Still playing catch-up, the BIG story today is the the shake-up at Wizard, with long-time EIC Pat McCallum let go in among other staffing changes, as tersely revealed in this press release:
Wizard Entertainment today announced several staffing changes, including the addition of several new hires to the publishing and Wizard World tour divisions. Recent additions to the company include; Marketing Director John Ko; General Manager Keith Patrick; General Manager for Dealer Relations Peter Katz; Programming Manager for Wizard Conventions Inc. Adam Dickstein; and Sales Account Executive Bart Sciarraba. Additionally, Wizard announced that Editor-in-Chief Pat McCallum and Wizard Entertainment have parted ways.
âIn an effort to grow the company and evolve with our customers, Wizard has made a number of aggressive changes over the past nine months,â? said Fred Pierce, president and COO for Wizard Entertainment. âWe have had a record year for both the publishing division and the Wizard World tours, and these staffing changes will ensure even greater success in 2007.â?
Throughout 2006, Wizard leadership has been making moves to strengthen the company. In March, toy industry veteran Jim Silver joined the company as Publisher, while Wizardâs own Rob Felton was promoted to Vice President and Associate Publisher. In September, Wizard introduced a new format for its flagship publication, Wizard Magazine, growing it from comic book size to conventional magazine size. In October, the recently re-launched WizardUniverse.com welcomed a record 2 million visitors. Additionally, the annual Wizard World tour closed its tenth year in November with record-setting attendance and a continuously expanding variety of exhibitors, adding such partners as Spike TV, Video Games Live and International Fight League. 2007 looks to be another exceptional year, with several planned pop culture crossovers in Hollywood, comics and anime, and another action-packed Wizard World tour.
Can YOU spot the discrepancy in paragraph 2, boys and girls? Companies having record years don’t usually fire half the staff.
McCallum was one of the original Wizard founders, a fixture at the company who was often seen at Wizard shows dressed as Galactus. Everyone we’ve talked to indicates his dismissal came as a complete shock. At Newsarama Matt Brady pointed out some of the actual facts behind the “record year:
The magazine itself has also gone through many changes over the past decade, with direct market sales numbers (which do not include subscriptions or newsstand sales, but can still be seen as a valid sales indicator) â which used to hover near the 100,000 mark in the late â90s, now coming in at approximately half of that, according to estimates….Some observers are viewing McCallum’s unexpected departure as perhaps one of the final steps of a de facto reorganization of the company, whose roots can be traced back to the hiring of Jim Silver as the new Publisher and Rob Felton being named Associate Publisher at the company in March of this year.
As every site pointing this out has mentioned, it has been a hard year for Wizard. Their convention attendance was down; magazine advertising is also way down (hardly unique in the print world, in all fairness) and their website re-launch has been an embarrassment. Insiders are speculating that McCallum, like convention personnel Stewart Morales and Gabe Fieromosco, was let go simply as a fall guy for the general moribund state of the business. Surely a high-level firing will shake things up, but you have to wonder if Felton and Silver have enough vision to guide what was really the last bastion of 90’s comics culture into the new century.
In the meantime, if you want to be part of the team, you can read the help wanted ad over at Media Bistro — you must register to read it all but it’s free. Here’s a sampling:
Job Requirements Editor In Chief (EIC) â Wizard Entertainment: Wizard, InQuest Gamer, ToyFare, Anime Insider
SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE:
â¢ Acting as a Brand Manager for Wizard Entertainmentâs publications to all aspects of the company, as well as with all partners and stakeholders, with an empathetic knowledge of editorialâs role in helping each area to reach its individual and collective goals
â¢ Consistently position Wizard Entertainment as a thought leader in its respective marketplaces, within its diverse communities as well as to outside media
â¢ Facilitate/moderate public events that Wizard Entertainment sponsors and/or hosts in conjunction with other sponsors or content providers
â¢ Proactively represent Wizard Entertainment at events/forums to ascertain trends, develop content ideas
â¢ Insure the editorial mission and distinct messages of the various publications are achieved
â¢ Oversee the entire online and print editorial process, ensuring that all publications are produced within budget and timelines
â¢ Strategize, develop and manage all content creation for print, web and other rich media
â¢ Proactively engage and manage both internal and external writing and journalism staff
â¢ Draw positive attention to the publication through excellence in journalism, editorial content, print quality and overall media