Fantastic Fiftieth Issue!
With this installment, Longbox Graveyard hits the half-century mark! While you can always reference all past Longbox Graveyard columns through the Checklist link at the top of every page, to mark this solemn occasion I thought I’d count down the top ten Longbox Graveyard blogs by hits.
Cue the drumroll and the David Letterman voice as we begin with the #10 item on our Top Ten List of Longbox Graveyard posts for the past year!
Tomb of Dracula is a seminal comic of the 1970s and one of the reasons I started Longbox Graveyard. I was anxious to revisit this book, but my memories were based on the final issues of the run, and the early numbers were rougher sledding than I’d anticipated. I do remain enthused for this book and have been actively filling in my missing issues. I will get around to reviewing the rest of the series, though at this point it doesn’t look like that will happen before Halloween.
one of my recently-added Tomb of Dracula back issues, purchased out of the bin at the excellent House of Secrets comics shop in Burbank, California
It’s good to see this post has gotten some attention through the year, though I think most of that was down to a surge of hits from the Reddit comicbooks group, when I advertised it over there with the headline, “Before Vampires Sparkled, There Was Tomb of Dracula!” Never underestimate the power of nerd rage — about the one thing comics fans can agree on is that they hate and shun Twilight. Unfortunately, those Reddit readers are mostly interested in contemporary books and I don’t think I converted many of them into regular readers. I do think I made some valid points about the harder-than-expected edge of this series and it’s unsparing look at a genuinely evil protagonist — in a lot of ways I think Tomb of Dracula was (and still is) ahead of its time.
Longbox Graveyard has a long future ahead of it because so many of my favorite books have yet to come up for review here. In addition to finishing off Tomb of Dracula, I want to do several columns on Master of Kung Fu, Daredevil, and Swamp Thing, none one of which much figured in the first year of this blog. It’s crazy that I haven’t touched those books but that I did a Godzilla review this year! This project keeps getting bigger the deeper I get into it.
I did a pair of favorite character Top Ten blogs this year, and they both made this year end lineup. Lists are red meat for bloggers — easy to put together, and likely to draw comments, as everyone has an opinion about the best and worst of everything. My Marvel list wasn’t especially good writing, but it was important in that it helped bring together an emerging community around this blog, challenging my understanding of Sub-Mariner and taking me to task for snubbing Spider-Man. Community is critical for blog retention (and Top Tens are a nice, lazy way to structure a blog), so this list did its job, even if I’m not terribly proud of the work.
Plus anything that got me to take another look at Steve Ditko‘s Spider-Man must be counted as time well spent.
another special benefit and unexpected pleasure of this past year has been a new appreciation for Steve Ditko
My Ms. Marvel column represents the best of Longbox Graveyard on a personal level — not because of the quality of the column, but because without Longbox Graveyard, there’s no way on earth I ever would have rediscovered this series. This really was just another stack of books that I intended to offer a cursory glance on the way to eBay, but issue after issue I found myself unaccountably caught up in this admittedly marginal book, and not just because I developed a crush on Carol Danvers. Longbox Graveyard has been about rediscovering the comics of my youth and Ms. Marvel was among the most pleasant rediscoveries of the past year.
Carol is coming back as Captain Marvel, but I like her old look better
There is a vibrant female comics fandom scene on the internet, particularly at sites like DC Women Kicking Ass and Has Boobs, Reads Comics, and I think my Ms. Marvel column gets a few referrals from those sites, but mostly I think this column resonated because there isn’t a lot on the web about the original Ms. Marvel run.
I think the Ms. Marvel character is an important part of the dialogue about sexism in comics, and how female characters are generally sexualized while male characters are idealized, but it’s above my pay grade to sort that out. I just like this book (and since running this blog I’ve addressed my old mistake in filled in the rest of my Ms. Marvel, volume 1 collection, and look forward to reading those last few issues soon).
