Longbox Soapbox (Summer 2012)
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)
Posted on June 13, 2012, in Editorial and tagged Comics, eBay, Facebook, Google+, Judge Dredd, Longbox Graveyard, Pinterest, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.
I continue to enjoy the blog.
Thanks, Horace, always a pleasure to see you here or on Twitter, and I hope to see you at Comic-Con in a couple weeks, too!
Congrats on the growing list of readers! Personally, I stopped using MySpace long ago, and I don’t twitter at all. I have a Facebook abount but rarely use it. I’ve never heard of pinterest, so I had to click your link. Sort of interesting, though not something I’d visit unless I were looking for images.
You’re buying comics faster than you’re getting rid of them? LOL I love it. I haven’t been getting rid of any of mine, but in the process of re-reading my old ones, I’ve been making plenty of new purchases, also. Addictive, isn’t it?
I checked out that collectorz site. Pretty cool.
I’m sorry that your sons aren’t into comics. My son is only 9 months old, so I have some time yet, and I’ll try my best, but I’m not too hopeful. Kids these days just don’t seem to be into comics anymore. Sad.
It’s the paradox of our times, Dave — the superhero business has never been better, but comic books are dying on the vine. My whole family just enthusiastically signed up for the Dark Knight Movie Marathon (Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, followed by a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises) … but they’ve shown zero interest in the new Batman: Court of Owls graphic novel I had hanging around the house. It’s not that they lack interest in my moldy old Bronze Age comics — it’s that they have no interest in comic books of pretty much any form.
Fortunately I have this extended family of blog pals where I can come and talk about funny books. Thanks for reading, Dave!
Hey. You could only make one selection on the poll, although, I kinda like a bit of everything. No one else voted for the Panel Galleries. I quite like them and, being an underdog kinda girl, I had to place my vote there.
I’d like to join the kudos chorus on new readers. I continue to enjoy the blog, as well.
I’ll keep producing blogs in every category, Dizzy (he said, knowing your true name) — the poll is just to help me understand what’s best working with my actual readers. If I was just following my search metrics the blog would be wall-to-wall Naked Chris Hemsworth pictures to drive maximum traffic. Although today I had three searches for “spectacular mature women nudes” so that’s progress, I think.
Groovy. 😜 roflol
Oh! And if anyone is actually interested in spectacular pin-up girls I’d highly recommend Alberto Vargas (1896-1982). They are old-school chique in the best possible sense. 😊
In 2004, Hugh Hefner, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Playboy, who had previously worked for Esquire, wrote that “The US Post Office attempted to put Esquire out of business in the 1940s by taking away its second-class mailing permit. The Feds objected, most especially, to the cartoons and the pin-up art of Alberto Vargas. Esquire prevailed in the case that went to the Supreme Court, but the magazine dropped the cartoons just to be on the safe side”… Shucks… really?
Pin-up girls are cool, and Vargas girls are world-class … but I probably won’t cover pinups here, unless I do an article on Dave Stevens. I have a secret quasi-personal story to tell about the late Mr. Stevens too (a positive story, he was a great guy), but I need the planets to line up before I can reveal that particular bit of trivia.
Dave Stevens is super-fantastique! Très bien! 😍
Fantastic post Paul, I love reading about the trials and tribulations of others trying to boost their site traffic. I’ve had the exact same experience with Google+: crickets. Love your content, fantastic site, keep up the awesomeness!
Thanks for reading and posting, Aaron, and it’s always nice to talk with you on Twitter, too. It will be an interesting six months for traffic numbers here at the blog, as I am starting to appear in quite a few other places, with regular blogs at StashMyComics.com, my Comic-Con panel coming up, and a monthly podcast debuting next week. My attempts to drive traffic have been pretty scattershot — as long as the numbers have gone up, I’ve been happy — but by providing content to other sites I’m trying to find actual readers, and that’s a more daunting task. We’ll see.
That Court of Owls HC was a fun story, don’t you think? I too am buying back issues faster than I’m selling my dreck. Definitely addictive. I was excited today to receive Love and Rockets #2. Early 80’s Jaime Hernandez for the princely sum of US $7. Back in the actual 80’s that book would have been unavailable and/or would have cost me quadruple that! 3/4 complete on that title now… and absolutely loving filling in the gaps. Comics may be dying on the vine but collecting and reading them is more fun than ever!
Regarding your blog content I most enjoy, for me it’s details about arcs within runs, like say the Starlin Warlock within Strange Tales, Ditko’s Dr Strange work, or information about offbeat or 2nd-tier books that I might not try unless someone pimps them out. So your mini reviews hit the spot: Black Panther, Eternals, that ahead-of-its-time mini-series the name of which escapes me, that sort of thing. More punchy, insightful, mini-reviews please. Cheers, Paul. 🙂
I have to admit to being a little underwhelmed by my Batman Vol 1 Court of Owls graphic novel — I liked it well enough, but it ends in the middle, it’s really just a preamble to a larger story, and had I known that when purchasing the volume I likely would have passed. I’ve developed this unstated assumption that if a story is collected in a volume then it is largely complete, which was not the case here. I also thought the tale took six issues to tell what might better have been told in three, but that’s my old, Bronze Age, pre-decompressed story style prejudice talking. The art was a treat (though at times not as clear as I’d like, plus why do Bruce Wayne and the mayor of Gotham look like twins?) I liked the script aside from the pace, and I’m not sure it makes Batman a better character to have a head’s-up display on his contact lens connecting him to his database. I’m just an old grouch.
