Longbox Graveyard is moving to Canada next month. My move is a tale for another time, but in advance of my move and starting today I will be putting several lots of comics and games up for sale on eBay. Support Longbox Graveyard and add comics to your collection — check out my listings below!
I had planned a similar review series for DC’s Rebirth, but for any number of reasons, that project never came together. I’m offering a large lot of Rebirth books for sale — click HERE for details.
A couple single #1s are also for sale — click HERE for my general eBay listing. I will be adding more lots of graphic novels and games in the weeks to come, so check back often!
Thanks in advance for your support. Tell a friend!
Thought I’d start the New Year off by looking backwards at the best performing Longbox Graveyard posts of 2016. Most are legacy posts from the early days of this site, with a new article elbowing in at the top of the list.
Drumroll please …
A testament to loading your blog title with powerful keywords, this post is four years old, but still pulling respectable search engine traffic. Mostly it is an ode to why I can only seem to buy high and sell low on eBay, which means I’m no roadmap for that place …
“Top Tens” and “Spider-Man” are among the most most attractive content on this site, so it is no surprise that a post containing both of those things ranks so highly. It is a formula that will appear several times in this list. Guest author Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing hit it out of the park with this 2013 article, calling out Spidey’s fights with Hobgoblin, Green Goblin, Venom, Morlun, and … (click to find out!) as the top web-head battles of all time.
I remain an enthusiastic subscriber of Marvel’s Unlimited digital subscription service. I first reviewed the service in 2012 — this updated review looked at the service after it evolved into an iPad-native format. If I was really chasing clicks, this would be one of the articles I’d gin up with keywords and new information, as there seems to be a hunger out there for information about Marvel’s service.
Remember how I said that Spider-Man Top Tens drew my best traffic? Well, here you go. Mark mentioned that he’s working on a Spider-Man book — hopefully he will raid the fine work he’s done for Longbox Graveyard for print.
And the Spider-Man trend continues! Spidey isn’t my specialty, and I’d really be lost without generous guest-bloggers to cover Marvel’s top hero. In this case, it was was Dan Gvozden of Superior Spider-Talk who rode to the rescue. And, yes, Dan does tackle MJ vs. Gwen, but not in this post … you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find that one.
Everybody loves a good secret base. Did I really rank the Pet Avengers Mansion above the Bat Cave? Yes I did. (Sort of). Nice to see this post is still drawing comment three years after publication — I suppose I deserve my comment section censure for omitting the Legion of Superheroes cool rocket ship clubhouse from my list.
The sole new article from 2016 was this article from last January about the popular Match-3 Marvel puzzler. Quite a few addicted players of this one out there (and I remain among them, despite the take-this-game-and-shove-it conclusion to the post). Maybe 2017 is the year I quit this game. Maybe.
Here’s where you’ll find Dan’s MJ vs. Gwen opinion. (I would have wimped out and picked Aunt May).
Gaming content has generally fared pretty well here at Longbox Graveyard. My post on Capes & Cowls was a good performer for many months, and this comparative review of two comic book deck-builders keeps getting views (and is due for an update, as both games have evolved quite a bit since my review). I’m not playing either game right now for lack of opponents, but Legendary is supposedly coming to iOS in 2017, and that might reignite my interest.
And finally, the #1 Longbox Graveyard Post of 2016 was …
This has been my top post since it was first published — it caught a Google search wave on the run-up to release of the second Captain America movie, and it’s been chugging along ever since. It’s another post long overdue for an update, especially in view of Baron Zemo’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. But I’m not changing the bad guy at the top of the list … and no, it’s NOT the Red Skull! Want to know who ranks as the baddest Cap villain of all time? Add a click to my pile, I’m not proud!
And with the old year taken care of, I wish all Longbox Graveyard readers a Happy 2017. See you back here every month or so for more nostalgic comics goodness!
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled individual issue reviews of the All-New All-Different Marvel Now to bring you the latest installment of … Super-Blog Team-Up!
As you can see from the logo above, this edition of Super-Blog Team-Up celebrates the return of Star Wars! Today, all across the Internet, a ragtag group of bloggers have joined together to blog and podcast about the greatest space opera of them all!
It is impossible to overstate the impact Star Wars had on pop culture, kicking off a whole new era of cinematic spectaculars, and incidentally saving Marvel Comics and the whole comics industry along the way. The Original Trilogy came along at the turning of the tide for my adolescence — I saw Star Wars as kid, with my dad at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and six years later saw Return of the Jedi as a date film with the woman who would become my wife. Star Wars bracketed my transition from child to adult (or at least as adult as a fifty-odd-year-old guy with a comics blog can be!)
