The 13 best Chicago comic book stores

Looking for a place to get your weekly comic book fix? You'll have no trouble filling up your longbox at these comic book stores

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  • Photograph: Kristine Kuczora

    Alleycat Comics

  • Photograph: Emily Madigan

    Challenger Comics

  • Photograph: Kristine Kuczora

    Third Coast Comics

  • Photograph: Emily Madigan

    Chicago Comics

  • Photograph: Emily Madigan

    Dark Tower Comic Books and Collectibles

  • Photograph: Kristine Kuczora

    First Aid Comics

  • Photograph: Kaitlin Hetterscheidt

    Graham Cracker Comics

  • Photograph: Emily Madigan

    Vigilante Press

  • Aw Yeah Comics

  • Photograph: Kristine Kuczora

    Brainstorm Comics

  • Photograph: Kristine Kuczora

    G-Mart Comics

  • Comix Revolution

Photograph: Kristine Kuczora

Alleycat Comics

We'll admit it, being able to buy and read comics on your iPad is pretty convenient, but nothing can replace the sensation of stepping into a comic book shop lined with row after row of new issues. Chicago comic book readers have plenty of stores to choose from, each staffed with knowledgeable folks who can help you find what you're looking for, whether you're a Marvel true believer, a DC devotee or an indie fanatic. We performed the superheroic task of finding the best places in the city to get your single issue, trade paperback or graphic novel fix.

Alleycat Comics

  • Critics choice

Tucked at the end of a gangway between a Starbucks and a Potbelly on Clark Street, this small but popular shop has been meeting Andersonville's comics-shop needs since 2011. AlleyCat offers the usual wall of new comics and a good selection of trades and graphic novels, along a smallish collection of back issues. Kid-friendly books are well stocked in the "AlleyKitten's Corner." The store doesn't offer much in the way of toys or figures, but the staff is approachable and highly knowledgeable; a recent Saturday-afternoon visit found a staffer being interviewed for the Geekspotting podcast about the month's developments in the Marvel and DC universes, while on another trip a high-school teacher looking for a class-appropriate book for ESL students was quickly steered to solid recommendations. The shop also hosts weekly Magic: The Gathering tournaments, game nights and movie nights.

  1. 5304 N Clark St
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Aw Yeah Comics

  • Critics choice

Why hike up to Skokie for your funny books (though, come on, it's right off the Yellow Line)? Aw Yeah co-owner Art Baltazar is the kid-friendly DC artist behind Tiny Titans. His cartoon super cat covers the walls, behind the racks of toys and comics. The king of cute and whimsical is the greatest gateway to get kids into the art of comic books. The events, which draw big-name artists and writers, and industry-insider smarts will deeply satisfy the adult superfan.

  1. 4933 Oakton St, Skokie
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Brainstorm Comics

  • Critics choice

Part comics shop, part gamers' haven, part idiosyncratic video-rental store and all, as the owners put it, geek-safe zone, Brainstorm has nurtured a loyal clientele that's followed it to the third floor of the Flatiron Arts Building, where it moved in 2013 after ten years in a North Avenue storefront. On the comics side, the focus is on new releases, which come bagged and boarded free of charge. Brainstorm doesn't stock huge quantities of every issue on its shelves, but it offers a free subscription service that gets you 10% off list price; subscribers who put down an optional monthly deposit get an additional 10% off, and all subscribers also get discounts on special orders of action figures and statues. On the video side, Brainstorm specializes in indies, classics and cult favorites; it even has a selection of bootleg DVDs (including the infamous Star Wars Christmas special) that can be "rented" for free along with your paid rentals.

  1. 1579 N Milwaukee Ave, ste 321
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Challengers Comics + Conversation

  • Critics choice

Adorned with superheroes drawn by G-Man artist Chris Giarrusso, this Logan Square/Bucktown storefront is immediately recognizable as a shop that is serious about comics. You'll usually find owners W. Dal Bush and Patrick Brower manning the counter in a shirt and tie, presiding over a selection of graphic novels that ranks among the city's best. The walls are lined with the latest issues while a separate room houses comics and toys for kids. If you like gabbing about comics as much as you love reading them, the store's monthly discussions allow you to join the conversation.

