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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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!
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!
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
- Top Ten Captain America Villains (longboxgraveyard.com)
- 10 Facts about Free Comic Book Day (biowars.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – Iron Man #149-150 (1981) (biffbampop.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – G.I. Joe #21 (1984) (biffbampop.com)
- On Organizing A Comic Store’s Stock (gothamnewsstand.wordpress.com)
- Not With A Bang … (goblinsoup.wordpress.com)
- How Digital Comics Are Killing It (In a Good Way) (biowars.com)
How do you write nearly 100,000 words on old comic books?
One. Week. At. A. Time.
With this fifty-second installment, Longbox Graveyard marks one year of weekly and uninterrupted Wednesday publication. Pause for a creepy slow golf-clap while I turn a solitary little victory lap in the isolation of my garage-bound comic book Accumulation.
As was the case twenty-six issues ago, I’ll use this anniversary moment to blog about blogging with an editorial overview of Longbox Graveyard itself — where it’s been, how it’s doing, and where it’s going. If you came here looking for superheroes and this is all too self-referential, then please skip to the end of the column, take my survey, leave a comment to let me know you’re breathing, and then check back here next week for your regularly-scheduled comic book review!
comic book popularity is everything I dreamed it would be
Statistics & Hits
I already wrote in detail about which blogs attracted the most attention this past year, and the trends are broadly clear. Aside from the anomalous success of blogs about Young Justice and Operation Ajax, the bread-and-butter for Longbox Graveyard are my comic book reviews, which will continue to appear once every other week. A review every week might be nice, but I can’t maintain that pace, so you’ll continue to get comics culture and other stuff (like Panel Galleries) in the off-weeks between reviews.
When I last did a Longbox Soapbox, my best month was about 2,200 hits — this past May, Longbox Graveyard did nearly four times better than that. The blog has been pushing 300 views per day these past few weeks, fueled largely by hits on my Avengers-themed posts published when the movie came out. Time will tell if this growth is sustainable.
It’s been a slow climb, but now with a year of accumulated content, Longbox Graveyard is seeing significant traffic from Google Image Searches looking at my legacy posts. The size of this blog now provides a baseline of consistent daily traffic regardless of the day of the week or the popularity of my latest post. There are a lot of people out there looking for superhero images — almost as many as are looking for Chris Hemsworth Naked, Chris Evans Naked, Jason Momoa Naked, and Jennifer Lawrence Naked! Unfortunately, a lot of that search traffic is running the tap with the drain open, and it’s unlikely I’m converting regular readers from those sources.
A once-weekly, wall-of-words blog about old comics is always going to have limited appeal, but I am trying to find readers in other places. My personal Facebook page generates referrals each week, but I’ve given up my half-hearted attempt to maintain a Longbox Graveyard page on Myspace. My Twitter account is approaching 1000 “Followers,” but I’m unclear how many of those people read the blog. I do keep up a pretty constant conversation on Twitter, though, and I consider it as much a part of Longbox Graveyard as this blog. I’ve been posting to Google+ for about a month, without great results — I’ll keep it going for awhile but I think I agree with reports that Google+ is a ghost town. I did recently start a Facebook page for Longbox Graveyard — I’m not crazy about Facebook, but you have to fish where the fish are. If you’re on Facebook, please visit my page and throw me a “Like.”
Longbox Graveyard on Pinterest
My most recent experiment has been with Pinterest. There are a lot of pinnings and re-pinnings going on over there, my Follower numbers are growing, and I’ve struck up few conversations, but again it is difficult to determine how many people track me back to Longbox Graveyard. I think I will stick with Pinterest, as it provides a nice place to archive all the images I’ve excerpted for the blog (including some images that I never published here), and is just generally an interesting site in its own right, although it is heavily skewed towards handbags and hairsytles. Please check out my boards and join the site if you like what you see.
