From its debut in 1991 through the early years of the 21st Century, pulmonologist Wizard Magazine channeled the unrestrained excess of the fandom’s collective id into a slick (as in “greasy”) monthly magazine. Though the publishing division of Gareb Shamus’s hype-driven empire went tits-up (thanks to the D.I.Y. knuckledragging opportunities granted by this wild Web 2.0 world) earlier this year, the creative DNA forged in the hellpits of Wizard and its sister magazines continues to shape the tenor and tone of “mainstream” comics journalism’s obsession with forced wit, tangential content mining, and the eagerness to pander to the mouth-breathers while mocking their public excesses.
Wizard’s claims to “journalistic integrity” may have been as tentative as a sea sponge’s claims of “sentience,” but the magazine’s archives offer a spectacular, ground (or rather “basement”) level view of the evolution of the comics industry and comics fandom over the past two decades. From the speculation-and-gimmick driven heights of success to the baying of creative jackals chasing the latest “profitable” trend to insular elitism manifested as a desperate need for outside vindication, Wizard had it all.
The Wizard that Wuz(ard) will be an ongoing, semi-regular feature spotlighting some of the more inspired moments in Wizard‘s publication history, offered in no particular chronological order and with as much (or as little) commentary as I deem the subject requires.
I can think of no better way to kick things off than with a celebratory and mindboggling glimpse — from the June of 1994 — into the professional life of the flesh-and-blood avatar of both the Wizard Era and the industry’s embrace of the lowest of common denominators.
…and while you’re reeling from that shot from history’s bolt pistol, I’ll finish off the job with this hammerblow to the nightmare cortex: