Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: Rob Mattison of UW-Eau Claire’s Learning Technology Services and co-creator of the university’s GEEKcon, a convention featuring comic book and game creators, cosplay, university organizations and more. The convention runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Davies Student Center.
What is GEEKcon?
GEEKcon is kind of like a Comic Con convention but it’s more all-encompassing. It’s a little bit more than entertainment.
This is kind of the “Power of And Con.” That’s the university’s slogan, and this convention is exactly that.
We’re showing our creativeness and outside passions to students, staff and community members.
Why bring an event like this to UW-Eau Claire?
For a couple of reasons. The first one is I work here and I meet a lot of students that tend to be shy, stay in their rooms and don’t get out to see the passions and hobbies we have to offer.
We’re trying to get some of those students who maybe haven’t found that niche to come and visit us.
A lot of presenters are students themselves. It’s really about students, mental health and community.
What type of things are there for people to do?
We have a lot of different things. We have comic book creators, cosplay, writers, 3D printers, sculptures and musicians playing, and more importantly talking to audience members about why they do what they do, whether it is a job or passion they pursue part-time.
We’ll have artists selling stuff, vendors from comics and gaming stuff and health things.
We’re going to be doing giveaways and have organizations from the school attend.
How did GEEKcon form?
I also do the Eau Claire Comic Con, which I’m still a creator for but I really wanted to focus on this one. PRIDE is our sponsor. I work for LTS and we wanted to buddy up to create a memorable event.
The president of PRIDE came to me three years ago and said, “you do (Eau Claire) Comic Con, we could do something like that here.”
It took a couple of years and we finally got it. And thanks to PRIDE the event is free for students.
Who is this event open to and why should people come?
It’s open to everybody. It’s geared toward students but open to all.
We’re going to have comic book creators who work at DC Comics and Marvel and Disney that are alumni from the school. Students will hear how you can get jobs in your field as long as you work hard.
What type of people will be presenting?
Tim Seeley, who works for DC Comics and Steve Kurth, who works for mobile Disney.
We have game creators that have created board games that are for sale.
We have video game app creators, students and faculty — a little of everybody. I tried to bring in as many alumni as I could.
I think my favorite piece of it is for the comic book panel.
That will be three (former) students who are all older, have careers in art at Marvel, Disney or independent comics.
We’re also bringing back a retired emeriti professor (Anders Schafer) who was their inspiration, and then we’ll have new faculty as modern inspiration.
What is the after-convention game night?
McIntyre Library is going to do a game night after. From when our show ends, the gamers will just hop over to the library and start playing there.
Is there anything in particular you’re excited about?
I’m really looking forward to the cosplayers.
A lot of people that go to the (Eau Claire) Comic Con make costumes that are film-ready quality, so I’m really excited to see what they bring to our convention.
We’re looking for people to dress up and come in, just enjoy the day. Find a new hobby or talk to people with similar passions of yours.
We’re going to have people teaching how to knit, essential oils, eating healthy, the (university) athletics is going to do a working behind-the-scenes with data and information presentation.
We’re trying to hit all the buildings on our campus. There’s really nothing off the table.
— Katy Macek, reporter