I loved the original pictures, but the years that followed would not be kind. I didn’t care for the prequels, and I resent that I can’t easily share the first films with my kids in unaltered form (not that they’ve shown much interest, frankly). Aside from dabbling in the surprisingly-good Clone Wars via Netflix, Star Wars has been in a long dry spell for me, but of course with a new movie on the horizon, my nostalgia has been reawakened for the series, so it was perhaps inevitable that I looked favorably upon an odd little app that debuted several months ago …
Star Wars Card Trader is a free digital trading card application for iPhone and Android. It offers several hundred different virtual Star Wars trading cards that are distributed through a bewildering array of collectable packs within the app. The app uses a virtual currency scheme, but Topps is generous with free currency — my card collection numbers in the thousands, and I don’t think I’ve spent more than ten bucks all year (and needn’t have spent at all — basic currency rewards and advertising incentives can keep you going indefinitely with this thing).
I was never a trading card guy. Cards never appealed to me the way comics do — in my view, you can’t do much more with cards than to own them and organize them. At least comics offer reading value. So, too, have I always resisted products with built-in rarities, and card sets, with their blind packaging and chase cards, fall squarely into that category. Finally, I hate waste and I hate sprawl, and hauling around legions of card boxes filled with duplicate cards seems to me the worst kind of pursuit.
very cool, but too much for me
But there are people who love card collecting, obviously, and I say these things not to cast shade on my card collecting friends, but to set the stage for why I’ve come to so enjoy this digital trading card app. For me, it addresses every issue I had with collecting cards — it’s free, it’s compact, it’s organized, it’s filled with endless content, and it’s Star Wars.
The only problem is that it isn’t real.
The app is real, but the cards are not. At least, they aren’t real in the physical sense. While the cards may look real on your phone, they exist only as digital images on your screen, backstopped on a Topps server someplace. Digital comics, at least, are usually available somewhere as something you can hold in your hand. These Topps cards, for the most part, don’t exist in the real world at all. There’s no gold standard tethering these things to reality. There aren’t even Midi-chlorians!
And yet the hunt to collect full sets of these things still drives a healthy daily user base of (by my estimation) about 70K players, enough of whom spend real money on this app to keep Topps busy releasing an endless and confusing string of core sets, inserts, and variants, with new releases coming every day! It is becoming too much of a good thing, to be honest.
But more about that later. First, the app.
Star Wars Card Trader is a free download for your smartphone, and there’s no harm in checking it out for yourself, but in a nutshell … the app gives you daily free currency awards, which are spent in a store to purchase packs of cards. Card packs vary by contents, quantity, and price, and are sorted by rarity. Base rarities are white, blue, red, yellow, and gold; on top of this there are variant colors and a storm of special inserts. The base cards are all photographs of characters and creatures from the six (and soon seven) Star Wars films and animated series, while the inserts cover everything under the sun, from concept art to weapons to locations to comic book covers that will be familiar to the Bronze Age comics fans that read this blog.
The reverse of each card has a slug of text about the character, and a notice of how many copies of that card have been “printed,” running from the millions for base white cards, to 100 or fewer for some of the very rare inserts.
The most common way to get cards is to open packs, and Topps has done a good job here, with a little sound effect and flourish when you open a pack, and a burst of laser fire and device vibration when you uncover a card that is new-to-you … a fine digital approximation of ripping open a real pack of cards, sorting through them, and going “Got it … got it … got it … AH HA!”
There are also torturous achievement-based means of collecting certain rare cards, by assembling parts of other sets, or following blueprints, or melding or shredding the cards you’ve already got, but to be honest I can’t be bothered. I mean, look at these instructions, and tell me they make the vaguest sense:
No, I’ve stuck to basic goals, gradually filling out a complete set of White, Blue, Red, and Yellow cards (the most commonly available), and a few Golds, along with some keen inserts. One of may favorite sets, as you can well imagine, was the 1977 retro set, a reproduction of original physical cards of the day, some of which are just so damn cool:
I also chased down some so-bad-it’s-good art from an old Empire Strikes Back set …
… along with some artsy original pieces that Topps has created just for their card sets.
Even the covers of the sets are cool. I never did get a single variant from this Women of Star Wars pack, but I loved the cover …
Alas, not every card is a work of art. This Skiff Guards card belongs in the Photoshop Crime Hall of Shame …
… but for the most part, I’ve been well-pleased with the app, especially for the price. It gives me a Star Wars fix a couple times a day, and has even engaged me a bit with trading.
