Blog Archives

Longbox Soapbox (Fall 2013)

Longbox Graveyard #118

This week marks the mid-point of Longbox Graveyard’s third year, which means it is time for another Longbox Soapbox, where I look inside the numbers of my blog, and decide if I will continue this experiment in terror for another six months!

Read on for my semi-annual blog about blogging!

Experiment In Terror!

Here are quick links to my past Longbox Soapboxes …

Normally I’d be looking back at twenty-six installments of the blog, but as I switched to “bi-monthly” status in June of 2013, I’ve only published thirteen new blogs since my last editorial.

Sort of.

For reasons that are important only to me, I reserve a Longbox Graveyard “number” only for “full” blogs, and by that count, I did indeed publish just thirteen blogs these past six months.

Calendar Man

I know … not even Calendar Man really cares about this stuff!

But not included in the numbering are my numerous Pinterest Galleries, F.O.O.M. Fridays, and sundry other announcements and plugs. Just looking at raw postings, despite “cutting back” to a bi-monthly schedule, Longbox Graveyard published more frequently than ever before in this period. In November alone, I published on every weekday save one!

F.O.O.M. Friday!

check out my F.O.O.M. Friday series!

This strategy of thinner content spread over more days is a big reason Longbox Graveyard is continuing to grow. In the six month period from June to November 2013, Longbox Graveyard averaged a bit more than 10K views per month, up 26% from the preceding six months!

Longbox Graveyard blog traffic, month-by-month

As always, the bulk of my increased traffic comes from a gradually-improving Google search rank, and more and more content here at Longbox Graveyard — particularly images — for Google to search. For example, Google “Captain America Villains” and you should find my Top Ten Captain America Villains article above the fold — it has seen strong traffic ever since the Captain America: Winter Soldier movie trailer dropped several weeks ago. That particular post is now the all-time most viewed article at Longbox Graveyard!

Captain America: Winter Soldier

The Winter Soldier has been very, very good to Longbox Graveyard

(Now all I need is a way to improve my Gizoogle search rank!)

My traffic was also helped by a couple record-strong days …

Trends & Highlights

REDDIT TRAFFIC SPIKES: Longbox Graveyard had two huge days since my last editorial. Mark Ginocchio’s Best Frenemies Forever guest post powered a single-day record 2663 views for Longbox Graveyard on June 19th. Some of this traffic owed to that post receiving a Freshly Pressed recognition from WordPress, but the greatest traffic came from Reddit, which remains a source of cheap hits for the blog.

Freshly Pressed!

I don’t go to the Reddit well too often, but with the right headline, results can be spectacular — my The Day They Walked Away: Captain America post drove 2112 hits on November 20th, largely from Reddit. Yet the following week, my Top Ten Superhero Lairs post failed to generate any real Reddit traffic at all, despite a Top Ten format that usually draws clicks.

So it goes.

GUEST BLOGS AND COLLABORATIONS: Longbox Graveyard was blessed with several guest blogs this season past. In addition to his Best Frenemies Forever, Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing contributed a personal blog about Marvel’s intrepid investigative reporter, Ben Urich. Tom Mason and Chris Ulm gave us their Top Five Ultraverse Comic Book Movie Properties. Will Kountis offered his opinion of Pedigree Collections, and Pat Bishow told us about his web series, We Might Be Superheroes. I also participated in a quasi-guest blog via the “Super-Blog Team-Up,” where I and several other bloggers all wrote on the same subject on (almost) the same day.

Take This Ring And Shove It!

Green Lantern quit … but I’m hanging in there!

I remain committed to providing a platform for other voices at Longbox Graveyard, and I have a guest blog coming up in January about the Charlton Comics line (something I knew very little about, myself!). If you’d like to be published at Longbox Graveyard, please pitch me your idea at LongboxGraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com. There’s zero pay and frustratingly few hits that funnel back to your own site, but your name will live in Longbox Graveyard glory forever!

NARROW FOCUS: I did do a couple outside blogs — writing Who Is Don Blake? for Sequart and First Cut for The Longbox Project — but I otherwise stuck to my knitting these past several weeks, averting blogging burn-out and providing myself with more time to read comics, instead of writing about them. I do still have some regret about ending my Dollar Box series, and I sometimes toy with the idea of resurrecting my Longbox Graveyard Podcast, but overall I was wise to wind-down those commitments in favor of focusing on this blog. I’m open to guest blogging opportunities (and always happy to appear on podcasts) but I’m not chasing those gigs the way I did in the past.

Who Is Don Blake?

my recent Thor post for Sequart

REPRINTS: I also began “reprinting” the Dollar Box columns I did for Stash My Comics as regular Longbox Graveyard articles, and with good results. Face-To-Face With The Lizard, The Power And The Prize, and Vengeance Of The Molecule Man all performed in line with “first-run” Longbox Graveyard posts. I even managed to have an original Longbox Graveyard post — The Last Days of Supermanreprinted over at Sequart! Since there’s been no outrage at this re-purposing of legacy material here at Longbox Graveyard, I intend to continue the practice in the months ahead.

And, yes, I did just bury the lead … Longbox Graveyard will continue, at its present bi-monthly pace, through June of 2014! I already have the next six months sketched out, and am confident I can continue this blog up through #130 or so (and I have pretty good confidence I can go all the way to the end of 2014, too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

Celebrate!

