July 2018 Update:
My GoFundMe fundraising page is now closed.
Thank you readers, friends, and friends of friends for your generous support!
July 2018 Update:
My GoFundMe fundraising page is now closed.
Thank you readers, friends, and friends of friends for your generous support!
It’s been a quiet quarter here at Mars Will Send No More, with a few posts about retrofuturistic trading cards, some new poems, and a brief vignette. If you need more comic-book blogging in your life, I’m happy to report our old friends at Longbox Graveyard, after a long hiatus, just started a new series running every Monday. Since it’s always 1977 at the Longbox Graveyard, Paul will be covering a different comic book from 1977 every week. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s like unearthing a glorious time capsule.
Just when I thought no one was paying attention anymore to my vast archive of comic book posts here, MyComicShop sent a message saying I had accumulated a nice credit in my account thanks to their affiliate program. No, I don’t make a dime off this blog—I lose money to keep it running—but I do earn a little “store credit” when readers click through links to MyComicShop to purchase comic-book goodness. Thanks to readers in the last six months, I earned enough credit to get a box of X-Men and Fantastic Four books I was forced to sell off five years ago. I was sad to see them go in 2013, but we had a joyous reunion last weekend, and for that I am grateful to you. Thank you for reading and clicking!
As for why it’s been so quiet lately, most of my writing energy this year has focused on a story that’s been four years in the making. You might have noticed my ill-advised obsession with writing the utterly non-commercial fiction series The Adventures of Meteor Mags and Patches since 2014. The first 16 stories, totaling over 200,000 words, have been leading up to Mags’ birthday party in 2029. Now it’s time to throw that party—and have it all go horribly wrong.
More than once, I considered giving up. The self-induced pressure to take four years of notes and craft them into a narrative that would deliver a real payoff after all the build-up—honestly, I’ve had many days where I didn’t feel up to the challenge. Strangely, getting in touch with that feeling helped me work out several scenes where the odds against survival are so overwhelming that even the indomitable Mags thinks she might surrender to death at her enemies’ hands.
But what I love about Mags, and why I find it so fulfilling to write about the black-hearted smuggler’s adventures, is her unconquerable spirit. She’s stronger than I will ever be, yet she inspires me to be stronger than I am. I’ve often wondered if readers relate to her on a similar level. But last year, I sent a few of her stories to a friend who endures an extremely painful medical procedure every eight weeks. My friend recently told me she takes those stories with her every single time she goes in for the procedure, and she reads them, and they help her get through the experience.
Before it’s all said and done, Mags will probably conquer her fictitious solar system, but helping a real-life friend remains her greatest achievement. Mags is all about kicking ass no matter what life throws at her. If my irreverent space pirate’s strength can help someone cope with their own challenges, then her true mission is accomplished.
2018 has been a difficult year so far, but I hope you stick with Mars Will Send No More, and that you, too, keep kicking ass. Thank you for dropping by and reading, commenting, filling in gaps in my research on comic books and dinosaur collectibles, and enjoying my archives of artistic obsessions. I’m glad you’re here to share them with me.
Quarterly Report: AD 2017, September.
Part 1: Talk Like a Pirate Day.
My late father had a weird hobby in the 1980s. He spent his evenings in an isolated room, talking on a radio to people from all over the world. He was an amateur ham radio operator, and he picked up all kinds of shortwave stations from the Soviet Union and different places. He was in on the very first developments in packet radio, which was a forerunner of packets of information transmitted over the Internet today.
I never got into ham radio, no matter how many antennae I helped Dad install on the roof to wreak havoc with the neighbors’ television reception and phone lines. But later, I got into public radio at WCBN-FM and KAOS-FM in the 1990s.
Climbing on the roof with Dad was fun as an adolescent, but I have even more adventurous memories of my public-radio days, none of which I can share with you out of a sense of common decency and legal liability. My memoirs from the pirate station in Arcata, California in the early 2000s are even less printable, and that’s one of the everlasting joys of my life.
These days, you don’t need a radio transmitter to talk to people all over the world; you just need the Internet. I loved public and pirate radio, but no one in Europe or Australia or Japan or South America talked to you while you did it. 1990s college radio was local. The Internet is global.
My favorite Internet-based communications group is one I affectionately call my story hour group. They have read stories in live, voice transmission from across the country and globe for more than a decade now. Many of those stories inspired my own poems and fiction.