Ah, yes, trading … you can’t have trading cards without the trading part, and here the app also delivers, albeit awkwardly. There are various text feeds within the app where players will post their needs and offers, and there is a painfully slow and awkward interface where you can propose and counter-propose trade offers to each other. It is a laborious process, with far too many clicks, and trades are limited to nine cards on a side at a time, but it is better than nothing. Just.
And it was trading that led me down the rabbit hole with this thing.
It doesn’t take more than a couple months of dedicated use to put together a basic set of cards with this app. Chasing down every insert and variant is basically impossible, so when my core colors were complete, I figured that I was done with the app. This made me sad, because I still wanted my Star Wars fix … but I was unwilling to flush the major bucks and time into the app that collecting inserts would require.
And so … I went to the Dark Side. I became a Hoarder!
We are getting into weird territory here, but stay with me.
When I first downloaded the app, the community seemed about split between those who Hoarded, and those who didn’t. It was the marvelous kind of nerd skirmish that our tribe does so well. On one side, the group who thought it was cool to compile lots (and I mean LOTS) of the same card through trade, and on the other, the group who felt this was contrary to the intent of the app (by artificially reducing the number of cards in circulation, and maybe by letting players pile up positive trade ratings through frivolous transactions). Nowadays, hoarding has been more-or-less legitimized by Topps through promotions that invite you to “shred” vast numbers of duplicate cards to qualify for rare variants, but you will still find a trader here and there with NO HOARDERS! in their trade offers.
Of course, this only encourages me.
I had hit the wall with casual collection, but I didn’t want to give up the app, so as I said, I became a Hoarder. Of digital cards. That don’t exist. A behavior that made me a pariah to some. This is awesome!
It was simple enough. I love Admiral Ackbar. I had a bunch of Admiral Ackbar cards. I thought … what if I had ALL of the Admiral Ackbars?
one of these things is WAY MORE than the others …
Yeah, that’s never going to happen. There are millions of White Ackbars out there. But I decided to make a dent by getting as many as I could.
This is deeply stupid behavior. Like I said, the trading process is arduous, and is capped at exchanging nine cards at a time. Calculating the time I have invested in building my collection up to nearly three thousand Admiral Ackbars, nine cards at a time, is left as an exercise for the reader.
Here’s the crazy thing. I am not King of the Digital Ackbars. Not even close. I know this because the Hoarding market for Admiral Ackbar is very, very tight. In examining other players card collections for potential trades, I see stacks and stacks of Plo Koons and IG-88s and Padmes … but I see very few Ackbars. Other collectors — thousands of them, in my fevered imagination — have been getting to the Ackbars before me. I have nearly three thousand of these bastards, even if all they are is a little number on an image, but it is not enough.
For awhile I hoped that I would be able to get an Ackbar Monument card when Topps inevitably announced shred time for the Mon Calamari, but I am seeing that weird dream recede in the distance. Based on past Hoarding challenges, it will take 5000 or more Ackbars just to get in the ballpark for that award, and I am never going to get there.
And so, with regret, I have been winding down my participation in Star Wars Card Trader, which is fine … it got me through the year and right up to the introduction of the movie. That’s great!
one of my final Admiral Ackbar trades …
But there is possibly an epilogue to this saga.
I told you that I haven’t chased the rare cards, but one of the rare cards chased me.
Sitting on the can one day, I “bought” a package of non-existent rare “mint black press” embossed Star Wars trading cards, that were neither really pressed or embossed. And out of nowhere I Iucked into a black General Grievous.
I don’t give a bucket of warm Rancor piss about General Grievous, mint, pressed, black, or otherwise … but this is the rarest card in my collection. It is one of the rarest cards in the whole set, with only 100 in circulation. This particular card is one sixth of a complete mint set, and the crazy guy who gets one of each of the six will unlock another nonexistent virtual reward when the last of the cards has been released.
For the effort and expense involved, you’d expect at least a handshake from C-3PO, but no … all that hunting for cards will just earn you another card!
(And did I mention that all the cards in this app, whether part of your collection or not, are always free to view via the trading interface?)
But I digress.
Here I am with this immensely sought-after card and no means or desire to collect the rest of the set. What am I do to with it? If I could trade it for 5000 Ackbars, I would … but the app doesn’t permit easy transactions on that scale. I could try to trade it for nine very rare inserts, but I’m really not that interested.
