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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

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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).

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

Fantastic Fiftieth Issue!

Longbox Graveyard #50

With this installment, Longbox Graveyard hits the half-century mark! While you can always reference all past Longbox Graveyard columns through the Checklist link at the top of every page, to mark this solemn occasion I thought I’d count down the top ten Longbox Graveyard blogs by hits.

Cue the drumroll and the David Letterman voice as we begin with the #10 item on our Top Ten List of Longbox Graveyard posts for the past year!

10) Tomb It May Concern

Tomb of Dracula is a seminal comic of the 1970s and one of the reasons I started Longbox Graveyard. I was anxious to revisit this book, but my memories were based on the final issues of the run, and the early numbers were rougher sledding than I’d anticipated. I do remain enthused for this book and have been actively filling in my missing issues. I will get around to reviewing the rest of the series, though at this point it doesn’t look like that will happen before Halloween.

one of my recently-added Tomb of Dracula back issues, purchased out of the bin at the excellent House of Secrets comics shop in Burbank, California

It’s good to see this post has gotten some attention through the year, though I think most of that was down to a surge of hits from the Reddit comicbooks group, when I advertised it over there with the headline, “Before Vampires Sparkled, There Was Tomb of Dracula!” Never underestimate the power of nerd rage — about the one thing comics fans can agree on is that they hate and shun Twilight. Unfortunately, those Reddit readers are mostly interested in contemporary books and I don’t think I converted many of them into regular readers. I do think I made some valid points about the harder-than-expected edge of this series and it’s unsparing look at a genuinely evil protagonist — in a lot of ways I think Tomb of Dracula was (and still is) ahead of its time.

Longbox Graveyard has a long future ahead of it because so many of my favorite books have yet to come up for review here. In addition to finishing off Tomb of Dracula, I want to do several columns on Master of Kung Fu, Daredevil, and Swamp Thing, none one of which much figured in the first year of this blog. It’s crazy that I haven’t touched those books but that I did a Godzilla review this year! This project keeps getting bigger the deeper I get into it.

9) Top Ten Marvel Comics Characters

I did a pair of favorite character Top Ten blogs this year, and they both made this year end lineup. Lists are red meat for bloggers — easy to put together, and likely to draw comments, as everyone has an opinion about the best and worst of everything. My Marvel list wasn’t especially good writing, but it was important in that it helped bring together an emerging community around this blog, challenging my understanding of Sub-Mariner and taking me to task for snubbing Spider-Man. Community is critical for blog retention (and Top Tens are a nice, lazy way to structure a blog), so this list did its job, even if I’m not terribly proud of the work.

Plus anything that got me to take another look at Steve Ditko‘s Spider-Man must be counted as time well spent.

another special benefit and unexpected pleasure of this past year has been a new appreciation for Steve Ditko

8) This Female Fights Back!

My Ms. Marvel column represents the best of Longbox Graveyard on a personal level — not because of the quality of the column, but because without Longbox Graveyard, there’s no way on earth I ever would have rediscovered this series. This really was just another stack of books that I intended to offer a cursory glance on the way to eBay, but issue after issue I found myself unaccountably caught up in this admittedly marginal book, and not just because I developed a crush on Carol Danvers. Longbox Graveyard has been about rediscovering the comics of my youth and Ms. Marvel was among the most pleasant rediscoveries of the past year.

Carol is coming back as Captain Marvel, but I like her old look better

There is a vibrant female comics fandom scene on the internet, particularly at sites like DC Women Kicking Ass and Has Boobs, Reads Comics, and I think my Ms. Marvel column gets a few referrals from those sites, but mostly I think this column resonated because there isn’t a lot on the web about the original Ms. Marvel run.

I think the Ms. Marvel character is an important part of the dialogue about sexism in comics, and how female characters are generally sexualized while male characters are idealized, but it’s above my pay grade to sort that out. I just like this book (and since running this blog I’ve addressed my old mistake in filled in the rest of my Ms. Marvel, volume 1 collection, and look forward to reading those last few issues soon).

7) Panel Gallery: To Me, My Board!

My “Panel Galleries” were an experiment born out of desperation, and this first Panel Gallery only did so-so at launch, but it has continued to attract views so I shouldn’t be surprised to see it elbowing into my top posts of the year. Panel Galleries are the “fill in issues” of Longbox Graveyard, and while I will sometimes run them to coincide with outside media events (like the “Avengers Assemble” gallery I ran just before the movie came out), more often than not a Panel Gallery is a last-minute offering to keep my weekly posting streak alive while I work on a meatier subject or just take a couple weeks off to recharge.

This particular Panel Gallery focused on a narrow and obscure trope — the stock phrase the Silver Surfer calls out to summon his flying board. I have several other Panel Galleries on the boil, with panels excerpted and squirreled away in secret folders as I encounter them via my Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription. A few panels that might otherwise have wound up in a Panel Gallery were repurposed for the “Say What?!” features I will be contributing this summer over at the Stash My Comics blog, and past Panel Galleries have new life as the backbone of Longbox Graveyard’s presence on Pinterest. Not bad for a fill-in feature!

If you have suggestions for future Panel Galleries, let me know. My next scheduled Panel Gallery will appear in July, focusing on the faces of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man and supporting characters. The Ditko Panel Gallery I did on Doctor Strange faces finished well down the list for the year, but I really like seeing those Ditko faces up close, so you’re still going to get a lot of larger-than-life Ditko supporting characters in July when the new movie comes out.

a preview of my forthcoming Amazing Spider-Faces Panel Gallery

6) American Dream

I was still finding my footing when I published my fanboy rave for Ed Brubaker’s Captain America. I was in a honeymoon period of rediscovering comics and this Cap run likely benefited from that in scoring a rare A-plus score on the Longbox Graveyard Report Card. As much as I enjoyed the run at the time, two follow-on volumes remain unread on my shelf. Even with excellent modern books immediately to hand, I still prefer to spend my time with sometimes-inferior Bronze and Silver Age books.

