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Longbox Soapbox (Summer 2014)

Longbox Graveyard #133

Happy birthday to me — Longbox Graveyard is three years old!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Twice a year I indulge myself with a blog about blogging, where I look at the numbers for Longbox Graveyard, assess where I’ve been, and decide if I want to keep this thing going. If you’re looking for Superhero Spoonerisms or Thanos on the couch, then you will want to skip this entry.

Otherwise — forward!

To get the business out of the way first — Longbox Graveyard has been “renewed.” I’ll keep blogging for at least the rest of 2014. I will, however, be reducing my posting frequency. I will aim for one “numbered” article every thirty days, on the first Wednesday of the month, with various shorter posts on other Wednesdays. As the whim strikes me I may run multiple numbered articles in a thirty-day period, but my plan for the balance of the year is one big article per month (some of which may be reprints, like last week’s fill-in article).

The Winter Soldier

the Winter Soldier delivered, both at the box office and for Longbox Graveyard!

Longbox Graveyard itself has never been healthier. Traffic was up a whopping 43% these past six months, fueled by the run-up to the release of Captain America: Winter Soldier, which drove crazy hits for my Top Ten Captain America Villains article. My article on superhero deck-building games has proven a strong performer, along with the usual assortment of Top Tens, which remain the most popular posts on the site. I am also pleased that the first half of 2014 saw varied voices on the blog, with guest articles about Shazam and The Punisher from Dean Compton; Peter Parker’s love life by Dan Gvozden (Part One, Part Two); and Daredevil/Kingpin by Mark Ginocchio. Also in the community spirit, I wrote about the All-Star Squadron and Thanos as part of Super-Blog Team-Up, a kind of blogging open house event that is always fun and (I suspect) helps bring new readers to Longbox Graveyard.

Captain America Google Magic

The image above shows hits by month for the lifetime of Longbox Graveyard, dramatically highlighting that Captain America-driven surge over the last three months. After the madness of April it was a little disappointing to come back down to earth in May … but that “disappointing” May still ranks as the third-best month in the blog’s history! I do think the good times are coming to an end, though, and I expect growth to slow substantially over the next six months, if only because I will be posting less … unless this summer sees my Guardians of the Galaxy articles catch some of the same Google mojo that my Cap article enjoyed!

So my metrics are healthy — traffic is strong, readers still favor me with comments here and on my Twitter stream, and the blog is even throwing off about twenty bucks a month in advertising revenue, which is pretty much the minimum threshold for keeping those obnoxious FIVE CELEBRITY BOOB JOBS YOU HAVE TO SEE TO BELIEVE ads running on my sidebar.

Power Girl Comic Book Boob Job

(link-baiting poor Power Girl and comic book boob jobs!)

Elsewhere it was business as usual. My kids still don’t read comics, and I made incremental progress toward organizing the Accumulation (though I am just about done on that front). I achieved some small Pinterest fame and opened up an account at Lockerdome. I wrote an article for WhatCulture (but didn’t find it an especially rewarding experience).

Also, my house almost burned down.

That’s video I shot about a block from my house, during the devastating San Marcos wildfire last month. Later that day, I’d watch helicopters filling up their water baskets on live news reports on my TV, hear the rotors over my house, and then watch the water drops from my window. At various times during the event, flames were visible from my living room, and my family and I would be evacuated for several days. Thanks to genuinely superheroic measures by firefighters and first responders, our place was fine, but I did see a neighbor’s home across the canyon catch fire and burn to the ground.

It was a curiously remote feeling, watching those flames approach my house. I can even recommend it, in a strange way — it brought sharply into focus the things I could and could not live without, and forced me to genuinely confront many of the ideas I have examined in the abstract here at Longbox Graveyard about being possessed by your possessions. If the wind had shifted that afternoon there is a very real possibility that I could have lost my home, and everything in it … including the Longbox Graveyard comic book collection.

Human Torch!

flame on! (almost)

I was OK with it. In a dark way, I even fantasized that it might not be such a bad thing (and I know this is a false and horrible thing to say, given that so many people suffered genuine loss in this fire). Standing there with a garden hose while the fire whipped through our canyon helped me understand that I could legitimately let my things go (though I was willing to fight for them, to a point). In the scheme of things, as much as I enjoy my comics collection and my game collection and all the other stuff packed into my house, I don’t really need any of it, and I shouldn’t let it pin me down.