Or a clever fellow could truly turn to the Dark Side … at eBay.
Now, I’m not saying I did it, because that would be a violation of the app’s terms and requirements, but I see that quite a few little Greedos have taken to listing their digital cards on eBay for sale outside of the app. I gather that payment is accepted via eBay, with a card trading transaction via the app to follow. And I see that mint black General Grievous cards are listing for around thirty bucks a pop, which is about what it will cost to buy a couple tickets to The Force Awakens.
Hmm. This is very tempting …
May The Force Be With You. Enjoy The Force Awakens … and before you go, be sure to check out these other great Star Wars Super Blog Team-Up articles!
- Mystery V-Log: My Personal Star Wars History
- Superhero Satellite: Star Wars Episode 7 The Toys Awaken
- Bronze Age Babies: Season of the Force
- Between The Pages: A Long Time Ago, In A Bookstore Far, Far Away …
- The Retroist: Star Wars Book And Record
- The Crapbox Of Son Of Cthulhu: Growing Up Star Wars
NEXT MONTH: #155 Marvel Puzzle Quest
In a very real sense, this new year marks the end of the Longbox Graveyard.
Longtime readers will know this blog was founded to keep me on track while I turned my sprawling comics Accumulation into a Collection.
(The difference between the two? Unless you know exactly what you have, and exactly where to find it … you have an Accumulation, not a Collection).
It took a move to drive my comics project across the finish line.
My old Secret Headquarters was great — it even featured a comic book Man Cave — but it was too far out in the boonies for my family and I. We were spending hours and hours on the road each day, driving between home and school and work and appointments, and even when we were home we were too wrung out to enjoy the comforts of my Fortress of Solitude. So we moved closer to the actual center of our lives, in the funky beach town of Encinitas, California.
Here’s a spiffy Mainstreet Association video of our new neighborhood:
But access to all that surf, sun, sand, and flakey hipster living didn’t come cheap. We had to downsize. Man, did we ever have to downsize — from 2300 sq. ft. to 1200. Oh, and we had to give up our three-car garage. That meant that all the impedimenta of a family of four had to be crunched down into 98” x 86” x 46” storage cage in our parking garage. I needed a Tardis!
dimensions of the new garage, taped out on the floor of the old garage
This wasn’t just my comics that need to fit into this space. We’re also talking our camping equipment, holiday decorations, paperwork, family photos, everything. Everything! Our condo is slick and cool and very modern but has little room for anything but our seven bodies (counting three cats) and basic furniture, clothes, and etc. — everything else needed to go into our cage.
I’d been working for years to reduce my Accumulation, but this move kicked my efforts into overdrive. I shipped literally hundreds of packages via eBay over the last two months of 2014, while loads of possessions went to charity (and loads of crap went to the dump!). An additional degree of difficulty resulted from doing all of this over the holidays, and shooting through the eye of the hurricane by moving between Christmas and New Years. Our Christmas celebration lasted about a day, with the tree going up and down like a beach umbrella.
I don’t recommend this.
But this is what we wanted. This isn’t some tale of woe about a family displaced by war or disaster or bankruptcy. My family and I voluntarily entered into this crazy scheme because we really, truly wanted to change our lifestyle … and because we felt increasingly encumbered by all this stuff we were hauling around. And it is that “stuff” that makes our move relevant to this blog.
I’ve written a lot here about owning things, and what it means to own things, the good and the bad of it, and that collector’s impulse to own far more things than a person might ever reasonably use. I’ve talked the talk about shedding possessions — this move made us walk the walk. We gave away three rooms worth of furniture. I sold my obscenely-large television. Over half of my game collection bit the dust, hundreds of comics sold for cover price or less, and multiple long boxes were gifted to friends. We reduced and we reduced and we reduced, and in the end it all fit (sort of):
it fit between the lines …
… and so it fit inside the cage!
What does this mean for the Longbox Graveyard Accumulation? It is now a Collection! From twenty-seven battered and disorganized longboxes when I started this project …
… I am down to seven …
… and two of those are full of books I wrote. The rest contain alphabetized, bagged, boarded, indexed, and curated comics, about a thousand of them, in crisp new longboxes, and all (mostly) stuff I want to keep. Near-complete runs of Captain Marvel, Tomb of Dracula, and Master of Kung Fu; my Steve Gerber Defenders (and the DAK books too); Judge Dredd & Thor. And some unlikely books, too, like Godzilla, and runs of Daredevil, Batman, Swamp Thing, and X-Men that I never reviewed here at Longbox Graveyard (and about which more in a moment).
