Category Archives: Editorial
And just like that six months have got behind me and it’s time for another Longbox Soapbox!
Twice a year I take stock of where I am with Longbox Graveyard, solicit feedback in the form of a poll, reveal some numbers behind the blog, and take a formal vow to continue Longbox Graveyard for another six months (or not).
Those interested in blogging minutia can review my past Longbox Soapbox columns:
This 104th “issue” of Longbox Graveyard is a big one for me, as it marks two years of continuous Wednesday publication for the blog. Starting as a means of keeping myself on-track in reducing and organizing my comics Accumulation (a job I have yet to complete), Longbox Graveyard has taken on a life of its own as a Bronze Age comic book nostalgia blog. A few recent guest blogs notwithstanding, Longbox Graveyard remains a one-man effort done out of love of comics, as well as a desire to communicate with my fellow hobbyists. Every half-hearted attempt I’ve made to monetize the blog has been met with indifference or disaster. Like Reed Richards, I’m a lunkhead when it comes to making money!
let’s not talk about money
From the start I’ve kept this blog going by signing six-month contracts with myself. Once I’ve commenced on a six-month hitch of Longbox Graveyard I make myself see it through. When those six months are up, I either sign up for another six months, or put the blog to bed.
do you recognize this devilish contract from the 1970s?
Will Longbox Graveyard continue, or will I shut it down? The answer is … both! (Sort of). More details in a moment, but before looking at where I am going, a brief survey of where I have been.
Statistics & Hits
Hits of course are the lifeblood of any blog. Traffic drives dollars if you are doing this for a living — which I am not — but even with a free blog, hits are your scoreboard, and it is hard to ignore them. I check my traffic several times each day, and if I am not so obsessed with these numbers as in months past, I would be lying if I said my traffic numbers were unimportant to me.
What is not a lie is to say my numbers are less important to me than the last time I did a Longbox Soapbox. After the crazy growth in the second six months of Longbox Graveyard’s life, my readership has plateaued a little, but I am still seeing decent growth. My monthly average readership in December 2012-May 2013 was up about 13% from the preceding six months. January 2013 saw the blog go above 10K views in a month for the first time, but the average for this period has been a more modest 8321 views/month.
That will seem like a lot to a few of you, and nothing at all to more of you. For me, the numbers are what they are. I really have nothing to compare against. How many hits should I draw for a once-weekly, wordy, idiosyncratic blog about comics that are decades old?
I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can know. I can think of only a few comparable blogs (The Peerless Power of Comics seems closest, it is also a very good blog), but absent a dozen or so similar blogs, comparisons aren’t going to count for much. I have resolved that my numbers will be what they will be. I will continue to track them, but I won’t obsess over them, and I will put my effort into content rather than search engine optimization.
Comparing these referrals to the last time I checked, we see that Twitter and (to a lesser extent) Facebook have been stepping up as traffic sources. Most traffic continues to come from search (of course), and I would expect this to grow as more and more content and images are added to the blog. Pinterest appears to have leveled off. Reddit’s comic books subdomain remains useful for driving spikes (giving my Darkseid poll a record-breaking day, and also pushing my silly Pepper Potts Pin-Up strongly over Iron Man 3′s opening weekend), but I have no evidence Reddit views convert to readers. Sneaking in at the end of my Top 10 are Stash My Comics & the Chasing Amazing blog, and speaking of Stash My Comics …
not even a Superduperman can do it all … reducing outside commitments!
Stash My Comics & The Longbox Graveyard Podcast
Last month I concluded my Dollar Box column for Stash My Comics after twelve monthly columns. “Twelve” seemed like a good number for a mini-series, and as I have been feeling spread a little thin, it only made sense to wrap up Dollar Box. That content was so similar to what I do here that Dollar Box effectively meant that I was publishing Longbox Graveyard five times a month, and that was starting to take a toll. It was fun to write for Stash My Comics, and we drove a few hits for each other, but I’ve decided to suspend outside commitments to concentrate on Longbox Graveyard. I assume my articles will stay up at SMC for awhile. Going forward, I will be republishing my Dollar Box columns here at Longbox Graveyard after the one year anniversary of each article’s original posting (starting with last week’s Nick Fury post).
I’ve also ended my Longbox Graveyard Podcast after twelve installments, for many of the same reasons I ended Dollar Box. The Longbox Graveyard Podcast was showing strong numbers and building an audience, but my passion is with blogging, and not podcasting. It was a tough call to walk away, as Mo Kristiansen was a great partner and made it very easy to do the podcast. It was fun to experiment with that form — and I may return to it at some point — but in the interest of sticking with my core interest, I have retired from podcasting and will be giving this blog my full geek attention.
