This week, news that both Wizard and ToyFare magazine were being canceled hit the interwebs. I did my big college internship at Wizard and then scored a job there a few months later when I graduated from college. It was my first career-type job and it led to a ton of great friendships and terrific experiences. I wouldn’t be rocking a job I love at Dark Horse Comics if not for my time at Wizard, nor would I know so many rad, excellent and intelligent folks around the comics community, many of whom I consider great friends.
That said, all jobs have downsides. When things were bad at Wizard, with folks being let go weekly as the soul was slowly sucked out of a workplace that once thrived on friendship and community, it was downright miserable.
News about a magazine that’s been slowly shrinking in page count without a stable online presence to keep it relevant in a news market that’s almost entirely blogs and streaming online news feeds isn’t surprising. Before I left journalism school, the image of a graveyard filled with headstones marking the final resting places of print magazines and newspapers that couldn’t adapt to an increasingly online world was conjured up by many professors. So, it wasn’t a surprise that Wizard died. What was surprising was that it bummed me out so much.
Between the dire atmosphere Wizard had towards the end of my tenure and the unceremonious and impersonal way I was let go, there was a fair share of anger and bitterness at a company I was once proud to work for. Time heals all wounds and all that jazz—a rad new job certainly doesn’t hurt, either—but I kind of felt I was past really caring about Wizard. I’d had good times there as well as bad and the place and publication seemed firmly set in my past, only occasionally entering my present when my job in comics PR required. It’s for that reason I found the disparate emotions that washed over me this week regarding the news about Wizard to be so unexpected.
I, as well as many others, owe a lot to Wizard. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but it was still a crucial part of my professional (for a while) and personal (to this day) life and maybe that’s why I find myself more sad than anything else. The proper analogy doesn’t really seem to exist, but the closest I can come to it is this…
Imagine that your middle school burnt down. It may have been the first place you got a swirly and a location where you were bullied, but it was still a place where you learned a lot academically and personally about yourself, not to mention a place where friendships were made, first crushes experienced and the home for plenty of good memories—even if it sucked from time to time. Wizard and its offices, chock-full of so many great people, were the best place in the world to be at times and, at others, the worst. As the figurative doors close on the print publications, I’ll never forget the bad times but I’ll always fondly remember the good times.
I’m definitely rambling now, but man, getting notes on my first big story/review from Rickey Purdin and Kiel Phegley, crowding around the warehouse lunch tables to rap about comics with co-workers, harsh but important lessons learned about writing from Andy Serwin and Brian Cunningham, drunken convention evenings in Los Angeles and Philly and Chicago, a ridiculously young and inexperienced web office doing their damnedest to keep up with the competition, great interviews, fun stories, nights at Olive’s… I wouldn’t be where I am today without Wizard and I really love where I am today, so… for better or worse… I’m glad I got the Wizard experience. It did me good.
Reflection and lamentation aside, the demise of Wizard’s print publications led to some great “obituaries,” “eulogies” and other articles from many Wizard alum. Sean T. Collins and Ryan Penagos wrote two of my favorite, and if you’re at all interested in journalism, magazine culture or comics, you should check out TJ Dietsch’s United Monkee, Ben Morse (and Kiel Phegley and Rickey Purdin and Keven Mahadeo’s) Cool Kids Table and this comprehensive Newsarama survey piece. There are a ton of other reactionary stories out there for those who are interested, but it was cool to see the often ragged-on Wizard get a little love as the walls came tumbling down.
This may be common knowledge, but I learned (while doing some nostalgic research on my first Wizard article) that ComicBookDB.com has a surprisingly detailed, but not always accurate, amount of info on Wizard magazine. Not every article is listed and I’m credited as a main editor on a few issues I was just an associate editor on, but Wizard alum and fans will want to check out the Comic Book DB listings. They’re great for nostalgia purposes!
Oddly enough, this arrived at Dark Horse HQ this week.
The real question is… If this is the last issue of Wizard, will we ever see the issue teased in this “Next Issue” ad?!