The fire also helped solidify a choice my wife and I had made a couple days prior — we’re moving.

The reasons are tedious and outside the scope of this blog, but the impact will hit Longbox Graveyard where it lives. My comic book Man Cave may be going away, and with it a place to store my comics. I’ve already begun selling off my bulkier items — mostly games at this point, but comics will follow — and I’m not sure how much of the Collection I will retain, or how I feel about shoving things into a storage unit someplace. I’m also not sure what it will mean for this blog. Will Longbox Graveyard have a purpose if the comics that inspired it are no longer a part of my life?

I’m not sure.

Hulk Is Outta Here!

Hulk is outta here … but I’m sticking around for a little while, at least!

I am sure that I’ve discovered a theme for the next six months of this blog, though!

That about does it for this season’s report … as has been the case with past Longbox Soapboxes, I hope you will check in with a comment — if you comment on just one entry here at Longbox Graveyard, let it be this one!

And what would a Longbox Soapbox be without a poll?

Thanks for reading Longbox Graveyard, whether you discovered me three years ago, or last week! Your comments and support have buoyed me up through the long and sometimes arduous process of taming my comics Accumulation, and coming to grips with my own brief career as a comics creator. It’s been a good ride — and it will continue for awhile yet — but it is beginning to wind down a bit, which I think is a happy thing.

Excelsior!

(And if you want to buy a collection of 3000 Bronze Age comic booksdrop me a line!)

NEXT MONTH: #134 Star Lord: Windhoelme!

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Bruce Timm Gallery

Visit my Bruce Timm Gallery on Pinterest.

Power Girl by Bruce Timm

(View all Longbox Graveyard Pinterest Galleries HERE).

Top Ten DC Comics Characters

Longbox Graveyard #12

A couple weeks ago, Brian Cronin’sComics Should Be Good” column at Comic Book Resources ran a DC/Marvel Top Ten survey. The idea was to name your top ten favorite characters for both DC and Marvel comics. (And the results are starting to appear).

While this isn’t exactly a Marvel vs. DC thing, the effect is the same: blogging red meat! It’s more meaningless than even the average comic book blog, it fills up column space, and it gets fans riled up over all the distinctions-without-a-difference in voting for the different clowns who have worn the Flash costume through the years. It’s a cheap stunt: an easy-to-write column designed to drive clicks.

I find it appalling and I disapprove.

Here are my picks.

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You Might Also Like: Top 10 Marvel Comics Characters

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DC Comics Top Ten

#10 Dr. Fate

Just for the headgear. I don’t give a damn about the character, but I love the helmet. Put Dr. Strange in that helmet and I’m all-in.

huh, looks like Dr. Fate grew boobs when I wasn’t looking

#9  Mister Miracle

Yes, he’s ridiculous — an exiled god from an dysfunctional home who wears a red-and-yellow costume and masquerades as an escape artist? But he was the favorite character of a friend I lost to childhood leukemia and I don’t care what you say, the core of the New Gods mythos would make a dynamite motion picture.

(But no Funky Flashman!)

#8  Superman

Love the character — the iconic man of tomorrow standing guard over the ideal big city metropolis. I enjoy the Superman mythos with its bottled cities, science villains, and flying dogs in capes. The character and world are inherently optimistic and utopian, and ultimately, Superman is the only superhero that really matters.

I just never want to read his comics.

is that a rocket in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?

#7  Wildcat

Yes, Wildcat. Again, because of the headgear. And also because I think the character is ripe for revival. Wildcat is a prizefighter and you have to try like hell to mess up a boxing story. Stick to the boxing movie formula and even a story about Hugh Jackman fighting with robots looks like a good idea. Mix the sweet science with a fatal disease, the mob, a dame, an orphan, and a little bit of that Barton Fink feeling and I smell a winner!

Plus, Wildcat rides a Cat-O-Cycle.