I remain active on social media. Pinterest doesn’t drive a lot of traffic but my boards are easy to maintain, and they do provide a worthy visual supplement for activities here at Longbox Graveyard. Instagram is closely tied to Pinterest, and again it is no big deal to post an image every day. It may not drive traffic to the blog, but my Instagram images do generate comment on Instagram itself, and also help stimulate conversation on Twitter, which remains a vibrant channel for me. I maintain an information presence on Facebook and Google+ to provide updates for the smaller community of followers that keep track of me on those services.
I think that’s about all the social media I can handle! I do push image and blog updates to Flickr and Tumblr but that’s automatically handled when the blog publishes and I don’t otherwise do much on those channels. I tried Quora for a little while but ran afoul of their naming policy. They put me in the penalty box until I would identify myself as someone other than “Longbox Graveyard” — I decided I couldn’t be bothered and deleted my account.
It will be interesting to see what happens with readership with the pending demise of Google Reader. Will the death of the leading RSS platform stimulate on-site views and email subscriptions? Being insufficiently competent to back out my email and RSS numbers from the stats dashboard, I guess I will never know!
Continuing work on The Accumulation has stalled out a little as I’ve gotten hip-deep in the remodeling project described in my Mancave Monday posts. I regard this a good thing. My manic desire to recklessly reduce the piles of comics out in the garage veered into extreme territory at times, and if I am suddenly more comfortable with where things are in that regard … well, that’s progress. Also, by shifting my energy towards building out a space where I can better enjoy my comics, I’m demonstrating a kind of accommodation, acceptance, and capacity for joy in the hobby that I did not anticipate when I started this project.
I am … at peace … with my choices
My pace of buying books has slowed down, as well. I’ve filled in nearly all the back issues on my list, and there are relatively few trade paperbacks on my shopping list. For the most part I am reading what I’ve got. I am still enjoying my Marvel Unlimited digital subscription, especially now that it is available in an iPad-friendly form. A similar, all-you-can-eat subscription service from DC would be welcome (and would substantially increase the number of DC books examined by this blog!)
Comic books continue to dominate my reading, split about 50/50 between books I blog about, and books I read for the heck of it. Sometimes I surprise myself — I didn’t expect to like Sgt. Rock as much as I did, and never intended to cover it here at Longbox Graveyard, but these unexpected discoveries are one of the real joys of writing this blog. Other times, long-gestating ideas will reach the blog in unexpected forms, like all the Superman reading that wound up in my comparative essay on the death of that character, or my Brian Michael Bendis article that began as a Daredevil review.
impressive visual storytelling characterizes the latest incarnation of Hawkeye, by Fraction and Aja
I’ve been reading the latest issues of Hawkeye, Daredevil, Saga, Criminal, and Guardians of the Galaxy — which likely won’t end up on the blog — while vintage Master of Kung Fu, Iron Fist, and Tomb of Dracula likely will. It isn’t that I dislike the newer books or lack opinions on them, but there are plenty of places for new comics reviews, and I also feel I can’t really appraise a comics run until it has been complete for months (or years!). For this reason, my reviews will for the most part continue to be confined to comics of decades past.
But … I suppose this is as good a subject as any for my bi-annual poll! Please vote, below!
Community Community Community!
What I’ve found most flattering about Longbox Graveyard is that it has developed a genuine community over the years. Even the least of my posts will earn a comment from my dedicated group of correspondents, and some comment threads have been better than the posts themselves. It is a special joy to see an older post earn a new comment, because that lets me know that the blog continues to find new readers, and that my legacy material (even some of the stuff that is now out of date) remains of value.
I can’t say it enough — I deeply value the Longbox Graveyard community. I am immensely proud and flattered to have developed a cadre of discerning and insightful readers, and I always look forward to your comments. Thank you for following my blog, and keep those (virtual) cards and letters coming in!
First, the good news. Longbox Graveyard will continue! I am signing another six month contract with myself and plan to continue the blog through December of 2013.
However … I will be reducing the frequency with which I publish major content. After some soul-searching I’ve decided to downshift from publishing every Wednesday to every odd-numbered Wednesday, effective immediately. I suppose this is the blogging equivalent of “going bi-monthly,” which was usually the kiss of death for Bronze Age comics, but I hope a reduced publication schedule will allow me to keep Longbox Graveyard going indefinitely. I might even go back to weekly publication in the future. But for now … tune in every odd-numbered Wednesday for a new Longbox Graveyard article (if this is too confusing you can always see what is coming up and when with a glance at my Checklist).
