Not many people think of comic books when they think of the various forms of literature. I know because I will be the first to admit I, for more years than I care to admit, thought comic books were little more than dudes in capes and tights flying around and kicking butt. That’s all well and good, but if I want to see dudes in tights, I’m far more likely to go to the ballet, truth be told. So it goes.
Then, I got schooled. Or so I thought. Maybe a decade ago, I was
introduced to a few zombie apocalypse sort of comics, read maybe a few
old copies of something like Tank Girl and finally got around to reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
But, still. Though Maus seems to come dangerously close, comics weren’t really literary
in my mind, must less journalistic or historical. Until that is, I met
local human comic encyclopedia, Terry “Doc Midnight” Gant, enthusiastic
owner of Third Coast Comics
in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. I spent an afternoon hanging out
with Terry in his colorful and inviting shop recently and I, Amy Guth,
have now been schooled to the literary, journalistic and historical
ways of the comic book.
As I walked in the shop, my eyes fell first upon a heavy artfully-fashioned copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, illustrated by Ben Templesmith. The book was gorgeous. Gorgeous. From there, Gant showed me a copy of Safe Area Gorade by Joe Sacco, a journalistic comic book about the Bosnian War. Okay, clearly this
was way beyond capes and tights. From there, Gant brought me across the
shop to his small press and independent comics section, where I found a
graphic adaptation of Studs Terkel’s Working, and one of Great Expectations. Whoa.
Gant went on to share his considerable wealth on information about Manga‘s giants including Osamu Tezuka, Naoki Urasawa and Yosihiro Tatsumi, then Trojan War: The Age of Bronze on comic form, genre fiction like Queen & Country,
before we settled in to talk a long while about small and local comic
presses as he showed me his entire shelf display devoted to promoting
Chicago comics writers and artists including Lilli Crane, Jessica Abel, Ivan Brunetti, Brian Azzarello and Chris Ware.
Saturday, August 15th, Third Coast Comics celebrates its one-year
anniversary and to help celebrate, famed gothic comics artist, Ben
Templesmith will be in the shop signing copies of his highly-acclaimed
work from 2-6pm, to be followed by meet-n-greet in the shop’s back
courtyard. Find Third Coast Comics at 6234 N. Broadway in Chicago.
a Chicago native, bought his first comic book, The Uncanny Men, for
twenty-five cents at age 7 and now boats a personal collection of over
30,000 comics, says, “This year has beaten my previously chosen
potential occupations of astronaut, pro wrestler or heavy metal