By Shayla Reaves

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (WCCO)— The owner of a Burnsville comic book store is making comics accessible to people of all ages. Eric Childs became the owner of Mind’s Eye Comics in 2018, his favorite comic book store for more than 20 years. He moved the Eagan business to Burnsville and has continued filling the shelves with fiction and non-fiction mainstays.

“When I’m in this space I am at home. This is where I am myself,” Childs said. “My passion is just outside of me. I just want to share it with everyone and continue to build on that community. It’s just great being in a place where I’m amongst my fellow comic book geeks.”

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The store is located at 200 East Travelers Trail #105 and is the only Black-owned comic book store in Minnesota. In additional to comic book classics, Childs offers graphic novels covering Black history and independent titles by minority-owned creators and publishers.

“There is no part of our past that we as minorities don’t play a part,” Childs said. “I’m on a mission to make sure things that are important to me, that I think are important in general, still get the platform they deserve.”

The Kansas City native first learned about comic books from his older brothers, both interested in comic book art and stories at an early age. A fourth grade teacher encouraged his passion. Childs says the books became a “source of inspiration, a getaway, an escape” — his biggest hobby and pastime.

“It just contrast so greatly with the area that I lived in. It was just like a world of wonder,” Childs said. “For me, there were little nuances of justice and heroes stepping in to thwart off certain evils and crimes that really appealed to me. To be able to have the power to make a difference or change something within your community, that kind of stuff resonated with me.”

Superman became his favorite superhero.

“His greatest power is that although he is endowed with all these great abilities and doesn’t necessarily need to help anyone – doesn’t necessarily need to be good – but by the simple fact that he chooses love, in choice is where our power is realized,” Childs said.

Childs’ choices show up on his store’s shelves.

“Everything that you see, I’ve poured my heart and soul into every aspect and nuance and every placement,” Childs said. “Everything in this space is all input from my mind.”

His mother helped shape his perspectives on the value of inclusion.

“I found this old photo…kind of Hollywood glamour shot. I was like, ‘Wow mom you’re beautiful!’ and she’s like, ‘Oh you think so?’” Childs said. “She told me that when she grew up in the pages of the books in school, there was no one that ever looked like her. My mom told me she didn’t think she was beautiful.”

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Now a father himself, Childs wants to make sure his own daughter can find herself in books too.

“I think about that stuff all the time. If I get her a book, I want her to be able to see herself somewhere in that narrative,” Childs said. “It doesn’t have to be every book, but I want her to be able to see herself, as well as my son.”

He wants to make sure all his customers can do the same.

“It is important for me for all people, people of color especially, to understand in our nation [that]…we have a lot of input,” Childs said. “I want to let you know that you’re a part of this community.”

He calls the industry an example of the world’s potential.

“I think the comic book industry is a reflection of how we actually should be. It’s an industry where we’re writing and creating new works that speak to people for many different reasons,” Childs said. “We should be human beings that are creating marvelous works that inspire, that promote, that engage that do a lot of positive things within our world, us as human beings. “

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Vans “Foot The Bill” Initiative

Recently, Childs had a chance to honor his parents and others from his personal journey through the Vans “Foot the Bill” Initiative. The program is helping small businesses navigate the pandemic. The design for Mind’s Eye Comics included images of important people in Childs’ life, including his dad.

“Dad was a real human being, he may have been old fashioned but he was the kind of guy that if he said something, gave you his word and shook your hand, that was serious business,” Childs said. “I wanted to make sure they [parents] were on the shoe.”

The shoe also includes an image of Damon Lindelof, an Emmy award-winning screenwriter.

“He found me because of the pandemic and just things that were going on in the Twin Cities,” Childs said of the connection. “He’s a comic fan himself and so he searched black-owned comic shops…and he reached out. He told me that Mind’s Eye needs to stay wide open.”

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For a closer look at the Mind’s Eye Comics design for the Van’s “Foot The Bill” Initiative, click here.

Shayla Reaves