Rated PG-13 - Please note this site may contain some
Hi Dave. Thanks very much for taking time out of your busy day to talk with us. We've really been looking forward to learning more about you and your site.
Perhaps you can start by telling us a little about yourself.
My name's David Campbell. I'm a Seattle-area writer, in my late thirties who enjoys history, film, comic books, hiking, long walks on the beach, pina coladas, etc.
Where did you get the idea for your site?
Several years ago I created an Introduction to Super Hero Comics booklet for a friend of mine. It was this thick 100+ page overview of mainstream American spandex comics that accompanied a long box stuffed full of comics I considered important. The guide had a summary and humorous commentary for every comic in the box – it was like a Comics 101 class. Anyway, it struck me that I could probably do something similar online and so I created Dave's Long Box, where I basically review old comics from my collection, hopefully in an entertaining manner.
Do you have other sites? Was/is this your first?
My first site was actually The Velvet Marauder, a fake online diary written by a low-tier superhero. I created it as a fiction writing exercise and it lasted for a few years. The tagline was "It's like Bridget Jones' Diary, but with a super-powered vigilante."
Is it possible I saw a fatter, drunk, out of shape Velvet Maruader on a beach in Barbados sipping Pina Colodas recently?
You know, I lost track of the guy a few months ago – he tends to skip town, er, go on vacation when things get too heavy in the superhero world, so I wouldn't be surprised. Plus, he's basically lazy and self-gratifying, so yeah. He'd be unhappy if he heard you calling him "fatter," though...
And you do all the writing yourself?
Is this your primary job or do you also work elsewhere?
No, I have a day job in Corporate America.
And just out of curiosity, if we can ask, what is your Secret Daytime Identity?
Well, I work for one of the huge signature Seattle-area corporations. It's not the one that builds jets, or the one that makes software, or the one that runs a vast online bookstore… which leaves us with the huge corporation that sells coffee. I work for The Man, basically. The office is nice, though.
It sounds to me like you should be working in the comic book industry…why aren't you?
I dabble. I'm sort of chipping away at the fringes of the comic book world, but I've been spending a lot of time writing screenplays lately, so that's where my focus is right now.
Hey, that reminds me! Check out my blog for Templar, a comic book series that I have been working on with an artist friend of mine. It's in black and white “ashcan” format, which means it's sort of a rough-cut. But you'll get the jist of it. Here's the link: http://templaronline.blogspot.com
Has any of your web activity netted you job offers in the comic book industry?
Actually, yes. I've landed a few short-term gigs and have made some great connections with people whose work I really admire. I've also received job offers outside the comic book industry, mostly online stuff. My blogs have been good to me, I can't complain.
How long has your site been live?
Since March 2005.
What was your inspiration for the site?
I enjoyed reading comic blogs like Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin and Neilalien , which have a unique and personal slant on comics.
When you first started the site what was your experience like?
Painfully awkward. I fumbled around trying to find the right style/voice for a while, but hit my stride after a few months. If you can get past that learning curve at the beginning and stick with it, you're golden. The trick is just not getting discouraged by those sucky initial posts.
From day to day work and maintenance on the site what is the primary difference from when you first started the site to now?
I update less frequently now. Sad, but true. I have competing demands (family, work, writing gigs) that make it tough for me to post as much as I would like.
How many people does it require to run your site?
Just me and my monkey Julius.
How much time do you think you spend on your site on average a day?
Jeez, it varies. Anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours. Does cleaning up after Julius count? Because he's a messy little bugger.
What do you enjoy most about having a web/site?
I enjoy the social network of like-minded people I have fostered over the past few years. I correspond with some great bloggers, comic artists, writers, and fellow geeks from all over the world and it's been a fantastic way to get to know people I might otherwise never speak with.
What is the biggest challenge you face in running a site like yours?
Time management and inspiration. I have to carve out time from my day to post, and sometimes I just get burned out talking about comics. Fortunately, the folks who visit my site don't seem to mind if I post about other stuff, like film or TV. I figure as long as most of my posts are about comics in some way, I'm still staying true to the site's core mission.
From a financial perspective are you losing money, paying the bills, or making money from your site?
Losing money! The time I spend posting could be spent writing for money or working. On the other hand, the blogs have drummed up some work for me, so it probably evens out.
What are your goals for the site?
I'd like Dave's Long Box to be
a) a showcase for my writing
b) a positive site that reminds people why they like comics in the first place. I dislike overly negative sites that seem to exist only to bitch about crappy comics or blogs they don't like.
To people just getting started what piece of advice would you give them?
Blog about something that you enjoy and have some knowledge about – it will keep you motivated to continue. Don't blog about stuff you don't like – I question how healthy it is to spend X amount of time per day being angry or rude or confrontational. Don't be a jerk in your posts or when responding to comments. Don't try to copy the format or style of other blogs.
I also recommend using your own name instead of an alias, but that's just a personal preference. I think using your name, particularly in the title of your blog, goes a long way towards developing an audience and creating a brand identity. Using your name (at least your first name) adds a sense of accountability that doesn't exist for people who blog under pseudonyms and it helps foster a connection with your audience.
Thanks again for your time David, and of course we wish you and your sites the best of luck.
Visit David's site at daveslongbox.blogspot.com