Wizard Cuts Seven Staffers, Including Yanarella

Multiple sources have confirmed for CBR News that beleaguered comics magazine and convention operator Wizard laid off seven employees on Thursday. The staff members let go today include:

Joe Yanarella - Senior Vice-President Operations

Jodie Westhoff - Operations Manager

Eric Goodman - Art Director

David Paggi - Associate Editor

Kevin Mahadeo -Staff Writer

Rachel Molino - Staff Writer

Steve Sunu - Staff Writer

One prominent comics industry member who wished to remain anonymous said that Yanarella was, "The glue that unified Wizard's different ventures and the key to the future success of their convention circuit."

The move follows the closure of WizardWorld conventions in Dallas and Los Angeles, paring down the company's convention operations to just Philadelphia and Chicago. Recently renamed WizardWorld Chicago Comic-Con, the Chi-town show received a blow earlier this month when it was announced that Reed Exhibitions, which operates the increasingly successful New York Comic Con, would be launching the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in 2010. Others in the comics industry are questioning if a Philadelphia show is even viable at this point.

While the struggling economy is likely partly to blame for Wizard's fortunes of late, the company has been struggling since even before the global economic collapse in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, with several layoffs of editorial members and staff writers over the past two years.

Today's layoffs come after other high-profile redundancies at comics publishers, including two layoffs at DC Comics, two layoffs at Top Cow, upwards of 15 at manga publishing giant Viz, plus additional losses at TOKYOPOP and others.

A Wizard spokesperson did not return an e-mail inquiry prior to publication.

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