As a point of comparison I’ll have a review of the 1980s Doug Moench run on Batman and Detective coming up her mid-July. I will admit to being a bit disappointed with that series, too, though for different reasons. I’ll keep the short review format around, though I don’t have anything brewing just now — the closest thing to an overlooked treasure for me at the moment is Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman run, which I am enjoying in collected format (and these appear to be complete in each volume, thank-you-very-much), but these are likely just new to me, as anyone who wasn’t in a kind of comic book Odin Sleep these past two decades probably already knows about them.
Thanks for reading and commenting, as always, Adrian, and congrats on scoring those 1980s back issue treasures. You are proving that New Zealand is indeed the place to ride out a global economic catastrophe.
Yes that story is incomplete, but instead of being disappointed my curiosity was piqued and I’m waiting for to Vol 2. Apparently, the mayor/Bruce resemblance was very deliberate, and all is revealed in Batman #10-11. I am tempted to start buying monthly Batman – so DC scored a New52 win with me there. Nope, I don’t know which catwoman is good… I could only afford to buy so much in the 80’s, and I missed the entire 90’s too. So many cool comics out there… so keep writing!
Glad that thing with the mayor pays off — I thought I was losing my mind. I guess I will stick around but I will resolve to trail the New 52 by two years instead of six months, so I can get complete stories. This is no real sacrifice for a guy obsessed with comics thirty years old or more.
And speaking of “older” books … the Catwomans I can recommend are now here, in my Amazon Store. They’re collected editions by Ed Brubaker and I think the first of them, at least, is very good. I’ll be tracking down the remainder in the months to come. It appears the series is from the dim, distant year of 2002 or so.
Thanks a bunch for the Catwoman recommends! Meow… 😉 lol
Volume 1 proved an excellent read and I am on the prowl for the remaining three. Ed Brubaker has yet to let me down. I will likely review several of Ed Brubaker’s graphic novels (including Catwoman) later this year.
Yay! Will be looking forward to that immensely. 😃
LG: Year One! Congratulations! And I’ll see you in San Diego…
Thanks, Tom, looking forward to our panel. And because it never hurts to plug: Tom will be part of the Malibu Comics Retrospective panel I’m leading at San Diego Comic-Con, Thursday from 2-3PM in room 32AB. If you are a reader of this blog please drop by and say hello.
Yes, please, everyone go and say hello. If comics are indeed dying on the vine I think it’s a very good time for all of you lads to band together. Form a ‘team’? Save the day? Kick a**? Why not, hey? 😉 lol
At the very least you’ll meet some nice folks. Make some new friends? Sounds pretty sweet to me. 😃
You’ve sold me: a couple of Brubaker Catwoman trades added to my wishlist. Will sample them eventually. BTW it’s cool the way the Longbox Graveyard amazon store picks up my existing wish list and would presumably affiliate click-through sales off it to you… Wonder if it does that by cookies or ip or some combination thereoff?
I am ignorant to the workings of the Amazon Store … I follow the directions and put up my links but the rest is in the lap of the Internet Gods (who are none too pleased with me, to judge by my earnings over there). Thanks in advance for any orders you may place. I know that Apple referrals use a system similar to what you describe, and in fact offer a commission for 72 hours or so after a user visits the store … so if they go for a .99 app, and later buy the Beatles box set for two hundred bucks, the affiliate gets a taste of both. There’s potentially decent money to be had from these referrals but a site needs huge volume — for me it’s more of a hobby, and of practicing good habits. It’s never been my goal to monetize this blog but I’m not adverse to learning how that side of blogging works, and cashing the checks if a few nickles come my way.
Now if I could just remember to use my own links when I place Amazon orders! (Probably wouldn’t work anyway!)
Keep them coming! Entertaining, informative, and fun! See you at Comic-Con!!!
Thanks, Stacy, hope to see you guys at the panel — Thursday, 2-3PM, room 32AB.
Great post man. As I’ve just started a comics blog of my own so I found this soapbox post fascinating. I enjoyed learning the details of which posts worked and which didn’t and seeing how you’ve kept at it one week at a time. Review wise you cover books that I generally haven’t read yet so I’m glad to have found your blog.
Keep up the good work.
Hey, Joe! Thanks for reading and commenting — I hope you will stick around and become a regular.
Your blog looks great — I just read your Animal Man review and I’ve added you to my RSS subscription rotation. You are right in that there isn’t a lot of overlap between what we cover (which is good, because I need guidance on more recent books). I’ve dipped a toe in recent New 52 graphic novels with Batman Court of Owls and Batwoman Hydrology but I’m not certain of the degree to which I will try to keep up with these contemporary titles.
I’m happy to share additional details about what did and did not work for me in this past year — feel free to ask any questions you desire. If I had a single piece of advice it would be to create a schedule and stick with it. For me, at least, knowing that I publish every Wednesday rain or shine has helped keep me on track. There have been times when I am weeks ahead and I’m tempted to publish several articles in a rush … but then I’m grateful to have inventory on hand when I hit those inevitable dry spells and I just can’t get to the blog. I think the regular rhythm of Wednesday publication has helped build reader habits, too.
I wish you good fortune with your blog!
My brother is not a comic book fan just like your sons; he will listen to me ramble about them, and he enjoys the content, but they aren’t his thing. EXCEPT INFINITY GAUNTLET. he loves it. He has read it like 7 times, and he almost always wants to discuss it when we talk comics. I thought that was a cool coincidence with your son!
That’s … really weird. Infinity Gauntlet is a fun book but I’d think you’d really need a grounding in the Marvel Universe to enjoy it. It’s a real fan book.
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