Blog Archives

Longbox Soapbox (Summer 2013)

Longbox Graveyard #104

And just like that six months have got behind me and it’s time for another Longbox Soapbox!

Twice a year I take stock of where I am with Longbox Graveyard, solicit feedback in the form of a poll, reveal some numbers behind the blog, and take a formal vow to continue Longbox Graveyard for another six months (or not).

the infinitely-renewing contract

Those interested in blogging minutia can review my past Longbox Soapbox columns:

This 104th “issue” of Longbox Graveyard is a big one for me, as it marks two years of continuous Wednesday publication for the blog. Starting as a means of keeping myself on-track in reducing and organizing my comics Accumulation (a job I have yet to complete), Longbox Graveyard has taken on a life of its own as a Bronze Age comic book nostalgia blog. A few recent guest blogs notwithstanding, Longbox Graveyard remains a one-man effort done out of love of comics, as well as a desire to communicate with my fellow hobbyists. Every half-hearted attempt I’ve made to monetize the blog has been met with indifference or disaster. Like Reed Richards, I’m a lunkhead when it comes to making money!

lunkhead!

let’s not talk about money

From the start I’ve kept this blog going by signing six-month contracts with myself. Once I’ve commenced on a six-month hitch of Longbox Graveyard I make myself see it through. When those six months are up, I either sign up for another six months, or put the blog to bed.

the Devil is in the details

do you recognize this devilish contract from the 1970s?

Will Longbox Graveyard continue, or will I shut it down? The answer is … both! (Sort of). More details in a moment, but before looking at where I am going, a brief survey of where I have been.

Statistics & Hits

Hits of course are the lifeblood of any blog. Traffic drives dollars if you are doing this for a living — which I am not — but even with a free blog, hits are your scoreboard, and it is hard to ignore them. I check my traffic several times each day, and if I am not so obsessed with these numbers as in months past, I would be lying if I said my traffic numbers were unimportant to me.

What is not a lie is to say my numbers are less important to me than the last time I did a Longbox Soapbox. After the crazy growth in the second six months of Longbox Graveyard’s life, my readership has plateaued a little, but I am still seeing decent growth. My monthly average readership in December 2012-May 2013 was up about 13% from the preceding six months. January 2013 saw the blog go above 10K views in a month for the first time, but the average for this period has been a more modest 8321 views/month.

LBG Tale of the Tape!

That will seem like a lot to a few of you, and nothing at all to more of you. For me, the numbers are what they are. I really have nothing to compare against. How many hits should I draw for a once-weekly, wordy, idiosyncratic blog about comics that are decades old?

I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can know. I can think of only a few comparable blogs (The Peerless Power of Comics seems closest, it is also a very good blog), but absent a dozen or so similar blogs, comparisons aren’t going to count for much. I have resolved that my numbers will be what they will be. I will continue to track them, but I won’t obsess over them, and I will put my effort into content rather than search engine optimization.

LBG traffic sources

Comparing these referrals to the last time I checked, we see that Twitter and (to a lesser extent) Facebook have been stepping up as traffic sources. Most traffic continues to come from search (of course), and I would expect this to grow as more and more content and images are added to the blog. Pinterest appears to have leveled off. Reddit’s comic books subdomain remains useful for driving spikes (giving my Darkseid poll a record-breaking day, and also pushing my silly Pepper Potts Pin-Up strongly over Iron Man 3’s opening weekend), but I have no evidence Reddit views convert to readers. Sneaking in at the end of my Top 10 are Stash My Comics & the Chasing Amazing blog, and speaking of Stash My Comics

Superduperman

not even a Superduperman can do it all … reducing outside commitments!

Stash My Comics & The Longbox Graveyard Podcast

Last month I concluded my Dollar Box column for Stash My Comics after twelve monthly columns. “Twelve” seemed like a good number for a mini-series, and as I have been feeling spread a little thin, it only made sense to wrap up Dollar Box. That content was so similar to what I do here that Dollar Box effectively meant that I was publishing Longbox Graveyard five times a month, and that was starting to take a toll. It was fun to write for Stash My Comics, and we drove a few hits for each other, but I’ve decided to suspend outside commitments to concentrate on Longbox Graveyard. I assume my articles will stay up at SMC for awhile. Going forward, I will be republishing my Dollar Box columns here at Longbox Graveyard after the one year anniversary of each article’s original posting (starting with last week’s Nick Fury post).