#6  Aquaman

I don’t care about the comics character — no one cares about the comics character — but the version of Aquaman who frequently appears on the Batman: Brave And The Bold cartoon series is a scream.

Fast forward to 3:50 in this video to see the true Aquaman … the poor schmuck stuck on an RV vacation road trip with his undersea family.

#5  Hawkman

Headgear fetish, part three.

note preference for Golden Age “full beak” Hawkman (these things are important)

#4  Swamp Thing

Frankly you could throw out the first six names on this list. I’ve never been a DC guy and I had to grope around to come up with my ten names. That I put Wildcat on the list and passed up a chance to show Power Girl in her white t-shirt shows how much I am slipping.

Let me correct that.

there you go … Power Girl, plus Superman and Wildcat (yes, Wildcat)

With Swamp Thing we come to the first of the DC characters that I hold in truly high esteem, and not merely because he is the most successful of a host of muck monsters reaching all the way back to The Heap. This admittedly second-tier character has twice been touched by genius, first with Bernie Wrightson’s brilliant character design …

… and then by Alan Moore’s seminal run on the book, which changed the character (and comics) forever. (Moore’s Swamp Thing will eventually get a Longbox Graveyard column all it’s own).

Wrightson’s design is worth a closer look. Swamp Thing’s powerful, hulking build gives him a strong presence on the page, but the character sports subtle touches that lend him uncommon visual depth. Exposed roots on Swamp Thing’s back and shoulders offer highlight points where artists can add visual flourishes and kinks (following artists would have his body sprout moss, roots, and flowers to dramatic effect).

Swamp Thing is just on this side of uncanny valley, with a face that is recognizably human, but sporting craggy brows and a characteristic nose-and-face design than can by turns be human and warm or a mask of skull-faced terror. A classic comic book monster design.

#3  The Flash

My favorite of the Silver Age greats, though I will confess I liked him best as a cartoon character. The sunlit and nostalgic memory of my youth casts the Flash as a safe, colorful, reassuring science hero who was both the fastest man alive and the smartest guy in the room. I particularly loved the “swishing” sound effects deployed every time Flash went for a sprint.

In filling out the ballot over at CBR I probably invalidated my submission by just listing, “The Flash,” instead of “Barry Allen Flash.” But really, is there a greater single indictment of comics than having to identify which Flash you mean when you say, “The Flash?”

C’mon.

And apropos of nothing — instead of the turgid Green Lantern-style disaster that DC is bound to bring to the screen, the Flash movie should be lightly comedic (more The Mask than The Dark Knight) and should star Neil Patrick Harris as Barry Allen.

You’re welcome.

#2  The Joker

DC in general and Batman in particular have a pile of great villains, and I probably could have filled out this list with bad guys alone (and another cheap blog idea has just occurred to me) … but the Joker is clearly DC’s finest villain, and likely would be so even without his apotheosis through the talents of Heath Ledger a couple years ago.

The brilliance of the Joker is in his versatility. He started life as a knock-off of Conrad Veidt, and has survived Jokermobiles, Cesar Romero’s mustache, and Jack Nicholson’s check-cashing to emerge as everyone’s favorite mass-murdering mental patient. The Joker’s bizarre plots resonate more deeply than your run-of-the-mill megalomaniac bent on world conquest. He’s unpredictable and always a twisted delight, seemingly just as at home whether he’s stealing a kid’s report card or putting Batgirl in a wheelchair. You can’t keep a good clown down!

#1  Bat-Mite

No, my favorite DC character is Batman, of course, but where’s the fun in admitting that?

And since I’m tumbling to the blogging cheap trick of a top ten list, I might as well go balls deep and drag this thing out for a second column … so you’ll have to come back in a couple weeks to see my Top Ten Marvel Comics characters!

In the meantime, I’d be delighted to see a nerd skirmish break out in the comments section about YOUR favorite DC heroes along with excoriating indictments of why I was a Philistine to leave (insert character here) off my list!

UPDATE: Mars Will Send No More has posted a rebuttal over at his epononymous blog! Check it out!

NEXT WEEK: #13 The Stuff of Legends — Thor!

LONGBOX GRAVEYARD TOP TEN LISTS

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