  1. 1845 N Western Ave
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Chicago Comics

  • Critics choice

One of the most comprehensive comics shops in town, Chicago Comics has occupied its current space on Clark Street since 1995. The new issues lining the walls include all the heavy hitters as well as one of the better selections of indie and small-press titles you can find (no surprise given the shop's relationship with sister store Quimby's). The bins in the center of the front room hold a large back-issues collection, with more valuable Golden and Silver Age titles displayed behind the counter. The shop also carries a variety of toys, T-shirts and collectibles.

  1. 3244 N Clark St
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Comix Revolution

  • Critics choice

The Evanston location of Revolution (there is a second in Mount Prospect) is about as tidy, organized and welcoming as a comic book store gets. There are no overwhelming stacks of bins and boxes of back issues to dig through, which might put off some hardcore collectors, but this is the perfect shop for casual (and primarily mature) readers. The week's new releases are front and center. An equal amount of space is given to trade paperback collections. The indie books are the first thing you see when you enter, which is a welcome change from being inundated with DC and Marvel fodder. The back room holds a decent selection of manga and art books, as well as some fiction and nonfiction.

  1. 606 Davis St, Evanston
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Dark Tower Comic Books and Collectibles

  • Critics choice

It bears no official connection to Stephen King's gunslinger saga, but this Lincoln Square store may inspire journeys across the city with its towering collection of back issues. Weary travelers will also find plenty of single issues and trades, as well as a treasure trove of statues, action figures and other assorted collectibles.

  1. 4835 N Western Ave
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First Aid Comics

  • Critics choice

Hyde Park's First Aid Comics has served neighborhood locals and University of Chicago students from this bilevel 55th Street storefront since 2011 (it was previously located in a hard-to-find second-floor space on 53rd). Keeping with the shop's name, owner James Nurss, formerly a manager at Graham Crackers Comics, will diagnose your comics needs wearing a doctor's lab coat. In addition to current issues, First Aid carries a healthy inventory of trade paperbacks and hardcover collections, and Nurss has an impressive collection of back issues. First Aid offers a free subscription service, "The Doctor's Orders," that gets you 10% off new comics and supplies and 20% off back issues. The shop also carries plenty of action figures, gaming supplies (with regular Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! nights) and clothing—including, appropriately for the ’hood, a sizable supply of T-shirts featuring Alex Ross's Superman-inspired portrait of President Obama.

  1. 1617 E 55th St
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Graham Crackers Comics

  • Critics choice

The downtown outpost of this Chicago chain is the only comic shop in the Loop, so don't be surprised if you see guys in suits updating their pull lists during a lunch break. You'll find the usual selection of new issues from Marvel, DC and the indies on one side of the store, while the other half houses a few longboxes worth of back issues and shelves filled with trade paperbacks. Graham Cracker stays open until 8pm during the week, so even if you're stuck at the office late, you'll still have time to go pick up your books before catching the train.

  1. 77 E Madison St
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G-Mart Comics

  • Critics choice

This small storefront facing the Logan Square Blue Line station houses a decent selection of comics, graphic novels and related merchandise. It's not the best place to go browse, but G-Mart offers one of the best subscription programs in the city, allowing customers to pre-order single issues and trade collections for up to 35% off the cover price. If you're a regular reader, that's a hell of a deal.

  1. 2641 N Kedzie Ave
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Third Coast Comics

  • Critics choice

Step into the brightly colored interior of this small Edgewater shop and you'll find a healthy selection of comics and graphic novels, overseen by a friendly staff that is eager to help you find your new favorite title. Monthly drink and draw sessions and comic shop tea parties bring together fans of all ages, providing a meeting place for anyone who wants to geek out about movies and books with likeminded individuals.

  1. 6234 N Broadway
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Vigilante Press

  • Critics choice

On a stretch of Chicago Avenue that has historically been geek row, formerly housing cult shops like Rotofugi and Big Brother Video, sits Vigilante, across from a similarly minded boutique record store, Permanent. It's a small shop, with black wire racks reaching up the brick walls from hardwood floors to ceiling, focused on new releases and toys, but like all the other shops mentioned above, it's hip, friendly and smart.

  1. 1931 W Chicago Ave
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Reneé G

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