I got a microphone recently, which only seems amazing to readers who have followed me since 2013 when I sold everything I owned. A few of you understand how lean that year was, and how lucky I am to even be alive to post utterly irresponsible blogs in the middle of the night to you right now. Thank you if you bought some comic books and art that year! I wouldn’t be here without you.
Anyway, to celebrate “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on Tuesday, September 19, I read Hang My Body on the Pier for a group that connects via the Internet to read stories to each other, and it was fun. Reading out loud for a solid hour is more challenging than you’d think, and I was thankful my new mic had a mute switch for when I needed to clear my throat, cough, or gulp another beer.
Okay. I might have gulped beer a few times in their poor little ears. But that is only fitting for “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, and may they all suffer the wrath of a thousand hells if they squandered a single ration of rum that night. Sink and burn me.
I enjoy reading my stories aloud, so I recorded my two most recent short stories and submitted them to Audible to release as audio books. They are currently in the quality review process, because Audible has specific requirements about decibel levels for peaks and room noise. We will see if I got them right the first time, or if I need to try again.
Part 2: Kickstart My Heart.
Don’t tell UK-based artist Joe Shenton, but I backed his recent Kickstarter with ulterior motives. His artwork is the kind of thing I wish I could do. Since discovering his work on Reddit, I could not get this thought out of my head: “He is the guy who should be illustrating my science-fiction series, not me.”
I could spend the rest of my life trying to draw space stuff and aquatic animals the way he does, and not even get close. His drawing arrived last Saturday and is now framed on my wall. He asked about themes or subjects his contributors like, and I told him, “I like space, pirates, and octopuses.” He sent me this glorious 6×8 ink drawing.
Just between you and me and the world-wide web, I’m pondering how to make it worth his while to draw telepathic space octopuses, calico cats, cybernetic electric eels, armored space lizards, and psychedelic rock-and-roll visions from the year 2029.
As you know, these quarterly reports are serious business, so for the love of all that’s holy, put on some decent socks.
In the past six months, your purchases at MyComicShop through the affiliate links on this site earned your humble martian moderator enough store credit to get two volumes of the Samurai Executioner Omnibus. THANK YOU, dear reader! These are books by the Lone Wolf & Cub creative team, full of poetic decapitations and deeply disturbing human behavior in Edo-period Japan.
I love omnibuses so much that I made my own this month. There will be an announcement about it here tomorrow. For now, here’s a shot of my first proof copy of the paperback edition. It’s 183,000 words, 588 pages, and weighs more than 2 pounds. It’s like heavy, man.
Hey! Wasn’t I supposed to graduate this month? Yes. But the forces of evil conspired against me, and the upside is that I have until November to turn in my final project. My sister wanted to send me a little graduation gift, which turned out to be a “sorry about the forces of evil” gift. It’s a plant that looks like an alien growing out of a Dimetrodon‘s back. Hell yeah!
It’s a lovely addition to the blogging station, especially because my venus flytrap bit the dust after I made the n00b mistake of letting its stalks grow. And yes, that’s a bloody stuffed puma in the photo, and I got him a friend this year. They read Villains of All Nations together.
Most people would think it odd that a grown-ass man takes a stuffed puma on visits to the dentist, but my dentist totally understands. He is my hero. He works on big cats like ocelots and tigers at the Phoenix Zoo, and he and his father saved the life of a jaguar that was illegally trapped in Mexico. The poor thing had tried to chew through the metal bars of its cage, damaging its teeth so badly that it couldn’t even eat. My dentist fixed up that awesome cat, and he and his staff take excellent care of me.
No, I don’t have him give pretend check-ups to my toy puma. But now that you mention it, I might ask for that next time! It would make a great photo.
Last but not least, my cell-phone pics of my old Godzilla toy got their fifteen minutes of fame this year. Some cable show about memorabilia found them and contacted me for permission to use them on an episode. No, I can’t remember the name of the show right now – This Bloody American Junkyard or something – but I signed a contract allowing them to unleash my late-night toy photos on the world. If a huge green monster destroys your city this year, I guess you know where to send the hate mail.
This is a different Godzilla toy who deserves his own gallery here someday.
