Updated 01/25 with more industry reaction: For years, Wizard Magazine was an authoritative, influential and often controversial voice in the comic book industry, for both fans and creators alike.
In light of Monday's news that both Wizard and sister publication ToyFare are ceasing publication effective immediately, with a new "Wizard World" digital magazine scheduled for launch in February, Newsarama reached out to comic book professionals — including several former Wizard staffers — for their reaction to today's news.J.H. Williams III (writer/artist - Batwoman)
"I guess in some ways this has been coming, mainly due to the quickness of news via the internet sites. Magazines of all kinds have been facing this problem here in the U.S. for some time now. Although the future looks bright for access to comics and information about them because of the internet, it still has this tinge of sadness whenever we see the demise of the printed form. It feels like something tangible is slipping away. I've never been a reader of Wizard magazine, rarely do I read magazines these days at all, just no time. But I do know that quite a few of my friends would pick it up, it was something they obviously looked forward each month. I'm sure they will miss it."
Steve Rotterdam (former DC Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and current co-founder of the Bonfire Agency )"Given the appearance of so many 'end of an era' reports over the past few days, I almost overlooked the news. When I finally got word, I wasn't surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. The relevance of the magazine and equity of the brand – once so influential within the industry and largely responsible, in my opinion, for awakening the rest of the pop culture universe to the power of comics and comics’ culture – had diminished substantially from back in the day. Their unfortunate missteps in the online space at a time when so many fresh new voices were establishing lasting, workable relationships with fans, publishers and a handful of advertisers certainly didn't help. I find it sad when any voice in our industry is silenced, so I was happy to hear about plans to reimagine the magazine online and I'm anxious to see where and how it attempts to carve out a place for itself."
Ed Brubaker (current writer of Captain America, Secret Avengers):“I just hope [editor] Mike Cotton got a golden parachute. He's a good guy.”
Mel Caylo (Former Wizard editorial director, currently Marketing Manager, Archaia Entertainment):"I am very saddened by the news that the Wizard print magazine is folding. I worked there for a total of seven years spread out over two tours, and while there, I met the most amazing group of people and made some awesome contacts—relationships that I still maintain today. It’s amazing how many people came out of Wizard and are still thriving in the comic book and entertainment industries today, like Matt Senreich, Doug Goldstein, Tom Root and Mike Fasolo at Robot Chicken; Alex Segura at Archie; Ben Morse, Ryan Penagos and Alejandro Arbona at Marvel; Rickey Purdin, Brian Cunningham and Fletcher Chu-Fong at DC; Sean T. Collins at Robot 6; Todd Casey at Warner Bros. Animation; Zach Oat at Television Without Pity; Rick Marshall at MTV Splash Page; and Rob Bricken at Topless Robot…I could go on and on! Collectively, I think we all learned some great things at Wizard Magazine and used that experience and knowledge to help us out in our careers when it was time to move on. I will always have fond memories of working at Wizard—from the heated debates about the Top 10 Artists and Writers lists, to the spirited discussions about our favorite comics, and to the awesome pranks we used to play on each other—and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’m very sorry to hear that several of my friends who were still at the company are now out of work, so if you or anyone you know is hiring, I know some really outstanding individuals I can recommend. It really irks me that some people are celebrating the demise of Wizard, but that’s the Internet for you. It won’t take away all the good times I had and the good people I met at the company.”
Sterling Gates (writer of Supergirl, War of the Supermen):"Wizard Magazine played a huge role in my own love for comics when I was growing up in Tulsa. I couldn't get to any major comics convention, so Wizard was the only contact I had with the comics world outside of a shop. In that regard, I'm saddened to see the long-standing publication come to an end. We should never forget that Wizard Magazine played such a huge part in pre-Internet comics culture, giving us news and creator interviews we might never have seen. Cheers to them for that.
Also, that Venom cover on issue #9 was boss."
J.T. Krul (current writer of Teen Titans, Green Arrow):“Crazy. I can remember getting Wizard in Michigan when I was younger. Back in those days, it was so hard to get any comic news. Wizard was like a big drug fix each and every month. The magazine had definitely been in a state of flux recently, trying to find it's place in the Internet age when news flies fast and furious. I wish Gareb and the gang the best and hope the staff all land on their feet.”
Ron Marz (current writer of Velocity, Artifacts):“To be honest, it was inevitable. I don't think I've looked through a print copy of Wizard in literally seven or eight years, maybe more. The idea of getting 'news' from a monthly magazine died with the turn of the century. I'll never know why Wizard didn't reinvent itself as an online presence years ago, but that was really the death sentence. For a time, it was an important voice in comics, probably the most important voice, but it didn't adapt to the changing landscape. Comics as a whole could take a lesson from it. I wish the best for everyone who lost a job today."
Sean McKeever (writer of Onslaught Unleashed, The Waiting Place):“I think it's easy to forget just how massive Wizard's influence was back in the '90s. I remember the anticipation my customers had whenever a new issue shipped, tearing off the shrinkwrap and pointing out news bits and artwork to each other. It was a wonderful, palpable excitement that you simply don't see anymore.”
Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn, founder of Todd McFarlane Productions):“I think they provided a very valuable service. They were able to bring people as close to the news as possible when they first started, and they were able to hang on for a very long time. Sadly, though, we live in the year 2011, where you can get all that information at your fingertips now, through the Internet. My guess is that Wizard felt the pains no different than the newspaper industry right now. You can get it way quicker and way faster from a lot of people, you don’t have to wait to go out and get it. I tip my hat to the service they provided to our community, but at the end of the day, getting information is what the fans wanted, and they obviously found another place to go and get it.”
Jim McLauchlin (former Wizard consulting editor, staff member from 1993 to 2005, Hero Initiative representative):"I was very saddened when I got the news early this morning. I spent about 10 years on staff there in one capacity or another, so it felt a bit like the old alma matter blinking out of existence.
It's kind of ironic, because I just had lunch with Mark Waid a couple weeks ago, and I mentioned to him that as much as people like to sharpen sticks and point them at Wizard, they were the only organization left that was willing to fund things such as the Wally Wood feature I wrote a few months ago, which I thought was a very good and very vital piece. I don't know that there's anywhere left in comics media that's actually willing to pay for stuff like that anymore. You'll have to tell me if Newsarama will! I think Wizard's closing its magazine—we'll have to see what the online version pans out to be—is unfortunate. It's another door that just swung closed in the arena of professional journalism. That's never a good thing.
I think the larger issue that cannot be ignored is the ongoing crisis state of media, and particularly the crisis in successful capitalization of media. This is a pretty obvious case of Wizard being unable to continue to produce a profitable magazine in a day and age when people are now used to getting their news and information 'for free.' And I totally get that. No one's obligated to buy any magazine, newspaper, or whatever, and if a publisher wants someone to pay, they'd better be compelling enough to warrant the price.
I recently read a book called The Death and Life of American Journalism by Robert McChesney and John Nichols in which the authors tried to pull a ripcord for shrinking newsrooms, and, I think, ultimately failed. We exist today at a time of great flux in media and news. It'll likely take another 20 years for things to sort themselves out. I'm very excited about Patch.com and what it's doing to replace local news coverage that's been flushed out by newspaper and TV newsroom downsizing. So I think other methods and other models can obviously be viable. But Wizard mag looks like another victim of the current flux. I'm very sad to see it go."
Mark Millar (writer of Kick-Ass, Wanted, The Ultimates, former Wizard "guest editor"):"As a friend of the people involved and a fan of the magazine, I'm gutted for the guys. I love Wizard and have picked it up from the first issue. I'd like to wish them the best of luck with the online venture and will look forward to getting drunk with them over the next 12 months at as many of their cons as I can."
Stuart Moore (Former Marvel and Vertigo editor, currently writer of Namor: The First Mutant )“A lot of good people have written and worked for Wizard over the years. Many of them are already employed elsewhere in the comics industry; I hope things go well for everybody who just lost their jobs.”
Tony Moore (artist of Fear Agent, Venom):“I feel like a dick saying it, but the writing was on the wall with that thing long ago. They only ever seemed to cover the same handful of things, and pretty much since sites like Comics Book Resources and Newsarama hit the scene, who would pick it up? It's not like it contained hard-hitting journalism or seriously engrossing interviews, and any news in it was already a month old by the time it hit the stands. I don't know. I feel bad for the folks who lost their jobs, but the magazine itself, I'm gonna be crying myself to sleep over it or anything.”
Ben Morse (former Wizard staff writer, currently Associate Editor, Marvel.com)“If it weren't for Wizard Magazine, I wouldn't be working in the comic book industry today, not just because I read it as a kid, but also because it gave me a chance to break in professionally, something anybody who has tried knows is pretty tough to do. It's a cliche, but working there really was a dream job for a time. I still can't believe the things I got paid to do—I spoke to Marv Wolfman and George Perez for three hours about Crisis On Infinite Earths and was compensated for my time!
More than that, though, I met some amazing folks and learned a lot. Some of my best friends to this day I made from Wizard. I could rattle off dozens of names, but people like Pat McCallum, Joe Yanarella, Brian Cunningham, Andy Serwin and Mike Cotton taught me so much about how to succeed in this industry as well as just be a professional, lessons that were not lost on me when I was 22 and lucky to have a sweet gig straight out of college. In particular, my very first boss, Dan Reilly, for years the Research Editor at Wizard and probably the hardest working, most unsung hero in the joint, helped me grow a lot as a person and a worker.
I had a lot of fun during my three years at Wizard and I daresay on our good days we put out some fine content. In that sense, I'm sad to see the magazine go. I certainly know plenty of people have axes to grind with Wizard as an entity and organization and most of them have pretty legitimate grievances. For me, though, my time there was positive and so are my memories. Most on my mind right now are the people I worked with who were still there and hoping they all land on their feet as they're a talented deserving bunch.”