I am still buying books faster than I get rid of them, but I feel like I’ve hit a kind of base camp in my assault on the Accumulation. I am better organized than ever, and I can lay hands on most books within seconds. I need to do one more triage of the pile of books out in the garage, to round up some strays and maybe opt another book or two into the Collection, but for the most part I think I’ve circled around the books I want to collect. Once I fill in a few more Tomb of Dracula and Fantastic Four numbers I will take a deep breath and decide what comes next. I’m feeling a hankering for the old Marvel Logan’s Run, and Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar. I’ve also been thinking about collecting Iron Fist and Marvel Two-In-One but I need to confirm what I already have first. You can see my up-to-date collection and wishlist by clicking here.
rather than collect Iron Fist AND Marvel Two-In-One, maybe I should just get Marvel Two-In-One #25, featuring Ben Grimm and Iron Fist!
I’ve finally made some progress selling my books, which you can track on my Departed page. I’ve had excellent luck with a few private sales, but eBay continues to disappoint. It is a buyer’s market over there, and by the time you deduct for eBay fees, Paypal fees, postage, and bags and boards, I feel like I might as well be throwing my comics in the street. One particularly painful transaction saw me lose thirteen bucks out of pocket selling the Squadron Supreme mini-series. I don’t expect big profits from selling my books but having to pay to give them away is the definition of insult to injury.
Check my For Sale page for comic book treasures direct from the Longbox Graveyard collection! When I sell direct I save a lot of fees and hassles, and my prices reflect those savings. Only a fraction of my books are listed here, so if you don’t see something you want, be sure to ask. If it’s a Marvel or DC book from 1975-1990 or so, there’s a good chance I’ve got it. One Twitter pal recently scored an excellent deal on the first seventeen issues of Nova just by asking if I had them for sale. You can reach me through a comment here on the blog or via email at longboxgraveyard (at) gmail.com.
think of my For Sale page as your own personal spinner rack and time machine, all in one
I am still reading a lot of comics, and still not reading much of anything else. At times the reading has felt like a grind and I need to guard against that. A big shift in my habits has grown out of the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription I got for Christmas — I have read hundreds of old Silver Age books through that service, which has changed the focus of Longbox Graveyard from re-visiting books in my collection to looking at classic Marvel runs of the past. This has expanded the scope of this blog project and delayed some of the reviews I’d planned to do by now — like Master of Kung Fu, and more Tomb of Dracula and Thor — in favor of a lot of books I missed as a kid.
it’s been fun revisiting classic Avengers via my Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription
It’s been fun to knock off an issue or two of classic Avengers on my lunch break. There would certainly be more DC content in this blog if they had a similar digital archive service. And I’d do even more Marvel reading if their subscription service ran on my iPad! Regardless of the interface, I am largely converted to digital at this point and have slowed down on back issue purchases.
A year of leaving breadcrumbs between my boys’ bedrooms and my comic book collection has yielded pretty much zilch — I think I need to accept that while the lads are superhero fans to one degree or another, they lack the comics gene and this particular obsession is going to die with me. S’okay. Jack accompanied me to the Marvel Movie Marathon and has since gone back to see Avengers a couple times, so he has the inside track on inheriting my books, even if he won’t know what to do with them (hopefully he won’t lose too much money by unloading them on eBay). Miles will continue to get a big graphic novel every Christmas whether he wants it or not. Neither boy has the slightest interest in visiting comic shops, though they’re good for a day at Comic-Con once a year. They regard Longbox Graveyard as a quaint obsession and will talk about comics with me every now and then, which is probably good enough. Jack might yet come around. He showed a momentary interest in the Infinity Gauntlet graphic novel. A candle burns in the window.
proof that Jack reads comics (sometimes)
Longbox Graveyard itself still operates in the red — I do pay for hosting and domain mapping, which is nowhere near offset by my Amazon Store, MyComicsShop.com referrals, or my donate button (which has yet to collect a nickle). I’ve started running ads on the blog as part of a Worpress.com beta, but I doubt my traffic will result in many sales. Click them a time or two to send me fractions of a penny! I did sell some big-ticket X-Men books a couple weeks ago so Longbox Graveyard is yielding an indirect income.
