Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 30, 2006

Wizard Fires Editor In Chief McCallum

Word has quickly spread throughout comics that Wizard Entertainment has fired Pat McCallum, currently a Senior VP and the magazine group's editor-in-chief -- if that wasn't McCallum title with all of Wizard's publication, the longtime editor certainly played that role. McCallum was an original staff member of the successful magazine enterprise.

The best summary is here, although you should click through to the CBR article they say is first. As both pieces point out, Wizard has pruned staff twice already this year, once in various mid-level positions for budgetary reasons and once its convention team of Stewart Morales and Gabe Fieramosco.

I've heard from no one at Wizard about this or their business in general since maybe 1994, but it occurs to me that the longtime superhero-driven magazine exists in an interesting place right now.

Without any idea how the magazines are doing sales-wise, which may be dependent on superhero movie-related appeal anyway, I would imagine two factors that might potentially be having an impact on the print publications: the highly-focused comics Internet, which isn't at all unique to anything Wizard publishes, and the leviathan-type battle over the last few years revolving event comics, basically DC's rolling event series (Crying Superman, Dead Superboy, Weekly Elongated Man) vs. Marvel's grim potential baseline-jiggering efforts (Psycho Scarlet Witch, World O'Mutants, Loose Metaphor War), which is sort of unique to Wizard, as a major print magazine, anyway.

Remember: the growth of the bookstore market hasn't meant a major decline in traditional Direct Market comics sales; there's been some modest growth there, I believe moreso recently, and, more importantly, there's been some really intense effort focused onto that market in the last two, three years, sparked by a more aggressive DC Comics.

Because there are two players in American mainstream comics, Marvel and DC, and their current, shared strategy is going for top of the line event status in the same market, and because it's a market penetrated by very few advertising vehicles, I would have to imagine that means everything Wizard does can be analyzed according to a we got it/we didn't get it model. Wizard only has one cover, and unless they're super-skilled editors that make this an absolute priority, one company is likely to get more pages, or more articles of a certain size, or more articles placed within the magazine at a certain point front to back. As someone who negotiated a tiny version of that in a past job, that sort of coverage pressure regarding major advertisers has to make editorial jobs at Wizard very, very difficult, and likely more so these days.* Overall, I don't envy the next person to sit in that seat, and am amazed that any one person could hold onto such a job for as long as McCallum did.

* again: I don't know the cause for the departure. Official word is due later today, and there are far more invested, smarter sources for mainstream comics news and analysis than this site.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

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