Comix Revolution offers oasis for comic book lovers


Madison Smith/Daily Senior Staffer

Comix Revolution is home to over 2,000 graphic novels, comic-related merchandise, plush animals, books and more. The Evanston location and company celebrate their 21st and 25th anniversary, respectively, this year.

Elena Hubert, Reporter

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but at Comix Revolution, you don’t have to choose between the two. In just two rooms, the Davis Street storefront houses over 2,000 graphic novels.

Comix Revolution president Jim Mortensen (Weinberg ’94) established the chain’s first location in 1996 after taking over the former Mount Prospect location of Moondog’s comic store. Four years later, he opened the Evanston location. 

While attending Northwestern, Mortensen was a weekly customer at local comic store Comic Relief. The store closed down a few years after he graduated. Mortensen tried to apply to take over the lease, but his request was denied. He eventually found a space on Davis Street — previously occupied by Reckless Records — and opened Comix Revolution.

“There were some areas of literature and art (in Evanston) that could be supported a little bit more and that weren’t being represented in the area,” Mortensen said.

Sales associate Frank Rodriguez said getting into reading comics can be daunting due to the vast number of series and issues. Batman’s origin series “Detective Comics,” for example, celebrated Issue 1000 in 2019. He said it can be stressful when readers feel compelled to catch up from the beginning.

However, Rodriguez said store employees can be a helpful resource for newcomers by offering recommendations for beginners. There are comics to match a variety of different styles and interests, he said. 

“The medium is flooded with talent currently,” Rodriguez said. “So there’s something out there for you, you just got to crack open a book.” 

Alongside comics, the store sells books, apparel and trading cards. Plush animals, though, are the store’s top sellers. Most customers are local office workers and families, he added.

Lincolnwood resident Simon Iyassu said he visits Comix Revolution for the nostalgic value of the comics. A “Calvin and Hobbes” fan since childhood, he drops by the store to browse their selection whenever he’s in Evanston, even though he has the entire collection at home.

“Stopping in, it goes from like five minutes to an hour,” Iyassu said. “I’ll be here all day if I really wanted to.” 

Comix Revolution is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its first store in Mt. Prospect this year by selling a craft hot sauce called “Mort Aux Vaches,” or “Death to Cows,” a nod to Mortensen’s name. Evanston-based Awe-Sauce Hot Sauces crafted the sauce.

Comix Revolution sales associate Frank Rodriguez holds a bottle of craft hot sauce commemorating the company’s 25th anniversary. The bottle reads “Mort Aux Vaches” (Death to Cows), with “Mort” being a nod to president Jim Mortensen’s name.
Comix Revolution is selling commemorative hot sauce to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary. Called “Mort Aux Vaches” or “Death to Cows,” the sauce is crafted by local company Awe-Sauce Hot Sauces. The “Mort” in the sauce’s name is a reference to the company’s president,, Jim Mortensen. (Elena Hubert/The Daily Northwestern )

Mortensen said he was looking for a commemorative item more unique than “another coffee mug or tote bag.” He frequently outsources store merchandise and graphics to local artisans, saying he values creative freedom.

“We’ve had good luck with that because there are a lot of really great creators out there, great artists whose imaginations are far better than mine,” Mortensen said. “It seems weird that a business person would tell a creative person what to do.”

Comix Revolution also devotes a section of comics to local up-and-comers, which Mortensen said has seen increased customer interest.

Notable comic artists have called Evanston home, including 2019 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Lynda Barry and “Dick Tracy” author Chester Gould (Kellogg 1923) during his time at Northwestern.

To Mortensen, connecting with local creators, customers and the Evanston community adds value to the business. 

“I hopefully have provided some art and some philosophy and some political ideas into Evanston that may not otherwise have been experienced,” he said. “We’ve got customers who I’ve now known for 20 plus years, and those connections are much more valuable to me than making money at the end of the day.”

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Twitter: @elenahubert25

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