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Longbox Soapbox (Summer 2016 Edition)

Longbox Graveyard #162

The sleeper has awakened! Longbox Graveyard is back! 

Captain America #101

My thanks for sticking with me through this month-long hiatus. After five years of continuous publication here at LBG, going away on vacation for a couple weeks seemed a good opportunity to step back from the blog (and Twitter, and Instagram) and take stock of my online comics fandom efforts. My return coincides with this summer edition of the Longbox Soapbox, where I reveal blog stats for the last several months, and determine if Longbox Graveyard will continue.

First things first — Longbox Graveyard will continue! I do still enjoy doing the blog, and you guys seem to like reading it, so I will commit to another year of publication. But my frequency will decrease. LBG started as a weekly blog … then moved to twice-monthly … then to once-a-month … and as of now, will be published “irregularly,” which means that I will aim for once-a-month for big “numbered” articles, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to publish just to publish, and while I still have plenty of enthusiasm for comics blogging, the refractory period between those enthusiastic outbursts is getting longer and longer. It happens to all of us as we age, honest!

This shouldn’t impact LBG’s readership too much. The blog has been on a slow drip for quite some time (my frantic publication of Marvel reviews notwithstanding), and I effectively missed the last month entirely and the world still kept spinning. In fact, it kept spinning at a remarkably stable rate, which gave me a picture into the blog’s base traffic level, absent any sort of promotion on Twitter or Instagram. (I abandoned promoting on Facebook ages ago — not because it was a poor source of traffic, just because I don’t like Facebook).

Anyway, it looks like daily search traffic and the occasional visit from Longbox Graveyard diehards guarantees about 2000 views a week for my little one-man blogging operation, down from roughly 2800 per week when I am actively adding content and promoting up a storm. The chart below bears with out, with the last four full weeks on the graph showing activity when the blog was mothballed while I was on vacation (and the right-most week being partial at the time of this screenshot).

Longbox Graveyard weekly traffic

That level of traffic might be kind of sad if I was trying to monetize Longbox Graveyard, but seeing as I’ve turned off most advertising here (again), it’s more than enough for a cozy little fannish operation that is primarily an outlet for my four-color obsessions, and a safe space to discuss the same with a loyal cadre of leaders that have stuck with me through thick and thin. So I expect this to be my traffic level for the future, maybe ticking up a bit when I add new content, or return to Twitter and Instagram in force (and the jury is still out on whether I want to do that … it’s fun to interact through those channels, but it was starting to feel like work, and after a month away I find I don’t miss it much, whereas blogging is still calling my name).

And what might you expect here at the blog in the coming weeks?

I dunno.

shrug

I have a pile of DC Rebirth books here awaiting review, but I am having trouble getting traction with that project. For the most part, these books have failed to inspire the kind of strong emotion that makes for good reviews. Everything has been a “C” so far, and I’m not sure I want to devote a lot of digital ink to damning DC’s latest reboot with faint praise. I may yet take a run at this — if so, you’ll see the first reviews in a day or two.

Or not.

Steve Ditko's Doctor Strange

Looking farther out, I will certainly do something magic-related when the Doctor Strange movie comes out in November (probably in concert with Super-Blog Team-Up). I have a long-gestating Golden Age review series that looks at comics year-by-year that may finally see publication — I’ve written the 1939 entry, but need to finish my 1938 article to kick things off right. I might do something with Star Wars in December, to coincide with Rogue One’s theatrical release. I have special monster plans for October. There’s the second-part of my promised Fantastic Four Annuals review bumping around somewhere; I’d like to take a look at the Claremont/Byrne run on Marvel Team-Up; and I am forever saying I will get back to reviewing Tomb of Dracula, Master of Kung Fu, and the rest of Walt Simonson’s run on Thor. Maybe this is the year!

we miss you, Darwyn

But for now, it’s summer time. The nights are long and the living is easy. San Diego Comic-Con begins this week, and it is right in my backyard, so I expect I will be down there getting in trouble. I’ve been keeping up with a few contemporary Marvel series through my Unlimited digital sub, and several DC Rebirth books are still inbound, seeing as I preordered them months ago. I hope everyone out there is having a great season and reading lots of comics. In fact, that suggests a survey question:

Sound off in the comments, to let me know what you are reading, and to let me know you are still out there and a part of Longbox Graveyard! Thanks in advance for your support, and I look forward to visiting with you here at LBG for the balance of this year and beyond. Excelsior!

