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Playing up the secret hideout angle is only one of Alleycat Comics' many charms.

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Tucked Back in an Andersonville alley, Alleycat Comics isn't the easiest spot to find—but that hasn't stopped curious passersby from filling the store. "I thought it was such a neat idea that people would have to walk to a secret hidden store, and it seems to keep drawing people," says co-owner Selene Gill.

The inspiration to open Alleycat was born from Gill's struggles to navigate through her husband Nick's large comic-book collection, which occupied a good part of their small apartment. And it came to an ultimatum: get rid of everything or open a store. In May of 2011 Nick made his decision, and Alleycat found a home on the corner of Clark and Berwyn. The couple essentially built their store from scratch in an old garage previously used for fixing and storing old cars; they created new walls and leveled out the floor, but kept the glass-plated garage door as its storefront.

To help foster the growth of the Alleycat community, Gill incorporates her own interests into free activites. Along with wall-to-wall comic books and graphic novels, there are screenings of horror films once a week, game nights three times a week (frequently including role-playing games amusements like Magic the Gathering or Settlers of Catan), and a monthly karaoke night (a personal favorite of Gill's).

Beyond just selling comics, Gill hopes to create a safe place for their neighbors to hang out. "We're just a spot for people to feel comfortable," Gill says. "They can be whoever they want to be."

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