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Comics Breakdown!

Thought I’d take a moment to promote two of my favorite things in life: comics, and dogs who type!

Akela Talamasca

That’s Akela Talamasca, “Twitter’s spirit animal and a Typing Husky.” Akela has long had one of Twitter’s most entertaining feeds, and in recent months that feed has been supplemented by fast, funny, and furious outbursts of Silver Age comics goodness in the form of Comics Breakdown.

Comics Breakdown

Problem is … if you miss one of Akela’s Comics Breakdown Tweetstorms, then you miss out on the fun.

Problem solved! Comics Breakdown is on Storify!

Comics Breakdown

Yep, just go to Akela’s Storify page and you can find archived versions of past Comics Breakdown episodes. It’s just like reading them on Twitter, only you aren’t interrupted by the horrifying news of the actual day! WIN!

Thanks, Akela, for being a bright spot in a dark age. And if you like what Akela is doing, here, then vist the Akela Talamasca Patreon page and pitch in a dollar or two. Dog food doesn’t buy itself, you know!

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“And As For Me …”

What’s this? A mysterious package arrives at Longbox Graveyard Secret Headquarters!

What's This?

(Actually, it’s not a surprise at all, as I ordered it. But I pretend otherwise. Coy self-deception is a survival trait for comic book bloggers).

Within, red wrapping.

IMG_0094

(Nice of this eBayer to go to such bother. I would have just tossed the thing in a box).

And within that wrapper, within that box … it’s the Mole Man!

IMG_0095

I was all set to tear the box open … but this is a pretty cool box. I particularly liked the “Then & Now” information panel that made up one side of the box.

Mole Man Then & Now

Ah, but “WHY Mole Man?” I hear you ask. Why did I buy this bust?

I don’t particularly like Mole Man, and I don’t collect busts. I’ve sold off or given away nearly all of my comic book stuff.

Yet here I’ve purchased a Mole Man bust!

Blame this:

Mole Man Value Stamp

Don’t blame the Value Stamp per se (though a different Value Stamp cost me my copy of Hulk #181that’s another story).

No, blame that portrait of the Mole Man, excerpted for a Value Stamp. You see, when I set up this blog, back in the dim days of 2011, I set up a Twitter account to go with it, and Twitter required an avatar. Child of the Bronze Age as I was, I “naturally” flashed on using a Marvel Value Stamp. I scrolled through the invaluable on-line listing of Value Stamps and settled on one that was a portrait with a good “read” and a funny expression: Mole Man.

Not really thinking more about it, I took to Twitter as the Mole Man.

Of course, if you follow me on Twitter … all you see is that damn Mole Man face.

Longbox Graveyard on Twitter

With no small degree of regret, I admit to 27K-plus Tweets on Twitter. That’s a lot of Mole Men!

OK, so I’m the Mole Man. I can go with that.

My Unintentional Avatar is made sweeter through the intentionality of Glenn J. Smith, a Longbox Graveyard reader and Twitter spirit animal who fixed me up with a less gloomy version of the original Mole Man:

Happy Mole Man

With my avatar thus afforded the legitimacy of an individual’s artistic expression, I’ve come to embrace the Mole Man.

First, I did a Pinterest Gallery for him. This is not to be scoffed at! I’ll have you know that I’m the FIFTH MOST INFLUENTIAL MAN ON PINTEREST!

(You see, I become more like Mole Man each moment!)

Then I wrote an impassioned plea for why Ian McShane should play the Mole Man on film.

But, really, those were baby steps, leading up to owning my very own Mole Man bust.

Mole Man, in the cradle

I’ve been looking for this bust for years. Really!

Yes, I know it is readily available on eBay. That’s where I got it! But I set strict rules for the acquisition of my Mole Man.

Specifically, I wouldn’t pay more than twenty bucks for it.

I spent the last two or three convention seasons hunting for Mole Man on dealer floors up and down the west coast, but never found my quarry (and the prices, overall, of these Bowen Designs statues were not encouraging).

