Cell-ing Out

big-time comic artists with local ties exhibit work

Jenna Campbell, photos by Nikki Humphrey

HOUSE-STOMPING BRAINS AND HUGE EXPLOSIONS. JUST ANOTHER DAY IN SUBURBIA. Comic art from Andrew Ritchie (left) and Steve Kurth (right).

We can now add two comic book artists to our list of locals who have gone on to do great things. Andrew Ritchie and Steve Kurth, who just a decade ago were UWEC illustration students, provide yet another example of locals who have risen to success from a humble start in the Chippewa Valley.

The exhibit currently on display at Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, called The Four-Color World: Comics, Models, and More, features the work of Richie and Kurth, now household names in the comic book world.

Before graduating from the UW-Eau Claire, Ritchie kick-started his career as a student by freelancing for White Wolf Games – a national gaming and publishing company best known for World of Darkness role-playing games like Vampire: The Masquerade – completing nearly 30 projects including game covers, interiors, and cards.

Another big break came years later, when he began working with BOOM! Studios, a comic book company known for titles like Warhammer and their Disney/Pixar comic series like The Incredibles. It was through BOOM! that Ritchie animated the highly successful four-book series Necronomicon.

Kurth has a success story with striking similarities, from a love of art early in childhood to his illustration degree at UWEC.

As a teenager, Kurth was in an Eau Claire comic book store when he met Rob Mattison, then just a shop employee and now a close friend and curator of the exhibit.

Mattison still remembers the day when then 11-year-old Kurth came into the store and told him he wanted to be a comic book artist. Years later, Kurth is more successful than he could have imagined.

Kurth started working professionally in 2001 doing art for G.I. Joe comics, and went on to do draw for Titan Books’ Ghostbusters comic. Throughout this time Kurth had his sights on Marvel, the comic book giant in charge of titles like X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Incredible Hulk. After “hitting up” the company for work every chance he got, Marvel eventually gave Kurth an assignment.

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