Today is my forty-fourth birthday, which means Mars Will Send No More must be starting its seventh year. Since its rashly considered inception in January, 2011, it has grown from a secret geek obsession with comic books into something far greater: a tool for spreading the comic book obsession like a virus throughout the entire solar system!
Yes, those are bold words from a site that can only brag about having 1.3 percent of the lifetime page views racked up by this video that will never give you up.
But you know what? College (and some high school) classes now send their students to this site. Seriously. Several of the classic EC Comics stories I pirated from a zillion sources (some of whom hate me) and dragged into the light on this site have become educational material for online classes which link from their course modules to individual posts here.
LOL! Let’s hope they don’t read the rest of the site, because I’m pretty sure most of it violates the university’s code of student conduct! For the love of all that’s holy, pray the innocent youth don’t see naked cat women, drug-fueled psychedelia, anarchist ravings, and deranged comic books printed with the blood of innocents in their ink!
Then again, that sounds a lot like any issue of EC Comics, so read on!
Many human endeavors can be understood as an urge to conquer death by creating something that will live on after we’re gone, and blogging is no exception. We put things up and hope they will last. But despite the internet’s ubiquity and massive storage capacity, it has an ephemeral, ever-changing quality. Things die on the web.
I thought about that last week while subjecting this blog to a couple tools to check for dead links. What sort of things had died here on Mars? Many were links to (and pingbacks from) pages I have taken down due to the evolving nature of my artistic concerns. Some were links to other sites whose owners no longer have them hosted, or pages they took down. Some were links to products and product searches at retailers which, for some reason, were no longer generating valid results. And at least one was just a dumb typo I made in a URL!
It took the better part of a morning to scrub 3000 pages here and repair or delete between 100 and 300 dead links. Hopefully the efforts will keep this site fresh and vibrant for search-engine indexing, and reward people discovering it for the first time with links that actually go somewhere, rather than into the dreaded 404 Error dead zone. I sacrificed a few pages that were so problematic it seemed easier to burn them clean instead of re-doing them. They weren’t getting hits anyway, and the dead links were probably part of their problem.
Mars has always been my little garden of inspirations, and I hope clearing out the dead wood will help it remain a thriving one. Do you have a favorite tool for checking broken links? Drop a line in the comments section here and let me know!
“I don’t get blogging.” Someone said that to me recently. What’s there to get? If you ever kept a diary, you get it. Or a dream journal. Or notes while you travel. Or maybe you just pretended to be Captain Kirk and kept an imaginary Captain’s Log.
Stardate: 29 June, 2016.
Halfway through the sixth year on Mars Will Send No More, this blog has outlasted the original five-year voyage of the bloody starship. Thank you, dear reader, for indulging my unhinged rantings about comic books, rough drafts of poems before they get a tune-up, and the never-ending struggle to create an illustration that’s worth a damn.
Strange things happen when you keep a journal. Whether it’s a private diary for your eyes only, or an exploration of something that interests you, you learn. You grow. You change. And you gain a greater perspective on events when you can step back and see where you’ve been.
This blog is a record of things that inspired me—mostly comic books, but also art and music and pop culture artifacts. A few thousand people drop by every day to plunder the archives. They’ve racked up 3.1 million page views since 2011, but they’re a pretty quiet bunch and always leave the archives in order when they leave.
If you’re new to this site and you love comic books even half as much as I do, start with my Top Ten Favorite Single Issues and its follow up Ten More Top Ten Favorites. These lists are also instructive for people who don’t “get” why anyone would be into what many people perceive to be children’s cartoons. You might also be interested in Indie Comics, which includes spotlights on small press comics the creators were kind enough to send for review.
And if you think I’m ending this post without a link to my glorious archive of dinosaur comics, you’re crazy!
Now that we’ve got robots landing on and exploring Mars, and comets, and asteroids, and we’ve got close-up pictures of Pluto’s terrain, all those golden-age pulp comic books seem kind of silly, don’t they? The other planets are no longer mysterious climates inhabited by monsters, mutants, mermaids, and laser pistols. Even the running joke about this blog being sent from Mars makes increasingly less sense as time goes on.
But it’s been a cool five years, so let’s do another! Many of the things that began as little seeds of creative spark here on Mars Will Send No More have taken on a life of their own. It’s fun to watch them grow. I recall how crushingly difficult it was to come up with 1000-word vignettes for a collaborative writing project here just three or four years ago when Paul and I did The T-Rex Beatdown. Now I’m planning the follow-up to the 118,000-word hail of bullets known as Red Metal at Dawn. Life’s funny like that!
