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Thoughts on Wizard Closing Down…

If you used to work for Wizard, and they fired you, I can see how you would enjoy some schadenfreude at the magazine announcing that they are closing down. That makes sense to me.

Otherwise, why the heck would anyone else be happy about a magazine about comic books closing down and a bunch of people losing their jobs?

We see this a lot, like stuff like this is a zero sum game. “If book/magazine I don’t like gets canceled, then that is a net positive for me,” when it really is not – it does not affect you at all.

Feel free to not enjoy Wizard or Toy Fare, but to be openly pleased about them going out of business? That doesn’t seem right to me.

29 Comments

I’m not jumping up and down with joy, but I sure won’t miss it. They, like so much other genre entertainment started pandering to the general public at the expense of their biggest fans. And they got rid of pretty much everyone who made the magazine great in the first place.

The Wizard that is closing down now isn’t the same one that existed 10-15 years ago. That ones, been gone for a while.

I agree with this. I think people bash Wizard because they view it as the embodiment of everything wrong with comics, especially the 90s Image stuff and the speculator era, but almost all of us at some point in our lives bought into the same trends, so that’s not fair. I mean look at Image themselves, even they evolved out of that phase. Wizard in later years did champion some pretty good books.

Believe me, I feel for the employees who find themselves jobless today. As someone who has been out of work for more than two years, I know what they’re going through and I definitely sympathize. No one should take pleasure in the misfortune of others. I hope that all affected by this recent development will land on their feet and find ways – quickly – to make ends meet.

With that being said, however, I am glad that Wizard is gone. I think that over its lifetime, Wizard did more to harm this hobby than almost any other single force. Wizard, and its self-serving “price guide,” was the impetus behind the commoditization of comics beginning in the 1990s, directly leading to the speculator boom and bust, the creation of such ridiculous practice as variant covers, and the increasing infantilization of our hobby through a never-ending stream of fart jokes that even an eight-year-old would find tedious. Wizard promoted a short-term worldview regarding comics, in which “savvy collectors” could, according to them, make a fortune by buying, and quickly flipping “hot” comics as if they were the latest tech stock. The result is that a lot of people got burned and left a hobby that they might otherwise have enjoyed. Although many other factors were certainly involved, I hold Wizard at least partially responsible for the mass exodus of fans from this hobby over the last twenty years, as a result of their cynical, short-term approach to collecting comics.

Their approach to conventions is similarly distasteful, as anyone who remembers the disrespect with which they treated Carrie Nodell can see. Solely focused on those “hot at the moment” artists upon which they focused, they looked upon the people who created the medium from which they profit with utter contempt. That attitude bled into the magazine, making it an unsuitable rag for anyone who had been reading comics before the early 1990s.

So, while I’m sorry for those whose lives were upended suddenly and wish them all the best, I for one will not miss the tree-consuming waste of resources that was Wizard Magazine. Good riddance.

I don’t know if I necessarily agree with it, but I think the counter-argument would be that Wizard wasn’t just something that people disliked; it was bad for the comic book community in general.

The reason I don’t believe it was so bad for the comic community is because, really, it seemed to be such a nonentity these days. It hardly had a fraction of the clout or sway it used to. But then again I’m not immersed in comic fandom like I used to be outside of the bubble of this blog so I could be wrong.

Everyone seems to be overlooking one fact. Despite the demise of Wizard magazine, Wizard the company is still apparently a viable force and will still have the same impact more or less on the industry.

Exactly Paul. Most of their influence, to me, comes from their comic conventions, and not the magazine.

@T: I think the point, however, is that the magazine came first and set the tone for everything that followed, including the conventions.

I wish the IFL would come back.

I think the point, however, is that the magazine came first and set the tone for everything that followed, including the conventions.

I understand that point. I even said that the magazine used to be horrible in the 90s. My point is, if it’s not that way anymore and it has no real influence or clout, then closing it down means nothing. It only would have mattered if it got closed down at its peak.

Even if it caused everything that followed, all that is done already. It’s already happened, those are sunk costs. They can’t be reversed. The magazine closing down does nothing to reverse any of that.

Also, you say it set the tone for everything that followed including the conventions. What exactly is so bad about the conventions. I’m being serious here, as I never have attended a convention. Are Wizard’s conventions particularly worse or damaging to comic fandom than any others? I honestly don’t know, can someone enlighten me?

