While the industry reacted with equal parts nostalgia and disdain to yesterday’s announcement of the end of Wizard magazine (see next post), and quite rightly pointed out all the harmful, childish attitudes it enshrined, we’d like to dwell for a moment, if we may, on the magazine’s one very positive legacy: all the great people who worked there. In an industry reaction roundup, Archaia Marketing Manager (and former Wizard employee) Mel Caylo talks about the alumni club:
It’s amazing how many people came out of Wizard and are still thriving in the comic book and entertainment industries today, like Matt Senreich, Doug Goldstein, Tom Root and Mike Fasolo at Robot Chicken; Alex Segura at Archie; Ben Morse, Ryan Penagos and Alejandro Arbona at Marvel; Rickey Purdin and Fletcher Chu-Fong at DC; Sean T. Collins at Robot 6; Todd Casey at Warner Bros. Animation; Zach Oat at Television Without Pity; Rick Marshall at MTV Splash Page; and Rob Bricken at Topless Robot…I could go on and on! Collectively, I think we all learned some great things at Wizard Magazine and used that experience and knowledge to help us out in our careers when it was time to move on. I will always have fond memories of working at Wizard — from the heated debates about the Top 10 Artists and Writers lists, to the spirited discussions about our favorite comics, and to the awesome pranks we used to play on each other — and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Another former Wizardeer, Chris Ward, has a more caustic take on Wizard management but runs the picture above and has more on this band of brothers. Caylo didn’t even mention CBR’s ace reporter Kiel Phegley, or current DC editor Brian Cunningham, or former DC editor Casey Seijas, and doubtless many more I’ve forgotten. Basically, for nearly 20 years, if you were a young man who wanted to be where the comics action was, you wanted to be at Wizard. While management missteps (and outright dishonesty) will doubtless be discussed for years, it’s important to remember how many very talented people came out of Congers, and how incredibly employable they were.
It was a total boys club, though. I think I only ever met one woman who worked there — Trisha Lynn Sebastian, who worked for Anime Insider for a bit. Of course, there were several very talented and respected women on staff, including the long-term art director Arlene So, and the universally admired Martha Donato, who ran the conventions in the early years and made them the success they originally were. She now runs the Long Beach Comic Con. I know there were others, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that there was never a female editorial staffer who got much attention at Wizard. This was part of the whole stupid Wizard formula — protection from cooties and objectification were two of the articles of faith of the Fanboy Mansion aura that Wizard promoted. That comics were for boyz only is part of the incredibly harmful attitude that other people had to work hard to overcome.
But that was not necessarily the attitude of the individuals who worked there. For my own part, I’ve had lots of criticism of this or that aspect of Wizard over the years, but to a man they were always professional, courteous, and helpful to me in person, and it was greatly appreciated. I have a lot of good memories going back of folks like Stewart Morales, Seymour Miles, Joe Yanarella, and of course, Pat McCallum in his Galactus outfit. He wasn’t just the president — he was a customer.
Passion for comics and the comics lifestyle was also a hallmark of the Wizard staffers. That Wizard couldn’t do more with all this proven talent may well be the greatest misstep of all.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.