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In January 2011, we launched Mars on WordPress with a stack of comics and a dream of comic book utopia. A place where mutants and dinosaurs battled daily in a field of giant ants powered by super brains from space just as the galaxy was incinerated… And so began what Paul calls our “un-hinged ravings” about our favorite comic books.

We set two simple rules.

Rule One: If someone wants their work taken down, we will take it down. So far, that’s happened twice. Both times, everyone was happy in the end.

Rule Two: If it sucks, we don’t waste time on it. We are not critics. We don’t use server space on comics we don’t like, and we don’t have anything bad to say about anyone working in the field.

So, what happened? We had a really wordy diatribe planned for you but scrapped it all in favor of this picture:

That big Silver Surfer painting comes from Iain Carstairs – a fellow Jack Kirby fan and the brains behind Science and Religion. All the way from the UK to our wall – Cosmically Awesome! Two paintings above it are our own Kirby-inspired images, a direct result of rapping with Iain about The King.

And that’s what has really rocked the most about Mars: connecting to other fans and creative types. Blogging as a personal monologue is fun, but using it as a way to facilitate a dialogue – an exchange of ideas, memorabilia, and correspondence – is even better.

We used to be the only nerd on our block who liked comic books. Now we’ve got people sending us CD’s with dinosaur comic scans. (Thank you, Dale!) Authors of dinosaur books sending us bitchin’ dino T-Shirts. (Thank you, JP!) Comic book authors sending us autographed copies of their work. (Thank you, Paul!) Authors of comics we feature dropping by to say thanks and telling us where to find their current work. (Thank you, Reggie, Gene, and Marc!) Publishers sending us promotional images. (Thank you, IDW!) People picking up our scans of out-of-print indie comics and introducing them to their friends.

Heck, we’re even tickled when people reference our posts to settle such all-important debates as “In which galaxy did Storm tap into the power of the galactic core to kill the alien inside her?” Yes, our scans settled that question on the CBR forums. Our mother must be so proud!

Also, thanks to people clicking through our affiliate links to My Comic Shop, we enjoyed a big box of comic books totally free this year. Martians, thank you! There are a million places you can buy comics. Buying them through our links just makes one geek incredibly happy. We appreciate it, and we hope you enjoyed your books as much as we did!

Life is good.
Life with comic books is awesome!

BLAH BLAH BLAH TIME
You can stop reading now if you want… We’re going to review our year in terms of what fans liked the most, what brings people to this site, and so on. You know, stats. You’re obsessed with them, we’re obsessed with them, and someday when we hit a million page views we can look back and laugh.

Monthly Stats:

Obviously, no one knew we existed in January. We got 300 hits our first month. Now, we look at 300 views as a slow day. Every month we look for some new way to pump those stats. Do they mean anything? Maybe. But our image configuration artifically inflates them a bit. The way we have our image galleries set up, each image has its own page URL. So, if one person looks at all 30 pages of a comic we shared, that seems to count for 30 separate hits. While we’re thrilled to have more than 16,000 page views in November, it doesn’t translate as 16,000 unique visitors. Still, we love comics and we love that you love looking at comics we love. Rock.

Top Referrers:
1. Google Image Search loves us most. (Sometimes we worry people are just viewing an image and not visiting the site at all???) All other forms of Google in more than 40 countries love us second most.
2. Reddit loves us third most, even if we have to tell them ourselves.
3. Web site that sends us the most traffic: Diversions of the Groovy Kind. (Thanks, Groove!)
4. Twitter and Facebook like us fifth and sixth most. It seems to be not our own direct efforts but re-postings by others. Glad someone is enjoying this lunacy!
5. WordPress itself sends visitors in several ways (tags, .com, dashboards, search – in that order.) Just being on WP gets exposure and we like that.

Top Search Terms:
1. Jack Kirby
2. Age of Reptiles
3. Galactus
4. EC Comics
5. Jungle Girl

That’s the general trend, anyway. There’s a lot of “Jack Kirby Galactus” and “Jack Kirby Art” and so on – reconfigurations of these terms. Mental Note: We need to get a copy of the EC Comics story “Eye for an Eye.” People are looking for it and coming here, but we don’t have it. UPDATE: We have it now! Click Here: An Eye for an Eye.

Our favorite search terms: “what is the deal with mars will send no more” – Ha! See our Secret Origin, dude! Even better is “gonads in my ears.” If you Google “gonads in my ears” – and someone has – we are the TOP of the list on Google. YES! This is why we get out of bed in the morning and scan comics.

Top Clicks:
1. Our revised image of Galactus saying “Mars Will Send No More!”
2. Followed by several ‘bad trip’ double splashes from No Hero.
3. Site we refer to most: KirbyDynamics.blogspot.com
4. Most clicked affiliate link: Captain Victory at My Comic Shop.

Top 12 Posts:
Now, these are only ranked as individual posts when they are no longer the most recent post on our Home Page, as far as we can tell. If 1000 people drop by our Home Page, whatever is posted that day does not get ranked as its own post – it gets ranked as “Home Page.” “Home Page” accounts for slightly less than half our site views. (That suggests we don’t have a regular readership as much as we have an archive of stuff people are searching for, don’t you think?) We’re not counting our Secret Identity, Secret Origin, and Sea Monkeys pages – although they are all in the top 10. People come here looking for Sea Monkeys! We like that a lot! Anyway, here’s what Martians dug the most in 2011.

1. This is the Worst Trip Ever!
Double splashes from the horrifc bad trip in the Ellis/Ryp ‘No Hero.’
2. Origin of Galactus!
People want to know where the big G is from. We can help.
3. Jim Lawson’s Paleo: Loner!
Get hip to Jim Lawson’s pure dino fury now.
4. His Mechanical Brain is Charged with All Knowledge!
Complete EC Comics story “Judgment Day” addressing racism.
5. Archelon and the Sea Dragon!
An audio/visual presentation we created to preserve one of our favorite dinosaur stories, accompanied by an original essay. We really love this book!
6. Armadillos of the Surreal!
The second issue of Armadillo Comics, out of print since the 1970s and totally awesome. This one got reblogged several times and linked to from an Austin, TX news story. Yes! The world needs more Armadillo Comics!
7. Jack’s Back!
A guest post by The Groovy Agent himself, featuring Jack Kirby splash pages of Captain America and The Falcon.
8. All I’ve Got to Worry about Is Shooting My Dinosaur!
A complete EC Comics story adapting Ray Bradbury’s ‘Sound of Thunder.’
9. Preeeeeeeesenting: The Women’s Texas Championship!
We had no idea so many people would be interested in the Hernandez Brothers’ take on female wrestling, but these images got re-blogged several times.
10. Nathan, I Don’t Want to Die Alone!
Mutates doing the deed in the dark by the glow of infrared in John Byrne’s Next Men. That’s hot!
11. Swamp Thing: Rite of Spring!
Everyone needs to become one with the universal biosphere at least once in their lives. We can help.
12. Jim Lee X-Men Posters 3!
Snobby bloggers bash Jim Lee. We celebrate him.

That about wraps it up for 2011! Stay tuned, because 2012 is going to be so insane that we’ll need to conquer another solar system to host it all.