[Ed note: I've wanted to start a series for awhile now featuring unique independent shops doing great things in the comics and games industries, but swamped with work and the feasibility of finding great places outside of the Chicago area, it has been put off until now. But the tenacity of the site's newest writer, C.R. Stemple, prompted us to get it going. So without further adieu, I present readers with the debut of Stemple for Pads & Panels, as well as the first in hopefully a great series we call "Awesome Places." And if readers know of an awesome shop near their hometown, please don't hesitate to let us know. Thanks! Enjoy! --Bill Jones]
Awesome Places #1 – Challengers Comics + Conversation
Owners: Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush
Location: 1845 N. Western Ave. 2R, Chicago, IL 60647
Interview with W. Dal Bush
Interview by: C. R. Stemple
The city of Chicago is not without an abundance of comic book shops – not by a long shot. In fact, the Second City is home to the largest chain of retail comic book stores in the US, Graham Crackers Comics, a direct-market dynamo whose website serves as a 24-hour national sales hub for everything readers would normally find during an in-store visit, essentially eliminating all of the necessities of comic shop culture and interaction.
One new local shop, however, calls foul. Opened in April 2008 by co-owners Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush, Challengers Comics + Conversation has not only gone out of its way to create a thriving, lively community of both casual and hardcore fans, but also sustains it through a wonderfully interactive and intuitive website that’s driven by (and only truly accessible through) in-store visits. Considering all this, plus a strikingly modern, easily navigable layout with surprises literally around every corner of the store, it is no surprise that Challengers was recently awarded The Best New Comic Book Store in Chicago Magazine’s August 2009 issue.
Pads & Panels visited Challengers and talked with co-owner and sharp dresser W. Dal Bush about the shop, the comic book community at large and what readers can look forward to in the near future. (more…)