The world has changed, too. Just a few Januaries ago, we kicked off a New Year by posting pages from the long out-of-print Miracleman #15 with a call to the comics industry to quit arguing about the series rights and just reprint the bloody thing for us! Well, they finally did. Thanks, Marvel! Sometimes, the world does become a better place.
Something changed for the better at MyComicShop, too, the retailer we often link to in our vintage comic book posts. About every three months, sometimes every six, we get a message saying we’ve earned a small amount of store credit for directing comic buyers to MyComicShop. In the second year of MWSNM, we once earned over $100 in store credit, but it’s usually more like $20 now. Not huge, but a nice bonus. Last time, we got the recent 4-issue Alien Legion: Uncivil War series, which we missed when it came out. Thank you, readers! Anyway, now we affiliates can apply that store credit to the shipping charge of $4.95. Yes, we used to have pay $5 for those quarterly bonus shipments of store-credit comics, but no longer. Yay!
Despite the changes this blog has been through, WordPress says about 200 people visit it on an average day, which is standard for maybe three years now. Sometimes, a post gets picked up and we see a traffic spike above the typical 2000 daily page views. In December last year, we saw a day with 4000 page views. Those traffic spikes generally show a burst of referrals from Facebook, though a few other sites refer to us routinely, and we often get picked up by articles that want to link to a specific comic book story in our archives. The most page views we ever got in a single day was 10,034 on February 9 last year, and we almost hit 800,000 total views for the year, from nearly 90,000 visitors.
We still love hearing from independent artists and publishers who want to share their work. Our indie comics reviews remain sporadic due to the writing-intensive nature of our university courses, but they are one of our joys here on Mars.
Thank you for dropping by!
As a teenager, the only thing I knew about Swans was that Henry Rollins loved them. It wasn’t until my early 20s, when I was at the radio station, that I had a chance to listen to one of their albums. I found their brutal approach to noise interesting, but I couldn’t get into it. That was a little over 20 years ago.
But a couple years ago, after a breakup period, Swans began releasing new work. They made their album To Be Kind available to listen to for free, so I checked it out. This time around, Swans blew my mind. They followed it up with The Seer, an album which included several monumental jams clocking in at 19, 23, and 32 minutes – and all of it pure power.
The six videos in this post were recorded (not by me) at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix on 13 April, 2015. I’ve been to hundreds upon hundreds of concerts in my life, from piano concertos to free jazz to punk rock. This concert stands out as one of the most amazing.
Four years have come and gone since we tossed out our first blog and staked a claim on the Martian frontiers of the WordPress.com platform. Since 2011, our informal quarterly reports gathered our thoughts on this off-beat hobby of comic book and art blogging. This year, we’re going to close the book on the quarterly reports with this fourth anniversary post. We’ve got a pretty massive Archive page on the top menu of pages now, so lose yourself in our virtual bookshelves any time you want.
Our four years here on Mars have helped us get back in touch with all the things we loved about comic books. By connecting with others, we’ve gained context about the books and art we love, and discovered new things. By focusing on the work of other artists, sharing it, discussing it, we’ve gained a clearer sense of just what it is that moves us when we experience art. And that has opened up some doors to creative expression that had long been closed to us due to our exclusive focus on guitar.
Mars Will Send No More has been an outstanding vehicle for learning. As a vehicle for expressing our unbridled enthusiasm for comic books and related art, it has been a fun and stress-free way to keep current on social media and web trends that matter in our professional life. You have no idea how many times we have tried to explain what makes our post about Wolverine getting his adamantium ripped out so popular, but it makes a prime example for explaining SEO and content basics to people with questions.
We still don’t make a dime off this website. We probably spend 120 bucks every year to keep it ad-free, have extra storage for all our images, register the domain and email address, and tweak the basic “Grunge” theme with a few customizations. We might consider granting ad space to a sponsor who wanted to cover that annual cost this year. But who in their right mind would want their site advertised next to our maniacal, Kirby-Krackle-drenched, utterly unhinged ravings about the glory of sequential art?
