The Boys of Wizard

WizardClassPhoto 1 700x466 The Boys of Wizard
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.

Comments

  1. Tony Bedard says:

    Don’t forget that DC (and former Marvel) Editor Mike Marts used to work there, too! That’s where I first met him and had the pleasure to work with him later at both Marvel and DC.

    Plus Jim McLaughlin currently helping industry veterans with the Hero Initiative.

    And since I got my start at Valiant Comics, I had a lot of buddies from there who wound up at Wizard, including mega-capable Production Director Darren Sanchez, financial dude Ed DuPre, and the ever-controversial Fred Pierce who remains one of my favorite people I ever met in the industry.

  2. A real bunch of wonderful people…and a talented crew as well. A lot of them have gone on to do great things inside and outside our industry and a few of them are what I consider good friends.

  3. While WIZARD magazine will be missed for it’s exclusives and interviews, the underlying culture which in many, many years seemed to dismiss the intelligence of creators over the age of 40 as “old school” is happily a thing of the past now.

    Creators like Alex Toth, Will Eisner, Frank Frazetta, Sanjulian, Richard Corben, Wally Wood, Carl Burgos, Irwin Hansen, CC Beck, Alex Raymond, Lee Falk, Don Newton, Milton Caniff, and so many more were all given the heave ho and left on the wasteland of history.

    WIZARD in an effort to focus on the creators of today lost track of the history of this field. They often magnified it’s problems, and never saw past this Wednesday’s books. I often felt the extent that they did this was criminal. I know WIZARD was never the “my father’s comics” magazine, but my God…it wasn’t even my comics magazine anymore.

    So if WIZARD joins the digital publishing age, PLEASE allow your staff to show their respect for the vast history of this solely American art-form. I know they’d like to having spoken to a few of them. The Wally Wood article from a few months back was a smart start. Your audience is not as uncultured as you think. We’d like a change in direction with the new digital decade upon us.

    No…seriously, we do.

  4. Josh Elder says:

    I got my professional start (after two college internships at DC) in comics as an associate editor at WIZARD. I had plenty of disagreements with how the magazine was run, but I really did like and respect all the people there. And I can’t over-emphasize how important WIZARD was in my formative fandom years.

    RIP.

  5. Summer Mullins ran Anime Insider for much of the time I worked there as Editor, with able assistance from Angela Hanson. Rachel Molino started as an intern and is now one of my favorite people to bump into at MoCCA and BCGF. Ubiquitous geek-culture journo Tracey John cut her teeth as a longtime ToyFare freelancer. And the designer you mention (that’s her in the front row) is Arlene So–just a prodigious talent. Other people may not have paid these women much attention, but we sure did.

  6. Don’t forget Jodie Westhoff, who was my first colleague in the research office and really, really great. And Kara, who edited ToyFare I believe and “Ask Dierdre” of “Ask Dierdre” Fame. Bet ya’ll forgot about Ask Dierdre. She was on G4 because of that. And Patricia McCallum, Pat’s cousin who replaced Pat McCallum when the ratings were down in the 19th season.
    Cheryl Raymundo, too, of course! If there was a shortage of women, it was almost certainly because I scared them off.

  7. Let’s not forget the fine folks that worked in the advertising department over the years at Wizard. Ken Scrudato, Karen Evora, Phill Lawrence, Brent E. Erwin (Diamond, Acclaim Comics,Ape Ent.), Allison James, Anne Marie Moriarty, Seymore Miles (DC Comics, Valiant), Ann Ivan (DC Comics), Chris Radtke (UGO Ent.), Sal Mingoia to name a few.

    I know I learned so much from my 9 years at Wizard Entertainment that really helped when my business partner and I started Ape Entertainment. It was a great time to be working in comics and a wonderful bunch of peopel to work with for sure.

    Brent!

  8. “protection from cooties” :)

    classic

  9. Mark Mazz, I think you missed out on some great articles. As far back as 2008, when I was still at ToyFare, Wizard was doing features on legendary writers and artists like Steve Ditko and Jack Cole. Sure, the overall focus was always on the new issue, but that’s comics.

  10. Adding to what Sean and Chris said, Kara Reynolds was actually an Anime Insider editor, although she worked on multiple mags. Kate Napolitano was an editor at ToyFare. Kristin Sorra and Jackie Bencic were designers. Art director Arlene So was there when I started in 1999, and still there when I left eight and a half years later. And Jodie Westhoff eventually worked in every department in the company, I believe.

    There were women in editorial, women in management, and women in the warehouse. They may not have been wearing the Galactus costume (only Pat had the height), but I don’t believe the hiring of women at Wizard was disproportionate to the number of applicants.

  11. I believe Wizard was among the first places to focus on the plight of Batman pioneer Bill Finger for a new generation of fans.

  12. I was published in Wizard during the 1990s, writing the back-of-the-book TIME TRAVEL column about a dozen times. I had other features published in Wizard, too. That was all long before I started writing comics, of course. I remember that part of my evolving career fondly.

  13. Thanks to all for spotlighting the Girls of Wizard. They are an equally talented and passionate bunch.

  14. Don’t forget about Jim Gibbons at Dark Horse Comics, as well as Josh Wigler and Brian Warmoth, two of the hardest-working freelance writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. More great Wizard alumni that moved on to bigger and better things.

    Oh, and btw, former Wizard intern and all-around editorial awesome-izer Rachel Molino has been doing a lot of writing for me at MTV lately, too.

  15. Ben Plavin says:

    I will remember my time at Wizard and ToyFare with a combination of fondness, overwhelming geek love and just a dash of frustrated terror.

    I always felt that I got a fair shake from Gareb and Fred and you can’t argue that they knew how to hire great people. And not just people who were good at their jobs. These were the kind of people you WANTED to hang with at a convention.

    I haven’t seen some of these folks for almost a decade but, well, the best way to describe it is this: you know that great friend from college… the one you haven’t seen since but would happily drop everything to help out? Imagine a whole building of that guy. Those are the kind of people who made that building in Congers, NY a cool place to work (okay meeting Todd MacFarlane was cool, too).

    It definitely wasn’t always sunshine and lollipops and maybe I am looking back with glasses that are tinted the shade of Krypton’s sun, but I hope the people at Wizard and ToyFare land happily. I did and I owe part of that to the time I spent at Wizard.

    Good Luck,
    Ben Plavin
    former Promotions Manager, Wizard, ToyFare InQuest and Sci Fi Invasion

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