The Future of Wizard: Online?

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Does Wizard Magazine have a future as a comics news magazine with comics journalism on the web pushing it aside? It’s a debate that is, and should be, raging online…

Comic book news websites are popping up every day, and there’s a current debate being argued in comic book shops, and other outlets, as to whether Wizard still has any relevancy to comic book journalism.

In this two-part article, Broken Frontier analyzes Wizard’s current stance in comic book journalism and the reaction towards their recent declaration that they are the number one men’s pop culture magazine.

"Is Wizard still relevant? As a magazine? Absolutely," said Tim Leong, Editor in Chief of Comic Foundry ."They have a big circulation with 20 years of branding and readership under their belt."

"I don't really have a strong opinion one way or the other on Wizard magazine in general, since as a reader my experience with it, and comics press in general, is extremely limited," said Ivan Brandon, co-creator of Image Comics’NYC MECH .

Industry professionals continue to see why Wizard serves a purpose in the market, but the readers have a hard time finding their content being anything different than that of respected comic news websites.

"They don't really offer anything that I can't get for free online," said Brian Dervin, a Long Island graduate student and frequent customer at Midtown Comics in New York City.

"Some of their interviews are good," said Jan Thomas, a teacher from Baton Rouge, LA visiting New York City. "I know they had a bit where Bendis interviewed other creators. I read that, but for the most part, it, like newspapers, are really kind of a dying print medium."

Another reader, Jeff Long of Anaheim, CA, believes Wizard is here to stay, but sees the bad side of their content as well as the good.

"Wizard's one of those that we're always [going] to watch, to some degree, because we all grew up reading [it]. [It’s] where we got our behind-the-scenes fix when we were 13."

"Their content is usually positive," continued Long. "Like: big news from Marvel! Or interview with Bendis!"

Long also makes a good observation that much of their content does not critically analyze the different aspects of comics but rather it largely publicizes what’s going to happen in next year’s big event(s). While there are plenty of good sites out there doing in-depth articles. "A small fan site isn't going to get the big interview with the medium’s top writer, but Wizard is," said Long.

Other readers criticize the magazine for catering to the Big Two (DC and Marvel), being an extension of their individual public relations departments, in the name of getting advanced sneak peaks and other incentives. Long believes this, but went on to state that Wizard puts a positive spin on things. In the day of online news and review sites that can be overly critical, the magazine focuses on the lighthearted, superhero aspect to the medium.

In a highly publicized speech at the 2001 Harvey Awards, comic creator Frank Miller criticized the magazine by ripping it to shreds and throwing it in a trashcan.

Miller called it a "bible written by Satan," a "monthly vulgarity," and a "tree killer (which) regularly cheapens and poisons our field."

The two parties have seemingly repaired their relationship (after Miller's successful Sin City film), and Miller having been named "Guest of Honor" at Wizard World Chicago in 2005.

Perhaps Ivan Brandon puts it best. As a creator, he’s never understood the backlash against the magazine, which he believes has a pretty good idea what their target audience really is.

"The idea that they should emphasize creator-owned or independent works over the more popular characters seems silly to me," he said. "It's like looking for socio-political content in People. They're one of a zillion magazines at the store, you choose whether or not to buy it like any other, and their role or relevance to the public at large is decided by the market."

Editor’s note: Hoping to present you with a more balanced point of view, we reached out to Wizard Magazine editorial for some comments, but they declined.

To be continued next Wednesday.

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