Challengers Comics celebrates Women’s Comics Month

By Anika Chamberlain

Artist Isabella Rotman’s bright blue hair was visible through the vinyl mural of superheroes and advertisements that decorates the front window of Challenger’s Comics in Bucktown March 3, while she sat behind a table, displaying her zines, stickers and pins.

Rotman and independent cartoonist Rachel Bard were invited for an afternoon of tabling, or personally exhibiting and selling their own work in honor of Women’s Comic Month.

“Just having creators here on weekends tabling is really cool,” Rotman said. “[It] gives us an awesome chance to connect with people who might not go to other events where we’d see them.” 

One of Rotman’s zines, “Not On My Watch: The Bystander’s Handbook for the Prevention of Sexual Violence,” is distributed to college students at a handful of schools, including Columbia. 

This is the second consecutive year that Challenger’s, 1845 N. Western Ave., has invited women and nonbinary comic creators to display and sell their work in-store every weekend throughout the month of March. 

Co-owner W. Dal Bush said he decided to use Challenger’s to give those creators a space to pedal their artwork because he thought women’s voices were being “diminished” in wake of the 2016 presidential election.

“There’s so many outstanding female and nonbinary creators in Chicago,” Bush said. “We just decided, let’s try to make a statement in March and really show how great all these creators are.” 

Rotman and Bard are both self-published, but that goes beyond independent creationIt also calls for marketing and sales.

“I draw them, I do all the files, I do all the printing at my house. I bought a printer, so I even do that by myself now,” Bard said. “I assemble everything and distribute it to bookstores, and at shows.” 

Ashly Powley, who has worked at Challenger’s for almost 9 years, thinks the diverse subjects attract new readers who may not identify with mainstream comics.

“There’s definitely been a shift for younger readers and all ages, and it’s also not strictly male dominant, driven or created,” Powley said. 

Challenger’s will be hosting different women and nonbinary creators every Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the month, according to the store’s website, and hopes to continue hosting Women’s Comics Month in the years to come.