Wizard Magazine, started in 1991 and for nearly 20 years had been the leader in comic books, entertainment, and unique pop culture news. Wizard played a unique role in the middle of DC & Marvel, neither creating characters nor publishing the stories. Wizard seamlessly fused culture, comics, and humor with spectacular artist works and a comic book value guide in the back of each issue. It was a 2 hour commute to the office in NY, but well worth it. I worked on design layouts and artwork illustration touch ups as well as other design tasks.
The team was a bunch of young, goofy, hysterical outcasts who were united by Superheroes. The magazine relied on the output of a few immensely talented individuals and a freelance staff of talented writers & designers. The magazine was a resource for fans of mainstream comics, toys and gaming, whom at the time were generally relegated to the fringes of pop culture.
In 2006, the magazine was revamped with a bigger size and more pages, switching from the smaller “perfect bound,” staple free look, to a more traditional magazine. That is exactly when I walked in the picture. It was a great experience because the entire magazine template was new and creativity was welcome. At the time Quark was still used because DC offices in NY had a contract exclusively with Quark rather than Adobe InDesign.
I worked with two other designers to push out a few magazines and additional one shot publications, while managing the early online website. I learned how to use Photoshop’s ‘pen tool’ very well after cutting out what felt like hundreds of comic book characters with highly detailed haircuts, which of course took extra attention to crop out. I had a couple spreads that I was allowed to work on and even helped on the cover artwork images too. I was given top secret artwork illustration boards by DC and Marvel, before the comic would even come out, so I could scan in the art for our magazine. Everything new came through me.
The rise and fall of Wizard is a story on it’s own. I was there with many people who worked at Wizard. Shortly after joining the team, in November 2006, Wizard editor-in-chief and co-founder was suddenly fired, after more than a decade with the company. The magazine was apparently targeted to cease printing and focus on conventions instead.
Prior to Wizard, there were comic book conventions, but they weren’t the organized glam affairs broadcasted on the news today. The company was re-managed and the entire Wizard staff was laid off and the magazine ceased publication. Annual comic-con conventions are still hosted by Wizard Entertainment.
In 1997 Wizard Entertainment bought the Chicago Comicon, expanding the scope and boosting attendance from a few thousand to 25,000 the following year. There are currently 21 Wizard World comic conventions and pop-culture conventions in the United States.
My Wizard senior art director lost his brother on 9/11/01, so a year later a Wizard cover was done by mainstream illustrators of Captain America saluting on a black cover. I saw the original hanging in his office when I went in to ask questions about graphic design. He taught me great knowledge about managing a monthly publication in a short time.
Wizard published Wizard: The Comics Magazine, InQuest Gamer: The Gaming Magazine, ToyFare: The Toy Magazine, Anime Insider and other books related to comics and illustration How To books. I was lucky enough to work on all of them!