There will also be some content changes here at the blog. I’ve already run several guest blogs these past few months (mostly by the talented Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing Blog — thanks, Mark!), and this is a trend I would like to see continue. I think Longbox Graveyard benefits from other voices every now and then. Mark will be providing next week’s blog on the peculiar history of Spider-Man and the Human Torch, and I know he has at least one other idea on the boil for us. If you would like to guest blog for Longbox Graveyard, drop me a line (LongboxGraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com) — I’m looking for material that falls into the general purview of Bronze and Silver Age superhero stories evaluated from a personal point-of-view. There’s no pay, but you can’t put a price on comics blogging glory!
In addition to guest blogs, I will be running some reprint material here at Longbox Graveyard. There will be the aforementioned Dollar Box reprints, and I also plan to start spotlighting my Pinterest boards with twice-weekly posts pointing toward the collection of images I’ve assembled over at that site, along with the original Longbox Graveyard articles that inspired them. On off weeks, even if I am not publishing a full article, I will sometimes jump in with a pinup or a plug for another site, so in some ways the blog will be publishing more often than ever before — I just won’t be running my more in-depth articles as frequently as in the past two years. I also have a scratch plan in place to put of digital scans of a select few comics that I wrote back in the day.
Thanks in advance for your patience as Longbox Graveyard evolves!
That concludes this edition of the Longbox Soapbox! Thanks for reading this column and for your support of the blog these past two years. I do very much want to hear from you, so please vote in my poll, and leave me a comment below. If you comment on only one Longbox Graveyard column each year, let this be the one! Let me know you are out there, and tell me what you think of the blog.
Thanks again for reading! Here’s hoping for another six strong months of Longbox Graveyard!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #105 Best Frenemies Forever
- Top Ten Captain America Villains (longboxgraveyard.com)
- 10 Facts about Free Comic Book Day (biowars.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – Iron Man #149-150 (1981) (biffbampop.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – G.I. Joe #21 (1984) (biffbampop.com)
- On Organizing A Comic Store’s Stock (gothamnewsstand.wordpress.com)
- Not With A Bang … (goblinsoup.wordpress.com)
- How Digital Comics Are Killing It (In a Good Way) (biowars.com)
This seventy-eighth weekly installment of Longbox Graveyard marks this blog’s eighteen month anniversary … so it is time for another Longbox Soapbox, where I blog about this blog — it’s past, present, and future!
Statistics & Hits
In last summer’s edition of Longbox Soapbox it certainly seemed Longbox Graveyard was on the march. The blog had seen twelve straight months of growth and with several new initiatives on the horizon there was every reason to believe that trend would continue.
Alas … what I hoped would be a base camp for the assault on comic book Everest instead proved to be my peak month, as daily hits have declined by about twelve percent these last six months. I suppose there is optimism in that the rate of decline has been shallower than the steep march to my Elvis Month of May 2012, but however you slice it, I have fewer hits at Longbox Graveyard today than I did six months ago.
I can only guess why this might be so. Summer doldrums? Some mysterious shift in the blog’s Google profile? Are my old readers are getting churned out now that Longbox Graveyard is no longer such a novel thing? Maybe it is just down to topic selection these past six months — aside from my very successful Amazing Spider-Man column, this last run has seen articles on more obscure books like Tomb of Dracula, Killraven, Judge Dredd, and Master of Kung Fu (twice!) I suppose I could lift my numbers by writing about Batman, the X-Men, and Spider-Man all the time but my interests lay elsewhere and I have come to accept that not every topic at Longbox Graveyard will be of interest to all.
linkbait: Naked Batman
Whatever the reason, readership is down, and I’d be lying if I said it was anything but discouraging. Not discouraging enough to abandon the blog (which will always be a vanity project no matter how many hits I draw), but enough to find me frustrated at times, and wondering if there’s some obvious-to-everyone-else bit of SEO magic that I am overlooking for the blog. The good news is November was my best month since the benchmark month of May 2012, so maybe Longbox Graveyard has recovered from its slide and will start to build bigger readership numbers again. I have also received some very encouraging feedback recently from readers and listeners that make it easier to accept a dip in my numbers.
