Wednesday Comments – Wizard R.I.P.

(I know, I know, this is the second time I’ve had to preempt my regularly scheduled follow up column, but c’mon, it’s not every day that Wizard folds. I think I’m allowed to mark it’s passing. Next week, I’ll wrap it up, I promise.)

I’m sure that everyone reading this column already knows that Wizard magazine, once a giant in the comic book industry, announced that they’ve ceased publication. That news saddened me when I heard it.

Like most comic fans , I can recall looking forward to a new issue of Wizard. I wasn’t really there for early days of the publication. In fact I’m pretty sure that the first issue I picked up was #49, which is pretty late in the game. But I think I purchased every issue from that point on.

There was a time when Wizard was my favorite magazine on the stands. It was a magazine that was clearly targeting me. I loved it’s voice and the fun that everyone seemed to be having. I really enjoyed reading articles about comics written by people who loved comics just as much as I did. I loved when opinions were expressed and when Wizard pointed me in the direction of comics that I should seek out and read. Wizard was my lifestyle magazine.

I think everyone’s inner fanboy burst for joy with “Last Man Standing.” Sure it was uber geeky, but those “what if” battles settled debates and created heated arguments. I love DC and my best friend is a diehard Marvel fan and we would pour over that feature to see whose character won out that month.

The “Casting Call” feature was extremely cool, especially back in the days before movies based on comic books weren’t a daily occurrence. Seeing comic books cast with established actors was such “dare to dream” concept, it almost made the reality underwhelming.

And seriously who didn’t love “Mort of the Month?”

Like I said, I enjoyed when Wizard shined a light on hidden gems of comics. Sometimes it would point me in an entirely new direction while others it would just reinforce my belief that I had good taste in comics.

Back home I’ve got a long box that probably half full of old copies Wizard. I kept the issues that I wanted to reference. I’ve got the issues with the best villains and the most evil acts. I’ve got the countdowns of the best characters and rivalries. Sometimes when I’m home I dig them up and reread them and am reminded of when I loved comics that much.

Of course those were the glory days and Wizard had it’s share of dark days as well. I wasn’t really a fan when Wizard shifted focus (and grew in dimension) to become a magazine that aimed at more generic “geek culture.” I didn’t buy Wizard to read about television, movies or video games, I bought Wizard because it was one of the few places I could read about comics.

With the recent issues I’d generally read what I found interesting and then hand the issues off to my friend. There wasn’t really a reason to hold on to issues of Wizard any more.

But even in the most recent years as the magazine struggled with identity there were still some strong features on forgotten creators. I loved the in depth profile pieces on Bill Mantlo and Wally Wood among others. They were insightful and just flat out good reads. They were honestly worth the price of the magazine alone.

Of course it was Wizard that helped my old partner in column Ben Morse get his foot in the door of the comic industry. And Ben was just one of the countless of industry professionals who began their professional careers with Wizard. It’s literally impossible to measure Wizard’s impact on the industry of comic books.

And that’s one of the reasons why I’m going to mourn it’s passing. Another is that I’m a fan of publications. I like magazines, so when one of ones that I read regularly folds, it makes me sad.

Obviously the writing had been on the wall for quite some time now. Between the rebranding, stunt relaunch with Mark Millar and the diminished quality, Wizard had been struggling.

A few weeks ago when I was at the shop picking up my weekly books, I asked the owner if the new Wizard was out. He replied that it was, but that I’d better start adding it to my pull list because it was about to become a subscriber only read. The really sad thing was that I was surprised at all.

So while there may have been some aspects of the Wizard empire that were shady, I was a fan of the magazine and I’ll miss it. It literally provided me with years of enjoyment and that’s something to be celebrated.

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