I’ve also ended my Longbox Graveyard Podcast after twelve installments, for many of the same reasons I ended Dollar Box. The Longbox Graveyard Podcast was showing strong numbers and building an audience, but my passion is with blogging, and not podcasting. It was a tough call to walk away, as Mo Kristiansen was a great partner and made it very easy to do the podcast. It was fun to experiment with that form — and I may return to it at some point — but in the interest of sticking with my core interest, I have retired from podcasting and will be giving this blog my full geek attention.

FacebookMan!

Social Media

I remain active on social media. Pinterest doesn’t drive a lot of traffic but my boards are easy to maintain, and they do provide a worthy visual supplement for activities here at Longbox Graveyard. Instagram is closely tied to Pinterest, and again it is no big deal to post an image every day. It may not drive traffic to the blog, but my Instagram images do generate comment on Instagram itself, and also help stimulate conversation on Twitter, which remains a vibrant channel for me. I maintain an information presence on Facebook and Google+ to provide updates for the smaller community of followers that keep track of me on those services.

I think that’s about all the social media I can handle! I do push image and blog updates to Flickr and Tumblr but that’s automatically handled when the blog publishes and I don’t otherwise do much on those channels. I tried Quora for a little while but ran afoul of their naming policy. They put me in the penalty box until I would identify myself as someone other than “Longbox Graveyard” — I decided I couldn’t be bothered and deleted my account.

It will be interesting to see what happens with readership with the pending demise of Google Reader. Will the death of the leading RSS platform stimulate on-site views and email subscriptions? Being insufficiently competent to back out my email and RSS numbers from the stats dashboard, I guess I will never know!

Bat Cave Man Cave!

The Accumulation

Continuing work on The Accumulation has stalled out a little as I’ve gotten hip-deep in the remodeling project described in my Mancave Monday posts. I regard this a good thing. My manic desire to recklessly reduce the piles of comics out in the garage veered into extreme territory at times, and if I am suddenly more comfortable with where things are in that regard … well, that’s progress. Also, by shifting my energy towards building out a space where I can better enjoy my comics, I’m demonstrating a kind of accommodation, acceptance, and capacity for joy in the hobby that I did not anticipate when I started this project.

peace

I am … at peace … with my choices

My pace of buying books has slowed down, as well. I’ve filled in nearly all the back issues on my list, and there are relatively few trade paperbacks on my shopping list. For the most part I am reading what I’ve got. I am still enjoying my Marvel Unlimited digital subscription, especially now that it is available in an iPad-friendly form. A similar, all-you-can-eat subscription service from DC would be welcome (and would substantially increase the number of DC books examined by this blog!)

Reading

Comic books continue to dominate my reading, split about 50/50 between books I blog about, and books I read for the heck of it. Sometimes I surprise myself — I didn’t expect to like Sgt. Rock as much as I did, and never intended to cover it here at Longbox Graveyard, but these unexpected discoveries are one of the real joys of writing this blog. Other times, long-gestating ideas will reach the blog in unexpected forms, like all the Superman reading that wound up in my comparative essay on the death of that character, or my Brian Michael Bendis article that began as a Daredevil review.

Hawkeye

impressive visual storytelling characterizes the latest incarnation of Hawkeye, by Fraction and Aja

I’ve been reading the latest issues of Hawkeye, Daredevil, Saga, Criminal, and Guardians of the Galaxy — which likely won’t end up on the blog — while vintage Master of Kung Fu, Iron Fist, and Tomb of Dracula likely will. It isn’t that I dislike the newer books or lack opinions on them, but there are plenty of places for new comics reviews, and I also feel I can’t really appraise a comics run until it has been complete for months (or years!). For this reason, my reviews will for the most part continue to be confined to comics of decades past.