Super Tuesday, Dollar Box & The Longbox Graveyard Podcast
One of the reasons my readership decline is disappointing is that my previous growth was largely organic, while these past six months have seen me creating additional material here and at other blogs for the express purpose of driving traffic back to Longbox Graveyard. One such initiative was Super Tuesday — my series of brief blogs looking at comic book ads from the Bronze Age — which was intended to lift traffic on the blog’s slowest day of the week. The feature did result in slight gains on Tuesdays, but they were more than washed away by general declines on every other day of the week, and as I think the features have been weak overall, I’m scuttling Super Tuesday as a regular feature, effective immediately, though I may still publish them from time to time. (I didn’t publish a Super Tuesday yesterday. Did you notice? Neither did I.)
so long, Super Tuesday
Two higher-profile initiatives will continue. Both my Dollar Box column at StashMyComics.com and my Longbox Graveyard Podcast at We Talk Comics were just getting off the ground when I wrote the last Longbox Soapbox — six months on and I can first start to evaluate them.
Here are statistics showing traffic referrals to Longbox Graveyard:
WordPress won’t let me show just the last six month’s worth of data, so these numbers are for all-time, but from this chart you can see my work at StashMyComics has yielded only a dozen or so hits per month, while We Talk Comics is well down the list at two dozen hits, total. Neither project is doing much for Longbox Graveyard, and they are distracting me from my core work here at the blog … but I am finding both of those commitments intrinsically rewarding, and so I intend to continue them for at least another six months (or as long as my hosts will have me, whichever comes first!).
Podcasting has been an especially interesting experience, and is something I never would have done if Mo Kristiansen at We Talk Comics hadn’t convinced me to do it. I consider the podcast supplemental to the blog, and as a verbal form I have used the podcast to editorialize and talk about comics history and theory more than anything else — subjects that might be too much work to develop in writing here at Longbox Graveyard, and also subjects that would be of limited visual appeal. I like podcasting — most of the time — and a few shows have been especially rewarding, such as when my son Miles and I discussed Frank Miller’s Holy Terror. While the podcast has been of no real value to Longbox Graveyard, I think I have developed a small and separate audience for that particular project. From the latest numbers it looks like each podcast gets downloaded about 500 times when it goes live, with lifetime downloads topping out over a little less than twice that number (so far). I intend to follow this particular path wherever it might lead.
I’ve continued to maintain my Pinterest boards, and while my followers over there have swelled to six hundred or so, from the chart above you can see these are another siloed group of users who do not come over to Longbox Graveyard in appreciable numbers. At this point I am happy to keep the boards going but I’ve all but conceded in my one-geek-war against handbags and hairstyles on Pinterest.
Doctor Strange, from my Pinerest gallery of Third Eye Black Light posters
Twitter remains a strong channel for me, and I do have fun carrying on conversations over there — it’s a way for me to have daily contact with the Longbox Graveyard experience, even if the blog only publishes once a week. I have 1700 followers on Twitter, and my Klout hovers around 60 (for what little that is worth). Twitter has proven the third-largest driver of traffic to the blog, though it only generates about a hundred hits per month. I’ve been using Hootsuite to monitor Twitter, and also to pre-schedule my weekly rotation of headlines, promoting the week’s new blog every day, along with pointers to older posts on the blog posted by Hootsuite at times the system ensures me are calculated for maximum exposure based on my follower’s habits. I apologize if these messages are tiresome or repetitious for my long-time readers but I do have anecdotal evidence that this promotion helps keep my past work alive, particularly for new readers, and it’s always a kick when a Twitter discussion springs up about something I wrote months and months ago.
Longbox Graveyard on Instagram
My greatest new media effort has been with Instagram, which I outlined in a blog post a couple weeks ago. I’ve leveraged that channel up to nearly six hundred followers, and near as I can tell it’s delivered zero traffic to Longbox Graveyard, but I am having fun posting images over there, and I’ve struck up a correspondence with a number of readers that seem unique to that service. As with Pinterest and the podcast, Instagram may be telling me that the Longbox Graveyard “brand” is going to be a distributed presence, rather than a single, growing blog with lots of little feeder channels.
I continue to post to Facebook and Google+, but may give up on them before long. Google+ is a ghost town (though it does seem to help my search ranking a bit), and while Facebook has driven its share of hits, I think most of that traffic comes from my personal page, rather than the dedicated “Mole Mann” identity I set up to support Longbox Graveyard.
