Wizard Staff Shakeup

Is Wizard‘s time at the top of the heap over? Comic Book Resources is reporting that Senior Vice-President/Editor-in-Chief Pat McCallum has been fired.

[N]umerous exhibitors contacted by CBR News Wednesday evening confirmed they believed attendance was down on the convention circuit, not up, and as a whole, the Wizard conventions had experienced a rather poor season. The news of McCallum’s firing follows word of dwindling sales figures for the magazine as well as the departure of employees who have left for positions at Marvel and DC Comics.

(Nothing new about that … when I was at DC, I’d get resumes from Wizard employees who were dying to work for a comic company instead of company that wrote about comics. Same thing was true of Starlog and other outlets.)

I liked this comment from a CBR poster:

Hey Wizard, here’s a few reasons why your sales have slipped: Everything you publish is 1) three months out of date, 2) available on the web for free from more interesting sites, 3) generally fanboy wank, 4) intellectually inferior, 5) misogynist, 6) fluff pieces for the big two, 7) …gawd, do I really have to continue?

Wizard’s formal response (link no longer available) was posted at their message boards, in which they try to bury the change:

Wizard Entertainment today announced several staffing changes, including the addition of several new hires to the publishing and Wizard World tour divisions. Recent additions to the company include; Marketing Director John Ko; General Manager Keith Patrick; General Manager for Dealer Relations Peter Katz; Programming Manager for Wizard Conventions Inc. Adam Dickstein; and Sales Account Executive Bart Sciarraba. Additionally, Wizard announced that Editor-in-Chief Pat McCallum and Wizard Entertainment have parted ways.

“In an effort to grow the company and evolve with our customers, Wizard has made a number of aggressive changes over the past nine months,” said Fred Pierce, president and COO for Wizard Entertainment. “We have had a record year for both the publishing division and the Wizard World tours, and these staffing changes will ensure even greater success in 2007.”

Throughout 2006, Wizard leadership has been making moves to strengthen the company. In March, toy industry veteran Jim Silver joined the company as Publisher, while Wizard’s own Rob Felton was promoted to Vice President and Associate Publisher. In September, Wizard introduced a new format for its flagship publication, Wizard Magazine, growing it from comic book size to conventional magazine size. In October, the recently re-launched WizardUniverse.com welcomed a record 2 million visitors. Additionally, the annual Wizard World tour closed its tenth year in November with record-setting attendance and a continuously expanding variety of exhibitors, adding such partners as Spike TV, Video Games Live and International Fight League. 2007 looks to be another exceptional year, with several planned pop culture crossovers in Hollywood, comics and anime, and another action-packed Wizard World tour.

Typical Wizard — claims of “greater success” and things being better than ever that grow increasingly less plausible.

Update: Blog@Newsarama has the job posting. I particularly giggled at the requirement that the new person “[c]onsistently position Wizard Entertainment as a thought leader in its respective marketplaces, within its diverse communities as well as to outside media”.

The idea of Wizard as a “thought leader” scares me. This part is a nice dream, though: “Draw positive attention to the publication through excellence in journalism, editorial content, print quality, and overall media.” In the comments, Augie says “about the only person qualified for the job would be Maggie Thompson.” Not quite — I’d fit what’s listed there also, between my day job and work in comics. But somehow I can’t see a woman at the head of Wizard magazine.

Beau Smith says that he’s heard “they (Wizard) already have someone for the job that they want, but the ink isn’t dry. The request to fill the position is merely something they have to post up.” That wouldn’t be unusual — many job postings of this type are to check the box on the HR process, and the actual hiring is done elsewhere.

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