So when I found a slightly damaged version on eBay, for $14.00 shipping included, I pounced like a ravenous Moloid!

Mole Man Is Home

And now Mole Man resides in a place of prominence on the bedroom deck that doubles as my office in my new beach condo digs.

It has been a long, strange journey, but I cannot escape this fate. My bust is here at last …

… and as for me …

I am the Mole Man

… I AM THE MOLE MAN!

(goo goo g’joob!)

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

Freakout Friday!

There must be something in the water — or maybe Halloween and the U.S. election are driving people nuts. Either way, I’ve encountered three different freakouts in the last couple days. They’re nothing that rises to the level of a regular blog, but I’d like to share them anyway, in this first (and probably last) Longbox Graveyard Freakout Friday!

Freakout The First — Twitter Freak!

I had a spirited exchange on Twitter yesterday:

Yes, friends, it is true — I am guilty of the unpardonable sin of Twitter unfollowing. Call a cop. I went back and read ToxicStormComic’s stream and he was indeed a dullard, which is why I unfollowed him. That he also proved to be a knucklehead was an unanticipated bonus.

Toxie’s insult doesn’t upset me at all — it’s kind of funny, which is why I RT’d it to my stream yesterday. It’s also a milestone of a sort because it’s the first time in the eighteen months I’ve been online as Longbox Graveyard that I’ve gotten flamed, which means I am doing something right (or maybe very, very wrong).

I’ve been flamed! Oh no!

I suppose this is a chance for me to lay out the Longbox Graveyard Twitter policy.

I am quick to hire and quick to fire on Twitter. I’ll follow most anyone, but I’ll also bounce you if you’re boring, or needy, or posting about stuff that might be very important but isn’t interesting to me. It’s not personal. I get followed and unfollowed all the time and that’s the way it goes. My rules are pretty much as I outlined to Mr. Toxic above — if you’re boring, or a knucklehead, or not following back, you get plonked.

It’s the “not following back” part that requires more explanation, because in this I am (gasp! horror!) hypocritical. There are plenty of people who follow me that I don’t follow back, but there isn’t a single person I follow who is itself not a follower. No exceptions.

The reason for this is twofold. First, the primary reason I’m on Twitter in the first place is to drive traffic to Longbox Graveyard. If you aren’t listening to my feed, I can’t do that. Second, I’m also here to actively engage with people … and anyone who has tweeted at me knows that I always make an effort to tweet back. Again, if you aren’t following me, you aren’t engaging with me. I completely understand that there are pros and celebrities who can’t possibly follow back everyone who follows them and that’s fine. I just don’t follow those people. I need you to follow me and (hopefully) engage with me or I’m not interested in your Twitter stream. So if you want me to follow you, do one of those two things.

(And Toxic, baby, if you are reading this, I am taking my “kiss and make up” offer off the table. I reviewed your stream and you’re still boring).

Freakout The Second — Dark Iron Man!

I expect you’ve seen the trailer for Iron Man 3 by now:

It didn’t do a lot for me, but these first trailers for effects pictures are usually cobbled together from whatever footage is ready to show, and it is a rare first trailer that really blows my doors off. Half the time I don’t look at trailers at all. Iron Man 3? Sold. I will be there first weekend. Why spoil it with a trailer?

Anyway.

A favorite sport is tormenting the Ulm, my day job partner-in-crime, and a comics guy from way back (you may remember him from our Deathlok review, or our Top Ten Manliest Superheroes list, or maybe you were there when I moderated Ulm’s Malibu Comics panel at San Diego Comic-Con).

Ulm even loved Iron Man when he had a NOSE!