My “Panel Galleries” were an experiment born out of desperation, and this first Panel Gallery only did so-so at launch, but it has continued to attract views so I shouldn’t be surprised to see it elbowing into my top posts of the year. Panel Galleries are the “fill in issues” of Longbox Graveyard, and while I will sometimes run them to coincide with outside media events (like the “Avengers Assemble” gallery I ran just before the movie came out), more often than not a Panel Gallery is a last-minute offering to keep my weekly posting streak alive while I work on a meatier subject or just take a couple weeks off to recharge.
This particular Panel Gallery focused on a narrow and obscure trope — the stock phrase the Silver Surfer calls out to summon his flying board. I have several other Panel Galleries on the boil, with panels excerpted and squirreled away in secret folders as I encounter them via my Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription. A few panels that might otherwise have wound up in a Panel Gallery were repurposed for the “Say What?!” features I will be contributing this summer over at the Stash My Comics blog, and past Panel Galleries have new life as the backbone of Longbox Graveyard’s presence on Pinterest. Not bad for a fill-in feature!
If you have suggestions for future Panel Galleries, let me know. My next scheduled Panel Gallery will appear in July, focusing on the faces of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man and supporting characters. The Ditko Panel Gallery I did on Doctor Strange faces finished well down the list for the year, but I really like seeing those Ditko faces up close, so you’re still going to get a lot of larger-than-life Ditko supporting characters in July when the new movie comes out.
a preview of my forthcoming Amazing Spider-Faces Panel Gallery
I was still finding my footing when I published my fanboy rave for Ed Brubaker’s Captain America. I was in a honeymoon period of rediscovering comics and this Cap run likely benefited from that in scoring a rare A-plus score on the Longbox Graveyard Report Card. As much as I enjoyed the run at the time, two follow-on volumes remain unread on my shelf. Even with excellent modern books immediately to hand, I still prefer to spend my time with sometimes-inferior Bronze and Silver Age books.
Which isn’t to say I over-rated this series — not at all! It’s just that I went a little overboard with Cap in the early days of Longbox Graveyard and I haven’t quite recovered. Those aforementioned volumes are still in the shrink and while I hunted down the missing numbers to fill out my Jack Kirby Cap run from the 1970s, and I haven’t mustered the enthusiasm to plunge into those, either. Life is long, and it will seem longer still if I start treating comic books like homework assignments. I’ll get to these issues when the impulse strikes me. In the meantime, I’m happy to have them in my collection.
This particular post benefited from a surge of readers when author Ed Brubaker mentioned it on his Twitter feed, but like many spikes, that exposure appears to have resulted in few continuing readers. Still, it was nice to make contact with a working pro (and I would also exchange Facebook messages with Walt Simonson over the columns I did on his outstanding Thor run). For several weeks, that was my single strongest traffic day for Longbox Graveyard, eclipsed only by a mysterious surge of hits when I published my Beneath The Longbox Graveyard blog in February (which paradoxically did not end up making this year-end list), and then shattered by last week’s Thanos post.
This column might have been my best writing for Longbox Graveyard. Certainly it was my most heartfelt, and it’s good to see that my prescription for how Conan the Barbarian might be better handled on film proved one of the most popular posts of the year. A similar post lamenting the misfire of John Carter was also popular, falling just outside this top ten, despite being live for only a fraction of the time of my Conan piece.
it also helped to linkbait Jason Momoa naked
Almost a year later, this movie is forgotten, while the half-life of my Hyborian disappointment has burned off, and I’ve started reading some Conan again, thanks to the Savage Sword of Conan reprints published by Dark Horse Comics. I did a lot of Conan columns this year but I might sneak in one more in the year ahead …
… because it seems my Conan coverage was more popular than I’d surmised. This is one of the earliest columns on this list, and it doubtless benefited from accumulating hits for nearly a year (and from the aforementioned linkbaiting), but I think the gorgeous Barry Windsor-Smith artwork in this run remains worthy of celebration, especially in their Dark Horse reprint form, and I stand by the high marks I offered Conan the Barbarian #1-25 on the Longbox Graveyard Report Card.
great cover, despite the helmet
Another format born of desperation that proved a successful innovation, my first “Longbox Shortbox” came around when I found I had several reviews that weren’t gelling as longer pieces, but still had one or two points I wanted to share. By combining them into a single post I felt they added up to the substance afforded by my “full” review format, and so the circle was squared, giving me a format to publish shorter reviews and also letting me discuss books that didn’t merit a full column all on their own. I’ve since made the format “official”, though I will be ratcheting back on the number of mini-reviews in each Shortbox column, as five mini-reviews ends up being longer, more exhausting, and less focused than a single stand-alone piece.
