Wizard: The Comics Magazine is not the devil incarnate.

I don’t favor the inclusion of the price guide, and purchase maybe TWO issues of the publication a year, but to be honest…I don’t quite understand why a large majority of fandom seems to equate them with everything that’s wrong with the industry. I missed the “Everybody jump down Wizard’s throat over some information they learned second or third-hand from some website” train, so forgive me if I implore people to calm down.

Believe it or not…it’s probably tough being Wizard. Their magazine entertains an enormously high-profile both within and outside the industry. After all, how many newsstands have you visited that carry Wizard with nary an actual living comic book in sight? They’re looked upon by those that don’t know any better as THE most reliable and objective window into the world of modern comics. Their audience is the commercial comics fan, with their top ten lists and imaginary casting calls. The biggest comic publishers use their glossy pages as an outlet to unleash behind-the-scenes footage and colorful advertisements. The chairman believes that someone out there is interested in reviving the speculator market. And apparently, there are a flock of dissenters that want the devilish little magazine to die a slow, agonizing death…but obviously there aren’t enough of them out there to prevent Wiz’s numbers from falling to uncomfortable levels.

Heh…maybe it isn’t so tough being Wizard.

But let’s slow down a minute. Wizard’s high-profile is due to a lack of competitors and a somewhat satisfied reader base. Don’t hate because they move units. Their content is also dictated by what the fans what to see. Marvel. DC. CrossGen. Companies that coincidentally happen to have substantial advertising budgets and exclusive content that can be used to move more units. It’s the comics magazine with the highest profile out there now, of course they’re going to put X-Men and Spider-Man on the cover of every issue!! X-Men and Spider-Man sell. They’re not maliciously excluding sections of the reading public. They advertise and pump what people want. People want the big dogs on the cover, rendered by big dog artists. This should be self-explanatory.

Gareb Shamus wants to see the speculator make a momentous return. Not enough people are actually listening to him to become dangerous. Relax. The chairman also took heat for devoting too much ad space to his personal Black Bull label…which didn’t translate into phenomenal sales. Let him waste the space if he wants to…it’s money out of his pocket.

If Wizard disappears tomorrow, the industry won’t be better off. Like I mentioned above, oftentimes Wizard is the ONLY representation of the comic industry available on many newsstands, and the publication is far better than nothing. It spotlights the aspects, creators, and characters that create the most buzz and paints the industry as an enjoyable fashion. The comic industry is fun, and after flipping through an issue of Wizard, one gets that impression. Not that the industry is controlled by a league of pretentious bastard creators and uppity fans that get so wrapped up in the unshakable misconceptions surrounding the industry that they forget…

…comics are cool. Comics are fun. Wizard hasn’t forgotten this.

Which brings me to the edge. The trip to the local Wal-Mart was meant strictly for the procurement of a fresh toothbrush, but I ended up leaving with some little magazine called Wizard Edge. After close examination, it was well worth the five bucks.

The purpose of this publication was to highlight the independent projects that don’t make the Diamond 100, providing a spotlight that books of this nature wouldn’t necessarily receive. From the editorials to the ads, this is a small press showcase that any discriminating fan shouldn’t pass up. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to venture deeper into my monthly issue of Previews and actively seek out the independent gems that I ordinarily wouldn’t encounter. Edge facilitates this by pointing one in the direction of some of the more interesting small press offerings for the first half of 2002. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Wizard Edge steps up to the plate with a feature article on self-publishing giant Dave Sim and his creation Cerebus that even after 25 years still isn’t finished yet. Have to admit that the only encounter I’ve had with Cerebus was the character’s guest appearance in Spawn years ago. (I know, I know, Image again. You read last week’s article.) Anyway, the interview definitely makes me interested enough to invest in one of the “phone book” collections when I get some extra time or money, which means probably not until the summer, but still…I’m certainly intrigued. If only because I want to witness first-hand if Sim deserves the controversial reputation he’s garnered.

Next comes the success stories of independent creators that have exploded onto the mainstream scene. Kevin Smith, Mike Allred, Brian Michael Bendis, Greg Rucka, and David Mark participate, providing insights and advice to all you hopefuls out there. Edge also identifies the top five buzz writers that could be the next big thing.

Judd Winick stops by to talk Barry Ween, and present a short Barry story in which the foul-mouthed inventor doesn’t swear…at all. For a whole three pages. As an aside, go buy Monkey Tales #6 and marvel as a creator renders friendship in a manner that’s both aggressive and emotionally touching simultaneously. Good stuff.

Five buzz artists are profiled and Frank Cho’s sketchbook is opened, and then we uncover the true gem of this entire affair. A shopping list, from A to Z giving you the hottest in independent comics entertainment coming our way in the next few months. Books like Oni Press’s Alison Dare & The Heart of the Maiden, Astonish Comics’ Herobear and the Kid, Com.X’s Cla$$war, Image’s A Distant Soil, Griot Enterprises’ The Horsemen, and several others are laid bare for any discerning reader.

If anyone is interested in venturing into the other half of Previews, this little feature serves as an effective guide. I won’t spoil the rest of the magazine but it contains a variety of entertaining features.

I have no idea how often Wizard plans to publish its Edge companion, but they’ve impressed me enough to consider buying additional installments, and there’s no price guide to be found and instantly disregarded.

The point of this boys and girls is that Wizard ain’t that bad. Someone on the editorial staff took a common concern, Wizard’s habit of glossing over anything that isn’t coming from the Big Two, flipped it, and turned it into an independent party. Cool stuff, and like I said…no price guide.

Who knows…if this is the one issue of Wizard everyone makes an effort to obtain, maybe we’ll get more of these.

Brandon Thomas

I have said that Wizard does not suck as hard and as frequent as many claim. I can see you out there disagreeing with me, so be a pal and stop by the Ambidextrous message boards and tell me just what it was that Wizard did to make you disregard their publication. Perhaps I’ll learn something…

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