The Accumulation & Comic Sales
I’ve arrived at kind of a truce with my comic book Accumulation. Things are better organized, comic book-wise, than they have ever been, but the rest of my hobby area in the garage has gone to Hell, leading me to think it is time to bite the bullet and embark on a concerted effort to build-out a “man cave” that might better showcase my crap and make me feel better about the stuff I’ve got.
kind of a dump in the garage right now
I am just about ready to grant an amnesty to all of my comics and stop trying to sell or give them away. I had a little bit of success in moving bulk boxes of comics over the summer, but there are still way more books here than I can sell in any reasonable length of time, and eBay remains a gigantic waste of time and money when it comes to selling my comics. I have the Accumulation curated down to just about what I want it to be, but I still have about a dozen longboxes worth of books without a home … so I may look into donating them, or leaving them on a curb somewhere, or (maybe) widening my collection and just keeping them after all. Dunno.
I’m still pretty much reading comics and nothing more, though my reading has shifted a bit from back issues and Marvel digital titles to graphic novel collections. Regular business travel takes me up to Los Angeles a couple times a month, and I’ve made it a little ritual to drop by the House of Secrets comic shop in Burbank and pick up something new each time. Thanks to this initiative I’ve been reading many of DC’s New 52 trade paperbacks, as well as other newish collections like Ed Brubaker’s crime comics collections (Criminal and Incognito), and even flavor-of-the-month books like Saga. I’m still not buying single issues but these past six months I think I’ve purchased and read more contemporary stuff than I have have back issues from the Bronze and Silver Age that has been the focus of Longbox Graveyard. It’s worth noting that I’ve purchased very few Marvel trade paperbacks as I can instead read that back catalog digitally — I’ve binged on the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy, the Bendis and Brubaker runs of Daredevil, and even some old Thomas/Trimpe Hulks in digital form, which has saved me hundreds of dollars over trying to purchase those same stories in printed collections.
Rocket Raccoon, from the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy
My lads steadfastly refuse to become comic book readers — I think they are lost causes, and I need to come to grips with it. Miles did meet me half way with Holy Terror, and I did read Walking Dead at his suggestion, but if or when I read Sin City, I will have exhausted his particular interest in comics (several targeted collections I’ve left in his room have met with utter indifference). Jack went to the San Diego Comic Fest with me but I think his geek interests are more on the television and movie sides of the spectrum — the comics bug just isn’t biting him.
Jack at Comic Fest
While my attempts to home-grow comics fans have come to ruin, I have connected with a couple guys through work. My sometimes-collaborator Chris Ulm has gotten a contact high off of Longbox Graveyard and is reading comics more frequently than before (though he never really gave them up). He and I have been going through the New 52 together and will hash it all out in my December podcast. I’ve also got a commuting buddy for those L.A. trips and House of Secrets visits, who has proven a captive audience for my comic book rants; we’ve also shared a couple graphic novel recommendations together, and he’s happy to try new stuff, so I benefit from the odd title he picks off the rack at the shop then leaves on my desk when he is done with it. I have more books than I can read and people to share them with and so I can’t complain.
The blog is still a dead loss — of course it has never been a money-making venture, but duty requires that I report advertising revenue is in the ones of dollars per month, and my donate button might as well be the G-spot for all that people can find it. I had an internet casino contact me about putting a banner on my front page but they only wanted to pay ninety bucks a year and I didn’t think it was a good fit. I host a banner for my pals at StashMyComics.com that along with my Dollar Box plugs drives maybe thirty-odd clicks a month to their site (which I see now is a bit more than I get in return, hmm …), but that is all gratis and in exchange for clicks from their site.
are ads distracting you?
I will probably keep the WordPress video ads running for another six months or so, just so I can get to my hundred dollars credit and cash out. They’re pretty ugly and they do slow down my page load. I also occurs to me that those ads have been running during this period of declining readership and that there might be a relationship. My feeling on ads is that if you live next to a river, you might as well put some lines in the water, but if they are negatively impacting your opinion of Longbox Graveyard, I will give them the heave-ho.
This seems a good subject for my poll!
While my hits are down I think my comments are up, or at least holding steady, so it might be that my community is solid or even growing while my drive-by hits are waning. Your thoughtful comments are treasure to me and are always welcome at the blog. I try to reply to every one of them, or at least give them a thumb’s-up. I like the “permanent record” nature of threaded comment boards and I like seeing discussions flower here but I find I have better luck engaging readers in more real-time environments like Twitter or even Instagram. Still, the comments field is there for you and I hope you feel welcome to use it, even for older posts which haven’t seen much activity for awhile.
And as has become the tradition with these Longbox Soapbox posts, if you are reading this column, please post in comments, even if just to let me know you are lurking out there!
