Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, June 23

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Book Club

Ink Thu Jun 25 2015

Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago Lit Selections

The Chicago Reader released its Best of 2015 list recently detailing local Arts, Culture, Food, Music and more. Here is a list of the best from our literary community.

Best Novelist
= Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl)
Best Nonfiction Writer = Samantha Irby (author of Meaty)
Best Journalist = Ben Joravsky
Best Playwright = Tracy Letts
Best storytelling series for potty humor = I Shit You Not
Best Literary Event = Printers Row Lit Fest
Best New Music Blogger = Lorena Cupcake
Best New Cookbook from Chicago = The Big Jones Cookbook
Best Bookstore = Myopic Books
Best Hidden Bookstore = Open Books Pilsen

Oh and there's one more category to mention,
Best Local Blog
= Gapers Block
Aw shucks!

Go pick up a copy this week in any of the yellow Chicago Reader boxes or newsstands throughout the city and read the entire Best Of list.

John Wawrzaszek

Ink Thu Jun 06 2013

Newcity's 2013 edition of Lit 50 is Out!

NEWNEWCITY.jpgLit 50, the annual list of who's who in the lit scene as documented by the staff at Newcity, is out today (right in time for Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend).

"The process, as excruciating as it is, always renews our optimism for the literary Chicago that carries on, bigger and better every year," says Newcity editor Brian Hieggelke in the issue's introduction.

There were 360 people under consideration for this year. Pick up a copy and check out the notable list to see who 'books' in the lit scene.

John Wawrzaszek

Ink Tue May 31 2011

Comic Vault Closing

Due to a personal family matter, Comic Vault's last week of new books will be tomorrow. Sad news, but starting this Saturday, everything will be 35% off.

Rose Lannin

Books Tue May 17 2011

Fresh Horror from DoubleFeature

Four Star Studios' newest digital comic, Horror Double Feature #1, is out with two stories that dabble in the dark and strange: "Monsterology" (B. Clay Moore & Ryan Browne) explores a black ops-scientist research team's investigations into creatures unknown, while "Kid Cthulhu" by Sean Dove is a tale of mystery and the student trying to get to the bottom of it with persistence, mystical tomes, and his unique ability to call the Elder Gods. Buy it for your iPad (or as a PDF) here.

Rose Lannin

Ink Mon Feb 14 2011

Love in the Gutters

This Valentine's Day, find love of all kinds in the panels and pages of Project: Romantic: An Anthology Dedicated to Love and Love Stuff, featuring stories of attraction, frustration, love and loss as illustrated by local comic book artists, former locals, and many more. It's a little hard to find, but not impossible -- and definitely worth it.

Rose Lannin

Miscellaneous Mon Feb 07 2011

Reading and Sketching 642 Things

Local artist Sarah Best works with photography, embroidery, and illustration, often for shows or a class. After a friend gifted her with the book 642 Things to Draw, a series of drawing prompts, she began to exercise her illustrative talents in new, fun, and less formal ways. The "cabin" prompt turned into her cat dressed as David Thoreau in front of his woodland, while "fangs" spawned an elderly shark's bedside table.

Best documents these drawings on her blog -- check it out, and be inspired by visions of rolling pins, robots, pickles and more.

Rose Lannin

Contest Wed Dec 08 2010

Bringing Back Paper and Ink

Are you sick of hearing about the death of print as we know it, or some permutation of that phrase? Have you ever made a mini comic or zine? If you answered yes to the latter, Quimby's has a challenge for you...if you said yes to the former, you still might be interested in seeing how this goes down.

Sometime in 2011, Quimby's wants you to cuddle up to the Xerox and turn out one more self-published work, be it a comic, mini-comic, zine, or some hybrid of all three. Join the Facebook group for more information and updates, and start prepping to ride that printed train into the new year.

Rose Lannin

Events Sat Apr 24 2010

Free Comic Book Day

The first Saturday in May (this year it falls on May 1st) means free comic books for all, Chicago stores are celebrating with celebrity appearances (Mike Norten and Katie Cook , local artist group Trubble Club), music, and most importantly free comics!

