Category Archives: Editorial
Site news of interest to Longbox Graveyard readers.
Another year goes by, and it’s time for another installment of my blog-about-a-blog — Longbox Soapbox, where I discuss the past, present, and future of Longbox Graveyard!
what does the crystal ball portend for Longbox Graveyard?
Issue #147 of this blog marks my four-year blogging anniversary. I estimate I’ve written about a quarter-million words about comics here at Longbox Graveyard — maybe twice that, if you factor in all my sundry “non-numbered” posts, guest blogs for other sites, and Twitter and Instagram blather.
That’s a lot of words! I’m not sure they’ve all been that great, lately — and when two of your most recent posts are Top 10 Super-Dogs and Chris Hemsworth Naked, a strong argument can be made that Longbox Graveyard has jumped the shark.
But I find I still have a few things to say about comics, so I have renewed my domain name for another year and I expect to continue publishing Longbox Graveyard through the summer of 2016.
But there will be changes.
I do still have things to say about comics, but I don’t need to say them so frequently. This blog has already downshifted several times when it comes to frequency, debuting as a weekly blog, but now publishing on the first Wednesday of the month. I will continue with a “numbered” post each month, but my off-week Wednesday posts will mostly go away. That means bye-bye to Pinterest Gallery posts and (yes) Naked Chris Hemsworth, but I don’t think anyone will miss them. Publishing every Wednesday was a happy habit, for awhile, but my non-numbered posts have too-often been empty content, and it is time for them to go.
Half the reason I was keeping to a weekly schedule was to help sustain the blog’s growth, but a glance at my stats will show that my readership has stalled over the last year:
The year 2014 looks like it was Peak Geek insofar as Longbox Graveyard is concerned, and for the first time, I expect my average readership will decline, year-over-year, when the final numbers roll in at the end of 2015. I’m down about fifty views a day — a significant number in a blog that only gets 400-500 views per day.
Maybe things will bounce back. Maybe they won’t! In any case, I’m tired of pedaling so hard just chasing views.
Fewer posts and better posts shall be my watchword in the year to come. Let me know how I do, OK?
comics explosion, comin’ at ya!
And what do I have planned for the year ahead? Well, I’ve been thinking about reviewing John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four, but if that doesn’t happen before the movie comes out, it likely never will. I’d like to do a review of the Marvel Puzzle Quest mobile game — a little outside my purview, but my gaming articles have done well here in the past. Looking toward the end of the year, I’d like to do something about Star Wars and comics. I expect there will be another Super-Blog Team-Up, and hopefully another guest blog from Dean Compton. It is my perennial wish to return to my review series on Tomb of Dracula and Master of Kung Fu. I have a hankering to revisit the Claremont/Byrne age of Marvel Team-Up. And I might even get around to publishing those long-promised (and long-forgotten) web comics that I mentioned here a couple years back!
alas, Warchief, your copyright date mocks me
This summer should also see the debut of my original comics story 4 Seconds, published by Thrillbent, which is coming down the home stretch right now … but more about that when we have a firm ship date.
(Let me know which topics interest you in the comments, below!)
Taking stock of where I am personally, right now, comics-wise … all is well. Maybe it’s too quiet. Compared to last year’s Longbox Soapbox — when my neighborhood was burning down and a move loomed in my future — the present is positively sedate! I’m installed in my new place; my comics Accumulation has been catalogued, reduced, and tamed; and I am enjoying the occasional old comics read, more often in digital form than not. I do still enjoy having this blog, but I do see The End coming into view …
… but not yet!
Thanks, as always, to my many loyal readers (those of you who aren’t bots, at least!) As is the tradition with my Longbox Soapbox columns, please check in with a comment below — let me know you are are out there, and breathing.
And to that end, take my poll:
See you next month!
NEXT MONTH: #149 Ant-Man!
Happy birthday to me — Longbox Graveyard is three years old!
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 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.
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.
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.
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 … 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.
NEXT MONTH: #134 Star Lord: Windhoelme!
This week marks the mid-point of Longbox Graveyard’s third year, which means it is time for another Longbox Soapbox, where I look inside the numbers of my blog, and decide if I will continue this experiment in terror for another six months!
Read on for my semi-annual blog about blogging!
Here are quick links to my past Longbox Soapboxes …
Normally I’d be looking back at twenty-six installments of the blog, but as I switched to “bi-monthly” status in June of 2013, I’ve only published thirteen new blogs since my last editorial.
For reasons that are important only to me, I reserve a Longbox Graveyard “number” only for “full” blogs, and by that count, I did indeed publish just thirteen blogs these past six months.
I know … not even Calendar Man really cares about this stuff!