Yeah, Wizard has never been of any interest to me, because I was already in my 30s when the ’90s began, but I take no joy in its passing.

I’m certainly not pleased they’re out of business, but I can’t say I’ll miss it either.

My thought on the demise of Wizard magazine is this: It’s bad for your local comic shop. Wizard mag was sold on newsstands and the really interested casual reader could use it as an entry point for patronizing a comic shop, becoming a subscriber, whatnot. No doubt other magazines were better at covering the industry or writing interesting articles, but they don’t exist anymore, so it was Wizard or nothing. Now it’s nothing.

Comic books themselves are still sold on some newsstands, so there is that. In fact that’s how I got back into comics after a 10 year hiatus. I read a few issues on the newsstand and decided to find a comic shop to continue reading the storyline. But I think a magazine about the industry is better to introduce new customers to the comic shop habit.

The obvious problem is that magazines, newsstands, and bookstores are facing a doubtful future themselves. Will digital wipe this all out? Does the end of Wizard magazine foretell the end of comic shops? I think not, but I don’t have anything more than my opinion to go on.

Even if Wizard was the driving force behind the speculator boom, the popularity of those terrible early Image comics and everything that followed, who cares?

Millions and millions of dollars flowed into the comic business in those years. Did it make guys like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld rich for making some bad comics that were hoarded like trading cards? Sure, but also made the total comic market large enough to support unconventional stuff. Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN ran for, like, 70 issues. Can you imagine a dark fantasy title lasting that long at any other time in comic history? Grant Morrison cut his teeth on titles that would probably never be released today. Same deal with Milligan and Bachalo’s SHADE, or James Robinson’s STARMAN or a half-dozen other cool titles that were just off the mainstream. The total market was big enough in those days to support stuff like that and comics are much better for it.

So, who cares that Wizard never gave any ink to the right books and/or creators? Why is it a big deal that the ’90s were a bad decade for quality X-MEN comics? The money from the idiots buying never-to-be-read issues of the (nearly unreadable anyway) “The Death of Superman” financed a creative explosion.

I’m a strong believer that any magazine or comic which is not actually LOSING money should continue to see print.
If money isn’t lost then, as Brian said, people are employed. This is a net positive in the world.
It’s a simple fact that if no businesses expanded or made a profit, (obviously not including raising funds to improve/repair/update technology) the only people who would suffer would be shareholders and frankly shareholders have pretty much screwed the whole world up.
Wizard never created the money obsessed boom. It reflected it. McFarlane did the cover for issue 1 if I recall correctly and if anything screams speculator boom, it’s McFarlane.
I have bought it off and on for nearly twenty years and at its best it was funny, informative and actually got you excited for future releases. At its worst it passed a couple of hours of your time.

Final point about loss of employment.
Not only are Wizard staff affected but printers, paper manufacturers, ink manufacturers and even shippers and loggers are affected. Industry without profit is what civilisation is founded on. I feel this way every time a comic I buy gets cancelled for low sales.
(And I’m not a communist. If there is profit to bemade I want to be the one making it :) )

Michael M Jones

January 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I read Wizard steadily for a few years, and found it moderately entertaining but rarely indispensable. I dropped it when I started making budget cuts, especially when I realized that their news was often way out of date by the time I got the magazine. Comics sites like this and Newsarama keep me up to date much better.

Sorry to see Wizard go, but as a print magazine, it wasn’t really maintaining relevance. As an online magazine, I’m sure they’ll be on the cutting edge once again.

I used to love Wizard back in the day. It was pretty sad to see if from a magazine packed with so much content (regardless of what you thought of the content) that they even had jokes in the fine print to an anemic pamphlet.

I think Michael M Jones brings up probably the best point, that by the time stuff gets into print, it’s out of date. I’m sure it’s happening in other news publications with hobbies like ours, but I notice it more with comics.

I used to have a subscription to Wizard back in the day (from about issue 40 to almost 100), and I swear that I was SUPPOSED to get issue 100 as part of my subscription, but didn’t get it, so that kinda turned me off (and kept me from renewing).

