The issue of Wizard magazine (“the guide to comics”) pictured at left, with the Savage Dragon on the cover, is the first issue I can remember buying. I remember picking it up at a local convenience store on my way to swim in a pond with my friend. We were probably on a pre-swim candy run. There’s something that will make one feel like one had an idyllic childhood: memories of picking up a comic book magazine at the candy store while on the way to a local pond for a summertime swim. This “special edition” issue had gold foil accents on a gatefold cover with a line-up of grimacing super hero heads, plus a holo-foil trading card inside. It was impossible to resist! I don’t know if I’d even read a single Image comic yet. Maybe Spawn? It would be over a decade before I’d develop my Dragon habit. But it didn’t matter that I didn’t know the characters, because Wizard was a real magazine solely devoted to comic books.
While Wizard had more than its share of questionable articles, it was pretty much the only way I could find out about cool comics at the time. While most of any given issue would be dedicated to the same old Marvel and DC comics (DC less so), they’d also run stories on The Maxx, Hellboy, and other books that, while fairly mainstream, would otherwise have been totally unknown to me as a kid.
Even the price guide that ate up a huge chunk of every issue, as useless at it was to me for buying and selling purposes, was fairly entertaining. I remember just scanning though the huge lists of comics, looking at what was supposedly worth how much, checking the codes for which issues contained which first appearances, and generally enjoying the sense that there was this immense world of material out there.
I didn’t buy or read that many issues of Wizard. I was young and didn’t have much money, and though the period when I was first reading and buying comic books felt like an epic epoch in my life, it really only spanned a few years. There probably weren’t more than 30 issues of Wizard even published in that time. Then, I dropped comics for most of my teen years. When I got back into them in my young adulthood, I picked up an issue or two of Wizard to get reoriented. It had gotten much lamer in the interim—more focused on movies, video games, toys, and other things that weren’t comic books. Still, though, it was nice to have access to a light overview of the comics world for that month.
Wizard‘s been gone for a while now, and while it was never the greatest collection of comics journalism, it was nice to have it around, sitting in supermarkets, letting people know that comic books existed. I highly recommend picking up back issues from early in the run. What isn’t interesting is funny, and what isn’t funny is interesting, and there is some great ‘tude on display in the comic book ads of the time.