Which isn’t to say I over-rated this series — not at all! It’s just that I went a little overboard with Cap in the early days of Longbox Graveyard and I haven’t quite recovered. Those aforementioned volumes are still in the shrink and while I hunted down the missing numbers to fill out my Jack Kirby Cap run from the 1970s, and I haven’t mustered the enthusiasm to plunge into those, either. Life is long, and it will seem longer still if I start treating comic books like homework assignments. I’ll get to these issues when the impulse strikes me. In the meantime, I’m happy to have them in my collection.

This particular post benefited from a surge of readers when author Ed Brubaker mentioned it on his Twitter feed, but like many spikes, that exposure appears to have resulted in few continuing readers. Still, it was nice to make contact with a working pro (and I would also exchange Facebook messages with Walt Simonson over the columns I did on his outstanding Thor run). For several weeks, that was my single strongest traffic day for Longbox Graveyard, eclipsed only by a mysterious surge of hits when I published my Beneath The Longbox Graveyard blog in February (which paradoxically did not end up making this year-end list), and then shattered by last week’s Thanos post.

5) Have You Seen This Barbarian?

This column might have been my best writing for Longbox Graveyard. Certainly it was my most heartfelt, and it’s good to see that my prescription for how Conan the Barbarian might be better handled on film proved one of the most popular posts of the year. A similar post lamenting the misfire of John Carter was also popular, falling just outside this top ten, despite being live for only a fraction of the time of my Conan piece.

it also helped to linkbait Jason Momoa naked

Almost a year later, this movie is forgotten, while the half-life of my Hyborian disappointment has burned off, and I’ve started reading some Conan again, thanks to the Savage Sword of Conan reprints published by Dark Horse Comics. I did a lot of Conan columns this year but I might sneak in one more in the year ahead …

4) Nemedian Chronicles

… because it seems my Conan coverage was more popular than I’d surmised. This is one of the earliest columns on this list, and it doubtless benefited from accumulating hits for nearly a year (and from the aforementioned linkbaiting), but I think the gorgeous Barry Windsor-Smith artwork in this run remains worthy of celebration, especially in their Dark Horse reprint form, and I stand by the high marks I offered Conan the Barbarian #1-25 on the Longbox Graveyard Report Card.

great cover, despite the helmet

3) Longbox Shortbox

Another format born of desperation that proved a successful innovation, my first “Longbox Shortbox” came around when I found I had several reviews that weren’t gelling as longer pieces, but still had one or two points I wanted to share. By combining them into a single post I felt they added up to the substance afforded by my “full” review format, and so the circle was squared, giving me a format to publish shorter reviews and also letting me discuss books that didn’t merit a full column all on their own. I’ve since made the format “official”, though I will be ratcheting back on the number of mini-reviews in each Shortbox column, as five mini-reviews ends up being longer, more exhausting, and less focused than a single stand-alone piece.

There were some decent insights here. My review of the earliest issues of the Avengers would warm me up for more extensive coverage of that book these past few weeks, and reviewing Don McGregor’s Black Panther in this format let me write a negative review in the fewest words possible. It’s not that I shy away from negative reviews — it’s just that my distaste for this Panther run came down to disliking the author’s style, which isn’t the greatest basis for criticism. The biggest misstep with this column was “grading down” New Teen Titans to B-plus (when it surely deserves an “A”) but that was also fodder for comments, which is never a bad thing.

2) Young Justice

An outlier on a comics blog, my animation review of DC’s Young Justice cartoon continues to pull hits each and every week, seeming to strengthen through the year, and might have come in as my top post of the year if I’d taken my traffic snapshot closer to press time. It might be because there are kids out there looking for news on this show’s notoriously erratic broadcast schedule … or it might be because mentioning “Batman Handjob” in your lead paragraph is powerful SEO mojo! Either way, the intertubes loves them some Young Justice!

I was happy for a chance to talk about Young Justice, which I continue to watch with my boys (when it is on). Warners did contact me with an offer to review another Young Justice DVD release, but I turned them down, as I felt I’d already said everything I needed to say about the show. Film and television reviews will remain the exception, rather than the rule here at Longbox Graveyard, but I suspect you can look forward to reviews of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Batman The Brave And The Bold in the year ahead (provided I’m still on the Warners freebie list!).

1) Top Ten DC Comics Characters

Told you that lists were popular! Still, I was surprised to see this post proved the most popular of the year, and I think a lot of that popularity has to do with the robust comment thread this post generated, with thirty-odd posts offering their own Top Tens and debating the merits of Aquaman. I certainly can’t credit the success of this piece to my writing, which was some of the flabbiest on offer here at Longbox Graveyard, and displayed my general ignorance of DC characters by picking a third of the list strictly on the basis of their headgear!

I do promise more DC coverage in the year ahead, starting with some Batman as soon as next week. I’ll also be checking out some of the DC New 52 relaunch now that the trades are hitting the market, though I don’t know if they’ll prove blog-worthy.

Those were the hits. There were misses, too, with my Supergods column proving especially disappointing in terms of the traffic it (didn’t) pull, but even my top posts don’t get a lot of hits in the scheme of things, and the first purpose of Longbox Graveyard is that I please myself, so traffic numbers are of secondary importance. I do like watching my hit numbers increase, though, so if the impulse strikes you, please revisit these or other Longbox Graveyard posts, and tell your friends about the blog.

Thank you for supporting my work these past fifty issues!

NEXT WEEK: #51 Escape From The Longbox Shortbox

LONGBOX GRAVEYARD TOP TEN LISTS

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