Longbox Graveyard will continue! Huzzah!

Social Media

I remain active on Twitter, and continue to post now and then to Facebook and Google+. My Pinterest boards are thriving. I’ve seen good growth with my Instagram feed, and plan to make that channel the center of a web comics experiment I have on the boil (and more about that in a minute). I tried out a new blogging platform — Medium — with a reprint of my Supergods review, but nothing came of it and it was a pain to reformat for that system, so I will be confining myself to WordPress for the foreseeable future.

Really, my social media promotion has become pretty routine at this point, and I’d like to find a way to automate it even more than I have (though you will find I almost always pop in on Twitter with “live” reactions when someone responds to one of my pre-scheduled Tweets). I’m feeling a little complacent here, but that mysterious web comics idea I just mentioned should be getting me out of my comfort zone before too much longer.

Longbox Graveyard on Instagram

Longbox Graveyard on Instagram — daily comics posts!

The Accumulation

I made big strides with the Accumulation in the second half of 2013. Indeed, I’m coming in view of the end of this blog’s foundational project in that my Accumulation is very nearly a Collection. I built-out a comic book Man Cave where I can store and enjoy my treasures, and I think I’ve got the comics I want to keep all partitioned off, with just the rump end of the old Accumulation still for sale (or possibly bound for the recycling bin!). All that really remains is to bag-and-board about a half-dozen longboxes worth of books. Then I can transfer everything into clean new longboxes and update my catalogue software, and I daresay the project will be “done!” Of course, this kind of thing will always be a work-in-progress, but the crushing weight of careless accumulation that I felt when I started this blog back in 2011 is now mostly a thing of the past, which is a HUGE accomplishment for me. In truth, without a disaster in the garage looming over me, I feel a little lost!

Bulk Comics For Sale!

please buy my comics!

Monetization

Longbox Graveyard has begun to throw off a little bit of cash, although this never-intended-for-profit effort is still well in the red. I sell a comics bulk box every once in awhile, and by switching to fixed-price Buy It Now listings on eBay, I’ve had better luck then when I was auctioning off stuff at a loss. I even sold an autographed bundle of my Paranoia comics for $19.95, which put cash in my wallet and also made a little deposit in my self-esteem account. If you’re looking for a way to support Longbox Graveyard, please look at those various listings (or my single comics for sale) — and if you don’t see something you like … ask! I’ve been known to dig up special treasures that aren’t listed on my site. I’ll also haggle on price, so don’t be shy — it gives me great satisfaction to sell stuff to readers.

comic book money!

“fool all yours friends”

I also re-activated advertising on the blog, and as my hits rise the (fractions of) pennies roll in. Knock wood and I should be receiving my first credit from Google this month or next, as my accumulated earnings finally go above the $100 payout minimum (I’m presently earning about $14.00/month for advertising).

Reading

Aside from a binge on Tarzan novels, about all I’ve read this year are comics. In the weeks to come you’ll see articles on Iron Fist, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Joe Kubert’s Tarzan, and (maybe) more Master of Kung Fu. I’ve also read a lot of stuff that probably won’t show up here — like Silver Age Legion of Superheroes, Roy Thomas’ Earth-2 Justice Society stories, Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman, and various DC New 52 collections. I could write about these things, but if nothing sparks, I don’t want to force it. Longbox Graveyard shouldn’t be homework, for me or for my readers. My night stand has a tottering pile of comics and trades to read, and there are more things I want to read than I have time to read them. It’s a happy problem to have.

Iron Fist

coming soon: Iron Fist!

Community!

A strong community remains the backbone of Longbox Graveyard, both here in my comments section and on Twitter. My articles continue to draw comment and hardly a day goes by that I don’t get to talk comics with someone on Twitter or Instagram. I connected with regular reader and international man of mystery Horace Austin for a bit at Comic-Con, and I’d love to meet more of you in the flesh! If you’re coming out west for Comic-Con, WonderCon, or San Diego Comic Fest, please drop me a line to see if we can connect!

The Future!

The future of Longbox Graveyard should look a lot like the past — a big new post every odd-numbered Wednesday, and lots of little galleries and shout-outs in between.

The major new undertaking for the blog will be … original webcomics!

test panel by Billy King

test panel by Billy King

I’ve long wanted to host comics content directly on this blog. I posted one of my full books here — Dudley Serious Saves The World — but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I’m hoping this new initiative, in concert with the supremely talented Billy King — will fare better. I can’t believe my good fortune in having Billy contact me out of the blue to create experimental comics here at Longbox Graveyard. It may be a single strip, or it may be a continuing commitment — only time will tell. In the meantime, it is encouraging to find my creative impulses have begun to stir just a bit as I’ve come to grips with my comics hobby and my own past as a comics pro.

In Closing …

That’s enough blithering … thanks, as always, for your loyal support of my meandering efforts here at Longbox Graveyard! If you’ve read this far, please leave me a comment, to tell me what I can do better, to request a specific article, or just to let me know you are out there! Don’t be shy — every comment gets a reply!

And, whoops … I’ve gotten to the end of this article without offering up by Longbox Soapbox poll! So let’s settle this once and for all — your vote is required!

Thanks again for reading!

IN TWO WEEKS: #119 Cover Gallery: DC Superhero Christmas

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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