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A Rogues Gallery Of Fine (Comic Book) Art

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 12, 2011 8:00PM

2011_016thGun.jpg Last November, Challengers Comics opened Rogues Gallery, an art gallery just for comics. Each installation highlights the work and illustrations of one comic book artist. This weekend, the gallery is unveiling a new show, The Sixth Gun, a supernatural western that references the Civil War. Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt will be this weekend’s opening, signing and discussion. Challengers is also selling collection of the first series issues of The Sixth Gun.

Owners Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush have had the vision for a comic art gallery ever since they opened Challengers Comics + Conversation almost three years ago, even though such a gallery wouldn’t bring in revenue. Now that Challengers is an established comic books destination in Chicago, and the owners were able to negotiate a lease for an open space next to the store, Brower and Bush were finally able to open the gallery.

“When you see the full size, and when you see the actual brush strokes and the pen lines carving their way into the surface of the paper, you see the work that goes into it,” said Brower when he explained how a gallery could add to viewers’ understanding and appreciation of comic book art. Furthermore, he pointed out that comic books are one of the few art forms created by Americans. While many countries celebrate comic book art, Americans rarely do.

Any sales from Rogues Gallery go to the artist, so Challengers tries to bring in artists who have a product launching at the same time as their show. Brower also speaks highly of artist Brian Hurtt’s technique. “Comic book art is penciling, inking and coloring. It’s rare to find someone who does all three of those things, but he gets it done,” Brower said. “He’s very expressive without being completely technical. He can draw this elaborate opera house, but not have to draw every single detail because he can abbreviate it so your mind fills in the rest. He lets you know what should be there without having to show everything.” In The Sixth Gun, you’ll find pistols of otherworldly power, the awakening of dark forces by an innocent girl and her protector, a gunfighter with a shadowy past.