Our email inbox is stuffed with word that Wizard COO Fred Pierce has been let go. Pierce was definitely the mover and shaker who ran Wizard’s day-to-day business and was probably much more involved than CEO Gareb Shamus for the last few years.

Newsarama reports:

The move (which is seen as cost-cutting by observers) is the latest in what seems to have become a steady stream of layoffs, departures and shifts within the company structure over the past two to three years. The business is soon to move to a new building as well, something also cited as a cost-cutting measure. With Pierce’s departure, insiders report that Gareb and his brother Stephen Shamus are running the day to day operations of the business.

Pierce was not well liked by many ex-Wizard staffers, as Sean T. Collins shows by breaking into an Ewok-style celebratory “yub nub” at the news.

Everyone knows that magazine publishing isn’t exactly a huge growth industry these days, but an observer can’t help but think that things must be very dire at Wizard World for a fixture like Pierce to be let go.

Who’s left? EIC Scott Gramling, Joe Yanarella and Mike Cotton are the best-known names.

Observers we spoke with were shocked, and the prognosis for Wizard’s continued health is considered questionable. Others, however, saw the often confrontational Pierce as a major impediment to moving forward with a new direction.

Developing, as they say.

More, from Tom Spurgeon:

Update: A few more reactions from the grapevine, including a publishing exec who told us, “Fred made it pretty clear to us that buying ad pages and getting editorial coverage were very much related.”


  1. I wish nothing but the best to former workers at Wizard.

    I wish nothing but the worst for Wizard magazine. Its time is done.

  2. This is an historic time for Wizard. Let me be perfectly clear when I say that 90% of the bad things you’ve heard from/about Wizard (such as ads and editorial being connected) were because of Fred. This cannot be understated. It’s a company with some of the best, most creative people around, who were under the thumb of an arrogant, abusive, insecure tyrant who, if not shown complete loyalty and respect, would consider you an adversary. He showed nothing but contempt for the editorial department and would defend the most ineffectual and underperforming cronies to the point of cursing and threatening. Wizard may have fallen beyond the point of saving, but if it were to be saved, Fred’s leaving was required. So this is a very good thing. Kudos to everyone that works there, and I’m sure they’re partying the weekend away.

  3. This is a man who laughingly told a majority of his company, on an individual basis, that he would pray for their well-being in the midst of several high profile firings. This is an opportunity for the Wizard that was once well-loved to return to the masses. An excellent decision.

  4. I’ve known Fred since I was an intern at Valiant. He was tough, confrontational, and brutally honest. And in my 16 years of making funnybooks, Fred remained one of the people I loved best and respected most in the industry. I wish him well, though, frankly, he doesn’t need my support. Fred’s going to be just fine, regardless.

    Now, in fairness, I never worked at Wizard, so I can’t say one way or another what happened within those walls. But I recognize the raw feelings and the sense of wasted opportunity behind a lot of the comments out there. I lived through the Valiant implosion and the collapse of CrossGen. I’ve worked with Jim Shooter (who was nice to me) and with people who’d cheer if Jim got hit by a bus. And I’ve harbored my own resentment towards more than one comics “tyrant” over the years. It’s a very human reaction. I hope folks get past that anger and use their experiences, good and bad, to accomplish greater things with their careers.

    As for me, the next time I see Fred I’ll hug the guy and ask him about his family. And he’ll be as warm and funny to me as always. Say what you want about him (he sure won’t care), but to me he’ll always be a mensch.

  5. Well, I have known Fred for a long time and Mr. Bedard is completely correct.
    I have been at the Wizard offices many times and know that Fred does not have a private shower. Granted, there is a shower in the bathroom but anyone can use it.
    Fred, if i guess correctly, probably doesn’t care about what his ex-employees say about him seeing as how they probably show some resentment toward the abusive tyrant. People should learn to separate business from personal and move on with their lives. My boss, who I would also call a tyrant at work, is a personable guy who is warm and funny outside of the office. I learned to not take anything personally and it has done me a lot of good.
    We’ll see how long the company lasts after Mr. Pierce has left.

  6. Great news. Fred was the reason Wizard has sucked as a company for a hundred years. Good luck, Wizard! Now I’m hoping they pull it together.

  7. All you need to do is look at what former Wizard-ites have done with Marvel.com to see what Wizard should have been doing for years. They took a marketing tool and turned it into a revenue stream that markets.

    The mag and the website can not only co-exist, but strengthen each other’s position if done right. They need to cast an eye towards the future and the new way things are done. You can’t fight the internet. Just ask the music business how that turned out. You have to adapt or go the way of the Dodo and day glo.

    Their departments need to work together instead of being pitted against each other.

    That is a tone that is set from the top.

  8. “Let them burn, baby burn!!!!”

    there’s some intelligent input. what about the people who aren’t upper management? they should lose their jobs too?

    you seem to forget these are people we are talking about. people that share housing and work second jobs just because they are so passionate about what they do.

    we’ll all cheer when you lose your burger flipping job.

  9. perhaps I was a bit too cold in my previous statement. It was a knee-jerk reaction with no thought for the larger picture and I see that now.

    Yes, I went a bit too far, and I am sorry. Just have some history with the company myself and it was not pleasant.

    I have nothing but good wishes those who have the best of intentions for all that the publication could still be. But it seems that a house cleaning has been needed there for some time. Perhaps now, those with better, brighter and positive visions for the magazine’s future can finally step up and be heard.

    Please forgive my previous, short-sighted view.

  10. Please, DO NOT shed a tear for this man…
    His attitude towards “the little people under him” (everyone on the ground floor) was disgusting. To give you an idea what people dealt with…

    On one occasion, Pierce slunked around the underlings desks then suddenly and loudly declared that “Believe me, if I could get this work done for FREE I would!”

    And you did, Fred.

    When the Editorial staff got “in trouble” after a Con for “wining and dining” some comic celebrities on Wizard’s dime, Mr. Tyrant called an emergency meeting declaring, “These creators should be seeking us out… and if they don’t like it, we can destroy their career!”

    Just a taste of the bullshit that came outta this guy… see ya buddy!

  11. Fred Pierce is one of the most honest people you will find in the comics industry.

    I worked for him and, though he was tough at times, I count my time at Wizard and my friendship with Fred afterwards as highpoints, both professionally and personally.

    Gareb and Steve are very sharp and I know they did not make this decision lightly but Fred’s shoes are going to hard to fill. Given the constant state of shrinkage the industry seems to be in, they have their work cut out for them.

    Good Luck!