10 of ‘Wizard’ Magazine’s Most Dubious Moments
Back in January, Wizard Entertainment announced the cancelation of Wizard Magazine, which had reigned for almost 20 years as one of the most prominent voice of mainstream comics, presumably so that CEO and self-help enthusiast Gareb Shamus could devote more time to his responsibilities running the International Fight League Black Bull Comics the Wizard World family of comic book and entertainment conventions.
It was a pretty surprising move, and I’ll admit that as much as I feel I eventually moved away from Wizard, there was a time when I was a devoted reader, and I’ve got a stack of back issues from 1996 to 2000 to prove it. With the news of the magazine’s cancellation, I decided to go through them and enjoy a little nostalgia, and I’ve got to admit, there’s a lot of really good stuff in there. They didn’t just pioneer the irreverent, humorous style that would later be completely embraced by the Comics Internet, but the issues I went through featured original work from creators like Stan Sakai and Evan Dorkin, spotlights on offbeat comics like Rick Remender’s Black Heart Billy, and recommendations on back issues that were well worth digging through quarter bins for.
And then there was the rest of it.
As you might expect, it’s that “rest” that we’re here to discuss today, as we sift through pages upon pages detailing a disturbing fixation on Tia Carerre and so, so many pictures of Spawn to bring you ten of Wizard Magazine’s most dubious moments!Gene Simmons Tempts Todd McFarlane With His Sisters (Wizard #87, November 1998)
Saying that KISS’s Gene Simmons has said a lot of crazy things in his lifetime is putting it pretty mildly, but his interview in Wizard #87 alongside action figure designer and occasional comic book artist Todd McFarlane is a veritable gold mine of complete insanity.
It doesn’t waste time, either: When presented with an opening question that basically amounts to “so are you guys, like, totally best friends in real life?”, Simmons launches right into referring to McFarlane as his lover and then slowly moving into a story of how he curried his favor by showing off his hot relatives.
For me, though, the best part was seeing Simmons claim that he was so inspired by McFarlane walking away from Marvel to do something of his own that he had to get him to create characters that would be wholly owned by KISS.
Kevin Smith Doesn’t Get Kirby (Wizard #86, October 1998)
Speaking of strange things people have said in Wizard interviews, a piece on the newly formed Marvel Knights imprint saw the magazine playing word association with future Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, writer and inker Jimmy Palmiotti, and filmmaker and comic book writer Kevin Smith, of Jersey Girl, Cop Out, and Batman: The Widening Gyre. After dealing with the hot-button issue of lesbians, it ws revealed that Smith “just never got” what the big deal was with Jack Kirby.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with his career, Kirby co-created Captain America and invented the romance comic with Joe Simon, then co-created the Marvel Universe with Stan Lee — which means he also had a hand in creating modern super-hero comics as we know them. While creating the Fourth World saga at DC in the ’70s, he wrote and drew an entire finished comic book every two weeks. He also worked in animation, and literally had so many ideas that he could not drive a car. So it’s pretty understandable that someone couldn’t see why that would be important.
Smith would later play a character named “Jack Kirby” in the 2003 movie Daredevil.
The New Gods Suck (Wizard #93, May 1999)
As far as not getting Kirby, though, it looks like Smith wasn’t alone: In their annual April Fool’s issue, Wizard swapped out their “Famous Firsts” feature for a “Famous Worsts,” in which Kirby’s opus was ripped on for never inspiring a series that made it more that 28 issues. Incidentally, Battle Chasers was super-hot!!
Now admittedly, even though it’s lumped in with soft targets like “Catwoman’s Cat-Armor,” NFL SuperPro and U.S. 1 (which is actually pretty awesome), there’s a strong possibility that this was an elaborate part of the joke. Either that, or someone in the Price Guide department had a hole in their New Gods run that they were trying to fill by driving down demand, but c’mon: Manipulating the back issue market for personal gain? There’s no way.
Rob Liefeld Changes Everything Forever For a Year (Wizard #60, May 1996)
In an interview about the highly anticipated “Heroes Reborn” relaunches of Captain America, The Avengers, Fantastic Four and Iron Man back in 1996, Rob “The Rob Liefeld” Liefeld assured Wizard that there was “not a chance” readers would ever see Cap’s familiar “A” on his forehead again.
Needless to say, it was back 13 months later.
Harlan Ellison: “The World’s Angriest Fanboy” (Wizard #97, September 1999)
Speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison is known as having something of a temper (actually, he’s known for once mailing 213 bricks and a dead gopher to a publisher’s office, but let’s just go with “temper” for now), which may have something to do with being an award-winning author who gets referred to in actual headlines as “the World’s Angriest Fanboy.”
The gem of the piece, though, is the excerpt above, where he complains about how much he hates having his swearing censored, as reported in an article that censors his swearing in exactly the way he’s complaining about. Say what you want about Wizard, but at least they were willing to print an article referring to themselves as morons.
A Completely Inexplicable Interview With Raven (Wizard #97, September 1999)
All right, look: I like comics. I like pro wrestling. I like Raven in both fields — the issue of Spider-Man’s Tangled Web that he cowrote with Brian Azzarello is probably the highlight of the series. But seriously, this may in fact be the worst interview I have ever read.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this thing goes off the rails, but it’s definitely there by the time that the interviewer gleefully fantasizes about beating Callista Flockhart with a chair, and it just keeps going downhill from there. I mean, they had a long way to go to get past the similar interview with Kevin Nash the previous month where he talked about peeing in the sink on an airplane, but man. They did it.
THE DRAGONMASTER (Wizard #95, July 1999)
I don’t really have a joke for this ad for the Franklin Mint’s classiest dragon-related sterling silver ring, I just wanted to point out that this is unquestionably the coolest dude who has ever been seen in the pages of Wizard magazine. He understands the lethal combination of leather jacket, chest hair and faceted genuine hematite. That is what makes him The Dragonmaster, and we can all learn from him.
Now, this ad, on the other hand…
Sailor and the 7 Ballz (Wizard #100, January 2000)
Friends, that is a full-page ad for Sailor and the 7 Ballz, an allegedly erotic and completely unlicensed fan-made film and video game (not safe for work or sanity) in which one of the Dragon Balls from Dragon Ball Z causes Sailor Moon to grow a penis on her wedding day.
I’m not kidding. That is a thing that exists. In a full-page ad in Wizard‘s anniversary special.
“Wizard is great!” — Wizard (Wizard #97, September 1999)
Speaking of things that were advertised in Wizard, here’s an ad in Wizard that quotes Wizard in an attempt to get you to buy something from Wizard.
That’s… well, that’s completely insane. But at least it’s an isolated incident —
Okay, so maybe it happened a couple of times. It’s not like they used themselves as a reference in order to shill something they were themselves selling all the time or any–
I could go on, but you guys can see where I’m going with this, right? Right.
Hard-Hitting Interviews (Wizard #108, September 2000)
You know, I’ve been poking a lot of fun at Wizard in this article, but you can’t deny that every now and then, they did some genuine reporting. They went after the facts and had the courage to ask the questions that no other publications were willing to get the answers no one else wanted to dig for.
You know, like that time they asked Paul Dini how he’d have sex with Harley Quinn if she was real.
So long, Wizard. You certainly were a magazine.