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Monday January 31, 2011 6:05 am

R.I.P. Wizard Magazine

Wizard MagazineOkay, who had Comics Buyer’s Guide in the Last Comics News Magazine Standing pool?

CBG is now the longest-running continuously published comic book magazine and they’ve survived all comers. Overstreet’s Fan, Hero Illustrated, The Comic Reader, The Mirkwood Times, The Comics Journal, and now Wizard.

In case you haven’t heard the news, Wizard Magazine officially shut down last week, sending its staff packing.

Wizard was lucky - they caught the wave of the 1990s comic book bubble and the launch of Valiant and Image and then helped increase that bubble (Gareb was at the first official meeting of the Image Comics founders at Marc Silvestri’s Malibu beach house way back in the early 1990s).

Once the gravy train of million-selling comics derailed, and the internet took away the need for a news magazine, Wizard’s been struggling to remain a viable publication. Watching them flail around for the past decade has not been pretty. I knew a couple of good people who worked for the magazine in those early years and they've long since gone onto other things.

Naturally as with any print thing that dies, Wizard has announced it will exist online in some form and hopefully some from the magazine staff will make the transition so it’s not a complete loss of all jobs. It’s a tough time to be out looking for work.

And now that they’ve shed their money-losing print magazine, the company has gone public in one of those bizarre deals that makes you think that something’s up.

They’re also going to expand their convention business that they launched a few years ago by buying up regional shows like old people stock up on canned goods.

I don’t believe their online strategy is anything to get excited about. They’ve had a decade to piece one together and they’ve been way outdistanced by their competition - there are plenty of sites people go to daily (and any time there’s breaking news) and none of them have been related to Wizard.

Expect them to build up the convention business and then try to sell the public company before it collapses so they can cash out. None of this is about comics, it’s all about money. That’s all Wizard has ever been about.

And since publishing dried up and took the money with it, this looks like a new plan for them to find a new supply.

Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter has some analysis well-worth reading.

Heidi at Comics Beat has a number of links about Wizard’s past and future mixed with her own observations.

Gary Tyrrell at Fleen has a very savvy take on Wizard’s potential future in the convention business with this forward-going cautionary statement: watch your back.

[Artwork: Wizard (top); Gareb Shamus, early '90s at the first Image Comics meeting (bottom), photo by and © Tom Mason]

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