And so I come to that part of the blog where I declare if I will continue Longbox Graveyard or not. I have gotten this far by signing six month contracts with myself — knowing that I cannot quit during the contract, but that I can walk away when the contract is complete has kept me on track so far, and sustained this blog through a few discouraging and busy patches these past six months when it might otherwise have lapsed into inactivity. While I have seriously considered shutting down the blog or transitioning to bi-weekly publication, I am going to step up and commit to another six months of weekly publication. Partly this is because I feel I have unfinished work here. Partly it is because it would give me a kick to publish an Issue #100 of Longbox Graveyard (scheduled for May 2013). Largely it is because my gut is telling me not to keep going, which means I surely should.
thought about it …
So I will continue to publish here on Wednesdays, as fate will allow, and I will post up monthly podcasts and Dollar Boxes, too, and there may be some other surprise appearances along the way. Expect a few format tweaks here, and a departure from my strict attempt to alternate reviews with other types of columns every-other week. I hope you will continue to support Longbox Graveyard, and tell your friends about the blog to improve my readership (and lift my spirits!). Mentioning the blog in your own social channels — Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc. — all help with the virality and discoverability of my blog, so if you find a post you like, don’t shrink from tapping that blizzard of buttons in the “Share This” bar at the bottom of the column to recommend me to the wider world of the world wide web. Mentioning Longbox Graveyard in online comic book message boards or other communities is also very helpful.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back here next Wednesday for your regularly-scheduled Longbox Graveyard! Don’t forget to post your mandatory-every-six-months comment below. And please accept my sincere appreciation for supporting Longbox Graveyard, my podcast, and all my crazy comic book hobby endeavors on the web!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #79 Out Of The Holocaust … A Hero!
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “The Curse of the Marvel Value Stamp” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “Form Follows Function” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #71 Guide To Comic Books On Instagram (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #67 Guide To Comic Books On Pinterest (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: Direct Currents (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Freakout Friday! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: A Doll By Any Other Name (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #68 Master of Kung Fu: Snowbuster! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Super Tuesday: Marvel Horror Triple Feature (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #70 Reopening The Tomb of Dracula (longboxgraveyard.com)
How do you write nearly 100,000 words on old comic books?
One. Week. At. A. Time.
With this fifty-second installment, Longbox Graveyard marks one year of weekly and uninterrupted Wednesday publication. Pause for a creepy slow golf-clap while I turn a solitary little victory lap in the isolation of my garage-bound comic book Accumulation.
As was the case twenty-six issues ago, I’ll use this anniversary moment to blog about blogging with an editorial overview of Longbox Graveyard itself — where it’s been, how it’s doing, and where it’s going. If you came here looking for superheroes and this is all too self-referential, then please skip to the end of the column, take my survey, leave a comment to let me know you’re breathing, and then check back here next week for your regularly-scheduled comic book review!
comic book popularity is everything I dreamed it would be
Statistics & Hits
I already wrote in detail about which blogs attracted the most attention this past year, and the trends are broadly clear. Aside from the anomalous success of blogs about Young Justice and Operation Ajax, the bread-and-butter for Longbox Graveyard are my comic book reviews, which will continue to appear once every other week. A review every week might be nice, but I can’t maintain that pace, so you’ll continue to get comics culture and other stuff (like Panel Galleries) in the off-weeks between reviews.
When I last did a Longbox Soapbox, my best month was about 2,200 hits — this past May, Longbox Graveyard did nearly four times better than that. The blog has been pushing 300 views per day these past few weeks, fueled largely by hits on my Avengers-themed posts published when the movie came out. Time will tell if this growth is sustainable.
It’s been a slow climb, but now with a year of accumulated content, Longbox Graveyard is seeing significant traffic from Google Image Searches looking at my legacy posts. The size of this blog now provides a baseline of consistent daily traffic regardless of the day of the week or the popularity of my latest post. There are a lot of people out there looking for superhero images — almost as many as are looking for Chris Hemsworth Naked, Chris Evans Naked, Jason Momoa Naked, and Jennifer Lawrence Naked! Unfortunately, a lot of that search traffic is running the tap with the drain open, and it’s unlikely I’m converting regular readers from those sources.
A once-weekly, wall-of-words blog about old comics is always going to have limited appeal, but I am trying to find readers in other places. My personal Facebook page generates referrals each week, but I’ve given up my half-hearted attempt to maintain a Longbox Graveyard page on Myspace. My Twitter account is approaching 1000 “Followers,” but I’m unclear how many of those people read the blog. I do keep up a pretty constant conversation on Twitter, though, and I consider it as much a part of Longbox Graveyard as this blog. I’ve been posting to Google+ for about a month, without great results — I’ll keep it going for awhile but I think I agree with reports that Google+ is a ghost town. I did recently start a Facebook page for Longbox Graveyard — I’m not crazy about Facebook, but you have to fish where the fish are. If you’re on Facebook, please visit my page and throw me a “Like.”