Our affiliate relationship with Amazon doesn’t generate many free books for us, maybe $20 in store credit in four years. The affiliate relationship with MyComicShop is a better bonus for us. Since June 2010, when we were on Blogspot in embryonic form, we have referred $5,840.53 in sales to MyComicShop. This earned us store credit of $876.08 over four and a half years. Much of what we pick up there gets blogged about here. Now, due to desperate personal circumstances since Fall 2013, we’ve sold many of those books on eBay. That might be the one exception to “not making a dime off this website,” but it wasn’t an exception we were thrilled to make.
Regardless, life marches on, and comic books remain stunningly awesome! We have some favorites to share with you this year, including scans we made of some cherished books before selling them. We have bi-weekly posts scheduled for the next couple of months and enough in the drafts folder to indulge in weekly comic books obsessions for most of the year. Thank you for dropping by and indulging with us.
Tomorrow the world.
Once upon a time, you could find a fresh post about comic books nearly every single day here at Mars Will Send No More. That rigorous publishing schedule has declined in recent months, and we expected that to correspond with a decrease in the stats we bloggers love to obsess over so very much. This assumption turned out to be completely wrong.
Even after periods of hardly posting at all for one to three weeks at a time, the Martian archives still hold many undiscovered treasures for legions of internet users around the world. Whether it’s orginal content like last week’s Guide to Getting Started Selling Comic Books on eBay or the scans we found, cleaned up, and organized from the KISS Marvel Comics Super Special two years ago, certain posts seem to take on a life of their own.
On the art and poetry side of the mix here on Mars, we’ve already covered how our art sales are doing within the last week. Other minor successes related to this blog include earning, at last, both Top Seller and Power Seller status on eBay in June. The dark cloud of selling off our beloved comic book collection at least has that silver lining, and our success as sellers has earned us a few commissions from friends to sell some of their stuff online, too. It isn’t like we make a single dime from doing this blog, but the experience of pursuing our passionate obsession with comic books and comic book art has certainly opened some doors for us in other areas of life.
We like to chart our activity over time, so let’s have a chart already!
June 2014 exceeded 85,000 page views by more than 10,000 visitors. This topped May, which had already set a new high by breaking 80,000. June also saw a new high where daily page views broke 8,000 for the first time. All of that put us well over the top of 1,500,000 lifetime page views, a number we now absolutely love quoting to potential customers in our professional sphere.
LOL let’s just hope they don’t actually READ this lunacy!
We do these quarterly reports just for fun, like everything else on this site. Mars Will Send No More has certainly grown beyond our humble expectations, and we have learned a lot by doing it for nearly three and a half years now. On practical matters such as coding bullet lists in HTML, effectively tagging posts to capture search traffic, and the power of a WordPress blog to drive social media marketing, MWSNM has given us as much of a learning experience as any of the things we’ve been studying at the university concurrently.
Despite the growth in size and traffic of MWSNM, we didn’t expect what happened in April. In April we posted nothing, but traffic stayed about the same. Monthly page views site-wide began hovering around the 50,000 mark about six months ago. Did that number fall in April? No. That suggests the massive collection here of over 1500 posts has achieved a life of its own. It has grown from a little plant that needed daily attention and care to a healthy young tree we can forget about watering for a month. Nice!
Now, it has not been an entirely joyous occasion selling off our sizeable collection of physical comic books since last fall. We have, however, taken great pleasure in knowing our favorite comic books of all time will be in the hands of readers who appreciate them. After all, books were meant to be read, just like guitars were meant to be played, and cats were meant to sleep in Priority Mail boxes.
Even after 12 quarters, we still receive inquiries into the nature of the cryptic phrase ‘mars will send no more.’ A page dedicated to our secret origin illuminates all.
But in another sense, Mars is our virtual garden. Or maybe a plant in our garden, grown from a digital seed. We tend it, trim it, prune it, feed it, groom it, give it love, and even worry that someday Mike Baron is going to show up and make us take down the whole thing, since he invented the phrase. It’s scary, sometimes: having a little digital pet that someone could just turn off at any time.
Blogging is like writing a book you can never touch. Paper burns, but what do pixels do? Where is the page when you turn off your machine? When we were kids, we read books about magic. When we became adults, we lived in an electric world made of it.