NEXT MONTH: Scooby Apocalypse!

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Death To Advertising!

Longbox Graveyard has gone ad-free!

National Lampoon

I’ve used WordPress’ WordAds here at Longbox Graveyard for the last couple years. It never amounted to much — scarcely a dollar a day when the planets all aligned — but I kept it going because along with comments and hits it was another way to “keep score” with my blog. I’m a metrics guy, and I like watching little numbers go up.

Besides, I grew up in an era where comic books carried pages that looked like this …

Comic Book Ad Page

… and so I rationalized that the increasingly ugly ads integrated into the flow here at Longbox Graveyard were just part of that tradition.

But … ugh … those WordAd serves were pretty tacky. Chances are you didn’t even notice them, but as the guy who looks at this blog every day, I was getting worn down.

Ads used to appear at the top of this page, in the top spot on my right sidebar, and at the end of most posts. Some ads were fine, but I really didn’t like the chumbox stuff:

chum

And so they are gone.

I won’t promise they’re gone forever … WordAds only pay off when they’ve hit $100, and I might someday get sick of seeing my account stuck on fifty bucks, and decide to turn it on again. If my traffic really picks up again and I feel like I am leaving money on the table, ads might return. But I don’t need income from this blog, and giving up seven bucks a month in ad revenue is a small price to pay to be rid of this obnoxiousness.

(If it was your convention to click on ads to support Longbox Graveyard … thanks! If you are still in a supporting mood, consider purchase of a graphic novel from my sales page).

I turned a blind eye to ads here at Longbox Graveyard for a long time … if you are interested in what finally changed my stance, check out this article from The Awl.

See ya later, Chumbox!

UPDATE: Even after disabling ads, I’m still seeing them from time-to-time. Letter of complaint is pending to WordPress, I’ll let you know what happens!

 

Man Cave Monday: Windows of the Soul

Surprise!

It’s been months since my previous Man Cave Monday entry, but I thought I’d wrap things up, for now, with one more post — about the windows in my Secret Headquarters!

The windows in my garage Sanctum Sanctorum look out on … trash cans. Yuck. Not much of a view!

Trashed!

Since my den of inequity requires little sunlight, I thought it might be nifty to transform those windows into display space for art.

I hunted around on the intertubes, and dug up some removable, self-sticking wall decals that were perfectly-sized for my windows.

The decals are shipped in rolls …

Tube City

… which are unrolled, and applied with surprisingly little effort to flat surfaces — like walls, or windows!

Window Thor!

With a decal applied to each window, it can look like a Silver Age church when the light shines through …

Silver Age Church!

I’ve actually had these decals up for several months, but I was holding off on posting until the whole thing was “finished” — I wanted to put a simple valance across the top of the window, to finish and frame the whole presentation (this is why we didn’t center the decals, leaving more space at the top).

However … we never did get that valance built, so I am going to declare this one “done” — and not least of which because it seems certain that I will be moving my secret headquarters in the next month or two.

That’s right, sports fans, no sooner do we get my man cave all tricked out and perfect that we are going to sell our house!

But that is a story for another time!

For now, enjoy the windows!

 

Freshly Pressed!

Normally I save these “transparent traffic stats columns” for my bi-annual Longbox Soapbox entries, but these events will be cold by the next time one of those columns rolls around …

Freshly Pressed!

