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What was up with Wizard: October 1992

by  in Comic News Comment
What was up with <i>Wizard</i>: October 1992

I was cleaning up my garage recently and got all my old magazines in order.  Yes, I save old magazines, much to the chagrin of pretty much everyone who knows me.  But that’s not important right now!  I was looking at some old issues of Wizard and thought I would start looking at what they thought was cool in the comics world at that time.  The first issue of Wizard I ever bought was issue #14, which has a cover date of October 1992.  Why did I buy it?  Check out the cover:

Yes, it’s Art Thibert drawing the X-Women!  Three of my favorites: Rogue, Psylocke, and Jubilee.  How could I not buy it?

So what was “hot” in late summer of 1992?  Let’s delve into the pages!  It can’t be anything but fun!

On the first page, Stan Sakai, Chuck Dixon, and Will Eisner all sing the praises of Bone (in conjunction with an ad for merchandise).  It’s staggering how long it took Smith to finish that.

Page 10 brings us news that Jim Shooter left Valiant, with Bob Layton taking over as Editor-in-Chief and Barry Windsor-Smith stepping in as president.  There’s not really a lot of stuff about why Shooter left, other than the inevitable “Jim had a different vision of how the company should be managed.”  The article is fairly long, but it simply tells us what Valiant titles are coming up in the near future: Rai #0 by Layton and David Lapham, H.A.R.D. Corps #1 by Layton, David Michelinie, and Lapham, Bloodshot #1 by Windsor-Smith (with the “first ever counterfeit-proof chromium cover”!).

Image announces on page 12 that fans could win the original art from the cover of Brigade #1.  I wonder who won that, and if it’s still a prized possession.

DC has an announcement about their new imprint, Vertigo.  I hope it did well!

On pages 16-17, Tom Palmer Jr. writes about Alan Moore.  He mentions Big Numbers (at this point, Sienkiewicz had left, but Al Columbia had stepped in), From Hell, and Lost Girls.  Well, at least two of those were finished, although I wish it had been a different two.

If you ever wanted to know how to draw “powerful” comics, pages 23-25 gives us a tutorial, as Bart Sears explains in his fifth installment of “Brutes & Babes.”  We learn that YOU MUST KNOW PERSPECTIVE TO DRAW COMICS (something so important it’s not only capitalized, but in red as well), and something from the box about layout and design cracked me up: “Never cut off a leg at the knee or ankle.”  Apparently, many artists never read Bart Sears’ “Brutes & Babes” series in Wizard!

There’s a long article about comic book movies that will show up within a year or two.  We begin with an update on James Cameron’s Spider-Man movie, the fate of which was up in the air due to Carolco’s shaky finances.  Remember Carolco?  Anyway, one of the patently untrue rumors floating around at that time was that Michael Biehn had been cast as Peter Parker.  You may hate Toby Maguire as Peter, but can you imagine Biehn in the role, especially in 1993 (at the age of 37)?  There’s a small mention that Tim Burton’s follow-up to Batman Returns will be Sweeney Todd.  Interesting how long that took.  There’s also a bit about Superman V, in which Superman is to be shrunk and de-powered by “an evil alien wielding magnetic shields.”  Sounds awesome.  Or at least better than Superman Returns.  Watchmen was also foundering back then, after Terry Gilliam dropped it.  Sgt. Rock had “gained Arnold Schwarzenneggar’s [sic] interest,” while Silver Pictures was negotiating with Macaulay Culkin to play Richie Rich.  Good times.

Oh, the horror!  At least it never got made!

Eclipso gets a spotlight article, as DC was just beginning the Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover that ran in their annuals over the summer.  Man, I read a few of those.  They weren’t very good.  How long did the ongoing last?  It had Giffen on plots with Robert Loren Fleming on dialogue and Bart Sears doing the art.  It probably wasn’t as much fun as Giffen and Fleming doing Ambush Bug, though.

Wizard interviews Neal Adams, who was working on getting Continuity Comics off the ground back then.  He had some talent there – Dwayne Turner, Larry Stroman, Sal Velluto, among others – but it never really took off, did it?  He does make some interesting observations about the comic book industry, both when he entered it and in 1992.  He makes the point that I’ve made before – that he might be the first modern artist, in the way we think of comic book art today.  Adams doesn’t come off as particularly arrogant about this, although he might be.  He also seems to think that DC was no longer viable – he actually believes the Big Two would inevitably become the Big One, and that “one” is Marvel – which is rather odd.  I don’t recall that DC was so far behind Marvel in the early Nineties.  I know Marvel was booming, but was DC so far down that they were in danger of becoming irrelevant?  I know this was at the very beginning of Image, so everything they published was selling like crazy, but I wonder if everyone was simply ignoring DC.  Of course, I looked at the top-seller list on page 97 for August ’92, and the best-selling DC book was … Lobo: Infanticide #1, which came in at #21.  NUMBER TWENTY-ONE!  Holy crap.  They had three books in the top 30 – Sword of Azrael #1 was #24, and Shadow of the Bat #5 was #30.  Lobo was the shizznit back in 1992, although I think his heyday had passed a year or two earlier, Azrael was pencilled by Joey Q, who was a hawt artist, and Shadow was Grant/Breyfogle.  It’s still shocking to think that DC had only 3 books in the top 30 and NONE in the top 20.  So maybe Adams was onto something!  Or not.