And you know what? We love it. Why do 7000 people drop by every month to look at 7 or 8 pages in the Martian Archives? We don’t know. We do get a kick out of being referred to by such notable sources as The Atlantic, who referenced our scans of America’s most famous comic book: The safety instructions found on every airplane! Interestingly, they don’t reference the exact post. Instead, they use a URL for our tag archives for the word airplane: https://marswillsendnomore.wordpress.com/tag/airplane/
What if we posted something new tagged with airplane? It wouldn’t matter what the post was really about, as long as it had a tag for airplane. We could post propaganda for the Martian Underground Resistance, in hopes that the Atlantic’s readers will someday join the revolution. Or, we could just leave them a greeting card with a cute cat and a cozy scarf on it.
LONG LIVE THE MARTIAN RESISTANCE!
MOUNTAIN LIONS FOREVER!
Love the feathered dinosaur illustration. Here’s the article in Naturwissenschaften: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00114-013-1107-5
This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=942
So I don’t normally blog whenever a new dinosaur pops out the pages, but a new one, Acheroraptor temertyorum received quite a welcome back to the living world with this exquisite illustration by Danielle Dufault. I’ve asked for her permission to post on here, and it’ll appear on the front cover of Naturwissenschaften (December issue, probably), so defo worth checking out a hard copy!
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You never really know what’s going to happen when you post something on your fan site. Will anyone ever care? Maybe they will! We put up a collection of pages of Ian Miller artwork from an edition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. It required the sacrifice of a copy of the book, but frankly, no one seemed to give a shit we posted it. Months later, out of the blue, someone searched for Ian Miller artwork from Martian Chronicles. Word spread from their repost. Suddenly we woke up and wondered… who the &%$#! are all these people looking at this?!
In the same month, someone got jazzed about Wolverine getting his adamantium ripped out by Magneto. And that post just keeps getting pounded every day. We just thought, hey, this is a cool piece of comics history someone might want to reference. And they found it, eventually.
That’s fan blogging in a nutshell: “I think this is cool, maybe someone else will. Oh, look – they did!” And then you get to chat about it. That’s the awesome part, really. Not stats. Chatting with people about mutual interests. I could go up and down my entire block and not find three people to chat with about Wolverine and his goddam adamantium. But thanks to the web, we can enjoy a little connection over our personal obsessions. And you know what? Sometimes we learn something along the way. And sometimes… we even send you mail. Postal anarchy forever! Mountain Lions Forever! Long Live the Resistance!
Leo was my big fluffy snuggle buddy for many years. He forgave me for trying to shave him with my electric hair trimmers. I forgave him for stealing my bacon right off the kitchen counter. Leo’s favorite comic book was the Bendis/Maleev run on Daredevil. He liked that best because he loved spending 3 or 4 solid days on the couch with me while I read the entire TPB collection cover to cover. Leo was a big kitty under all that fluff. He didn’t mind my throwing an arm over him like a big orange teddy bear to fall asleep with him.
Leo was not well the last year of his life. We knew he was living on borrowed time, but he loved to cuddle until the end. Leo died Thursday afternoon. I’m glad I got to share 14 years on this planet with him. Leo, my boy. I miss you already.
Greetings, Martians! Let’s do a quick quarterly report.
In the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at classic monster stories from Jack Kirby. Drop by and check them out at your leisure! We just wrapped up a retrospective on DC’s Strange Sports Stories from the 1960s. Thank you for the comments and reminiscing.
Blah, Blah, Stats: This month our meter rang up page view 500,000. Half a freakin’ million! October brought us two new personal records. First, the monthly views hit 52,944 – our second month over 50,000. Two, we had a record day of 7,350. Two things happened that day. One, Google put up a banner about the anniversay of Little Nemo in Slumberland. We have put up an extensive Little Nemo gallery culled from the Digital Comic Museum archives, and boy did it pay off in hits that day. We made all our Little Nemo posts “sticky” and Google obligingly sent us much love. Then, someone on Reddit shared our collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles splash pages by Michael Zulli. That actually brought more traffic than Little Nemo!
Life as an Affiliate: All the traffic is translating into more clicks for our affiliate links at MyComicShop and Amazon. Hey, we worked hard to make it easy for people, creating a little section on (almost) every post clearly labeled “Collector’s Guide.” That way, people know what links are references and what links will take them to stores. We figured that was better than randomly peppering posts with affiliate links, and the readers seem to agree. No one likes being dragged to some store if they want more information, but people do want to know where to click if they want to buy. Fixing that for our readers involved untold hours of going back to old posts and editing them all to make the “Collector’s Guide” consistent, but it was well worth it. We won’t even go into the time we spend tracking down every possible reprint to give you more buying and pricing options!