Longbox Graveyard was “Freshly Pressed” last week. This is a recognition afforded by WordPress to blogs publishing on their platform that they wish to spotlight. The selection criteria is obscure, but as the official site notes, “There are half a million of you and a handful of us,” so being selected for one of the eight daily Freshly Pressed spots is a significant endorsement for Longbox Graveyard.

Feels good!

It also feels a little strange, because this particular endorsement came for Best Frenemies Forever, a guest blog about the relationship between Spider-Man and the Human Torch, ably provided by the talented Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing blog. So, yes, Longbox Graveyard was Freshly Pressed, but not in recognition of the work I’ve done here the last two years so much as for Mark’s very fine contribution. I said I wanted to welcome other voices to Longbox Graveyard, and I meant it, so I will still happily accept this recognition, whatever mixed signals it sends to my ego. My only regret is that the feature didn’t send more clicks over to Mark’s home blog, which is excellent and worthy of a Freshly Pressed feature all it’s own (and you should all click over there right now).

visit Mark at Chasing Amazing!

go there now!

Reading the experiences of other bloggers who were Freshly Pressed, I expected my airbags to deploy from the impact of thousands of views, but that effect never quite materialized. Rather than thousands of hits and hundreds of comments, Longbox Graveyard’s traffic was in the hundreds during my Elvis Week(end) … but that’s OK, and probably about as much as you can expect for a long-form Bronze Age comic book blog. If we’d posted about something more accessible — like an excoriating review of Iron Man 3, or some kind of hunky pose-down between Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans that generated plenty of heated comments — then I expect we would have gotten a lot more traffic.

Freshly Pressed!

For Longbox Graveyard, the Freshly Pressed effect was felt not as a spike but more like the tide coming in (and staying). Near as I can tell, the WordPress dashboard lumps views from within WordPress itself with organic views, so exact numbers aren’t available, but from Friday through Sunday (when Longbox Graveyard was at or near the top of the Freshly Pressed site), I appear to have averaged about 325 additional daily views that I can ascribe to the promotion, more than doubling my usual weekend traffic. For the week as a whole, I also gained 139 new followers for the blog (versus the 100 that had signed up in the preceding two years), and also garnered 58 “Likes” (also, easily, a record for the site). Those Freshly Pressed floodwaters have also been slow to recede, and as of this writing my daily views are still running noticeably ahead of normal.

Another impact of an elevated profile inside the WordPress ecosystem (which I didn’t really know existed before this) were a series of “reblogs” from other bloggers, which I gather is a kind of endorsement. It would be churlish to question the value of a Human Torch and Spider-Man article to the Chinese Massage blog, but there we are (and if you find yourself in Beijing and want a pretty girl to help you get “vigorous and comfortable,” well, now you know where to go. Flame On!)

Elvis Week at Longbox Graveyard

note the big spike above is NOT from Freshly Pressed — that’s the Reddit Effect — Freshly Pressed traffic starts arriving on the 21st!

Because it never rains but that it pours, the Freshly Pressed tidal surge was foreshadowed by a flash flood, and followed by a thunderstorm. First, a link to Mark’s post got traction over at the comicbook sub-Reddit, driving 1600 views on what turned out to be an all-time record day for the blog (2,630 total views). I suspect that visibility had a lot to do with WordPress discovering Longbox Graveyard for their Freshly Pressed recognition in the first place. Then, out of nowhere, my Panel Gallery of Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Faces was featured at Tor.com, adding another couple hundred views on 6/25, right when the Freshly Pressed effect was beginning to abate. (Tor.com? Who knew?) It is possible that my Dikto piece was discovered as a result of Freshly Pressed traffic, but I think I’ve traced the origin of the Tor endorsement to a retweet of one of my routine promotional Twitter messages on Sunday. Whatever the source … thanks, and I’ll take it!

Freshly Pressed!

