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Studio Card #12

Who is ...
Big Earl?
Summary Traits Big Earl is a big man with a big heart. Beloved by all in the neighborhood, everybody knows his name and has heard a story or two about this gentle giant.
Core Personality Traits & Values Earl was the neighborhood football hero before an injury pushed him to the sidelines. And undiagnosed dyslexia prevented him for excelling in school. But Earl’s kind soul and balanced nature granted him resilience through life’s toughest struggles.
Primary Archetype The Everyman
Motto “If I didn’t get hurt, then I would never have found me.”
Collaboration Background Big Earl was developed by Jimmy Briseno and Len Kody in 2015 as part of the initial Issue 1 scripting process.
Debut Issue #1 of the Back of the Yards comic series

Quick Introduction

The Funky Finger of Fate

Three wise-cracking wise guys man a permanent post around a pickle barrel in front of Kozlow’s General Store. They are Peaches, Dex and Big Earl. Although these distinguished gentlemen of the neighborhood are officially retired from whatever eclectic ventures kept them occupied (and mostly out of trouble) in their storied youth, the Elders, as we call them, continue to serve an important purpose in their community—and in our story!   

The intertwining threads of fate in Back of the Yards all intersect at the Elders’ humble pickle barrel, believe it or not. In ancient mythology, the Fates weren’t just observers and commentators but also tailors in life’s grand tapestry. Similarly, Peaches, Dex and Earl color the happenings of their Southside Chicago block with their piercing insight and cutting humor. They provide context, gravitas and perspective, reminding the reader and our younger characters that the world is big and history is long. 

How did Earl endure?

Before he packed on the pounds, Earl was towering 6’5” of solid muscle. He matured early, physically. But his otherwise brilliant brain is burdened by a severe case of dyslexia, which meant he would always struggle in his studies. Because of his large size and kind nature, Earl stood up to the local bullies. So, the other kids all pitched in to help him pass his classes. Thanks to their help, he remained eligible to play high school football.  

On the field, Earl was a champion. 

As an adult Earl, avoided the temptation to become muscle for the various Chicago criminal outfits. He tried to become a cop or a firefighter, but his reading and writing difficulties held him back once again. He couldn’t pass the entrance exams. 

Earl settled for a career in security, a position in which he excelled, until that fateful night…

The Everyman

Following his injury, Earl’s once-unstoppable metabolism slowed down. It became difficult for him to fight his weight. So, his old high school nickname, “Big Earl,” took on new meaning.  

Recovery was difficult for Earl, but he’s not bitter. His peace doesn’t come from ignorance or blind optimism but from deep understanding.

Earl’s journey of the Everyman is one that has taught him acceptance. Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you get knocked down. Usually, life is pretty unfair. But, as long as you do right by your friends and loved ones, that’s all that really matters when the grim reaper comes a-calling!

Let’s Collaborate!

A Straight and Narrow Path

In the early 1960’s, Big Earl Perkins felt like life was passing him by. 

 
It’s been a couple of years since he graduated high school, and all the promise of college football heroics have been dashed due to an unfortunate varsity injury. So, rather than go off to university, Earl stays in the neighborhood, stays out of trouble as best he can, and he tries to make a little money working security for a tow truck company.

Sometimes Trouble Finds You

But trouble has a way of finding you in Back of the Yards, especially when there’s a power struggle about to take place in the Southside of Chicago’s criminal underworld. The policy racket has been a long-established (if illegal) institution in the Black community. But now, the Italian mafia is seizing control of the racket. They’re upping the ante and raising the stakes. Alliances shift and bloody gang warfare breaks out.
 
Earl tries to walk the straight and narrow. But one dark and stormy night, Big Earl gets a call to back up a repo man for a job in a dangerous side of town… 

Let’s Collaborate!

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Submit Your Artwork

Collaborate with professional artists by contributing some artwork of your own! Some special pieces may be selected to appear in the Back of the Yards comic book.

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