Speaking of which, thank you for each and every item you buy through our site. You could go anywhere, but when you do it here, we get some store credit (NOT cash) to buy more comics. What do we get? Fun stuff! For example, we recently got a couple Marvel Treasury Editions of Conan and the Jack Kirby Thor one. They are huge and lots of fun. Between the Longbox Graveyard’s review of the Barry Smith Conan stories and a friend’s sending us an original from 1972 (minus the cover), we decided to give the Cimmerian classics a shot. We were not disappointed! Also, Rick Griffin’s collection of art in comic book format The Man from Utopia. It is mind-blowing! Huge Rick Griffin fans, we’ll share some of that with you next year. Normally we don’t buy books in that price range. Thanks to you, our indie comic collection just got that much more awesome!
Reddit Strategy: Speaking of Reddit, let’s share our strategy. We take a different approach than most bloggers, and it seems to be working well. People on Reddit – especially in niche subreddits like r/comicbooks – are sick to frickin’ death of people posting their blogs. So, we take a splash page and post the URL for the image itself, not our blog post. We respect the subreddit by including the issue and the artist name in the post title in brackets. Then, we tag it with ‘comic excerpt’ flair – just so everyone knows this is not blogspam! Images tend to do well in upvotes because they only take a second to view and get that upvote click.
But, as soon as we post, we go in and leave a comment: something along the lines of “Click here to read more of this issue if you like.” Very non-spammy, transparent, and clearly a link to more info. Those links from within the comments get plenty of clicks! Maybe people like the fact that we’re not trying to drive traffic to yet another blog with the post itself. Finally, as a thank you to the readers, we monitor the posts throughout the next day or two. We respond to people, engage in discussion, submit more relevant links if people have questions, and – last but not least – upvote every single comment anybody leaves. Maybe that encourages comments, maybe not.
Readership versus Searchability: One last thing before we wrap up. We really doubt we have that many regular readers. You know: people who jump out of bed in the morning thrilled to see our post of the day. While we enjoy our regulars and their comments and love to engage in discussion, we have really taken an entirely different track on readership. We are not really trying to establish an “audience.” That’s a super-tough goal. Lots of people on the web are clamoring for our attention every day – along with the rest of what we need to get done in life. So, we work towards being the site that comes up when people are searching the web for comic books and related topics. Everything we do is geared for being search-friendly. Here are some ways we do that:
Daily Posts – Search engines love fresh, relevant, consistently posted content on a topic. Posting often says you must know a lot or at least have a lot of information.
Series – If a subject is worth covering once, it’s worth covering a dozen times. Search engines see that you post regularly about a topic, and it tells them you must have lots of relevant information. Rather than writing a magnum opus about Jack Kirby’s monsters, for example, we’re posting daily – and briefly – about them for about two weeks.
Key Words – Not only do we try to use key words people might actually use in their searches, we review what search terms bring people to our page. If we see a few hits on a topic, and we have that topic, we add tags that exactly match the search terms. For example: Back when people were searching for who the creepy guy was at the end of the Avengers movie, we went back to our article on that and added tags that matched some of the searches that were trickling in. After we made our tags match those search terms, the floodgates opened on that post. It rocketed in hits to be one of our most popular.
Image titles – If you are uploading images, pay attention to their file names! Uploading “w554fximg.jpg” serves little purpose. Rename it “jack kirby thor splash page 1.jpg” before you upload it! Then, when search engines crawl your image files, the file names match people’s search terms.
Updates – Every now and then someone gives us new information that would strengthen an old post. For example, we didn’t know a Man-Thing omnibus came out recently until someone told us. We dropped everything to go back and update every single post in our Man-Thing archives with links to buy the omnibus. Sometimes updating an old post with better links and more information has turned a lonely, un-viewed oldie into a flurry of hits.
When did it become the second week of October?! We broadcast our quarterly report to you from within the depths a massive time warp. Some cool stuff happened while we navigated the vortices and vertices of transdimensional hyperspace.