Rose Lannin

Feature Tue Mar 23 2010

One-Shots: Josh Elder and Reading With Pictures

Name: Josh Elder
Job: Founder and Executive Director, Reading With Pictures, a nonprofit organization that advocates the use of comics in the classroom.
Age: 29
Education: Northwestern University, BS in Radio/Television/Film
Location: Irving Park
Hometown: Carmi, IL
Website:, Kickstarter
Favorite place in Chicago: The Art Institute

Portrait by Jen Brazas

How are you involved in the comic book industry?

I started as a college intern in the Publicity and Editorial departments at DC Comics. Upon graduation, I had a brief stint as an Associate Editor at Wizard: The Comic Magazine. In 2005, I won the Grand Prize in TOKYOPOP's Rising Stars of Manga contest (think American Idol for cartoonists) with Mail Order Ninja, which was swiftly picked up as a book series and then a nationally syndicated comic strip.

That led to writing The Batman Strikes at DC Comics and StarCraft for Blizzard Entertainment. I'm currently working on a number of different projects of my own, as well as other licensed properties that I can't really talk about yet.

How did you get into reading comics? What about drawing them?

My mother -- a school librarian -- was reading to me as she did every night before putting me to bed. Usually that meant a chapter book or some classic kid lit, but that night, for reasons lost to antiquity, I got to choose the reading material. And like any red-blooded American male my age, I chose a comic. Issue number four of The Transformers to be precise.

Everything was going great. right up until mom's laryngitis caught up with her, causing her to lose her voice barely halfway through the issue. This was completely unacceptable. Optimus Prime was in a lot of danger, and I had to make sure he was going to be okay.

So I used the comic to teach myself how to read so I could finish the comic. And right from the beginning, I wanted to create my own comics.

What is Reading With Pictures all about?

Reading With Pictures is a nonprofit organization that advocates the use of comics in the classroom to promote literacy and improve educational outcomes for all students. We work with academics to cultivate groundbreaking research into the proper role of comics in education. We collaborate with cartoonists to produce exceptional graphic novel content for scholastic use. Most importantly, we partner with educators to develop a system of best practices for integrating comics into their curriculum.

Continue reading this entry »

Rose Lannin

Feature Tue Mar 09 2010

One-Shots: Jenny Frison

A relative newcomer to Chicago's comic book scene, Jenny Frison began working locally in mid-2008, making covers for Devil's Due Publishing's Hack/Slash and Voltron. She moved on to various other titles, including webcomic-turned-print The Dreamer and Angel, put out by IDW Publishing. Her success should not come as a surprise: no stranger to adaptability, Jenny has moved from Peoria to New Jersey to Wyoming and back to Illinois again. From her early days with Wonder Woman audiobooks to studying illustration at the esteemed Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, with a brief detour working on a ranch, Jenny's path has wound its back to way to Chicago and professional illustration. An early interest in comics, an eye for cover design, and a desire to incorporate diverse art forms into her craft make her professional and geographic location a natural one. Currently, she is drawing a cover for Marvel's Girl Comics, a three-issue anthology featuring some of the most talented female artists and writers in the industry.

Jenny is unique in that she has a distinctive, Art Noveau-influenced style but is willingly not locked into it, works mainly on covers, and occupies the still relatively rare position of being a female comic book professional. We discussed how these qualities have shaped her career, as well as the portrayal of women in comics, how she makes a cover, and the difficulties inherent in breaking into the professional world of comics.

Name: Jenny Frison
Job: Freelance Comic Book Cover Artist
Age: 29
Location: Albany Park
Hometown: Born in Billings, MT, grew up in Peoria, IL
Favorite place in Chicago: Before I moved here, I was a latchkey adult -- I moved from IL to New Jersey to Wyoming to IL, when I finally moved to Chicago I was sort of indefinitely here. Now that I have my own apartment and I have my own studio, I really like being here. Outside of my own apartment, probably Challengers Comics. I (heart) Challengers.


You're an illustrator -- do you work more with comics or regular book covers?

I mostly do work in comics. I went to college to be an illustrator, I got my specialization in illustration from Northern Illinois and I always sort of loved comics -- this is a very long answer to your very short question...

Go for it.

After Northern Illinois, I went to the Kubert School in New Jersey to study the comic book art trade, and while I was there, I became aware that what I really did love was cover illustration -- doing a story in one drawing rather than doing sequential art, like comic book pages.

Continue reading this entry »

Rose Lannin / Comments (7)

Ink Tue Aug 19 2008

Paid for Secondhand

Should authors receive a share of sales from used books?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Tue Jul 29 2008

Reading It Anyways?

