EXCLUSIVE: Former Wizard Employee Speaks

With the news today that Wizard was ceasing publication, our phones have been ringing off the hook and our e-mail inboxes filled with news and opinions from all around the comic book industry.  Say what you will about Wizard, but it was definitely a catalyst when it came to discussion and analysis.  But when we got the opportunity to speak to a former Wizard employee who was among the group laid off today as the magazine came to an end, we jumped at the opportunity.  This employee requested to remain anonymous but was willing to answer our questions. Keep in mind that this is just one former employee's thoughts and opinions.

iFanboy: Tell us what happened today at Wizard.
Former Wizard Employee: Actually its pretty screwed up what they did. They gave everyone off on Friday (very strange) then last night at 6:30 PM (right before kickoff [of the Jets/Steelers playoff game]) they called me and told me the magazines were no longer in publication. I was asked to go get my personal belongings and they told me the office was closed and moved to a different location and they would let us know when it was okay to get them. When I asked about severance or  unemployment they shrugged me off and quickly dismissed me. So, I still have no idea what is happening in those regards.

iF: Did the Wizard Magazine employees know this was coming or was it a surprise?
FWE: A few people were told what was going on. This was pure favoritism by the staff. Things seemed very shady and obviously they did not want us taking home our things for some reason.

iF: Were you, or anyone you're aware of, briefed on the changes and given the opportunity to move over to the upcoming digital magazine?
FWE: No. I was not asked to be moved.  A friend of mine on the edit side was simply told "This is what you're doing now." No one was given the option. Not even people who were kept on.

iF: What was the state of Wizard in recent years? What sense of the magazine's performance did you have?
FWE: The magazine was in complete disarray. I had not been there long before I realized that no one knew what they were doing. All the senior staff were promoted simply because everyone above them was fired. They had no working relationships with any of the major publishers. They had not covered Marvel for a number of years because (again, very shady) they re-published a few Marvel books in a "masterpiece" type collection. When Marvel asked them about they simply refused the calls and never paid them a cent. Once I heard this I realized that these people did not give a shit about anyone or anything. I was never given any numbers on how the magazine was doing but I am sure they have been consistent in the sales as they are a very niche magazine.

iF: What was Wizard's online strategy, if you knew of it, while you were employed there?
FWE: It is really funny that you ask about the online strategy; as far as I knew, there was none. A few weeks ago, I heard some talk of having our magazine published on the iPad through Comixology. Having had some experience with digital publishing, I suggested to the editorial director and most senior member of the editorial staff that pages might need to be re-thought to fit the format. He seemed very confused as to what that even meant as far as workflow, etc. I later heard that the iPad idea was dead. About a week later,  we needed to take our editorial blog piemonkey.com offline for a few days because Gareb was supposedly severing his ties with his old web project, GeekChicDaily. Thats all I know of the web strategy.  Most importantly, I think, is that our ad sales department was not doing well. No one wanted to buy ads and it seemed they were failing miserably. This is probably the number one reason for the switch.

iF: Do you think their new venture that was announced earlier today will succeed? Why or why not?
FWE: Honestly, I know it will fail. First off, there is no leadership. The people that are still on staff have no digital publishing experience or seem to want to be there. As more money goes into the conventions, the less the owners care about the magazine side.  They plan on publicly trading and launching this app for free with no real advertising. I think anyone who does a little research before purchasing stock will find just how screwed that place is.


  1. Edez Edez says:

    Nice job, Ron!

  2. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    Wow. If all this is true (hint, it is) that’s great branding and PR from Wizard. Screwing everyone over is always great for business.

  3. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:


  4. not allowing employees to pick up their personal belongings…thats just messed up. 

    Sounds like a quasi-legit organization to start with. Good riddance.  

  5. drunkyoda drunkyoda says:

    Damn… who will be the authority in comics now??? an iFanboy magazine???? :P

  6. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    The possibility has now opened up that Ben Folds will write a song about Wizard magazine, and how it won’t give him back his black t-shirt.

    Granted, it’s a long shot.

  7. lifesend lifesend says:

    That was fast…and damning!

  8. HobbitFromPA HobbitFromPA says:

    I stopped reading it when they drastically changed the format about a year or two back. I was a reader from the beginning.  Ah well, so is life.