That’s all I can tell you about Freshly Pressed! I have no special insight on why Longbox Graveyard was selected, or how you can make that happen for your own blog. I do know that it is a legitimate accomplishment for Longbox Graveyard, and I’m proud to have had it happen. Thanks to WordPress for the recognition, and thanks especially to Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing for his great work and contributions to this blog! Thanks also to my many readers — both those who have been with me from the start, and those who have joined in just the last week — for making Longbox Graveyard such a rewarding endeavor!

(And if you are a new reader who discovered Longbox Graveyard through Freshly Pressed, or Reddit, or Tor.com, or a prophetic dream, or even a tip from your cellmate, why not post in comments and introduce yourself? I won’t bite).

Man Cave Monday: Broken Backs

It’s taken six months, but we’ve finally broken the back of my Man Cave Monday project. Just in time for Father’s Day, the hardest part of the job (which began as a New Years resolution) is complete!

Those desiring the full blow-by-blow of the transformation of my horrid garage into a comics collecting and reading space can take a look at my past posts … for everyone else, suffice to say this job has been a bear-and-a-half. But ultimately, it was worth it.

In my last update we’d gotten the garage emptied out and the floors freshly painted with epoxy. The next task was to install cabinets and start moving stuff back into the space. A previous comment here at Longbox Graveyard warned that sometimes putting stuff back can undo all the effort of cleaning stuff out — and I admit that dire prophecy was ringing in my ears as we restocked and reorganized the garage — but after hauling some of the detritus to the dump or the local charity, the “garage” side of the garage looked great …

the "garage" garage

… and the “Longbox Graveyard” side of the garage was coming along nicely too, with paint on the walls and cabinets installed to hold my voluminous board game collection.

transition

games to go

Those cabinets were a bit more expensive than I’d intended, but they have bevelled doors that look better than the standard-issue low-end garage cabinet, and the added benefit of feet that elevate them from the floor in the event of a flood (such as from a broken water heater). They also have little pistons in the hinges that let them close softly and automatically with a nudge.

The greatest benefit of these cabinets are that I can close my game collection away behind doors and not have to look at the riot of colors and sizes the boxes present. I’m not the gamer that I used to be, and I am still in the process of trimming down the collection (about a quarter of which — everything in that cabinet above — I hope to sell off), but with everything behind closed doors, I can reduce my collection at leisure, instead of having to look at THIS every time I walk into my garage …

back side of game divider shelves

Paint on the walls, floors all cleaned and painted, cabinets installed, and all our stuff put back into place … which meant it was time to turn this garage from a storage space into a living space.

First came the critical assembly of a reading chair.

building the chair

In the background you can see my graveyard of longboxes, which still need some attention, but time enough for that later.

That chair anchors the main reading corner of the new space …

reading space

… which is a heck of a lot better-looking than the disaster I had at the start of the year …

the sad state of the Longbox Graveyard

And so the back has been broken on this massive project, something I could never have accomplished without good friends breaking their backs on my behalf (Andrew, Tom, and Gretchen — I owe you big time). Special thanks are also due my wife, Rita, for her indefatigable support throughout this project, and for her own back-breaking labor every step of the way.

I am pleased to report that the space has proven comfortable enough that it has attracted not only your humble narrator, but also my cats, who find the new seating options intriguing, and also my wife and kids, who have all snuck out there at various times this weekend to read, or steal a few minutes to write on some portable device, or just to soak up the ambiance of the new and improved headquarters of the Longbox Graveyard!

This marks the conclusion of the major portion of this remodeling project, but Man Cave Mondays will continue as an irregular feature here at the blog. There’s still plenty of little jobs to do — baseboards and crown moldings and windows to tend to, and also more than a bit of decorating ahead — and I intend to bring it all to you with the mind-numbing attention to detail that has characterized this series of posts (and for a photo record of this project — past, present, and future — check out my “Secret Headquarters” Pinterest board).

But that’s all for another time! Now it’s time to get back to reading … and thank YOU for reading as Longbox Graveyard continues boldly into the future!

(Or is it the past?)

done!

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