Our honorable co-conspirator Paul O’Connor at Longbox Graveyard had a birthday, so drop by and wish him well! He’s also been cranking out podcasts and has expanded his postings to more days of the week, in addition to writing several columns on other sites. We’ve been following him from maybe his first month, and watching the LBG grow ever since!
Jim Lawson began publishing his Paleo series online, one page a day, at no charge. We hope this effort brings his amazing dinosaur comic to a wider audience. It can be hard to find all the issues in print, but you can usually find the collected Paleo TPB of the first six issues easily. And believe us, the 7th and 8th issues are well worth the effort it will take you to track them down for a complete set. We just got them last month – a huge tyrannosaur-sized thank you to Jim and Colin for that! Our post about his follow-up series Paleo: Loner remains one of our most popular pages – probably because it got linked to from Jim’s site. We are honored!
We haven’t had much time to publicize Mars the last couple of months, but it made us happy to see io9 pick up our post about the first issue of Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Check out the io9 article on Jonathan Hickman’s plans for Avengers.
Coming up this month: We are going to treat you to as many Ray Bradbury stories from our EC Comics collection as we humanly can. We’ll be running them almost every day from October 10 to October 31. You will get our handy guide to their publication history in every post, along with the usual helpful links to see what issues you can currently buy.
Coming up this month: We received a ton of great self-published indie comics to review recently! Later this month you can enjoy a review of a different new indie title every day for about a week. Just give us a chance to crawl out from under our homework and we will rock your world!
Coming up this month: You’ll also see a week of daily poetry posts this week. We wrangled just enough time to write a little bit on the side recently, and we dug out a few old favorites from the vault to round out a full week.
Last but not least, our goofy monthly stats chart! It felt good to watch that stats ticker roll over 400,000. Strangely enough, though page views were down two months in a row, our affiliate sales at Amazon and MyComicShop went up. (And, we hit new highs for follows, shares, and likes – go figure!) Thank you as always for the box of free comics we got with our store credit. We’re loving them! Remember, we don’t make money from your purchases, but we do get a store credit that helps us buy more books to rave about maniacally and share with you.
Thank you so much for dropping by and rapping about our mutual passion – comic books! Without our readers we would be nothing.
Every day for 20 months we’ve pumped comic book awesomeness into the internet. It helps us unwind between pursuing our college degrees, taking care of our business customers in our not-so-secret identity, pursuing whatever art or music project calls out to us, and seeing what our cat wants.
We enjoy connecting with other readers and corresponding about our favorite stories. You helped us discover more titles and stories, from the latest self-published books to hidden treasures in the vaults of comic history. We have fun hanging out with you in Martian cyberspace!
Our daily postings will continue for at least another year. After that, we will need to hang a shiny new bachelor’s degree on our wall next summer and probably start a master’s program. Only Dr. Doom’s time machine can tell us if we’ll have time to keep up then!
For now, having completed six weeks of homework, quizzes, and the final exam for an Applied Statistics class called Quantitative Methods in Business in just four days, we are going to take a nap. Program the robots to guard the perimeter! Inform the Justice League we cannot make the meeting on the satellite today!
Until tomorrow, we leave you with this goofy chart of our first 20 months.
200,000. That’s a big number. Did you know scientists believe the biggest number is 45,000,000,000? Some speculate that even larger numbers exist.
Ok, maybe that’s not true. But what do we know? We only got a 100.6% in our statistics class last semester, which should be statistically impossible.
Do you remember what you did before blog technology? No, we don’t either. Something involving this weird stuff known as nature, maybe. Or this place we read about called “the outside world.”
But we have evidence life existed before blogging. At least creationists and evolutionists can all agree on that. In fact, both sides agree that the age of the universe may date back as far as 1982. In 1982, we were working on a strange technology known as paper. Paper is a substance made out of old computer printouts and egg cartons run through a wood chipper, with essential vitamins and flavors added.
Our ancestors taught us how to form primitive letters from paper using analog cut-and-paste technology called scissors. The ancient ones hoped we would use this technology for the good of all humankind. We decided that was a dumb idea. Instead, we cut out the names of superheroes and comic books.
Thank you for dropping by and reading comic books with us!
It’s a strange hobby, but someone’s got to do it. We have many more fun things to explore and share with you. So, put on your bathrobe, quit your day job, and click away!