For some people, comic books are like their own offspring—helpless, defenseless children in a world of hate and anger and constant danger. And like children, they want to protect them at every turn by wrapping them in plastic and hiding them away in locked vaults or on shelves, never to be seen or heard from again.
Hence the existence of comic book stores like Challengers Comics & Conversation in Bucktown. (Is the name Challengers perhaps a reference to that old Jack Kirby comic "Challengers of the Unknown"? We like to think so.) But the Challengers Comics approach to comics is not at all what you might expect. Matter of fact, you could call it the Bizzarro version of comic book stores. Instead of being messy, dimly lit and claustrophobic, Challengers is spotless, brightly lit and spacious. Instead of employing a staff that sports holey t-shirts, holey jeans, holey underwear and Batman tats, Challengers pays people who are always dressed for success. Don't get us wrong; we love the way other comic book stores (like Chicago Comics) run things, but it's also incredibly refreshing to visit a comic book store that goes out of its way to manage things in a "professional" manner.
Though the staff may not be overrun with nerds, these people know what they're talking about nonetheless. The store itself stocks everything you could want: all the new comics, a section for the kids, huge shelves of trade paperbacks and an area for artists to come in and draw at with tables and art supplies (which is also fairly unusual). If you're looking for something in particular or you want the staff to hold upcoming titles for you, Challengers is more than accommodating.
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Andrew Moore