PORTAGE PARK — After a successful crowdfunding campaign that drew more than 140 backers, an independent comic bookstore and community space is one step closer to becoming a reality in Portage Park.
Howling Pages, the bookstore from Portage Park artist and writer Alain Park, exceeded its fundraising goal of $15,000 before a Dec. 1 deadline, raising more than $16,000 in less than two months.
Park turned to the community in October to raise funds for the bookstore and offset start-up costs. The fundraiser received donations from friends and strangers in the area and from the local comics scene, which was a welcome surprise.
“It feels like validation — that the idea is a good idea and other people see it, too, and see a need for it as a creative community in the neighborhood,” Park said. “It feels good [and that] you are not alone in your thought patterns.”
Park estimates he will need $30,000-$40,000 to get the store off the ground. His family members have set aside $15,000 of their own money. With the community backing, the money is enough to move forward.
Now, the real work begins, Park said.
The first step is to secure a storefront. Park has been eyeing two near Milwaukee and Montrose avenues and hopes to close the deal on one location in a few days, he said.
Then it will take a few months to rehab the space, get furniture and set up the inventory of Howling Pages, which will house international, local and indie comics; graphic novels with a children’s section; and illustrative and printed artwork.
“The big push will be once we have a space and we have a physical address, then I can get my reseller’s license, and that’s going to let me get stuff from wholesalers,” he said.
A portion of the funding will help build inventory, which Park estimates will cost $15,000-$20,000.
The Park family has donated books and artwork from their own collection, but Howling Pages is taking more community donations. To donate comic books or graphic novels, email Park at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Park plans to have a soft opening in March and a grand opening a month or so “after all the kinks are worked out,” he said.
Park said he is grateful to the community for supporting his vision for the store, which can be seen as a “third place” for neighbors to foster creativity, inspiration and networking. The family hopes to host meetups, local author talks, classes and workshops in comic-making and printmaking and more.
“What will make this different than a local comic shop is the atmosphere of being a book shop. … It will be so familiar to many different kinds of people,” he previously said. “The other thing it brings is affordability. We want the print side to be accessible and be very much within the same price points [as the books] because there is a lot to explore.”
Comic book and graphic novel enthusiasts Lisa and Bill Roe, who live next to the Park family, are excited for Howling Pages to serve the neighborhood, which lacks an independent bookstore for people of various ages. The couple donated to the fundraiser at its launch.
The Roes moved to Portage Park from Logan Square in 2013. They previously told Block Club they are happy to see more art opportunities that can fuel their passions and help them connect with like-minded residents.
“Our daughter is into graphic novels, and our son is into manga, [so] the store is exactly in that zone of our interests,” said Lisa Roe, a local librarian who runs a monthly graphic novel reading group.
Bill Roe called himself a lifelong comic reader and said Howling Pages will bring more culture and business to Portage Park — and allow him to expand his comic book intake.
“I think the neighborhood is starting to turn around. … There are so many abandoned storefronts in the area, so anything that can fill those shops with varied interest and bring more culture to the neighborhood is amazing and great,” he said.
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