Longbox Graveyard on Pinterest
My most recent experiment has been with Pinterest. There are a lot of pinnings and re-pinnings going on over there, my Follower numbers are growing, and I’ve struck up few conversations, but again it is difficult to determine how many people track me back to Longbox Graveyard. I think I will stick with Pinterest, as it provides a nice place to archive all the images I’ve excerpted for the blog (including some images that I never published here), and is just generally an interesting site in its own right, although it is heavily skewed towards handbags and hairsytles. Please check out my boards and join the site if you like what you see.
I am still buying books faster than I get rid of them, but I feel like I’ve hit a kind of base camp in my assault on the Accumulation. I am better organized than ever, and I can lay hands on most books within seconds. I need to do one more triage of the pile of books out in the garage, to round up some strays and maybe opt another book or two into the Collection, but for the most part I think I’ve circled around the books I want to collect. Once I fill in a few more Tomb of Dracula and Fantastic Four numbers I will take a deep breath and decide what comes next. I’m feeling a hankering for the old Marvel Logan’s Run, and Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar. I’ve also been thinking about collecting Iron Fist and Marvel Two-In-One but I need to confirm what I already have first. You can see my up-to-date collection and wishlist by clicking here.
rather than collect Iron Fist AND Marvel Two-In-One, maybe I should just get Marvel Two-In-One #25, featuring Ben Grimm and Iron Fist!
I’ve finally made some progress selling my books, which you can track on my Departed page. I’ve had excellent luck with a few private sales, but eBay continues to disappoint. It is a buyer’s market over there, and by the time you deduct for eBay fees, Paypal fees, postage, and bags and boards, I feel like I might as well be throwing my comics in the street. One particularly painful transaction saw me lose thirteen bucks out of pocket selling the Squadron Supreme mini-series. I don’t expect big profits from selling my books but having to pay to give them away is the definition of insult to injury.
Check my For Sale page for comic book treasures direct from the Longbox Graveyard collection! When I sell direct I save a lot of fees and hassles, and my prices reflect those savings. Only a fraction of my books are listed here, so if you don’t see something you want, be sure to ask. If it’s a Marvel or DC book from 1975-1990 or so, there’s a good chance I’ve got it. One Twitter pal recently scored an excellent deal on the first seventeen issues of Nova just by asking if I had them for sale. You can reach me through a comment here on the blog or via email at longboxgraveyard (at) gmail.com.
think of my For Sale page as your own personal spinner rack and time machine, all in one
I am still reading a lot of comics, and still not reading much of anything else. At times the reading has felt like a grind and I need to guard against that. A big shift in my habits has grown out of the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription I got for Christmas — I have read hundreds of old Silver Age books through that service, which has changed the focus of Longbox Graveyard from re-visiting books in my collection to looking at classic Marvel runs of the past. This has expanded the scope of this blog project and delayed some of the reviews I’d planned to do by now — like Master of Kung Fu, and more Tomb of Dracula and Thor — in favor of a lot of books I missed as a kid.
it’s been fun revisiting classic Avengers via my Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription
It’s been fun to knock off an issue or two of classic Avengers on my lunch break. There would certainly be more DC content in this blog if they had a similar digital archive service. And I’d do even more Marvel reading if their subscription service ran on my iPad! Regardless of the interface, I am largely converted to digital at this point and have slowed down on back issue purchases.
A year of leaving breadcrumbs between my boys’ bedrooms and my comic book collection has yielded pretty much zilch — I think I need to accept that while the lads are superhero fans to one degree or another, they lack the comics gene and this particular obsession is going to die with me. S’okay. Jack accompanied me to the Marvel Movie Marathon and has since gone back to see Avengers a couple times, so he has the inside track on inheriting my books, even if he won’t know what to do with them (hopefully he won’t lose too much money by unloading them on eBay). Miles will continue to get a big graphic novel every Christmas whether he wants it or not. Neither boy has the slightest interest in visiting comic shops, though they’re good for a day at Comic-Con once a year. They regard Longbox Graveyard as a quaint obsession and will talk about comics with me every now and then, which is probably good enough. Jack might yet come around. He showed a momentary interest in the Infinity Gauntlet graphic novel. A candle burns in the window.
proof that Jack reads comics (sometimes)
Longbox Graveyard itself still operates in the red — I do pay for hosting and domain mapping, which is nowhere near offset by my Amazon Store, MyComicsShop.com referrals, or my donate button (which has yet to collect a nickle). I’ve started running ads on the blog as part of a Worpress.com beta, but I doubt my traffic will result in many sales. Click them a time or two to send me fractions of a penny! I did sell some big-ticket X-Men books a couple weeks ago so Longbox Graveyard is yielding an indirect income.
