Friday, November 09, 2007

Comic book magazines and the people who read them.

I've been thinking about the whole Wizard situation for all week, but I haven't been able to sit down and write my thoughts on it until now. Maybe it's a bit too late, or whatever, but I wanted to add my two devalued peso cents.

First, a disclaimer. I've bought two Wizards in my whole life. When I honestly cared about getting the news from the industry in a print form, I wasn't exactly swimming in money and for one Wizard I could get three comics so... guess who won? And when I finally got to read one, I found it quite lacking. That was in 2004, and I honestly didn't notice or cared if they had a match the rack feature or not, and I'm not going to go there and look for them to see if they had. What I do know is that there was absolutely nothing in them that would make me want to buy another one.

During all this discussion now, I wasn't thinking about Wizard and their new/old readership. I was thinking about how people on both sides of the debate seems to think that Wizard is dying, and that it needs either to secure its readership or find new one. And then I thought about the situation of information magazines in my own country. Although there's a long tradition of comics in Mexico, going from the fifties, both translating american comics and creating our own (although there's been less of that lately), and of course, manga, there has not been a successful comic book magazine in almost as long time. We've seen imported Spain magazines, and at least three attempts to do a similar magazine to Wizard, of which only one has been somewhat successful of late, called Comic Zone (I am not sure of how well is it doing, but I know it's still on print). On the other hand, manga-only magazines are quite a business, and many editorials have not one, but up to four magazines dedicated only to manga (And that's not counting the Hentai manga magazines), which range from the heavy fan-service images, to the heavy on the shonen ai side of the images and they all sell. Sure, the ones with more fan-service sell better, but even those have a somewhat balanced content for both female and male readers.

And neither Comic Zone, nor it's predecessors like Cuas! Comics y más, were as heavy on pandering with the T&A as Wizard has become of late. I am not a constant buyer of Comic Zone, but there has only been one Wonder Woman cover, as far as I remember, and there are honest articles with critical information. And for some reason, the Wizard in spanish didn't sell as well as it's precedent, and it stopped being shipped for Mexico. I do remember that most of the criticism against it was that it had no information, just hype. Which is, of course, the one criticism even die hard fans have against the original Wizard.

I've heard a lot of stories about why a comic book magazine doesn't work in Mexico, ranging from 'there's no interest', to 'there's no industry to support them'. But on the other hand, manga magazines keep coming out, keep selling, and keep getting new readers.

So maybe, just maybe, Wizard -and any comic book magazine- should take note of that. The manga information magazines aren't lacking in the sexy women department, the fan-service is quite high in them... but they still manage to be all inclusive, adding some fan-service for the women who read the magazine, adding actual information that can be of interest to anyone, not just to a small group.

(BTW, I'm not in any way proposing that Wizard should start including more information about manga. Or a 'match the package' game as the one I've seen somewhere in the discussion. I don't have the answer of what Wizard should add to be more inclusive. I just know that I don't want to read about how Infinitive Secret wars or whatever is going to be the greatest thing ever just because one cover, I want to read exactly what kind of *real* impact would that storyline have in the end. Or maybe, a critique *after* the crossover to see if it really was as good as the publishers promised)