In making the hard cuts to get down to this core of a comics collection, I kept circling around the aspects of replaceability and intentionality. Was a particular comic easily replaceable, in digital or collected form? If so — and if a particular comic didn’t hold some great emotional appeal, like being a book I bought off the rack for a quarter when I was twelve years old — then that comic was a candidate for reduction. And was I keeping something because I really wanted it, and intended to use it, or was I just keeping something because I didn’t know what else to do with it? If a possession lacked intentionality, I got rid of it.
And there is the most important word of all — possession.
I’ve already written about being possessed by your possessions, but this move cast that abstract notion into stark and three-dimensional relief. You can’t really know how weighed down you are by things until you try to get rid of them. I sold some stuff, sure, but it was a pain in the neck, and not remotely a profit center for me. As much or more of my time was spent arranging for the free disposition of my things — sorting goods into donation and recycling piles, helping friends load bookcases and tables and lamps and desks into rented trucks, hoisting flat screens off walls and awkwardly wrestling them across the floor in makeshift boxes wrapped in blankets. Hauling dozens (dozens!) of boxes of books to the curb. Realizing that I can’t shed art made by my father and my grandfather but understanding I’ll probably have nowhere to display it, either. Selling off lawn furniture, refrigerators, garden tools, and garage shelves for less than twenty cents on the dollar. Heck, I even had too many trash cans!
Possessions. And they mostly come to ruin. Waiting in line at the recycling center to dispose of a van-full of paint, batteries, poisons, and cleaning supplies, I watched a couple workers stacking televisions on a pallet. There must have been twenty sets, in a pile, bound up in a tower by yards of shrink-wrap. One of the guys had one more TV for the stack. He dragged it by the cord, like he was walking a reluctant dog. The screen was face down on the pavement, scraping. As he heaved it atop the pile, I thought that every one of those TV sets was someone’s precious possession, maybe bought on credit and paid for several times over, carefully chosen in a store, delicately maneuvered from the car to a place of prominence in a home, reverently unpacked, and then used to watch Love Boat or Golden Girls or whatever the hell for years and years, before migrating to the kids room for Nintendo games, or getting stuck on a garage shelf for a decade against some half-formed plan to use it again some day, but really in mute acknowledgement that the damn thing was a Possession with a capital “P,” something you no longer needed but couldn’t be rid of, until that inevitable day when a guy in a hazmat suit at a poisonous collection site struck sparks from it by dragging it across an asphalt parking lot to the corpse pile.
imagine TV sets instead of outer space goons and you get the idea
I don’t want Possessions any more. Belongings are fine. But no more Possessions!
I am in a new place, reduced to pretty much only the things I really want to keep (though a few are still available here — help a brother out, and buy them!). I have so little room here that I can’t really get new things, and most of my discretionary funds will be going to restaurants and yogis and levitation lessons or whatever other crazy notions prove part-and-parcel of this off-center California beach town. I’m down on space and pinched for money … but I should have more of that most precious commodity of all — time!
I’m closer to work, now, and the all-consuming labor of this move is largely behind me. I should have more time to read, and think, and discover new things about myself, and also to write and create, and that is where Longbox Graveyard will continue to play a role in my life. This blog has long since transformed from a personal account of me and my collection to a celebration of comics in general. One of the unexpected benefits of starting this blog — second only to meeting new friends and building a community around Longbox Graveyard — has been a reawakened love of comics for their own sake, which has led me to discover new work, and even to start creating new work of my own. Longbox Graveyard has a readership, both here and on Twitter and Instagram, and I think it would be missed if it went away. Certainly I would miss it, and that’s all the reason I really need to keep it going.
To paraphrase Churchill, this isn’t the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning. I probably won’t vapor on and on about collecting any more, but I will still write about my favorite comics, and host guest blogs from outside writers who share my enthusiasms. As the year wears on, I hope to share more about my own creative projects here, most notably 4 Seconds, coming from Thrillbent. I will continue to publish a “numbered” post near the beginning of each month, and pop in here on the remaining Wednesdays with Pinterest Galleries and pin-ups and plugs and other silliness. In the fullness of time, Longbox Graveyard will wind down, and become a graveyard in earnest, like those stacks of televisions that knocked me for a loop … but not yet.
Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you so much for your readership and support. Hug your friends and love your stuff! It’s great to be alive.
IN THREE WEEKS: #142 Days of Future Past