Money is neither here nor there with Longbox Graveyard, but if you’re going to make a back issue purchase, or you’re shopping on Amazon, please consider going to those sites through my links to the left. It will push some income my way, which won’t make me rich, but helps to further validate my efforts on this blog.
The Longbox Graveyard community continues to grow. Once comments were a rarity, but now I can count on pretty much every column attracting a comment or two. Your feedback is invaluable and goes a long way toward making me feel more like a columnist and less like a crazy man making a castle in the desert out of Pontiac hubcaps. To everyone who has commented on one of my posts, or engaged with me on Twitter or recommended my content — thank you.
thank you … yes, YOU!
The blog has had an unexpected side-effect of getting me out of my shell a little bit. I hosted a panel at WonderCon, and I have another panel coming up at San Diego Comic-Con (Thursday, 2-3PM, Room 32AB, to discuss Malibu Comics with the company founders). The success of Longbox Graveyard has also led to interviews and podcast appearances (two of them!), and some guest blogging, like the T-Rex Beatdown I did with my pal Matthew over at Mars Will Send No More, and my monthly Dollar Box column that debuted at StashMyComics.com last week. I will also be doing a monthly Longbox Graveyard podcast for We Talk Podcasts — the first episode should be up in about a week. I suppose there is some conflict saying I can’t maintain a pace of weekly reviews here at Longbox Graveyard while at the same time working for other sites, but it is flattering to be invited to contribute to other venues, and in the long run I hope those opportunities will drive readers back to this site. You can find links to all my extracurricular blogging activities on my Longbox Graveyard On The Web page.
The Road Ahead
You can always take a peek at what’s coming up on my Checklist, which extends into the future as well as the past, but it’s worth setting out some goals for the months ahead. I’m going to lay up a little and only pledge to continue Longbox Graveyard for another six months, getting me into mid-December for issue #78. I will almost certainly continue the blog past that point (the lure of one hundred issues will be difficult to resist), but it is by signing little contracts with myself that I am able to continue this effort. There’s no way I would have committed to doing this blog for a year back in June of 2011, but here we are.
One week at a time.
Judge Dredd is coming — both to the movies, and to Longbox Graveyard
My view of the blog is cloudy past July. I will do a column on Judge Dredd to coincide with release of the under-the-radar feature film, about which I remain cautiously optimistic (this from the guy who carried a flame for Conan and John Carter!). I will eventually blog about the Collectorz.com comic book software I’ve used to track my Accumulation, and I suppose I will someday put all my hard-won eBay knowledge about buying and selling comics down in one place. I will return to Tomb of Dracula at Halloween, and the next six months must certainly see my long-delayed Master of Kung Fu review come to light. Mostly I will be making it up as I go along, and I certainly welcome your suggestions for future Longbox Graveyard columns.
I will be here, one way or the other, for the next twenty-six Wednesdays (he said, knowing that stating your plans is one way to hear God laugh).
In my last Longbox Soapbox, I asked how you read this blog. This time I’d like to find out the kind of content you prefer here on the blog. I’m going to assume that reviews are the most popular feature, but if I’m not doing a review, which of the following categories of post do you prefer?
And thus closes another Longbox Soapbox! Thanks for sticking with me this past year, and I hope you will stick with me in the year ahead. As was the case six months ago, if you are a reader of this blog, I hope you will post a comment below, even if you are a habitual lurker. Think of it as signing a guest book — it helps me know who has been here. You don’t have to be clever … just say hello.
please comment below!
Thanks for reading. See you again next Wednesday — and every Wednesday — for more Longbox Graveyard!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #53 Thanos & The Infinity Gauntlet
- #36 Longbox Bulletin! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #40 WonderCon Wrap-Up! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #47 Avengers Assemble For The Ultimate Marvel Marathon (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #44 Superhero Music Top Ten (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #50 Fantastic Fiftieth Issue! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #86 Star Lord! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “A Tale of Two Pitches” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “Marvel Comics – A Space Odyssey” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #92 Top Ten Spider-Man Battles (Part I) (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #88 Fire And Ice (longboxgraveyard.com)