Wizard, then and now

According to an email sent to various industry contacts, Wizard Associate Editor Jim Gibbons was let go by Wizard Entertainment after work hours last night. Meanwhile, ToyFare Associate Editor TJ Dietsch indicates on his blog that he was let go as well. The pair are the latest in a long list of staffers (myself included) hemorrhaged without replacement by Gareb Shamus's publishing, convention and online-retail enterprise — a list long enough, frankly, to defy the bite-sized blogging format. But sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

This photo of Wizard's creative staff — editors, designers, researchers and staff writers — was taken in the summer of 2006 to celebrate the completion of a ToyFare reader scavenger hunt (hence the 3-D glasses, corncob pipes, and Burger King crowns, all mailed in by contestants). Of the 34 employees pictured here, only two — Wizard Features Editor Andy Serwin and ToyFare Editor Justin Aclin, plus the absent Wizard Editor Mike Cotton and the shot's photographer, Research Director Dan Reilly — remain with the company. Today, including subsequent hires not seen in this photo, Wizard's total full-time creative staff for its three magazines -- Wizard, ToyFare and FunFare -- numbers in the single digits.

As one of the many, many people in that picture who've since parted ways with the company (that's me throwing metal in the front row), I hope you'll indulge me when I say that whatever the company's problems — and those of us who've worked there are more cognizant of them than you probably think — the personal and professional caliber of the vast majority of its creative staff is higher than that of any other place I've worked. And judging from the number of people in that picture who've since landed at DC, Marvel, Archaia, MTV News, Television Without Pity, Maxim and other industry publishers and news outlets, including here at CBR, I don't think I'm alone in that assessment. Here's hoping that my friends Jim and T.J. have similar luck.

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