I’d picked up some issues here and there over the years after. It’s still somewhat interesting, but I think I’ve outgrown the coverage in it. Too much coverage of the big two for my taste. Too much coverage of movies and TV, especially NON-COMICS related stuff. That, to me, is where it failed, trying to become a general interest, Maxim-lite, comics based mag.

But yeah, with all the people losing their jobs, after all the others from the mag who have lost their jobs, it’s not something to celebrate, really.

Wizard was one my regular buys back when I was buying comics weekly, and it stayed in my pull list even as I dropped other titles over the years. Why? Because it was FUN. Sure there were magazines that covered comics better, but they were just not as enjoyable to read. Wizard had oddball articles like ‘who would win in a fight’ or ‘who had the worst costume in comics’ and such. You know, stuff fans ACTUALLY talk about? And they sounded like they were written by regular fans as opposed to stuck-up critics.

However I eventually gave up the magazine too, precisely because it stopped being fun, losing the articles and people I enjoyed reading. Besides with the Internet era I could now find out anything I wanted without piling up magazines in my house.

Did Wizard help the market crash in the 90′s? Maybe, but come on, that was going to happen anyway, if it hadn’t been Wizard then some other magazine would have jumped into the speculator market fad.

And while I won’t miss Wizard, I certainly agree there’s no point in feeling joy over its passing.

To feel joy that Wizard is gone, it’s petty and mostly senseless, but so what? We’re human, and often our emotions don’t make logical sense. To me, and to my others, Wizard will be forever linked to all the crap that happened in the 1990s. The early Image style drove me away from the hobby for a few years, so this isn’t something that I can be completely logical about.

It’s a little like discovering that the guy that stole your girlfriend 10 years ago has just been fired from his job. You and he are both dating different people now, but it’s only human to feel a little schadenfreude. It’s not mature, and it’s not nice, I agree.

“We see this a lot, like stuff like this is a zero sum game. “If book/magazine I don’t like gets canceled, then that is a net positive for me,” when it really is not – it does not affect you at all.”

Are you so sure, Brian?

It’s not exactly a zero sum game, but the cancellation of something you don’t like may indicate a shift in pop culture in a direction you find more in tune with your tastes, and so it can be a good thing. Of course, this is not the case with WIZARD, since it wasn’t really representative of anything any longer.

to me and to MANY others, I meant

Being that Wizard was the only place to get comics news for me back when I was a teen, I loved the magazine. Sijo and I share the exact same sentiments. It was fun, a bit below the belt and oddball sure, but it was a niche they catered to very well. Sure, there were places for erudite, well thought out and verbose discourse on comic books, but if you wanted to just have fun with the hobby? Wizard was it.

But then, Wizard was dead to me when they switched to the thinner magazine format, so I was in mourning long before this news came along. :)

Didn’t know how to feel about this. Times were I hated Wizard, times were I liked Wizard. Read all about how terrible Gareb is but never met him. Guess I’m just sad Wizard didn’t stay something I liked. Fun to read all the columns by people who used to work there.

Don’t tell me what to think, fascist!

Can’t say I’ll miss it (found it to be, even when reading it actively, a mag that tried to dictate the market). However, without it and Toyfare, we’d never have Robot Chicken, so I’ll give them that.

Sorry to disagree, but if it is not a zero-sum game, it isn’t too far way from it either.

Wizard carried considerable weight as a mover and shaker back in the day, and it was fairly superficial while at that. It is legitimate to hope for some degree of change for the better now.

Smokescreen: I didn’t know that Robot Chicken came from ToyFare! Googled them and found a Robot Chicken writer talking about it — http://dougistyping.wordpress.com/
I can’t believe I didn’t know!

A former coworker and colleague of mine was just let go from Wizard/Toyfare and the way they treated those employees who were fired this week was completely shameless.

My sole reason for buying Toyfare well into the 2000′s was because of Twisted Mego Theater, which then became Twisted Toyfare Theater. When I first saw Robot Chicken and saw Tom Root’s name attached, I put it together (especially when an early sketch was a Real World Justice League thing).

And because Root and the original crew left to do Robot Chicken, the feature became incredibly unfunny. Hence my personal exit from Toyfare.

I still pull out the strips every once and a while and they hold up very well. The “Doom conquering the Mexican knock-off universe” strip is still brilliant and possibly the best strip they ever did (titled “Viva Mego”).

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