If you know you can't come to a book club meeting, do you still read the book?

Alice Maggio

Ink Tue Jul 01 2008

I Spy

Commuters: What have you spotted people reading recently on the bus or trains?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Tue Jun 03 2008

Funny Stuff

Funny books and humorous writers: Which books make you laugh out loud?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Tue May 06 2008

On Your Nightstand

Haven't asked this one in awhile: What books are on your nightstand right now?

Alice Maggio / Comments (7)

Ink Tue Apr 22 2008

Best Opening Line

Playing off the American Book Review list of best opening lines in literature, what is your favorite opening line from a book?

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

Ink Tue Apr 08 2008


Do you read e-books? Do you have an e-book reader?

Alice Maggio / Comments (3)

Ink Tue Mar 18 2008


What do you do with books you no longer want to keep? Resell, donate or toss?

Alice Maggio / Comments (10)

Ink Tue Feb 26 2008


Who is your favorite mystery author?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Tue Feb 12 2008

Used Books

What is your favorite used bookstore?

Alice Maggio / Comments (4)

Ink Tue Jan 29 2008

Library Users

Do you have a library card?

Alice Maggio / Comments (8)

Ink Tue Jan 15 2008

Poetic Forms

What poetic form are you?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Tue Jan 01 2008

Best Book of 2007

What is your pick for “best book of 2007”?

Alice Maggio / Comments (4)

Ink Wed Dec 05 2007

Gift Books

What is your favorite book that you received as a gift?

Alice Maggio / Comments (3)

Ink Tue Nov 13 2007


What book have you been recommending lately?

Alice Maggio / Comments (9)

Ink Tue Oct 30 2007

Do You NaNoWriMo?

Show of hands: Are there any NaNoWriMo participants among our book club members?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Tue Oct 16 2007

Favorite Reading Spot

Where is your favorite place to read?

Alice Maggio / Comments (8)

Ink Tue Oct 02 2007

Favorite Bad Guy

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Alice Maggio / Comments (6)

Ink Tue Sep 18 2007

Faking Reading

Have you ever lied about reading/finishing a book? Which book and why?

Alice Maggio / Comments (4)

Ink Tue Sep 04 2007

Sitting and Reading

Have you ever read an entire book in one sitting?

Alice Maggio / Comments (14)

Ink Tue Aug 21 2007

The Book Pile

So, what's on your "to-read" pile these days?

Alice Maggio / Comments (6)

Ink Tue Aug 07 2007

Worst Movies

What was the worst movie adaptation of a book?

Alice Maggio / Comments (7)

Ink Thu Jul 26 2007

Other Reading

What do you like to read besides books?

Alice Maggio / Comments (6)

Ink Tue Jul 17 2007


Are planning to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

Alice Maggio / Comments (4)

Ink Thu Jul 05 2007

Listening to Books

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Alice Maggio / Comments (7)

Ink Mon Jun 18 2007

Bathroom Books

Do you keep reading material in the bathroom? If so, what?

Alice Maggio / Comments (8)

Ink Mon Jun 11 2007


What is your favorite cookbook?

Alice Maggio / Comments (3)

Ink Mon May 21 2007

Childhood Reading

What books have you had since you were a kid?

Alice Maggio / Comments (7)

Ink Mon May 14 2007

Author Love

What writer have you been loving lately?

Alice Maggio / Comments (5)

Ink Sat May 05 2007

Funny Books

What is the funniest book you have ever read?

Alice Maggio / Comments (3)

Ink Wed Apr 11 2007

Book of Me

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Alice Maggio / Comments (5)

Ink Tue Apr 03 2007

Browsing Habits

How often do you visit a library or bookstore?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

Ink Sun Mar 11 2007

Confession Time

Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it? If so, what book?

Alice Maggio / Comments (5)

Ink Sun Feb 25 2007

Unread Books

What books are on your to-read pile right now?

Alice Maggio / Comments (7)

Ink Sun Feb 11 2007

Book Club: Next Round of Books

Help pick our next books. What you do want to read next?

Naz Hamid / Comments (3)

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Gapers Block presents Tuesday Funk, Chicago's ecclectic monthly reading series.
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About GB Book Club

Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

Editor: Andrew Huff,
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