The Ulm loves Iron Man. He loved Iron Man even back in the bad old George Tuska days, and he loves Iron Man even more in his eponymous movie and The Avengers, too (we don’t often speak of Iron Man 2). After reading mainstream press reaction to this “dark and grim” Iron Man I thought it was a chance to give Ulm the needle, as I know he loves the lighter tone of the big Marvel pictures, and is worn out by the sometimes dour tone of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films.

I sent Ulm a link to the trailer and Vulture’s article about it, and I was not disappointed in the Ulm’s epic and sarcastic return rant:

Whew. Just saw the new Iron Man trailer. I’m really glad they got rid of that “snarky humor action adventure” trope. No AC/DC, no quips, no fast cars, no stripping stewardesses. Finally, the pointless debris of “entertainment” has been discarded in favor of the grim truth that lies beneath the surface of every comic book character.

Now we see the Iron Man we have all been waiting for —  a serious man nursing his regrets. Now is the time to rip the veil from Tony’s destructive alcoholism and make him pay for his errant and violent ways.

Think how interesting it will be to have a bed-ridden Tony Stark. Personally, I’d like to see maybe 2/3 of the running time with Tony in a coma because of the Mandarin. While he slumbers, ill of heart and mind, let us penetrate Tony’s conscience; his dark dreams and secret torments. Let us see strippers morph into Tony’s mother while he shrieks into the uncaring void. Let us see the living embodiment of Tony’s father through the metaphoric transformation of a bottle of Jack Daniels. Is the disembodied voice coming from the whisky really Howard Stark — or is it the Mandarin — or could it be … Tony himself?

In the course of Iron Man 3, I am eagerly anticipating that Mr. Stark will let down those closest to him, but ultimately learn respect for others (especially women) and, more importantly, for himself. He will learn that his rich and famous lifestyle has actually been a waste of his human potential to love – and be loved.

As the audience, we will travel this dark road with him. We too shall feel our sanity slipping away beneath the many hued rings and accusatory dialogue of the Mandarin. We shall emerge not just entertained, not just captivated, but also that much wiser about ourselves.

Now is the time to transform a so-called “enjoyable” popcorn matinee into a darkly tinged tone poem that transforms the withered trope of “superheroism” into a penetrating view of the subconscious “Iron Man” within us all.

Can’t wait.

— Chris Ulm

Awesome, Ulmster. Pure awesome.

Freakout The Third — By Crom!

About the only thing I thought less likely than a John Carter sequel was another Conan movie, but today comes news that a new Conan picture may be coming in 2014, with Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the role that made him a star.

Now, I’m not crazy about Arnold as my favorite barbarian, which I made clear in one of my first columns here at Longbox Graveyard … but if Arnold is what it takes to get Conan back on the big screen, then I’m ready to make peace with him. Besides, in a twisted sort of way, “Old Arnold” may be better than “Young Arnold” for this role.

Hear me out.

First, there is some indication that Arnold is ready to start acting his age (while still being superhuman), as evinced by this trailer for The Last Stand.

It won’t make anyone forget Terminator, but it doesn’t look terrible. The Last Stand might even be fun.

Further, there is precedent for “Old Conan.” The very first Robert E. Howard Conan story — The Phoenix on the Sword — is about an older Conan, now king of Aquilonia, coming to realize that it is an uneasy head that wears the crown. There was even a fifty-five issue run of King Conan from Marvel Comics back in the 1980s, looking at Conan’s adventures at the end of his life (and now I find myself interested in completing that run).

Arnold has also been slapped around a bit lately, losing his marriage after a sordid sex scandal (in a career that seen quite a few of them), and also proving to have been a failure as Governor of California. Maybe he’s ready to play a world-weary barbarian king. In any case, I’m going to be optimistic about this one, and enjoy my little freakout that Conan may be back, despite the recent big screen failure of the franchise.

Who knows? If the producers listen to the foolproof advice I offered for making a good Conan picture we may finally get the barbarian movie we deserve!

Here endeth the freakouts.

Be good to each other.

(And feel free to admonish me for my TwitterCrimes in comments, below)

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