But not included in the numbering are my numerous Pinterest Galleries, F.O.O.M. Fridays, and sundry other announcements and plugs. Just looking at raw postings, despite “cutting back” to a bi-monthly schedule, Longbox Graveyard published more frequently than ever before in this period. In November alone, I published on every weekday save one!
check out my F.O.O.M. Friday series!
This strategy of thinner content spread over more days is a big reason Longbox Graveyard is continuing to grow. In the six month period from June to November 2013, Longbox Graveyard averaged a bit more than 10K views per month, up 26% from the preceding six months!
As always, the bulk of my increased traffic comes from a gradually-improving Google search rank, and more and more content here at Longbox Graveyard — particularly images — for Google to search. For example, Google “Captain America Villains” and you should find my Top Ten Captain America Villains article above the fold — it has seen strong traffic ever since the Captain America: Winter Soldier movie trailer dropped several weeks ago. That particular post is now the all-time most viewed article at Longbox Graveyard!
The Winter Soldier has been very, very good to Longbox Graveyard
(Now all I need is a way to improve my Gizoogle search rank!)
My traffic was also helped by a couple record-strong days …
Trends & Highlights
REDDIT TRAFFIC SPIKES: Longbox Graveyard had two huge days since my last editorial. Mark Ginocchio’s Best Frenemies Forever guest post powered a single-day record 2663 views for Longbox Graveyard on June 19th. Some of this traffic owed to that post receiving a Freshly Pressed recognition from WordPress, but the greatest traffic came from Reddit, which remains a source of cheap hits for the blog.
I don’t go to the Reddit well too often, but with the right headline, results can be spectacular — my The Day They Walked Away: Captain America post drove 2112 hits on November 20th, largely from Reddit. Yet the following week, my Top Ten Superhero Lairs post failed to generate any real Reddit traffic at all, despite a Top Ten format that usually draws clicks.
So it goes.
GUEST BLOGS AND COLLABORATIONS: Longbox Graveyard was blessed with several guest blogs this season past. In addition to his Best Frenemies Forever, Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing contributed a personal blog about Marvel’s intrepid investigative reporter, Ben Urich. Tom Mason and Chris Ulm gave us their Top Five Ultraverse Comic Book Movie Properties. Will Kountis offered his opinion of Pedigree Collections, and Pat Bishow told us about his web series, We Might Be Superheroes. I also participated in a quasi-guest blog via the “Super-Blog Team-Up,” where I and several other bloggers all wrote on the same subject on (almost) the same day.
Green Lantern quit … but I’m hanging in there!
I remain committed to providing a platform for other voices at Longbox Graveyard, and I have a guest blog coming up in January about the Charlton Comics line (something I knew very little about, myself!). If you’d like to be published at Longbox Graveyard, please pitch me your idea at LongboxGraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com. There’s zero pay and frustratingly few hits that funnel back to your own site, but your name will live in Longbox Graveyard glory forever!
NARROW FOCUS: I did do a couple outside blogs — writing Who Is Don Blake? for Sequart and First Cut for The Longbox Project — but I otherwise stuck to my knitting these past several weeks, averting blogging burn-out and providing myself with more time to read comics, instead of writing about them. I do still have some regret about ending my Dollar Box series, and I sometimes toy with the idea of resurrecting my Longbox Graveyard Podcast, but overall I was wise to wind-down those commitments in favor of focusing on this blog. I’m open to guest blogging opportunities (and always happy to appear on podcasts) but I’m not chasing those gigs the way I did in the past.
my recent Thor post for Sequart
REPRINTS: I also began “reprinting” the Dollar Box columns I did for Stash My Comics as regular Longbox Graveyard articles, and with good results. Face-To-Face With The Lizard, The Power And The Prize, and Vengeance Of The Molecule Man all performed in line with “first-run” Longbox Graveyard posts. I even managed to have an original Longbox Graveyard post — The Last Days of Superman — reprinted over at Sequart! Since there’s been no outrage at this re-purposing of legacy material here at Longbox Graveyard, I intend to continue the practice in the months ahead.
And, yes, I did just bury the lead … Longbox Graveyard will continue, at its present bi-monthly pace, through June of 2014! I already have the next six months sketched out, and am confident I can continue this blog up through #130 or so (and I have pretty good confidence I can go all the way to the end of 2014, too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
Longbox Graveyard will continue! Huzzah!
I remain active on Twitter, and continue to post now and then to Facebook and Google+. My Pinterest boards are thriving. I’ve seen good growth with my Instagram feed, and plan to make that channel the center of a web comics experiment I have on the boil (and more about that in a minute). I tried out a new blogging platform — Medium — with a reprint of my Supergods review, but nothing came of it and it was a pain to reformat for that system, so I will be confining myself to WordPress for the foreseeable future.