  9. andybmcd andybmcd says:

    WTF if this is all true.

  10. Exactly the kind of classy behavior that I have come to expect from Shamus over the years. Firings/major restructurings are never easy on those who get left behind but this approach takes a terrible, painful process, pours gasoline on it, and then lights a match. For that extra “f.u.” quality. 

  11. RaceMcCloud RaceMcCloud says:

    @drunkyoda – The iFanboys should just start blatantly doing old Wizard bits… or are they all still the intellectual property of GE… er, I mean… “Wizard” Magazine?

  12. cutty cutty says:

    Why are so many businesses in comics run like shit?  My LCS included.

    Is this a symptom of lots of companies in entertainment in general? 

  13. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @cutty  Because there’s very little money and a lot of people come up from being hobbyists. At least in some cases.

  14. gruvenreuven gruvenreuven says:

    Understand that Businesses go under, but that is not right the way it went down… My heart is out to all the ex-wizzard employees :-(

  15. drunkyoda drunkyoda says:

    @josh  The gaming review industry was the same and now they have professional reporters writting stories and doing review, what went different?

  16. doyleclark doyleclark says:

    hmmm… i’ve been meaning to buy some old issues in hopes of finding the particular issue where my “letter to the editor” was published.  Hopefully prices won’t spike up for old back issues.

  17. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @drunkyoda  The gaming industry generates SO MUCH more revenue than the comics industry does. SO MUCH more.

  18. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I asked Carol from HR if this is how she’d handle things. She said, “What kind of question is that, Peter?” and moved the jar of macadamia nut cookies off her desk. 


  19. Minion Minion says:

    All the senior staff were promoted simply because everyone above them was fired”

    This single sentance tells me all I need to know about how Wizard was run.

  20. froggulper says:

    Great stuff, Ron.

    I’ve heard about so many shameful things Shamus did over the years, but the way in which Wizard went about firing people seems the worst. Given them Friday off just so they could basically control the way in which people got their belongings back?? WTF.

    I liked Wizard a lot in the ’90s. I’ll defend what they did during that decade. But alienating Marvel comics as they did a few years ago? C’mon. That’s just stupid for business.

  21. Jim Mroczkowski Jimski (@jimski) says:

    This reminds me more of my last job than I’d like.

  22. Maceface Maceface says:

    I have no respect for how they treated their staff. I bet A.I.M. treats folks better. Screw them.

  23. MisterJ says:

    While I do believe a substantial amount of the the reporting, we should take it with at least a grain of salt because the ex-employee was just fired.

    That much having been said, it is not like the reports that have been going around about Wizard in the previous years do not fall right in line with this.

  24. @Jimski  Same here…hitting a little too close to home for me.

  25. reg5000 reg5000 says:

    @Maceface  A.I.M has awesome dental.

    @Jimski  I know what you mean. The place I work now has a lot of areas that are run exactly like this. “We just fired your boss. You’re in charge now.”

  26. Gilgabob Gilgabob says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if everything this person said is true but you have to remember this is one person’s opinion who just got fired from their job. I look forward to more on this story from named sources.

  27. TheLastSon21 TheLastSon21 says:

    Holy Cow.  Unreal.  I feel for the guys that lost their job.  Can’t believe how sketchy they have been. 

  28. Bassoonjedi Bassoonjedi says:

    Unbelievable. My heart goes out to the folks who lost their jobs. We have a 20% unemployment rate where I am, so I hope they fare well.

  29. neums neums says:

    Well, their behavior kind of helps me understand a few things. Namely how little of a shit they gave about their copy editing, or lack thereof. Also, their lack of giving a shit with regards to cutouts on photos. To think, it was a dream of mine to one day design for Wizard.

  30. JesTr JesTr says:

    I wish all the wizard staffers the best. Man they really got dicked over. I really don’t see the digital format fairing well. First, It sounds like the same people will be running the digital show. Second, Wizard’s new digital format will have to be above an beyond. Wizard has to offer something more in order to compete with sites like iFanboy, Newsarama, and, CBR.

