LA GRANGE — If you love comic books and think the greatest job in the world would be owning a comic book store, a golden opportunity may have just come your way from the owner of Chimera Comics in La Grange.
Carmelo Chimera plans to give his other store at 4915 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn, to the person who submits the best essay — in 500 words or less — on what makes a great comic book store.
"This could be a life-changing opportunity for one person," Chimera said. "But it can also be an inspiration for many others."
Essays will be accepted until Feb. 28, or until he receives 500 essays, although he's shooting for 2,000.
The limit was set to get a representative sampling of people genuinely interested in comics, discourage competitors from stacking the deck with their employees submitting essays and assure people that the contest is real.
"I don't want people thinking this is just some sort of scam, or that I'm just trying to get rid of my debts," Chimera said.
Indeed, the $25 application fee will go toward settling all of the store's open accounts and the giveaway will include the available inventory.
"I want people who are really interested," Chimera said. "I'm looking for passion, I'm looking for creativity, and I'm looking for a work ethic. There is a lot of hard work running a small business."
He also stressed that the winner being based on merit made the contest more than just an ordinary raffle or game of chance.
Chimera, 29, was born and raised in Oak Lawn and graduated from Brother Rice High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., and went on to get a law degree from the University of Chicago.
The Chicago resident practices law in downtown Chicago, and operates the chain's flagship store at 19 S. La Grange Road in addition to the Oak Lawn store. He previously operated a Chimera Comics in Woodridge.
And even though the married Chimera has yet to start a family, he increasingly found that the work load was a little too heavy.
"Part of this is that it's really hard to reconcile the businesses with my work," he said. "I'm spread too thin."
Chimera is also making his own contribution to literature, recently publishing his first graphic novel, "Magnificent" available at the store's web site, chimerascomics.com.
For the uninitiated, a graphic novel is essentially an longer, extended comic book. Some are a combination of comic books made into one offering, while Chimera's work is one continuous story, coming in at at about 90 pages and telling the coming of age story of a Chicago superhero.
Chimera doesn't plan to become a full-time artist, as the pressure to make money off his writing would inevitably affect the quality of the work.
"I don't think it's something I would want to do full time," he said. "You want to do quality work, not just quantity."