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Longbox Soapbox (Fall 2011)

Longbox Graveyard #26

This issue marks the 26th installment of Longbox Graveyard, brought to you every Wednesday since my inaugural post last June. A half-year of continuous publication is a significant achievement for me, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to editorialize a bit about this blog — looking at where it’s been, how it is doing, and where it is going in 2012 (and beyond?).

First and foremost, I’m still having fun with Longbox Graveyard, and intend to continue it for at least another six months. So yes, this is me, taking my own Green Lantern oath that I will never watch that crappy movie again, but that I will also in good faith try to keep this blog going as a Wednesday tradition at least through June 2012, where I will write another Longbox Soapbox looking backwards at the six months that today lie just over the horizon.

It will be a busy six months. Hollywood is bringing us another bumper crop of geek movies, so I will be writing about The Avengers, Batman, Spider-Man, John Carter of Mars, and more. I also want to review the rest of Tomb of Dracula, continue my appreciation of Walt Simonson’s Thor, do a couple columns (at least!) about Master of Kung Fu, and take a look at books like The Defenders and Deathlok, too. I’ll touch a little bit more on my own comics career (starting with a Steve Gerber story related to that pending Defenders column), and of course there will be plenty of surprises (meaning that, no, I haven’t got each of the next twenty-six issues planned in advance, although I do have things more tightly scheduled than you’d expect). If Longbox Graveyard stalls out, it won’t be for want of material.

Statistics & Hits

How is the blog doing? I’m not sure. My hits grew steadily each month since launch, peaking at a bit less than 2,200 views in October before flattening in November. My ranking seems to hover in the low hundreds over at Comic Blog Elite, which either means I have plenty of room for growth, or I am seriously over-performing for a one-man, once-weekly blog about books that have been out of print for a quarter-century. I’ve been getting more spam, which is a perverse indicator of growing search strength.

hits aren’t everything

I’ve made a few attempts to drive growth. I’ve been pretty active on Twitter, which has found me a few new readers and generated a spike or two, as when Ed Brubaker tweeted about the American Dream column I wrote about his work (this remains the single most viewed Longbox Graveyard post, narrowly leading my Tomb of Dracula post at Halloween, which benefited from a surge of views from the comic books subdomain at Reddit). I don’t think many people stick around from those spikes. My updates at Facebook drive a few hits each week. Believe it or not I even have a Myspace page for Longbox Graveyard but I only use it to post blog updates, and I don’t think it’s gotten me any traffic.

my Longbox Graveyard avatar on Twitter and other places

I do follow several other comics blogs, and post comments now and then, which has driven a trickle of traffic back to this site. Part of the problem is that most comics blogs are focused on current books, so their readership has limited interest in what I pedal here. I could create a stir by criticizing current creators and fan favorites but I don’t want the flames and really, Longbox Graveyard is the internet’s biggest glass house — I’ve got no business giving anyone grief for what they like.

I’m sure there are plenty of clever things I could do to make the blog more search-friendly but I can’t be bothered. I do chip away at it but driving hits is not my focus. That being said, every hit is a little validation for what I do, so if you value the blog, please tell your friends and re-post and recommend my content to your social streams.

In terms of specific posts, I suppose my most disappointing effort has been my review of Supergods. I put a lot of work into that post but to judge by the traffic it received, no one gives a shit about Grant Morrison (and in this perhaps the internet is wise). I had the most fun writing my various Thor and Conan posts, and the Jim Starlin “Cosmics” posts were fun, too. Generally speaking, posts strictly about collecting or about my own comics work have been the least well-received. The top three search terms generating traffic for Longbox Graveyard have been (by far) Chris Hemsworth Naked, Jason Momoa Naked, and Chris Evans Naked. Linkbaiting works, kids!

for my own sanity I will henceforth restrict myself to linkbaiting Jennifer Lawrence naked

The Accumulation

My stated aim of maintaining this blog to help me sell off part of my vast Accumulation hasn’t amounted to much. I gave a stack of Amazing Spider-Man to Billy King and mailed a run of Paranoia to Mars Will Send No More, but otherwise haven’t managed to reduce the pile at all. Instead, the collection has grown … but at least I am better organized than when I started, and I’m having fun with the stuff I’ve added. I keep telling myself that I will get my books packaged up to offer on eBay, but I keep finding other things to do instead. Maybe I’ll get to it after the holidays. Or maybe not.

