Today, the news broke that Wizard and ToyFare magazines were shutting down and the company was letting staffers go. Oh, and that Wizard World is now a public company and they’re going into the online game. You can get the news all over. (And yes, by “all over” I may link to only two sites, but there are more.) Go on and catch up if you need to.
Having heard about this early this morning before the news hit the webz, I’ve been thinking about it all day. As you may or may not know, I started my career at Wizard. Well, actually, I started my career at ToyFare. When I applied for an assistant editor gig at ToyFare in 2002, during my last month in college, I didn’t get the job. BUT! The dude who did get hired, Justin Aclin, called me up and offered me some freelance work.
I started writing about military toys and weird dolls and the collector toy market and other stuff I didn’t really have much reason to be writing about. But they gave a chance to a 21-year-old kid who was getting ready to move back in with his parents and take on a job filing movies at Blockbuster. So I did all that for a while. And then Wizard called.
I remember the first issue of Wizard I bought. It was #8, with a fully-mulleted Bishop drawn by Whilce Portacio on the cover. I remember going back for earlier issues and then getting sucked in for years, even when I wasn’t reading comics regularly. I watched it change and morph and expand and become a different thing…but still Wizard. So, yeah. Then in early 2003 I got a call from Wizard to come in to interview for a research position.
Oh shit, I bombed that interview. I remember being interviewed and they asked me about reading Wizard and they had #8 framed on a wall in the conference room and that sort of freaked me out. And I was wearing a Venom tie, which would have been great if I wasn’t so nervous that I forgot everything I knew about Venom while at the interview. And I left my car’s headlights on so one of the folks who interviewed me had to give me a jump after they walked me out. I didn’t get the job.
Fast forward a few months. Still doing ToyFare freelance. Wizard calls AGAIN! Not really sure why. BUT! I went back and interviewed for a Price Guide Assistant job. I nailed that sumbitch. I lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at the time. I was walking down the street, having gotten a delicious sandwich on one of my days off from Blockbuster, when I got the call. They offered me the job. Boom.
After that, it was a blur. Have the ending of Batman: Hush spoiled for me in my first meeting (months before the last issue comes out). Kick ass at assistant job. Get promoted to Price Guide Editor in about 3 months. Deal with the the commute from Brooklyn to Rockland County. Become friends with dudes like Jesse Thompson, Chris Ward and Alex Segura. Get my ass kicked as a writer & editor by Andy Serwin, Pat McCallum, Joe Yanarella and others—for the better. Move from Brooklyn to “the Wizard House,” taking over Alex Segura’s old room. Become friends with Rickey Purdin, Mel Caylo, Todd Casey, Alejandro Arbona, Justin Aclin, Jon Guiterrez, Zach Oat and others. Party. Go to Wizard World shows. Push for more responsibility as an editor. Get promoted to Associate Editor. Move to Westchester to be closer to a girl. Get my heart broken. Become friends with TJ Dietsch, David Paggi, Adam Tracey, Kiel Phegley and others. Become the Wizard liason to Marvel Comics, working very closely with Jim McCann. Take on more responsibility. Make more friends and contacts and work hard. Get pulled into an impromptu job interview at Marvel while visiting the HQ for Wizard. Get offered a job to create an editorial voice for Marvel.com. Say goodbye to Wizard.
I mean, that’s some of it. Three years (not counting that year as a freelancer). Those years I spent at Wizard were some of the most formative of my life. As cheesy as it may sound, I learned more about working and living within those years than I did through all of college. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
And so I’ve been thinking about all this today. And I’ve been thinking all my friends who were (or are) at Wizard. We, to a man, have all had different experiences. Some good, some bad, some terrible. But I have this great band of brothers (hurr durr) who I shared this time with and will be friends with for life. I’ve been thinking about guys like Andy Serwin and Dan Reilly (two names who, I assure you, you’ll hear great things about from most of us sane post-Wizard folks) who deserve better from the way this shook out. I’ve been thinking about shitty management and bad decisions and missed opportunities and hope for a successful future because there are people who still depend on the Wiz.
I’m rambling. I have a sleeping kitten on my lap and a cramp in my side because I don’t want to disturb her. I know, if you look around a bit on the webz, you’ll read a smattering of stuff on the demise of Wizard. No ill-will here. I owe so so so much to Wizard, my time at Wizard and the people I worked with (not necessarily who we worked for, if you follow) at Wizard. I’m very sad to see Wizard and ToyFare go and I really do hope the new Wizard World kicks ass. Rambling. Kitty. Something. Yeah.