But … I suppose this is as good a subject as any for my bi-annual poll! Please vote, below!

Community Community Community!

What I’ve found most flattering about Longbox Graveyard is that it has developed a genuine community over the years. Even the least of my posts will earn a comment from my dedicated group of correspondents, and some comment threads have been better than the posts themselves. It is a special joy to see an older post earn a new comment, because that lets me know that the blog continues to find new readers, and that my legacy material (even some of the stuff that is now out of date) remains of value.

I can’t say it enough — I deeply value the Longbox Graveyard community. I am immensely proud and flattered to have developed a cadre of discerning and insightful readers, and I always look forward to your comments. Thank you for following my blog, and keep those (virtual) cards and letters coming in!

Community!

The Future!

First, the good news. Longbox Graveyard will continue! I am signing another six month contract with myself and plan to continue the blog through December of 2013.

However … I will be reducing the frequency with which I publish major content. After some soul-searching I’ve decided to downshift from publishing every Wednesday to every odd-numbered Wednesday, effective immediately. I suppose this is the blogging equivalent of “going bi-monthly,” which was usually the kiss of death for Bronze Age comics, but I hope a reduced publication schedule will allow me to keep Longbox Graveyard going indefinitely. I might even go back to weekly publication in the future. But for now … tune in every odd-numbered Wednesday for a new Longbox Graveyard article (if this is too confusing you can always see what is coming up and when with a glance at my Checklist).

There will also be some content changes here at the blog. I’ve already run several guest blogs these past few months (mostly by the talented Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing Blog — thanks, Mark!), and this is a trend I would like to see continue. I think Longbox Graveyard benefits from other voices every now and then. Mark will be providing next week’s blog on the peculiar history of Spider-Man and the Human Torch, and I know he has at least one other idea on the boil for us. If you would like to guest blog for Longbox Graveyard, drop me a line (LongboxGraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com) — I’m looking for material that falls into the general purview of Bronze and Silver Age superhero stories evaluated from a personal point-of-view. There’s no pay, but you can’t put a price on comics blogging glory!

We Want YOU To Blog For Longbox Graveyard

In addition to guest blogs, I will be running some reprint material here at Longbox Graveyard. There will be the aforementioned Dollar Box reprints, and I also plan to start spotlighting my Pinterest boards with twice-weekly posts pointing toward the collection of images I’ve assembled over at that site, along with the original Longbox Graveyard articles that inspired them. On off weeks, even if I am not publishing a full article, I will sometimes jump in with a pinup or a plug for another site, so in some ways the blog will be publishing more often than ever before — I just won’t be running my more in-depth articles as frequently as in the past two years. I also have a scratch plan in place to put of digital scans of a select few comics that I wrote back in the day.

Thanks in advance for your patience as Longbox Graveyard evolves!

please leave a comment!

That concludes this edition of the Longbox Soapbox! Thanks for reading this column and for your support of the blog these past two years. I do very much want to hear from you, so please vote in my poll, and leave me a comment below. If you comment on only one Longbox Graveyard column each year, let this be the one! Let me know you are out there, and tell me what you think of the blog.

Thanks again for reading! Here’s hoping for another six strong months of Longbox Graveyard!

NEXT WEDNESDAY: #105 Best Frenemies Forever

Guide To Comic Books On Instagram

Longbox Graveyard #71

Instagram isn’t the exclusive domain of hipsters who want to share digital photos that look like they were snapped in 1967.

OK, that’s exactly what it is.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve found Instagram to be an effective platform for sharing comic book images, too, and here’s your guide to how I do it!

Instagram is a legitimate success story — an thirteen-person operation that sold to Facebook for a billion dollars, which means it’s more than a way for young people to lean into frame, glue their heads to each other, and make the duck face.

Duck Face (Common Version)

Instagram grew like crazy owing to its interface and ease of use, allowing anyone with a mobile connection to snap a photo, apply a nostalgic filter, and then share it to a stream of friends and semi-stranger internet acquaintances, who can then like it or comment on it as we have come to expect in this age of social media public posturing. With built-in connections to Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr, it’s small wonder the service quickly spread its tendrils into every corner of the social graph.

