Framing the issue
Chicago's first gallery dedicated to comic-book art makes a super debut in Bucktown.
When Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush opened Challengers Comics and Conversation almost three years ago, the pair had two aspirations: bring a spacious, friendly comic shop to Bucktown and create Chicago’s first gallery devoted to their favorite medium.
On Friday 3, the latter dream finally comes true with the soft opening of Rogues Gallery in a cozy storefront adjacent to Challengers. (Gallery patrons enter through the shop at 1845 North Western Avenue.) “The art form deserves a full-time gallery with artists coming in from out of town to exhibit,” says Bush, 32.
Accompanying the requisite wine and cheese at the opening will be the framed artwork of Amy Reeder, an up-and-coming New York City talent about to hit it big with DC Comics’ Batwoman. Reeder also will sign copies of the debut issue of the character’s new monthly title.
Although an online campaign for the gallery on Kickstarter.com raised more than double Challengers’ $2,400 goal to renovate the space, construction delays complicated the process. Brower, 42, and Bush—Villa Park residents who worked together for years at a suburban comic-book store—waited all summer to get a simple doorway cut into a support wall. In late September, workers finally showed up unannounced on a Wednesday, “new comics day,” the busiest retail day of the week for any comics shop.
“They assumed we were going to be closed for the day,” Bush recounts. Customers and employees politely endured the plaster dust.
Brower regrets that the space won’t be polished for the opening as intended, but he points out, “The focus of the show is not the gallery; it’s Amy’s art.” In addition to her Batwoman drawings, Reeder will display pages from past comics—including Madame Xanadu and her self-created manga title, Fool’s Good—some of which will be for sale during the monthlong exhibit, along with a print exclusive to Rogues Gallery.
“I’ve never been flown anywhere for a signing before,” says Reeder, 30, a Colorado native. “Comic-book stores are such an important part of the industry. It’s really cool that they’re going the extra mile.”
Rogues Gallery (1845 N Western Ave, 773-278-0155) hosts its opening exhibit and signing with Amy Reeder on Friday 3 from 6–9pm. The show runs through January 10.