happen "before the end of fall" unless Lady Genevieve is stopped. This indicates two things: it's currently early autumn, and Giles has been spending too much time with Americans.
3) In issue 7, Dawn is picking apples. This definitely confirms that it's autumn, unless they're magic apples that ripen out of season.
Let's assume for the sake of argument, then, that Season 8 starts in late September, just like the seasons of the TV show did. The question is, September of which year?
The best way to work this out is by looking at Dawn's age. (Her nominal human age, not her actual number of years of existence). In 'Real Me' broadcast in October 2000, she says she's 14. In 'Once More With Feeling' broadcast in November 2001 she says she's 15. Of course there's no guarantee each episode was meant to take place exactly on its broadcast date; but we can take it as a general guideline. Dawn, then, would be 16 at the start of season 7 in September 2002: she would be 18 in September 2004.
In issue 7, Dawn refers to meeting Kenny "on campus", and says he's the only guy there to not see her as "a walking pair of boobs". That implies that she's already a student, and gives us several alternatives:
1) Dawn spent 2003-04 at high school somewhere or other (maybe California, or Scotland, or maybe even Rome). She started university in August 2004, aged 18. She met Kenny, slept with him, turned into a giant, and was somehow smuggled back to Scotland, all within a matter of three or four weeks. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.
2) Dawn won early entry to university in August 2003, aged only 17. (Is this even possible?) She had a whole year to get to know Kenny; my guess is that she came to spend the 2004 long summer vacation with Buffy in Scotland, discovered she was
pregnant a giant, and so was unable to go back to California for the start of her second year. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.
3) Dawn spent 2003-04 at school in Scotland. (I understand Scotland has at least one excellent high school that specialises in a mystical education...) She met Kenny there, not at university; her references to 'guys on campus' are talking about her high school. She should have started her first yeat at Berkeley in August 2004, but couldn't due to her delicate condition. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.
4) Dawn spent 2003-04 at school and 2004-05 at university in Berkeley. She met Kenny at university, came to Scotland to stay with Buffy during the 2005 summer vacation, and should be starting her second year now. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2005, a year later than the other three options.
Option 4 seems the most likely to me, but it means that it's been not just a year and a half, but a full two years and two months since the end of Season 7. That's a lot of time - plenty of time, in fact, to seek out new Slayers, go shopping and partying in Rome and/or Rio, mourn the dead, track down the location of the Watchers' Council secret Scottish headquarters (hopefully not called the Torchwood Estate), arrange funding, do all that and then still have a 'slow year' afterwards...