At it’s heart, Instragram is about snapping pictures of people and things and sharing them with friends, which means it works just fine if you want to send out photos of your latest visit to your friendly local comic shop with your pals. Cosplayers and comic bookish in-store displays are also perfect fodder for this service.

It’s when you want to share images from inside comic books themselves that the system gets a little tricky … and guess how I best like to use it?

That’s right, I most like using Instagram to share individual comic book panels and excerpted images of comic book covers.

And here is where you start to bump up against the limitations of Instagram. To be fair, these aren’t limitations so much as they are focus — remember, the success of Instagram is largely down to doing a few things, and doing them well. Their system doesn’t pretend to be an image excerpting or editing platform, so unless you just want to snap photos of comic book covers or page interiors, you will be working uphill against the system trying to frame images just the way you want.

This is because Instagram is a mobile service (although they have recently rolled out a website). I can’t edit or upload images directly to Instagram — it requires that I take a photo, or select something from my camera roll. Even though I’ve got a big collection of comic book screen shots on my computer, I can’t upload them directly to Instagram. So, how have I managed to share such precise comic book images via Instagram?

Step 1: Screen Shots!

Using the screen shot functionality on my iPhone, any image can be shared to the camera roll. Once there, it can be accessed by Instagram like any other image. Of course, this doesn’t solve the issue of finding images themselves, which brings us to …

Step 2: Google Image Search!

Online image searching will turn up a wealth of Instagram-worthy images, though it can be a bit of a crap shoot if you are looking for a specific subject. Broad terms like “Kirby Captain America” will yield good results but more specific searches — like “Kirby Cat Headed Dudes From Kamandi” — may not net so great a bounty.

For more precise images, there’s …

Step 3: Pinterest!

A couple weeks ago I extolled the virtues of Pinterest for comic book images, and thanks to the Pinterest iOS app, this service has become a way station for images bound for Instagram. I warehouse my images as pins over at Pinterest, and then repurpose them on Instagram. Browsing a comprehensive Pinterest gallery — such as good ol’ Longbox Graveyard’s boards — will turn up Instagram gold. Just find the image you like, and use the in-app option to save it to your camera roll.

Step 4: Editing in Instagram

Instagram is designed to make everything look like a Polaroid. That means it is always going to grab a square image, so right away, it is going to be the enemy of rectangular comic book covers (but more about that in a moment). It’s quite good for most comic book panels, though, and you can use the zoom and position controls to get slide things around and get those parts of a panel that you like. This might include word balloons, like with cranky Gwen Stacy …

… or maybe you’ll choose to cut out the word balloons entirely, as I did on Instagram with sinister Gwen Stacy.

Step 5: Excerpting

And now we get to the most interesting part of using Instagram for comic book images — excerpting.

Given the limited view space, Instagram isn’t an ideal form for sharing covers or full-page images. It is very good, however, at grabbing parts of a comic book page or a cover.

(And now a philosophical digression)

One of the things I haven’t done very often with Instagram is share complete images, such as portraiture or pin-ups. An Alex Ross portrait of Superman is already more perfect than I can make it — the artist has already selected his subject, his composition, and the color he wants in the completed image.

It doesn’t seem right for me to slap a Polaroid frame around an otherwise finished image, throw a filter on it, and claim it as my own expression. To me, the creativity of using Instagram for comic book images is all about finding an individual element of a larger work and affording it an altered meaning or focused attention by looking at the item outside the context of the original page.

This is similar to what I’ve been doing here at Longbox Graveyard with my Panel Galleries — tracking a comic book visual cliche from book to book, or focusing on the genius of someone like Steve Ditko in rendering faces and expressions. Excerpting images in this way is every bit as much an unauthorized repurposing of the original art, so in terms of retaining the original intent of the artist, it isn’t much of an improvement over framing a complete work and pushing it out via Instagram. But in excerpting only a portion of the work, you are exercising a kind of editorial control over what you are framing, and are hopefully making an intellectual, artistic, or emotional point by showing just that image.

