200612070408With WIZARD magazine seeking a new editor-in-chief — and presumably a new direction — after firing the previous head honcho, internet commentators are taking a crack at what THEY would do if they ran the magazine about comics. Augie De Blieck Jr. has a long run down:

A print publication has its strengths and its weaknesses. It will never be as timely as the web. It will, however, be more portable. It will keep your attention longer than a website, but it still has to be interesting.

First and foremost, the Wizard website and the WIZARD Magazine have to work together. Hot breaking news items go into the website, which will need a major Web 2.0 redesign to stand out from the crowd. (Seriously, it’s an embarrassment right now. Those Newsarama and CBR sites haven’t been updated in this millennium and they look two generations ahead of WizardUniverse.com.) Everything else can go into the magazine.

Feature-length interviews work best in print, not on the web. The longer your article or interview appears on a web page, the less readers you have for it. The more pages you make them click through, the quicker they’ll move onto some other page. With a printed magazine, you have more leeway to print a looooong interview across many pages and keep the audience. Sure, illustrate it profusely to keep it visually appealing, but let it ramble on a bit more.

Mark Bernadin, who works for ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, a real-type magazine, comments at his blog:

Wizard should aim to be the Sports Illustrated of comics. Bet you thought I was gonna say EW, right? No, our focus is too wide. SI, on the other hand, is all about sport, in every possible permutation. You get the meat-and-potatoes coverage you’re expecting, of the NFL or the NBA or the or MLB or the PGA, but you still get stories about up-and-coming atheletes, veterans, sports you never thought were sports (spelunking, anyone?), and breaking news about sport (steroids, gambling, sex-offender high-school coaches, etc.). You get everything you could possibly want, as a sport fan: something about that particular sport you’re interested in, something about sports you might not be, and a “deep dive” into a surprising arena you hadn’t thought of.

A thread at The Engine turns into a free-for-all with Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction and James Owen, among others jumping in.

What do we think? Owen makes some good points about advertising and rate base and so on. It pains us to say it, old magazine hand that we are, but print is problematic these days. Circulation and ad revenue are generally in decline or static. A category will come along — lad mags, shelter, gossip — that sparks things up, but in general it’s a very iffy time. Not that the internet is making tons of money, although ad revenue is growing rapidly. We don’t have time to find the actual statistics to back all this up — it’s more of a feeling, based on the sad looks that most magazine ad sales people we know get when we talk about revenues.

Anyway, back to Wizard — they face all the problems of other magazines, along with the fact that a lot of comics publishers STILL don’t have ad budgets. To be honest we haven’t picked up a copy of Wizard in a while, so we have no idea how soft the video game, toy and entertainment ad business has grown. On the plus side, Wizard has a strong brand and a vibrant subject matter. But what to do to get readers and advertisers back? Jessica Alba’s perky tits can’t solve everything, alas. But what do we know…we just blog.


  1. After all these years, my brain is still stuck on the question of why one would name a magazine primarily about comics “Wizard” in the first place. But then, until recently, the comics industry had a creator-assistance organization named ACTOR, so maybe I’m just too narrow-minded.

    Seriously, however, “Wizard” has shown through its growth and fair degree of success that it has (had?) a strong core audience. Although I’ve seen no one address it, I suspect that the recent redesign and distribution changes of “Comics Buyer’s Guide” has successfully syphoned off a significant portion of the “Wizard” demographic — particularly the price guide crowd. When a product loses market share under such circumstances, sometimes there is no recovery. If that’s the case, “Wizard” should try and stop the bleeding, see where its market share stabilizes, and then adjust its business model accordingly. I suspect, however, the glory days may well be over.

    P.S. — Hey, Stuart! How’s it going? Hope all is well!

  2. True, Jessica Alba’s perky tits can’t solve everything…


    Er, right?

  3. “I may be being stupid, but what are “shelterâ€? magazines?”

    They’re home decor lifestyle magazines. Think of ’em as the magazine analog to the HGTV cable network–stuff like DWELL, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, COTTAGE LIVING, a lot of regional-specific things like COASTAL LIVING, etc., etc..

    The category had a nice lift in recent years with the real estate market booming, more homeowners doing renovations, more folks buying larger or second homes, etc., but that seems to be cooling off a bit nowadays.

  4. Wizard needs to shake the “fanboy” attitude they’ve carried for so long to really pull out into the mainstream. I read the magazine and have since the first issue came out. I can’t mention around other comic fans anything published in Wizard without their eyes rolling. Most treat the magazine like it’s the National Enquirer of comics. To some degree I have agreed as well when it comes to certain articles and news stories.

    That’s a big wall to have to climb. Whoever steps up to take on the task will have a lot to figure out. I figure in the end it will still be pretty much the same magazine. It does fine for what it is, but it doesn’t leave the door open to be in the mainstream.

  5. Ah, thanks Ali. I knew I was being stupid — all I could envision was Loompanics-style survivalist manifestos on erecting sheds in the wilderness.

    Hey Russ — things are pretty good, thanks. You?