Reading

I’ve read a lot of comics these past six months, practically to the exclusion of all else. Not everything winds up on the blog, and not everything has been twenty-five years old or more. More recent graphic novels that I’ve read and enjoyed include Batwoman: Elegy and Ed Brubaker’s Criminal. There have been some classic runs that I’ve read, too, like the New Teen Titans Omnibus, and the “Panthers Rage” saga from Jungle Action, but it remains to be seen if I will review them here at Longbox Graveyard. My happy problem is that even when it doesn’t yield blog fodder, I find myself reading comics for entertainment again, which is a huge step for a guy who didn’t touch comics for two decades.

Batwoman: Elegy

The Boys

My lads Miles and Jack continue to vex me with a near-total disinterest in comics. At least, they have zero interest in the thousands of moldy old books I have on hand. Miles is happy to read Sin City, Kick Ass, Scott Pilgrim, and Walking Dead, all of which we have to go out and buy (as opposed to the thousands of books I have that he could read for free). Miles’ interest in Captain America and Judge Dredd has proven short-lived. Jack hasn’t gotten much traction with anything except a couple World of Warcraft graphic novels. I will continue to put books in front of them but they are seeming a lost generation.

Finances

Longbox Graveyard is a couple dollars in the red, but that’s no big deal. It has never been a goal to monetize this blog — that I have monetization links at all is just a matter of course. I feel like I live next to a river, so I might as well put out some traps, even if I’m not counting on catching any fish. My Longbox Graveyard Store wasn’t helped by the tax dispute between Amazon and California, but now that it’s up again it still isn’t getting any sales. I was happy to get some trade credit from MyComicsShop.com … until I realized that it was a commission on a purchase I made through my own site! My “Contribute” button is as hard to find as Bigfoot and I’m not convinced it works (send me a million bucks and I’ll let you know how it went). No one cares about my back issues page. I did get a free Young Justice DVD. Whee!

S’okay. I do this blog because it is fun for me and therapeutic. It might lead to something else down the line but my expectations are modest. Actual operating costs are insignificant and I don’t expect to be paid for my time.

secret passive-aggressive goal of Longbox Graveyard

Community

The nicest benefit of Longbox Graveyard has been making new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones. I’ve met a number of fellow comics geeks through my posts here and on Twitter — Mars Will Send No More has been especially vigilant in offering regular commentary (and he sent me a truly-awesome Christmas card with some vintage dinosaur swag that nicely lifted my spirits). Glenn Smith doesn’t comment here but I know he’s a frequent reader and we chat quite a bit on Twitter, and Horace Austin has offered some especially insightful comments. There have been many others, beside, and if I don’t mention you it really is because there are too many to mention. Every comment at this blog is read and given a reply, and I look forward to continued correspondence with all of you. It’s also nice to run into folks in real life and have them tell me they’ve enjoyed the blog. I do genuinely appreciate that you guys read what I write.

Survey!

It will really help me get a handle on my readership if you can click one of the buttons below. I’m frankly not sure how many people read this blog, or how they are reading it — please take a moment to let me know how you read Longbox Graveyard.

Comments

If you comment on only one Longbox Graveyard blog every six months … let this be the one! Please post a comment to let me know you’re breathing. It doesn’t have to be much — “Keep it up,” “You suck,” “Batman roolz,” whatever. Scrawl something on my wall via the comments section. It will encourage me to continue this blog.

Thanks for your support these past six months, and I hope you will stick with me for the next six months to come. Please tell your therapists and your geeky friends about Longbox Graveyard, and if you read something you like here, please hit those share buttons for Facebook, Reddit, Digg, and Twitter to drive my exposure.

Finally, if you’d like to write for Longbox Graveyard, let me know — I’m actively looking for guest voices to feature on the blog!

NEXT WEDNESDAY — #27 Silver Age Gold

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