Since it was 1992, Wizard had to have something about Image.  People who didn’t read comics back in ’92 probably don’t appreciate the impact Image had on the business.  It was a stunning move, really, and although it devolved quickly into separate fiefdoms of bickering creators, Image did a good thing – it forced the Big Two to reconsider their business practices when dealing with creators.  It also made people like Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane millionaires, but I guess there’s a downside to everything, isn’t there?  Image was initially published and distributed by Malibu, which was interesting.  The article doesn’t go too much into why the founders left Marvel (none of them, interestingly enough, were working at DC when the bailed), but there’s a funny line about Liefeld: “His style remains controversial in its flaunting of traditional pacing, proportion, and perspective.”  Remember when Wizard dared even write something as negative as that?  These days even something negative as tame as that wouldn’t make it into the mag.

In the middle of my copy is a trading card with Cyberforce on it.  You’ll recall how awesome Cyberforce was.  Just the roster is awesome: Impact, Ballistic, Heatwave, Velocity, Cyblade, and Ripclaw, with team leader Stryker.  I need to lie down for a bit because I’m overwhelmed by the awesomeness of it all.

Okay, I’m back.  Wizard spotlighted (spotlit?) some “hot” books for September.  Someone at Valiant must have been paying Gareb Shamus some big money, because H.A.R.D. Corps #1, which had been mentioned twice in the mag already, was the top “hot” book.  They also had the debut of the 2099 line, Spider-Man 2099, written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi; Nightstalkers #1 by D. G. Chichester and Ron Garney, which continued the epic “Rise of the Midnight Sons” crossover (we all remember that, right?); Supreme #1; and Uncanny X-Men #294, which began the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover – God, what a mess that was!  Interestingly enough, they list the artist first in the credits.  I don’t have a problem with that, but I wonder when they started that and how long it lasted.

Wizard had its “market watch,” which was kind of interesting.  Image dominated the Top Ten in sales, and even the prices of back issues had increased, which is, of course, wildly important if you’re going to buy that vacation home!  They were particularly brutal on DC, writing: “Are they committed to producing books for younger kids?  The cancellation on Impact seems to indicate that they aren’t.  What about producing more mature-oriented material?  DC’s branching out with titles such as Sandman, Doom Patrol, and Shade in the Vertigo imprint seems a step in the wrong direction after the Piranha Press mess. [Given the success of Vertigo, even these days, this is a laughable statement.]  How about producing good mainstream superhero titles?”  Yeah, like Cyberforce, Youngblood, and WildC.A.T.s!  Come on, DC!  God forbid you try anything different!

The “top ten hottest artists” (Wizard did not name writers back then) are interesting: Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Dale Keown, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio, Mark Bagley, Ron Lim, John Byrne, and Art Thibert.  What’s interesting is that even if some of the artist didn’t work that much over the next decade, those names wouldn’t seem out of place for a long time on Wizard‘s list.

Finally, we get to the letters.  Sheesh.  One person complains about Wizard bagging their magazines and putting cards inside (like the awesome Cyberforce one in mine).  This person writes, “When X-Force #1 came out, nobody bought one and opened that one.  They bought two or more and opened only one to read, to preserve the value.”  I’m fairly certain I bought only one copy of X-Force #1, but whatever.  I’m ashamed enough that I bought one.  This guy then goes on to say that it’s okay with X-Force because it was only $1.50, but if you want to preserve the value of your Wizard, you have to plunk down $3.95 for a magazine that you’re not going to read.  WTF?  That’s depressing, to think that some people actually bought multiple copies of Wizard to “preserve the value.”  To their credit, Wizard basically says the guy’s an idiot and that comics are meant to be read.  And they even admit that some people didn’t buy any issues of X-Force #1!  The next letter writer whines that with Lee, Liefeld, Larsen, et al. going to Image, all the mainstream superhero books he loves will have sucky artists and will suck.  What’s he supposed to do now????  Again, a reasonable response from the Wizard bunch: characters made the comics great, not the “hot artist” or “some cover gimmick.”  Now, that’s not necessarily true – if the writer or artist really sucks, it doesn’t matter how good the character is – but it’s nice that Wizard recognizes that all of Marvel’s artists ditching them isn’t the end of the world.  Finally, some dude writes that Wizard should review comics, not just hype them.  Plus, they should cover more independents, not just Valiant and Image, “which is just Marvel on speed.”  That’s an awesome line.  He also wants people to stop simply collecting comics and actually, you know, read them.  The Wizard staff doesn’t dismiss him, but they also write they’re going to cover the “hot” comics because people like them!  Well, I guess so.  People also want comics that might make them a lot of money, or at least they did in 1992.

So that was Wizard‘s 14th issue, from the summer of 1992.  It’s a fascinating snapshot of what was going on in the comics world back then.  Man, the early Nineties were weird, weren’t they?

Next time: Well, I’m not sure.  I didn’t subscribe to it, so I just picked it up occasionally.  I can’t remember the next one I own.  We’ll see!

(I didn’t know Brian was also going to post something about Wizard today.  I just happened to finish this right now, but I’ve been working on it for a few days.  It just worked out that way, I swear!) 

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