5th Annual Eau Claire Comic Con held at Metropolis

Comic Con gives artists and illustrators a place to meet their fans

More stories from Sam Martinez


Photo by Sam Martinez

The 5th annual Eau Claire Comic Con brought illustrators, sculptors, collectors and fans to Metropolis resort last Saturday.

When Rob Mattison and the four other owners of Eau Claire Comics and Collectables started slowly closing their comic store, they said they knew losing contact with their customers would be difficult.

In an effort to keep those relationships alive, they created the Eau Claire Comic Con.

“Once you get out of the business you can lose people forever,” Mattison said. “This way we don’t have to.”

The fifth annual Eau Claire Comic con was held last Saturday at Metropolis Resort. The event featured several illustrators and sculptors displaying original work along with several other vendors.

Mattison, who also works in the Information Technology department at UW-Eau Claire, said that about 50 percent of the people they see come through are former customers of the store, and they bring their kids. Mattison has been part of the Eau Claire comic scene since 1981 and says that one of the biggest joys is seeing different generations of fans appreciating comics.

Mattison, Chris Gierke, Tim Bruckner and Andrew Ritchie were all at Comic Con over the weekend, and they will all have art displayed in the Foster Gallery next January. The gallery is titled Framed, inside the world of comics, and will run from Jan. 28, 2016 to Feb 18.

Ritchie, who describes himself as a first shift corporate graphic designer and a second shift freelance illustrator, said one great aspect of Comic Con is physically seeing the fans enjoying their work.

“If you do a book, people buy it, but you’re not there to see their reactions,” Ritchie said. “You don’t see that face light up in person.”

Rachel Gierke, one of the former owners of Eau Claire Comics and Collectables, started this event by contacting every comic book-related person in the area to come down and set up a booth, and since then the event has seen many vendors come back year after year.

She also said one of her favorite parts of Comic Con is seeing how much it inspires the kids.

Shane Deniel was at Comic Con for the third consecutive year last Saturday. He said it is a great event to bring friends to, no matter how much or how little they know about comics.

“I like going with friends because then you get a chance to show them what’s awesome,” Denial said. “And even if they already know about comics then they get to appreciate it also.”

Mattison said the event has been growing, and will be moving to the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center next year. He said because of space they had to turn several vendors away this year.

When people learn to enjoy comics as a kid, it’s not a pastime that goes away, Mattison said. It sticks with them.

“People come here because of something that snapped when you were five years old,” Mattison said. “You just can’t shake it.”