Really, my social media promotion has become pretty routine at this point, and I’d like to find a way to automate it even more than I have (though you will find I almost always pop in on Twitter with “live” reactions when someone responds to one of my pre-scheduled Tweets). I’m feeling a little complacent here, but that mysterious web comics idea I just mentioned should be getting me out of my comfort zone before too much longer.
Longbox Graveyard on Instagram — daily comics posts!
I made big strides with the Accumulation in the second half of 2013. Indeed, I’m coming in view of the end of this blog’s foundational project in that my Accumulation is very nearly a Collection. I built-out a comic book Man Cave where I can store and enjoy my treasures, and I think I’ve got the comics I want to keep all partitioned off, with just the rump end of the old Accumulation still for sale (or possibly bound for the recycling bin!). All that really remains is to bag-and-board about a half-dozen longboxes worth of books. Then I can transfer everything into clean new longboxes and update my catalogue software, and I daresay the project will be “done!” Of course, this kind of thing will always be a work-in-progress, but the crushing weight of careless accumulation that I felt when I started this blog back in 2011 is now mostly a thing of the past, which is a HUGE accomplishment for me. In truth, without a disaster in the garage looming over me, I feel a little lost!
Longbox Graveyard has begun to throw off a little bit of cash, although this never-intended-for-profit effort is still well in the red. I sell a comics bulk box every once in awhile, and by switching to fixed-price Buy It Now listings on eBay, I’ve had better luck then when I was auctioning off stuff at a loss. I even sold an autographed bundle of my Paranoia comics for $19.95, which put cash in my wallet and also made a little deposit in my self-esteem account. If you’re looking for a way to support Longbox Graveyard, please look at those various listings (or my single comics for sale) — and if you don’t see something you like … ask! I’ve been known to dig up special treasures that aren’t listed on my site. I’ll also haggle on price, so don’t be shy — it gives me great satisfaction to sell stuff to readers.
“fool all yours friends”
I also re-activated advertising on the blog, and as my hits rise the (fractions of) pennies roll in. Knock wood and I should be receiving my first credit from Google this month or next, as my accumulated earnings finally go above the $100 payout minimum (I’m presently earning about $14.00/month for advertising).
Aside from a binge on Tarzan novels, about all I’ve read this year are comics. In the weeks to come you’ll see articles on Iron Fist, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Joe Kubert’s Tarzan, and (maybe) more Master of Kung Fu. I’ve also read a lot of stuff that probably won’t show up here — like Silver Age Legion of Superheroes, Roy Thomas’ Earth-2 Justice Society stories, Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman, and various DC New 52 collections. I could write about these things, but if nothing sparks, I don’t want to force it. Longbox Graveyard shouldn’t be homework, for me or for my readers. My night stand has a tottering pile of comics and trades to read, and there are more things I want to read than I have time to read them. It’s a happy problem to have.
coming soon: Iron Fist!
A strong community remains the backbone of Longbox Graveyard, both here in my comments section and on Twitter. My articles continue to draw comment and hardly a day goes by that I don’t get to talk comics with someone on Twitter or Instagram. I connected with regular reader and international man of mystery Horace Austin for a bit at Comic-Con, and I’d love to meet more of you in the flesh! If you’re coming out west for Comic-Con, WonderCon, or San Diego Comic Fest, please drop me a line to see if we can connect!
The future of Longbox Graveyard should look a lot like the past — a big new post every odd-numbered Wednesday, and lots of little galleries and shout-outs in between.
The major new undertaking for the blog will be … original webcomics!
test panel by Billy King
I’ve long wanted to host comics content directly on this blog. I posted one of my full books here — Dudley Serious Saves The World — but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I’m hoping this new initiative, in concert with the supremely talented Billy King — will fare better. I can’t believe my good fortune in having Billy contact me out of the blue to create experimental comics here at Longbox Graveyard. It may be a single strip, or it may be a continuing commitment — only time will tell. In the meantime, it is encouraging to find my creative impulses have begun to stir just a bit as I’ve come to grips with my comics hobby and my own past as a comics pro.
In Closing …
That’s enough blithering … thanks, as always, for your loyal support of my meandering efforts here at Longbox Graveyard! If you’ve read this far, please leave me a comment, to tell me what I can do better, to request a specific article, or just to let me know you are out there! Don’t be shy — every comment gets a reply!
And, whoops … I’ve gotten to the end of this article without offering up by Longbox Soapbox poll! So let’s settle this once and for all — your vote is required!
Thanks again for reading!
IN TWO WEEKS: #119 Cover Gallery: DC Superhero Christmas
- ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Trailer: “This Isn’t Freedom. This Is Fear.” (slashfilm.com)
- Your First Look At The New Captain America Movie (kotaku.com.au)
- Analysis (mohammedts.wordpress.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – The Mighty Thor #345-348 (1985) (biffbampop.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – Alpha Flight #9-10 (1984) (biffbampop.com)