  31. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    @conor Overall the gaming industry does. but the comic industry like any book can keep re-releasing the same material over time, but games pretty much lose value quickly, and are relinquished to the  20 to 10 dollar bin until they are gone. Many of the companies whom have to sub-contract to them to get the duties done are struggling to maintain their bottom line.
     The comic industry can pull in new readers with stories made many years prior. Comics are on par with literature, and it seems like the industry doesn’t treat it’s self that way.

  32. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @OliverTwist  A lot of that is true; none of it changes the fact that there is way more money generated by video games than comics. Most people have to want to work in comics out of passion rather than financial gain which is why you have people running businesses who maybe shouldn’t be.

  33. drunkyoda drunkyoda says:

    @OliverTwist  Comic books generate less revenue than any tech base or publishing company, this is because people don’t see comic books as a serious thing. My dad taught literature in college and constantly says that comic books will never achieve the greatness of Joyce’s Ulisses or even entrap you like H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, so while there are people like my dad comic books will never be seen as serious or worth while by  journalists.

  34. neums neums says:

    I actually sent an email one time to the (then) creative director (his was the only email I had), to let him know if he was aware of the numerous elementary copy editing and grammar mistakes that were showing up in issue after issue. You know what he said to me? “It happens.” Really? I can understand that happening in a daily publication, but this was a monthly rag. It should never happen in that case.

  35. Katon Katon says:

    This is really classless by Wizard if it’s true, and I’m sure it is.  I know I won’t be supporting any more of their ventures after how they’ve treated their employees.  I can do without Wizard, but I will admit losing Toyfare sucks.  I really loved that magazine.

  36. AndyK says:

    I’ve heard a lot about shady deals involving Shamus and the magazine over the years. The lopsided amount of coverage on Marvel books was transparent, while DC obviously saw through their bullshit and knew to keep their distance from them.

  37. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    @drunkyoda   It was th same with many of my family members as well, but our peers never anticipated the impact those books would make interms of a lucrative lifestyle for anyone. It’s always don’t go into art you will struggle till the day you die. It’s been different for a younger generation, but lost out to video games as a result of being Johnny late comer to a growing medium.
     In terms of the big 2, they seem to have so much over head, they are shooting themselves in the foot straight out of the gate, but they do help keep all the smaller comapanies a float.
     It seems like the acceptance of comics as a form of writing/art has always been the struggle. I think Bendis had put it best about learning to run a buissness if you do a comic. There has been a large rise in female readership, giant advertising in the form of video,tv deals and films which have helped promote a comic. etc.

  38. srh1son srh1son says:

    Wizard was the comic book source of my youth.  iFanboy is the comic book source of my adulthood/man-child era.  I salute you. 

    If you ever go public, put me down for some shares.

  39. r3v r3v says:

    @drunkyoda  Hrm.  You make an excellent case for getting rid of your dad… >.>

  40. drunkyoda drunkyoda says:

    @r3v  He’s just old, never saw comics as anything more than the sunday shorts

  41. el355 says:

    This is a sign ‘o the times of companies these days. There is a lack of respect to the employees. Sadly I have heard this same exact story outside of the comic industry. I get that not all companies last forever, but at least treat your employees with the respect that they deserve.

  42. Patman2 Patman2 says:

    Now see this is hard hitting journalism. Its literally the definition of what it should be but is so often not. great article!

  43. cartoongal cartoongal says:

    this is the same fate for toyfare too, right?
    shamus sucks. wizard, i cant totally live without, but r.i.p. toyfare. 

  44. Jason Wood Wood says:

    Excellent stuff, way to be on top of this one RR.

  45. Caifan99 Caifan99 says:

    S**t always flows downhill.

    I feel for all the employees who lost jobs.

    I gave up a long time ago on Wizard. More hype than heart.

  46. MrWrong MrWrong says:

    @PaulMontgomery You are hilarious. That has got to be the best post of the month by anyone.

  47. Andrew Andrew says:

    Jeepers, that’s nuts.

    My theory is that all this started after Jim McLauchlin stopped doing the letter column. It’s science.

  48. John Siuntres wordballoon says:

    way to go Ron. wish I could say I’m surprised, bu based on my interview with Gareb back in 2009 , it was a forgone conclusion that the mags days were numbered.

    Let alone their missing the point of making the Wiz website an important daily news destination, their conflicts of interest practices could be found in every issue from  editorial and their buyers guide section.

    I hated their manipulation of the back issue market, including their inflated value of books they jointly published with the top companies.

