Robot 6

Wizard drops its comics price guide (and the pages it occupied)

Wizard #218

Wizard #218

Users of the Wizard Universe Message Board are reporting that Wizard, the flagship magazine of Gareb Shamus’s publishing, retail, and conventions empire, has ceased publication of its long-running price guide for collectible comics with this month’s Issue 218.

When Shamus started Wizard out of his parents’ basement in 1991, it essentially was a price guide. Even as it evolved from a glorified newsletter into a full-fledged comics magazine, its monthly tracking of “hot” comics and their supposed value on the secondary market — supplemented with “Hot Ten” writers and artists lists, mini-guides dedicated to particular characters, creators, or titles, spotlights on issues of note and so on — put the publication on the map during the speculator boom of that decade’s early years and, in the eyes of many readers and fans, was how Wizard earned its long-time subtitle: “The Guide to Comics.”

But the section has also been a divisive one, with many in the comics community tying it to what they see as lamentable trends like variant covers, “slabbed” and graded comics, and of course the bust that followed the boom, to say nothing of the somewhat-dubious notion that contemporary comics are potentially lucrative collectibles in the first place. Moreover, recent years have seen the section’s page count slowly chipped away (along with that of the rest of the magazine, which WUMBers report is still retailing at the same price as it did with the price guide’s eight pages intact) as the Internet’s capacity for constant updating caused much of the price guide’s information to be outdated even prior to publication. Outspoken staffer Mark Allen Haverty, who recently made himself a moderator on the increasingly hostile Wizard board, says as much in his explanation for why the guide is gone:

To be blunt, all the content I could write would have meaning when it hit the stands, since much of it would be forward-leaning or timeless, but the guide itself becomes extremely difficult to keep topical with the preeminence of the internet in back issue sales. A $25 variant one month is worthless two months later, and a Savage Dragon issue with Bush being punched peaks while I am writing about it, only to drop when the issue hits. It made more sense to keep the content that was there, such as the Five on the Rise, and let the guide itself slide for now.

However, as the WUMB thread shows, many of Wizard‘s most die-hard devotees saw the section as key to the magazine’s identity — a magazine about comics, as the opposed to general nerd-friendly pop culture touted by Wizard over the past few years and at Shamus’s GeekChicDaily e-newsletter. Coupled with the apparent move away from comics-focused conventions toward nerd-celeb-heavy shows that seems to be the Shamus/Wizard strategy for its Con War with Reed Exhibitions, the price guide’s elimination is another step away from the traditional Wizard brand, and a step toward some future Shamus 2.0, less dependent on the comics industry and its customers.

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Comments

12 Comments

Interesting evolution of comics print magazines going on right now when you look at this and the recently noticed page drop of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, and then compare that with the just-announced savvy evolution of The Comics Journal.

It is an evolution affecting all forms of printed news. Wizard took a dark turn years ago. I really enjoy a lot of Comic Buyer’s Guide’s articles but most of the magazine was not current or not appealing. I have not read The Comics Journal in years but it was a little too pretentious for me and turned its nose up at mainstream comics too often for me.

I’d love to see a magazine that devotes more space to interviews with creators (writers, artists, editors) and have them break down the beats of their story. Why they made the choices they make and so on. Also interviews with publishers. Stuff that is at least ground breaking and more than the surface stuff we can find all over the net. Stop trying to be a current events source and be a hard hitting report not only on what’s hot but why things are hot, what makes a comic and so on.

Real journalism would do a lot to help promote comics. Som digging please.

I want Amazing Heroes back!

Here’s some more gasoline for the fire Gareb’s been working on…

http://panelsonpages.com/?p=14308

I don’t quite know if you all may remember this but we were the group of guys that held the “Funeral” for Wizard World Philly. We got a nice write up on Robot 6 but didn’t get much love afterward because there was really no way for us to say anything except on our own site Haveanerdgasm.com . We were permanently banned from WUMB with having our IP’s banned and a couple of other guys where banned for six months.

It comes no surprise to us that they have taken down the boards if that is really what they have done. I know Panelsonpages has a forum set up and so do we as well as CBR’s and I believe all of these are going to be the best to express real fans opinions. Because the reason we were banned was for only expressing the concerns that we had.

Intelligent Moron, I also was a victim of the mighty WUMB ban, although mine was more of you expressed concerns that we call critizising. They ended up making my posts have to have Mod approval. Pretty rotton if you ask me. They also removed a banner from my signature that was promoting C2E2.

Sean T. Collins

October 29, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Look for my official obit tomorrow morning.

Shamus/Wizard R.I.P. I will miss the WUMB but Panels on Pages will be a great replacement/additon for me.

I liked the price guide and I will miss it. I will not renew my Wizard membership. They can kiss my a**!!!!!

Price guides in magazines have been obsolete for years, due to the Internet. Heck, if I buy an Overstreet, it’s usually a year old, deeply discounted, and bought for reference, not values.

I also think it’s giving Wizard too much “credit” to blame them for gimmick covers, the comics bust, and the like. The mag was not that important.

Viva la CBG.

Joe Glasnovich

June 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Although a year late,I must say :”Good Riddance”.The Wizard pricings did perhaps irreparable damage to comics collecting with its contempt and underpricing of pre-80s comics.It was probably the major contributor in the near-collapse of the comic book market.Wizard was an enemy of the genuine lover of comics and those who appreciate them.

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