Club LaRay by Edie Fake
Club LaRay by Edie Fake Credit: Courtesy Secret Acres

Edie Fake is a one-person comics locus. He works at Quimby’s, the city’s alt comics hub, and he’s one of the forces behind the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, which holds its second annual convention from May 31 through June 1.

The trans artist’s latest project is about community—specifically, the queer community. In the recently released book Memory Palaces, Fake offers a stunning series of illustrated reimaginings of spots from Chicago’s LGBTQ history: bars, bathhouses, bookstores, clinics, venues. He turns each into intensely patterned, luminous 2-D facades, some of which Thomas Robertello Gallery exhibited last year for Fake’s first solo show in Chicago.

One of the more demure pieces, Blazing Star, which takes its name from an old Chicago lesbian organization, actually looks like a building, with red brickwork, a portcullis window, and the eponymous star on the door. Other images abandon architectural pretense, existing as shimmering designs that invite you not so much into a particular structure as into Fake’s brain, as if community and consciousness were inextricable.

Fake’s work, like that of the comic artist Gaylord Phoenix, has always dealt with the malleability and interpenetrability of gender, and Memory Palaces, with its focus on queer spaces, is no exception. The bright colors and intricate line work make his images appear computer generated, suggesting the traditionally male sphere of video games. At the same time, the meticulous detail and patterning evoke traditionally female crafts such as quilting. The result isn’t ungendered so much as a celebration of how gender can be a part of community in multiple and dazzling ways. Memory Palaces turns the landscape of Chicago into a dream of wonder and love, where everyone is welcome.