I just heard from my friends that Wizard Entertainment shut down Anime Insider magazine. The staff — including my good friends Summer Mullins and Angela Hanson — were fired. I hope you guys will cut me a break for this post, since I’m genuinely sad about this; not just for Summer and Angela, but because Anime Insider was a very big part of my life for a very long time.
When I was in college, ToyFare magazine was my dream job, and I was beyond thrilled to get hired at Wizard to work on the mag in 2001. When I arrived, Wizard had just put out Anime Invasion, a special one-time mag, in hopes making it regular. I liked anime a fair amount, but didn’t consider myself an otaku, but when I read the mag it was clear no one on staff knew anything about anime (my normal joke is that I was the only guy at Wizard who knew why goku’s hair turned yellow sometimes). Although I loved ToyFare, I saw an opportunity, and took it.
I got put on Anime Invasion with issue #1, which quickly because Anime Insider because someone upstairs at Wizard realized someone else had a copyright on Anime Invasion. When I was subordinate, I fought like hell to make it more than a DBZ/Yu-Gi-Oh mag. It started quarterly, and I fought to make it monthly. After its initial design, which looked like a Hypercolor shirt threw up on it, I fought to get a redesign with a modern, mature look. I suceeeded in all this, thanks to people like Summer, Zac Bertschy, Kara Reynolds, Todd Ciolek, Miguel Betita, Arlene So (who nailed the redesign singlehandedly, actually — I just asked for it) Doug Goldstein, Andrew Kardon, and more.
When I was put in charge, I tried to make it a magazine for all levels of anime fans, where new kids would learn more about the genre, and hardcore fans would learn some good stuff and be entertained, if nothing else. Whether I succeeded in that is arguable, but I was Editor from issues #20-36, and I worked like hell at it. It’s been 30 issues since I’ve been a staff member (although I did the mail column for a good chunk of that time), but I can tell you I’ve never had any job that consumed me more. I worked late nights. I went to cons on weekends. I flew to Japan 10 times for features and interviews. I had insomnia, because I couldn’t stop thinking/planning/worrying about the magazine. I’m not saying that was healthy, but I hope understand me why this news makes me so sad. I lived and breathed that magazine for six years. And now it’s gone.
I don’t want to get into the Wizard hate here, although lord knows I could. I just want to say that Anime Insider allowed me to meet a lot of wonderful people, both co-workers, folks in the now nearly defunct U.S. anime
industry, creators in Japan, and most of all, the anime fans. I know
anime fans can be insane, but meeting them at cons, and later, when I
did the mail colum for AI, I can tell you that I’ve met all subsets of
fandom and anime fans can be some of the nicest, sweetest nerds you’ll ever know, even if they are far too concerned about who Naruto’s father is.
Suffice to say, I guarantee I wouldn’t be here writing Topless Robot if it weren’t for Anime Insider, and for that — and many other things — I am extremely grateful. and sad, because it is gone.