2012: The Year of the JCU

Since I have always been more than happy to buck tradition, it is of little wonder that, unlike so many who chronicle things in America, I refused to review the year that was until that year was actually OVER!  So now that 2012 has shuffled off to the Archipelago of Last Years and a giant-eared Baby New Year named 2013 has arrived in spite of Mayan threats to the contrary, The JediCole Universe is proud to present not only our first Year in Review, but also a kind of Years in Review if you will.  After all, as this is the first time we've bothered, there are a lot of years to make up for, really.

Before I delve into 2012, by far the biggest year for the JCU,  a brief overview of the past is in order.  This website was launched, believe it or not, in 2008.  It took over a year to finally get around to posting content, however, since the focus of the site was a work in progress.  While I was already actively podcasting and writing over at The United States of Geekdom, there were podcasts (one shot and recurring) I had in mind that would eat up space on the USG feed as well some writings that I really wanted to have their own venue due to their more personal nature.  Thus was the new website born, at least after I finally hit upon the name, The JediCole Universe.  It seemed fitting given the scope of what I had in mind.  Though it took quite a while to realize that ambition at full.

I actually got my start in podcasting back in 2006 with VaderCast, a Star Wars-themed podcast that evolved over time to take on a great number of topics before it was no more.  For more on my early podcasting history click here.  During my tenure on VaderCast (which saw me and the show’s founder Tim Kennedy the only charter cast members to remain on the show from start to finish), I met Rick Gutierrez and introduced him to the world of podcasting as a new member of the show.  He would go on to found and produce his own podcast, Amazing Comicast, which lasted 60 episodes.  I joined that show early on as the new co-host and remained through its eventual change in name and format.  As we began covering non-comic book topics at least as much as comic book topics the show was discontinued and replaced with The United States of Geekdom, a podcast that I still co-host to this day.

With the USG a new element was added to my podcasting experience, a content-driven web page.  So it was that I went from simply talking up topics on podcast shows to publishing written articles that provided more in-depth insights or just showcased my abilities as a creative writer.  In that sense The JediCole Universe was something of an inevitability.  The more I wrote and produced the more I found I not only wanted, but needed to write and produce.  While that drive did not serve to get this site off the ground very quickly, it did help bring most of the features you can find here today to the forefront.  And once I had enough material and potential material I began to concentrate on the site in earnest. 

The first edition JCU trading card.
By July of 2010 the JCU site was beginning to come of its own.  It received a (then) record spike in page views at a whopping 251 for the month.  After that, page views began to wax and wane and not quite reach that peak again until this year.  In January the site enjoyed 238 views, rose to just shy of its record in February with 250, and then exceeded that the next month with 260 page views.  By May a new record of 295 was achieved, followed by a slump in June that was more than rectified in July with 598 views in the course of that month.  Between August and October the views climbed from the 500s to the 700s (796 in October) before hitting our record to date in November – 1036 page views!  Just over a thousand page views may not seem like much, but when the average was about 225 in the past, cresting the 1000 mark is quite the accomplishment.
During the course of last year I have successfully published 3 new editions of my recurring feature What Would Comic Book Villains Do?, brought back Jedi Justifications, and created It Came From the Dollar Store! and The Rantcor Pit.  2012 also saw the beginning of the longest running continuous feature of The JediCole Universe, Hey Kids, Comics!  The JCU’s weekly comic book podcast has been an amazing experience that compliments well my podcasting over at the USG.  With nearly 25 episodes behind us and no shortage of new shows ahead, this has been quite the year.

Looking over the statistics for the year something rather surprising was revealed.  An article I composed in 2011, Marvelution: The Shot Heard ‘Round the Comic Industry has risen to become the number one most viewed feature on the JCU site, followed by the third issue of Hey Kids, Comics!  which slowly made its way up the top five until it arrived firmly in the number two slot.  What Would Comic Book Villains Do? was read live at All-Con 2012 during my talk show, JediCole’s Morning After (which can be heard here) and a different edition was to be read at another convention but sadly that show did not prove viable and the reading was cancelled.  None the less, the series has become the most popular recurring feature on this site after the weekly podcast I produce with Andy.

The official JCU bumper sticker.
2012 also saw the first high-profile promotional materials for the JCU produced.  At the suggestion of Star Wars Super Collector’s Wishbook author Geoffrey Carlton, I eschewed my traditional fliers and invested a surprisingly small amount in a run of 1000 trading cards.  Over 900 of these were handed out at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando and inspired me to create even more promotional items.  The JCU has since seen a second run of trading cards (in a new style), a run of post  cards (to be distributed widely at All-Con 2013), bumper stickers, a vinyl banner, and even a run of postcards for our old friend the Mighty Placeholder!  And thanks to the persistence of my friend and co-host Andrew Farmer, the JCU now has a Twitter account (@thejedicoleU) and will soon sport a brand new look on this very website.  And, while not largely utilized as of yet, our new Forums page was added just this year.

The second JCU trading card, currently in circulation.
Looking ahead to the new year, there are two major changes in store.  The first is the aforementioned new look for the site.  I have narrowed the field to two template choices and will have the new look finalized in early January.  Also just after the 2013 arrives, as announced, the Convention Awareness Project – Texas will move from being a feature on this site to having its own committed page!  You will now have a one stop locale for news and information on the Texas convention scene.  But it does not stop there!  The Convention Awareness Project will be expanded with coverage of additional shows in other parts of the country in a recurring feature on the main JCU page.  Andrew and Rick have offered to provide news and articles regarding conventions in other states throughout the year, so be sure to check in for more convention information soon.

The official JCU promotional postcard - to be appearing at various comic conventions all year.
In the new year you can expect more from JCU favorites like Jedi Justifications, It Came From the Dollar Store, Points of Interest, The Rantcor Pit, What Would Comic Book Villains Do?, Odd eBay, and Collection CornerWho Do You Love, Half-Ass Roundtable, The Collector’s Piece, Super Geek-Out, and JediCole’s Open Mic Night will all see new life in the new year, many after a long absence.  And you can expect several new features including Site Seeing, Join the Club, and the long-awaited Japanese ball-jointed doll podcast, Doll Shelves, to join the JCU in the new year.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making 2012 the best year so far for The JediCole Universe!  From fellow podcasters to friends and family, to everyone who listens to the podcasts and reads my many articles, you have all played a role in making this website one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life.  I look forward to bringing laughter and insights and just plain geekiness to you in an even bigger way in 2013!

Cole “JediCole” Houston
Jedi at Large – The JediCole Universe
Raconteur Emeritus – The United States of Geekdom
Head Half-Ass – Half-Ass Productions
Group Captain, Games and Theory – All-Con 2013