Michael Avon Oeming (co-creator and artist of Powers, writer of Ares):"Other than very cheap pulpy magazines you get at supermarkets, I think print magazines that are "infotainment" are pretty much going to die. I no longer believe that print is not dead, but in transition. Game magazines are also shutting down and making the transition to digital. I’m sure Wizard will do it's best to make a smooth change and focus its energy into digital media."
Rick Remender (current writer of Uncanny X-Force, Punisher: In The Blood):“First off, no one is happy when others lose their jobs. My heart goes out to those who suffered from the closure of the magazine. Wizard Magazine offered fans a place to see upcoming project previews and read creator interviews in an age before the Internet. It did a good job at building hype for books and spotlighting creators, new and old, that the staff believed in. There were always a couple pages dedicated to highlight new independent creators and smaller books off the beaten path. I personally benefitted from coverage of this nature on numerous occasions. However, as someone who was a retailer when Wizard grew to prominence, I saw some of the detrimental effects of their approach first hand. In my opinion, Wizard’s artificial manipulating of prices lead to, or at least aided, the speculator boom and subsequent crash of the industry. That era, and the search for the next “hot collectible” lead to comics becoming less about the craft as it trained fans to see value solely in Wizard’s self-applied hot issues. These issues were usually not rewarded for execution of craft or high quality, but instead were selected for scarcity, special covers, and big moments. These books were only presented as good because they would make fans’ books more valuable or deeply affect continuity. That was not a positive in my eyes, and stands as a negative to this day. As the company grew, it was not entirely benevolent in its approach to the rest of the industry, especially it’s aggressive stance towards launching conventions in cities on dates concurrent with long-time favorite homegrown shows. This was just a little too aggressive for my tastes and lost them some big points in my eyes. But beyond my criticisms of their approach, there was one positive that we can all agree on; we had a comic presence on newsstands. A four-color champion looking out at all the shoppers passing by, long after comics had disappeared from the racks. That was a big positive and I was always glad that our industry still had a face in the “real world”. That is a loss we suffer from this, no matter how you personally felt about the magazine’s methods. Best wishes to the staff and their families.”
Chris Ryall (Chief Creative Officer / Editor-in-Chief, IDW Publishing):“I'd like to raise a glass for Wizard and what they've done for comics over the past two decades. In 2002, Wizard was very instrumental in putting a fledgling comic publisher on the map — it was their support of our first comic book series, 30 Days of Night, that got the comics noticed and really helped kick-start our full comic-publishing efforts. We went from a tiny creative-service shop with one 2,000-copy seller to become one of comics' Premiere publishers, and it truly is in part to Wizard's early championing of our stuff. I think, with the prominence of the Internet comic sites, people forget how influential the magazine used to be. In both good and bad ways, depending on who you talked to. Which is the sign of a strong publishing venture, that they could evoke such strong reactions from all sides. Gareb should be proud of what he built over the past 20 years, and the magazine has turned out some really talented folk who've gone on to other prominent spots in the comics industry. I hope the departing staff is likewise able to quickly find new employment and go on to bigger things.”
Alex Segura (former Wizard associate editor, currently Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing, Archie Comics):“I paid five bucks for a used copy of Wizard #10 in the sixth grade — a princely sum for me at the time, but well worth it in the long run.
Although I worked at Wizard for a relatively short time, I managed to make a handful of lifelong friends and got what felt like a decade’s worth of experience in the comic book industry. Before that, Wizard was my connection to comics – it was the one thing I’d grab at the shop, guaranteed. Even when not buying comics regularly, I’d pick up Wizard to get a sense of what my favorite characters and creators were up to.
My Wizard tales of woe are fairly minor compared to the many I’ve heard, and I’m grateful for that. I’m sad to see the magazine shutter so abruptly. My thoughts are with my friends who were affected by this news – a solid, talented bunch of guys who I’m sure will land on their feet.
It also puts things into perspective. If you’d told me while at Wizard that I was working with future Marvel, DC, Archie, Archaia, Maxim, Robot 6, WB, Mashable, CBR, Television Without Pity, Bluewater, Topless Robot, Robot Chicken, Cracked and Bleacher Report employees or contributors, I probably would have scoffed. So, while the print magazine may be gone, the spirit of Wizard at its best certainly continues.”
Paul Tobin (current writer of Spider-Girl, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man):“I'm rather sad about it. I was never fond of the speculation bias in the magazine, but for a long time Wizard was a major player in getting comic news, and comic creators, some key notice. Some great creators would have been lost if Wizard hadn't pushed them to the forefront. Moreover, a lot of people got their start in working for Wizard, and have gone on to help the industry in myriad ways.”
Fred Van Lente (current writer of Chaos War, Amazing Spider-Man back-ups):“People knock Wizard for being such a mainstream-cenric magazine, but it was a glowing two-page review of me and Steve Ellis' indy "Sopranos with supervillains" book The Silencers in 2003 that really made people stand up and notice my work in the industry. Honestly, without their early support I'm not sure where I'd be today. So I'm sorry to see them go, and my best to the laid-off staff.”