Money is neither here nor there with Longbox Graveyard, but if you’re going to make a back issue purchase, or you’re shopping on Amazon, please consider going to those sites through my links to the left. It will push some income my way, which won’t make me rich, but helps to further validate my efforts on this blog.
The Longbox Graveyard community continues to grow. Once comments were a rarity, but now I can count on pretty much every column attracting a comment or two. Your feedback is invaluable and goes a long way toward making me feel more like a columnist and less like a crazy man making a castle in the desert out of Pontiac hubcaps. To everyone who has commented on one of my posts, or engaged with me on Twitter or recommended my content — thank you.
thank you … yes, YOU!
The blog has had an unexpected side-effect of getting me out of my shell a little bit. I hosted a panel at WonderCon, and I have another panel coming up at San Diego Comic-Con (Thursday, 2-3PM, Room 32AB, to discuss Malibu Comics with the company founders). The success of Longbox Graveyard has also led to interviews and podcast appearances (two of them!), and some guest blogging, like the T-Rex Beatdown I did with my pal Matthew over at Mars Will Send No More, and my monthly Dollar Box column that debuted at StashMyComics.com last week. I will also be doing a monthly Longbox Graveyard podcast for We Talk Podcasts — the first episode should be up in about a week. I suppose there is some conflict saying I can’t maintain a pace of weekly reviews here at Longbox Graveyard while at the same time working for other sites, but it is flattering to be invited to contribute to other venues, and in the long run I hope those opportunities will drive readers back to this site. You can find links to all my extracurricular blogging activities on my Longbox Graveyard On The Web page.
The Road Ahead
You can always take a peek at what’s coming up on my Checklist, which extends into the future as well as the past, but it’s worth setting out some goals for the months ahead. I’m going to lay up a little and only pledge to continue Longbox Graveyard for another six months, getting me into mid-December for issue #78. I will almost certainly continue the blog past that point (the lure of one hundred issues will be difficult to resist), but it is by signing little contracts with myself that I am able to continue this effort. There’s no way I would have committed to doing this blog for a year back in June of 2011, but here we are.
One week at a time.
Judge Dredd is coming — both to the movies, and to Longbox Graveyard
My view of the blog is cloudy past July. I will do a column on Judge Dredd to coincide with release of the under-the-radar feature film, about which I remain cautiously optimistic (this from the guy who carried a flame for Conan and John Carter!). I will eventually blog about the Collectorz.com comic book software I’ve used to track my Accumulation, and I suppose I will someday put all my hard-won eBay knowledge about buying and selling comics down in one place. I will return to Tomb of Dracula at Halloween, and the next six months must certainly see my long-delayed Master of Kung Fu review come to light. Mostly I will be making it up as I go along, and I certainly welcome your suggestions for future Longbox Graveyard columns.
I will be here, one way or the other, for the next twenty-six Wednesdays (he said, knowing that stating your plans is one way to hear God laugh).
In my last Longbox Soapbox, I asked how you read this blog. This time I’d like to find out the kind of content you prefer here on the blog. I’m going to assume that reviews are the most popular feature, but if I’m not doing a review, which of the following categories of post do you prefer?
And thus closes another Longbox Soapbox! Thanks for sticking with me this past year, and I hope you will stick with me in the year ahead. As was the case six months ago, if you are a reader of this blog, I hope you will post a comment below, even if you are a habitual lurker. Think of it as signing a guest book — it helps me know who has been here. You don’t have to be clever … just say hello.
please comment below!
Thanks for reading. See you again next Wednesday — and every Wednesday — for more Longbox Graveyard!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #53 Thanos & The Infinity Gauntlet
- #36 Longbox Bulletin! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #40 WonderCon Wrap-Up! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #47 Avengers Assemble For The Ultimate Marvel Marathon (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #44 Superhero Music Top Ten (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #50 Fantastic Fiftieth Issue! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #86 Star Lord! (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “A Tale of Two Pitches” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- Longbox Graveyard Podcast: “Marvel Comics – A Space Odyssey” (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #92 Top Ten Spider-Man Battles (Part I) (longboxgraveyard.com)
- #88 Fire And Ice (longboxgraveyard.com)