Instagram’s filters also let you warm up the image, cool it down, or convert it to black and white, and here we have another interesting philosophical issue. What is the true color of a comic book image? Nearly all comic book art is created in black and white, and colored by a separate artist, of varying degrees of skill, who may or may not pay attention to the desires of the pencil and ink team. Those colors are then reproduced with varying degrees of fidelity, depending on whether the image is being reproduced on newsprint, glossy paper, digitally, or otherwise.

When I reviewed Barry Windsor-Smith’s run on Conan, I felt I was seeing his artwork for the very first time, because the original run of the art in Conan didn’t permit clear reproduction of Windsor-Smith’s maniacally detailed work. It was only thanks to the better paper and more sophisticated printing processes of the Dark Horse reprints that I was able to fully appreciate Windsor-Smith’s genius … but was I really seeing the art as the artist intended? These books were digitally recolored, and in a sense they aren’t the same as the work they reprinted … but I love them, and appreciate them more than I do the same stories in their original printing.

So which is the real work?

I don’t know … but I find it interesting how this question interfaces with Instagram, which invites users to alter the look, feel, and even the intent of source art by changing the composition and coloring or original images. I prefer to think of this as practicing my editorial eye to create a not quite derivative work — a new way of looking at something that celebrates and reengages us with the original.

In this way, Instagramers aren’t so far removed from Andy Warhol …

… or more to the point, Roy Lichenstein, who was doing this kind of thing generations before we had Instagram, the internet, Longbox Graveyard, or running water!

All of which was a deeper dive than I intended, so back to the duck faces.

Duck Face (Longbox Graveyard Version)

Obviously I’m overthinking this stuff … but if I didn’t overthink stuff, there wouldn’t be a Longbox Graveyard!

But for all my overthinking, this exhausts my knowledge of using Instagram for comic book images. Except for one thing.

Step 6: Focus

This isn’t a step so much as a raison d’être. If Instagram is designed to help people share moments in their lives, then what am I sharing by pushing out hipster polaroids of Thanos?

Well … I am sharing moments in my life! Not everything on my Instagram feed is a repurposed screenshot of a comic book image. That image above of Mr. and Mrs. Thanos was snapped at my desk, after positioning my new-to-me Thanos action figure with his lady love. I don’t know about you, but it cracks me up. Look at them — so happy! She can’t stop grinning!

Or here’s a snap of my visit to my favorite comics shop, the House of Secrets in Burbank, CA.

And here’s a shot of Tom Mason, Chris Ulm, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Rosenberg just before I moderated their Malibu Comics Retrospective panel at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con.

Instagram does share the moments of my life, but I’ve chosen to focus it on the Longbox Graveyard moments of my life, like the time Batman and Batwoman got married …

… or the time I found Batman, Spock, and the Alien, together again for the first time at Phat Collectables in Anaheim.

As such, the focus of my Longbox Graveyard Instagram feed dovetails with the focus of this blog — looking at those things about comic books that continue to intrigue and delight me. Coupled with the geolocation of select images I’m also using Instagram to chronicle my travels through the (real) comic book world, when visiting shops or midnight movie debuts. I could clog it up with pictures of my family or roadside attractions or headless strippers but that would be sharing too much!

And so you’ll continue to get a lot of Spider-Man, and Master of Kung Fu, and Tomb of Dracula, and whatever else strikes my fancy, within the domain of artistic expression as I’ve set out at Longbox Graveyard!

I invite you to follow my images on Instagram by searching for Longbox_Graveyard, and let me know your own feeds in the comments, below!

NEXT WEDNESDAY: #72 The Walking Dead

Other Longbox Graveyard Comic Book Social Media Guides

Longbox Soapbox (Summer 2012)

Longbox Graveyard #52

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.

The Accumulation

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

Reading

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.

The Boys

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)

Finances

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.

Community

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).

Survey

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?

Comments!

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

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