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Saturday Protest In Bucktown Has One Objective: To Get You To Read More Comic Books

The rally coincides with Free Comic Book Day at Challengers Comics and other stores around the country. "This protest is about saying, 'Hey, man, join the reading brigade,'" its organizer said.

Challengers Comics, 1845 N. Western Ave., in Bucktown
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN — Demonstrators plan to gather this weekend outside a Bucktown comic book store to spread a positive message to the masses: Read more comics.

The Comic Book Protest is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday outside Challengers Comics, 1845 N. Western Ave.

It’s being organized by local filmmaker Robert Salazar, a lifelong comic book reader with an affinity for the X-Men and a deep-seated concern that comics could soon “go the way of the hoop and stick.”

“This protest is about saying, ‘Hey, man, join the reading brigade. Like, come on out here. You can support a local business by reading,'” Salazar said. “The comic bookstore is … this communal space where we can interact with stories, like groceries where they can nourish us weekly.”

Salazar will be stationed Saturday outside Challengers and invites any member of the public to join him. He’s encouraging people to bring their own signs, but he said he’ll also have supplies to make one.

Credit: Provided
Filmmaker Robert Salazar is organizing a “Comic Book Protest” Saturday in Bucktown to get more people to read comics

Salazar said he wants more people to appreciate the tangible pleasures of reading a physical comic as so much entertainment has gone digital.

“When you flip the page and you see something that makes your jaw drop — there have been moments where I flipped the page that felt as good as whole years of grade school,” he said, laughing. “Some page flips are so devastating or so thrilling that you can’t quantify that level of excitement.”

Saturday’s protest coincides with Free Comic Book Day, a national event in which Challengers and numerous other stores around Chicago are participating.

Challengers co-owner Dal Bush said people can stop by the store 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and leave with up to five free comics. Local comic and graphic novel artists and creators will also be in attendance, as well as cosplayers, he said.

Bush said Free Comic Book Day is an annual highlight for the store, which just passed 15 years in business in Bucktown.

“One of the things we love about Free Comic Day is that it puts front and center the idea of comic books. We go to a lot of conventions, you can go to a lot of movies and watch a lot of TV shows and there’s superhero stuff or there’s comic book content, but Free Comic Day is literally about comic books,” he said. “There’s a lot of different things that we like in pop culture, but we got into this to put comic books in people’s hands.”

Salazar agreed that as Marvel movies and similar stories remain popular, fans should seriously consider picking up the source material — and maybe a few friends along the way.

“If people really like serialized storytelling of these characters, boy oh boy, should they check out comic bookstores, because it’s the same idea but 1,000 percent more communal,” he said. “You get to be interacting with real people, as opposed to this lonely, in our phones, isolated way of handling entertainment otherwise.”

As for what his own sign will say Saturday?

“See You In the Funny Pages!”

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