    Buyers beware, always.

  49. Simon Simon says:

    Too much changes going on in the comics industry… It’s unsettling

  50. @neums  That’s really sad, and also telling. Copy-editing standards in magazines are the most rigorous in all print media, but I’m guessing the people running Wizard generally don’t come from magazine backgrounds.

  51. BALD BALD says:

    COMIC HEROS magazine, UK published gold. Get on board everyone. Stumbled across this little Gem over the summer break (Downunder). It only has four issues so far, but great interviews, reviews etc etc. It covers both European and US titles. I’m planning to subscribe soon.

    Good riddance Wizard, I have no respect for people who run shonky businesses. 

  52. BALD BALD says:

    Hey ifanboys I reckon you guys should do a show on alternative comic media publications. Make sure to check out Comic Heros – let us know your thoughts.

  53. AztecLos AztecLos says:

    Wizard was a part of my life in the 90′s and half way through to 2008. The last few years of my subscription I hardly read it. A lot to dp that the format was different. A little bit had to do with the comic podcast I listen to for information. I use to tak emy time reading Wizard in a month and even carried a back issue to re read all for the love of comics and the information.

    I loved taking my time reading Wizard because it was my connection to the industry I loved. I read Wizard through good time and saw my through the bad time. To think it came down to this is dis heartening but such is life. I’ve kept a lot of my old issues and when I find space I think I’ll keep them and flip through to look at the changes over the years in comics and the rise of comic movies. Here’s to you Wizard.

  54. bRiMaTiOn says:

    Man, that sounds nuts FWE. Things were shady, what they did was screwed up, things were in disarray?? FWE, between you and me, I thought something like that may be going on there. Thanks for the back story. I hope they let you go to that other office so you can get your guys stuff.

  55. PostMan87 PostMan87 says:

    Honestly?!? Is this employee serious??? This has been a rumour for some time, and I’m actually very surprised it didn’t happen WAAAAY sooner. I heard about them shutting down about two years ago – yet it still (kinda) chugged along. Along with rumours that Wizard had no new stories in the pipe & kept re-hashing old interviews and publishing back logged stories should have been a clear sign.

    I really can’t understand how this employee is surprised in any manner what-so-ever. 

    This is very unfortunate though. You never like to see someone lose their job. 

  56. Camden says:

    I thought that Wizard was staffed by interns. I’m surprised that there were people who could be fired.

  57. They made me think my recalled Invisible Woman action figure you put in the freezer to make invisible was worth $150.00. I saved it when we had to evacuate our house because of wildfires. I thought we could barter it for valuable goods and services in the post-wildfire apocalyptic wasteland that was sure to follow.

    I looked it up last summer and it was hovering around $22.00.

    Still, memories.

  58. austinite74 austinite74 says:

    I do feel bad for the employees who no longer have jobs (and have had to deal with some serious idiocy from the sound of it). I used to have a subscription to Wizard actually, and I have to say that their impossible-to-contact subscription department seemed to simply not exist. So I’m not really all that surprised that this is the way things are.

    I will also say that I’ve got to agree with the folks who have mentioned the large number of proofing and editing errors. I know a couple of mistakes will get through sometimes, but there were a lot of mistakes in ever single issue.

  59. JohhnyNormal JohhnyNormal says:

    finally, the last of the speculator market fuel has burnt out…time to replant and rebuild the industry.
    the curse of the nineties has been lifted….well aside from that polybagged FF and using destructive greed as the key business strategy… but hey marvel couldn’t go bankrupt again…well maybe morally. 

  60. AztecLos AztecLos says:

    I remember in November 2009 Subcription Service called me asking if I wanted to re subscribed. Weird thing is I stop subscribing around early 2008. I never got a letter after that time asking me to re subscribe. The guy on the phone tried hard to sell but I told him I couldn’t cause of financial reasons.

    Plus I said I get my comic news from iFanboy. :D

    Ok and a few other podcast. :P

  61. Diabhol Diabhol says:

    Maceface wins this thread.

    As for Wizard…I never read it. Sucks how they fucked over the employees, though.

  62. Asteraceae Asteraceae says:

    did they have a union?

  63. Asteraceae Asteraceae says:

    no answer eh, interesting.