The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

A Q&A: Eau Claire Comic Expo

(With Robert Mattison, of the Eau Claire Comic Expo)

How did this expo get started?

A group of friends and I used to own Eau Claire Comics and Collectibles and a couple years ago, we closed up. We had had a show in the past — about four or five years ago — and had a really good time doing it. But we got together and decided this would be a good time to try and get a show going again.

What can people who may not be familiar with comic conventions or expos expect if
they go?

Well, they can expect to meet creators, comic artists. We have Steve Kurth who graduated from the University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

He works at Marvel Comics. He did Iron Man for the last year, year and a half, and now he’s doing X-Men. He did New Mutants and stuff like that.

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Andy Ritchie, who’s also an alumni from the university, he works on horror comic books. He’s worked for BOOM! Studios and Image Comics. He used to do gaming books and such.

Tim Bruckner, he’s not an alumni, but he’s from Wisconsin, and he sculpts a lot of the DC superhero toys and statues and does a whole line of fine art statue sculpting and is the author a pop sculpture book.

And then we have Mark Lone and Danny Phillips and a lot of local artists that will be there and a lot of guys that are trying to break into comics. Also, illustrators, and we even have some
jewelry makers.

So it’s a little of everything. Our main things are comic books, monster models, toys, video games, role-playing games — that’s going to be a big one. Professor Kurt Weigel, from the chemistry department, is the host of Game Geeks. We have almost 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Kurt will be there and will be selling some (Dungeons and Dragons) stuff and showing his show on the big screen when he’s there.

Who are you most excited to see at the convention?

To be honest, since I’m one of the old dogs and I’ve been doing this, and I’ve owned comic shops in town since 1980, or worked in them, I’m really looking forward to getting an annual party going where I get to see all my friends in one place every year up here. Usually, we’re traveling to Minnesota or Kentucky to do things with people with hobbies that are like ours.

This is an opportunity to bring all of our friends in one spot here. And for me, it’s just that. I’m going to be able to see a lot of people I haven’t seen since the store closed its doors. And just getting the whole community of geeky stuff together, I guess.

Between this and NoBrandCon, there seems to be a lot of interest in comics in Eau Claire recently.

There has been. I mean, I’ve worked in comics since 1980 and I’ve got to tell you the ’80s and ’90s were absolutely fantastic and we ran good business and when the Internet came it kind of petered out a little bit. But because of that, because it’s hard to make a living doing that, we had to let it go.

But I think I have to give a big thumbs up to NoBrandCon. I mean, they’ve really put their foot in the door and got a good show going and they’ve been doing it for a few years now. They’ll be there. They’ll have a table at our show too.

Everyone who has done shows in Minnesota or here have been very helpful about what we should do and what we shouldn’t do, so that’s pretty cool.

What would you suggest to someone who was just getting started in comics?

I’d start by talking to people

that work in the field. If you want to work in comics, talk to a comic artist. I’m almost fifty, and Steve (Kurth) came into the comic shop and he was a little guy, and his folks were with him and he goes ‘I want to be a comic book artist,’ and I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, bring your artwork in and show me.’

Well he did, and he kept drawing and drawing and when I saw him draw I learned personally that I could not do what he does. I can’t draw that much and that fast, and I think that was a big lesson
for me.

So I think if you really want to get into sculpting toys or sculpting models or drawing comics, you need to talk to people who are actually doing it.

And if you want to just get into comics as a hobby, just come and talk to us. That’s what we’re all about.

That’s all the questions I had. Anything else you’d like to add?

We’re hoping to make this an annual event. A big party for all our geekdom and we look forward to everyone like-minded and not like-minded to come and
visit us.



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