Wizard magazine has ceased publication after nearly 20 years, laying off its remaining staff and canceling freelance assignments. Its sibling publication ToyFare also has closed.
CEO Gareb Shamus followed a morning filled with reports of the magazines' demise with a press release announcing the February launch of "an all-new digital magazine called Wizard World" that will target the same audience. Curiously the release, which you can read below, doesn't mention Wizard magazine. Instead its focus is on the news that Wizard World Inc. is now a public company with Shamus as its president and CEO.
Wizard World has since confirmed the closings of Wizard and ToyFare: "Wizard Entertainment is ceasing publication of the print magazines Wizard and ToyFare. Wizard World, Inc. will begin production of the online publication 'Wizard World' beginning in February. We feel this will allow us to reach an even wider audience in a format that is increasingly popular and more readily accessible."
Calls to the Wizard offices this morning office went unanswered. The Wizard bullpen blog Pie Monkey has been taken offline, with assurances from its Twitter feed to "Please stay tuned -- there's a good chance we'll be up and operational in the next 24-48 hours." The link to magazine subscriptions on the Wizard website is also dead.
Launched in 1991, Wizard was once a dominant, if controversial, force in the comics industry, with its price guides, Top 10 Writers and Artists lists and annual Wizard Fan Awards carrying significant weight. But in recent years the magazine's star faded even as its scope expanded -- it rebranded itself as "The Magazine of Comics, Entertainment and Pop Culture" -- becoming known more for its staff firings than for its exclusive coverage. ToyFare debuted in 1997 as a companion publication devoted to toys and collectibles.
Related: Charts watcher John Jackson Miller chronicles the circulation decline of Wizard, from an estimated 100,000 copies in October 1998 -- not the height of its popularity, but the last month it broke the 100,000-copy mark -- to just about 17,000 copies in December 2010.
GAREB SHAMUS UNDERTAKES PUBLIC COMPANY WIZARD WORLD, INC. AND LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE PUBLICATION ‘WIZARD WORLD’
New York, NY (January 24, 2011) – Gareb Shamus, recently appointed President and CEO of public company Wizard World, Inc. (“Wizard World”) (OTC: GOEE.PK), today announced that the Comic Con Tour, which consists of pop culture conference events that provide high visibility marketing opportunities to pop culture brands and companies in multiple venues throughout the year, is now being produced by public company Wizard World. The Wizard World Comic Con Tour intends to cover 12 cities in 2011, including major cities such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin and New Orleans. The Tour will include sponsors ranging from major movie studios and TV networks to gaming and toy companies to content publishers.
In addition, Wizard World plans to launch in February 2011 an all-new digital magazine called ‘Wizard World’ that will appeal to pop-culture fans, the same audience to which Mr. Shamus has catered to, for over 20 years. Wizard World digital magazine will provide coverage of the world of comic books, toys and superheroes, and the personalities behind them.
“This is a very exciting day for Wizard World and the industries it serves,” said Shamus. “Having the Tour produced by a public company provides additional opportunities to expand and grow the Tour. The new digital magazine Wizard World will give consumers the content they want in a magazine format with which they are familiar, but distributed in a form that is always available at any time on any device. It is a natural evolution for us in this market.”
Wizard World Comic Con will begin its North American tour at New Orleans Comic Con held from January 29 to 30, 2011. The full event schedule can be found at www.wizardworld.com.