There were some decent insights here. My review of the earliest issues of the Avengers would warm me up for more extensive coverage of that book these past few weeks, and reviewing Don McGregor’s Black Panther in this format let me write a negative review in the fewest words possible. It’s not that I shy away from negative reviews — it’s just that my distaste for this Panther run came down to disliking the author’s style, which isn’t the greatest basis for criticism. The biggest misstep with this column was “grading down” New Teen Titans to B-plus (when it surely deserves an “A”) but that was also fodder for comments, which is never a bad thing.
An outlier on a comics blog, my animation review of DC’s Young Justice cartoon continues to pull hits each and every week, seeming to strengthen through the year, and might have come in as my top post of the year if I’d taken my traffic snapshot closer to press time. It might be because there are kids out there looking for news on this show’s notoriously erratic broadcast schedule … or it might be because mentioning “Batman Handjob” in your lead paragraph is powerful SEO mojo! Either way, the intertubes loves them some Young Justice!
I was happy for a chance to talk about Young Justice, which I continue to watch with my boys (when it is on). Warners did contact me with an offer to review another Young Justice DVD release, but I turned them down, as I felt I’d already said everything I needed to say about the show. Film and television reviews will remain the exception, rather than the rule here at Longbox Graveyard, but I suspect you can look forward to reviews of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Batman The Brave And The Bold in the year ahead (provided I’m still on the Warners freebie list!).
Told you that lists were popular! Still, I was surprised to see this post proved the most popular of the year, and I think a lot of that popularity has to do with the robust comment thread this post generated, with thirty-odd posts offering their own Top Tens and debating the merits of Aquaman. I certainly can’t credit the success of this piece to my writing, which was some of the flabbiest on offer here at Longbox Graveyard, and displayed my general ignorance of DC characters by picking a third of the list strictly on the basis of their headgear!
I do promise more DC coverage in the year ahead, starting with some Batman as soon as next week. I’ll also be checking out some of the DC New 52 relaunch now that the trades are hitting the market, though I don’t know if they’ll prove blog-worthy.
Those were the hits. There were misses, too, with my Supergods column proving especially disappointing in terms of the traffic it (didn’t) pull, but even my top posts don’t get a lot of hits in the scheme of things, and the first purpose of Longbox Graveyard is that I please myself, so traffic numbers are of secondary importance. I do like watching my hit numbers increase, though, so if the impulse strikes you, please revisit these or other Longbox Graveyard posts, and tell your friends about the blog.
Thank you for supporting my work these past fifty issues!
NEXT WEEK: #51 Escape From The Longbox Shortbox
MORE LONGBOX GRAVEYARD TOP TEN LISTS
- Top Ten Instagram Superheroes
- Top Ten Manliest Superheroes
- Superhero Music Top Ten
- Top Single Issue Stories
- Top Ten Marvel Comics Characters
- Top Ten DC Comics Characters
- Top Ten Spider-Man Battles (Part 1)
- Top Ten Spider-Man Battles (Part 2)
- Top Ten Captain America Villains
- Top Ten One Hundreds
- #35 Beneath The Longbox Shortbox (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #36 Longbox Bulletin! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #38 John Carter, Warlord of Mars (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #43 King of the Monsters! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #86 Star Lord! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “Marvel Comics – A Space Odyssey” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “A Tale of Two Pitches” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #85 Defenders: Who Remembers Scorpio? (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #91 By Any Other Name: Sub-Mariner (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #90 Red Sonja (longboxgraveyard.com)