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January 24, 2011

One-Time Runaway Success Story Wizard Magazine Folds

imageI'm going to play catch-up on this one for the next few days. I'll say this for now, though. I and most other news sites received a press release from Wizard this morning about the convention company's switch to a penny-stock funded public company and the launch of a new web site driven magazine. Unlike many of my peers, I was not this morning or last night reading the multiple reports that flooded more mainstream-oriented sites and Twitter about rumored than actual massive lay-offs and the cancellation of freelance assignments at the once-dominant industry print publication. I only had this new press release.

That press release says nothing about the print magazine being canceled.

This almost seems better than any epitaph I could write for the publication that dominated comic book industry discourse in the 1990s and into the 2000s, made rich men out of a lot of people, served as a launching point for dozens of comics-industry careers and was the core acting agent of the American comic book industry's louder, dumber, greedier, more crass and business ethics-challenged side: it couldn't admit it had gone away, or, if you prefer, its self-image was such that that its print departure wasn't as important to its owners as trumpeting the next slightly dodgy-sounding and not at all guaranteed to succeed gig.

By the way: don't trust anyone that sells the move to digital as the big story. It could be, eventually, if it works. If this were 2001, or even 2005, "natural progression to digital" might be the way one would process this move. But in 2011? After a decade of Wizard's disastrous on-line moves already on the books? With little more than a "we're going to do this" press release to show for this new initiative as opposed to having something up and running when you print plug was pulled? With concurrent news out there that they're firing people and canceling freelance gigs -- not moving them to this on-line initiative? Together, that's all about as convincing as some of the funnier back-issue pricing whoppers of years past. The new digital Wizard doesn't deserve any place in headlines, let alone pride of place. No, the story for right now is the departure of the print iteration, the most financially successful about-comics publication in history, a once-overpowering comics industry institution already diminished in such a way it's difficult to even recall the days when it maintained a signature presence in American comic books. There was a time when Wizard was such a dominant force that the only reactions to it seemed to be despair, accommodation, or dark humor. That time is long past, and I will not miss it.

My best wishes to all of those whose employment status was changed by the moves.

* John Jackson remembers Wizard -- with numbers
posted 10:15 am PST | Permalink

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