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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, February 1

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Profiles Mon Mar 28 2011

Bookstore Profile: Comic Vault

Name: The Comic Vault
Location: 1530 West Montrose
Books: Comics and Graphic Novels
New/Used: Both
History: Opened October 2006

Matt Sardo's motto is that the Comic Vault is more than just a store, it's a community.

This refrain is invoked often from the owner of the shop, located in Ravenswood. Over the past several years of business, with a second shop set to open in April at Block 37, Sardo has grown the Comic Vault from a neighborhood hangout to a truly classic Chicago comic shop.

comicvault1.jpgNominated twice for an Eisner "Spirit" Award and playing host to a recent advertisement during AMC's The Walking Dead, the Comic Vault has drawn in people from all over the city through its dedication to fostering an atmosphere of communal harmony. This is accomplished by not only having a robust membership system, one that offers a greater discount to a customer based on the number of monthly comics purchased, but by including members in the overall dialogue about comics.

Stepping into the cozy shop situated at the intersection of Montrose and Ashland, the store is set on three sides to clear and clean shelving displays of comics. For the inner geek in everyone, seeing this impressive display of merchandise is both reassuring and comforting that comics have found a strong place in the community. Furthermore, Sardo is kind enough to bag and board each issue that comes into his store, ensuring that your comics are not only protected from the elements but easily storable in the ubiquitous long boxes that festoon the apartments of dedicated fans.

The Comic Vault also routinely hosts events, catered of course, such as Winter Con, a local Chicago comic convention, release parties for upcoming books or Q&A sessions with big name creators. All of this brings together members of the shop to not only discuss comics but to connect with each other on a personal basis. One can step into the shop on any day of the week and feel just as comfortable debating the latest Green Lantern storylines as discussing how the Black Hawks are doing.

What I felt encapsulated the vibe of the Comic Vault the most was that there was a general sense of easy going happening at the store. The small shop size and minimalist design ethos keeps the emphasis on the customer and the reader. There are no huge stacks of old comics lying around or endless rows of shelves to bury shoppers underneath piles of panels and pages. You don't feel overwhelmed or out of your element when dropping by for a visit.

Comic readers new and old can appreciate the sense of togetherness engendered by the Comic Vault. It's a quick walk east off the Montrose Brownline and is adjacent to both the Montrose and Ashland buses.

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