0%

Studio Card #2

Introducing Back of the Yards!
What With this Studio Card #2 overview, we introduce you to our first Comic story series, Back of the Yards!, a story about young man in the West Side of Chicago that has what he believes to be a supernatural encounter and his subsequent journey to understand what is real and what isn't within his neighborhood - the Back of the Yards!
When We will examine past, present and future states of these neighborhoods in attempt to gain a better understanding of how these neighborhoods originally developed and evolved through the years.developed in collaboration with participating youth from the West Side of Chicago.
Who As part of this collaborative series, we will also examine the residents of these neighborhoods, including early immigrants to present day inhabitants, and their corresponding influence and impact to our urban communities.
Why In order to more fully understand some of the complexities of our urban centers, we must understand their neighborhoods, including the evolution of those neighborhoods and their residents. And, of course, we plan to incorporate some of these related themes into our ongoing comic series, Back of the Yards, with your collaborations.

A Quick Introduction

It doesn’t get more real than Back of the Yards, on the South Side of Chicago, when you’re growing up as a teen. It’s where fantasy and the power of story can build resilience, foster healing and lead to greater understanding. Based on the stories and experiences of real urban youth, the Made Collaborative Studio presents Back of the Yards, a story of gritty truth that’s beyond your wildest dreams.

A fictionalized version of the real Back of the Yards neighborhood serves as setting for the eponymous comic book series. Likewise, the stories and the characters themselves are based on the real lives and musings of Chicago youth. These stories were first conceived by students attending an after school arts program. They were collected by our main man, Jimmy Briseno, during Made Collaborative’s first round of urban outreach to inner-city schools. Jimmy had the bright idea to elevate these kids’ ideas in a way that few had contemplated before. By bringing professional comics artists and writers into the creative process, Jimmy hoped to validate the kids’ stories and experiences by weaving them together as the narrative threads of a real comic book series.

The result is a collaborative effort between artists and youth. It is the stuff of Back of the Yards’ first story arc: “Just Dreamin’.” But how, exactly, do kids’ ideas become comics pages? Read on.

 

First, A Prologue & Comic Series Origin Story

Before we jump into the actual development and related overview of the Back of the Yards comic series, we thought we’d start with a quick peak into how all of this first came about even prior to the comic itself – and be sure to expand to full screen (lower right hand corner within the window below) for the best reading experience… 

Back of the Yards Comic - The Early Development Process

By Len Kody

The magic of creativity begins with inspiration but it can only be sustained by unwavering dedication and tireless grinding. Project founder, Jimmy Briseno, has since recruited others to grind with him on the Made Collaborative journey (and we’re so glad he did!) but the journey began with him, all by himself, in front of a room full of kids all waiting for what he was going to say next.

It took a little coaxing, at first, to get things started, but once the kids caught the storytelling bug they were off and running. It only made sense to bring a small team of artists into the collaborative process to add greater depth and legitimacy to all that Jimmy had documented from his afterschool creative sessions with the youth.

Together—Jimmy, the artists and the youth—had refined and expanded upon a number of narrative threads. All of them fresh, original ideas from the kids, based on their lives and heightened by their favorite pop culture. Jimmy and his collaborators had compiled a “series bible,” of sorts, with model sheets, storyboards, descriptions of plot and characters. There were even some preliminary scripts that Jimmy had worked out with the youth.

It all amounted to the ingredients of a great comic book story. It had elements of romance, adventure and that all-too-elusive authenticity that came straight from the kids.But it wasn’t a comic book yet. Only the ingredients of one.

Telling a Story About Telling a Story

The first round of collaborations had produced a wide variety of narrative content. Which was wonderful. That’s exactly what the kids had been encouraged to do: tell whatever story they felt was worth telling. But it also presented a challenge in bringing all the disparate elements together into a harmonious whole. That was the challenge presented to the comics production team seeking to make “Back of Yards’” very much a reality.

An anthology of disconnected storylines would have been easier, but not nearly as engaging. We, on the comics production team, were inspired. We were inspired by the kids’ authentic, original stories and driven to produce something worthy of their courage. Because it takes courage to nurture the creative impulse and make something new in Chicago’s harsh urban environment. We wanted to reach a little higher.

But how?

Eureka!

We’d frame the Back of the Yards series in a context that mimics the one in which it was created! (Are you still with me?) In other words, the teenaged characters in kids’ stories would all go to the same school. And they would all be familiar with each other, too, because they are all part of the same afterschool arts program led by the same mysterious facilitator.

Introducing Carl Castaneda!

Presenting the comic book this way created two opportunities for the production team. First, it allowed us to incorporate elements of Made Collaborative’s amazing genesis into the comic itself. Because, as fascinating as the kids’ stories are, just as appealing is the story behind the story. That is, the story of the kids who created the stories.

On a deeper level, structuring Back of the Yards in this way forced the production team to search for the common themes influencing all the kids’ stories. They were by no means obvious. The stories ranged from heart-wrenchingly real to mind-blowingly fantastic. But the search, indeed, bore fruit, and it led us a journey starting on the Southside of Chicago and taking us to places beyond space and time.

So, how does a story of young love and betrayal connect to a story of secret chiefs from a higher dimension? How do the video game fantasies of two young cousins play into it? And how is the magic of creativity and storytelling somehow responsible?

Read on! …

 

Introducing Andre Davis! - A Young Man With Big Ideas

Andre is based on an intelligent and charismatic young man from Phase One of Made Collaborative’s youth outreach, and hence, he takes the lead role in our initial story arc of the Back of the Yards comic. Like the Chicago youth who inspired him, he is a curious and creative character, inclined to question, rather than take things at face value.

Andre finds himself the recipient of mysterious superpowers as a result of an amazing encounter with one of the inscrutable secret chiefs of all space and time. He learns that he has a certain mastery over the strange world that we all go to when we dream.

“You can make your dreams real,” he is told.

But, does that mastery carry over into the waking world, too? 

Moreover, what would Andre do with that kind of power?

In the dream dimension, Andre’s formidable intellect is given regal form when his whole essence is enhanced to resemble a lion-themed superhero with heightened powers of strength, agility and perception.

The question posed by the Back of the Yards comic story arc is whether Andre’s superhero adventures are simply an escapist power fantasy or a representation of his highest, truest self.  

And that’s just the start of the tale as Andre’s story will ultimately become intertwined with Tamia’s story of first love and betrayal …  

And Our Comic’s Heroine Tamia Parker! - A Story of Betrayal & Empowerment

The Back of the Yards comic character of Tamia Parker was also inspired from the first round of youth collaborations in the West Side of Chicago.  During those initial collaborations, Jimmy Briseno met with a number of youth who shared initial ideas for comic characters and storylines.  One of those youth was a young African American girl from that West-Side neighborhood.

Tamia’s story is surely relatable, but it’s also based on the true-life experiences reported to us by participating urban youth. And, like many of the kids in our program, Tamia turns to creativity as both an outlet and an escape from her daily struggles. She is an avid artist and journaler. Her perspective gives the story emotional depth and balance.

Tamia is a powerful young woman still in search of her voice. Will she ever realize the heights of her potential or will she continue to be stifled by those who seek to take advantage of her?

In the dream dimension, Tamia’s efforts to find her own voice are personified by a tiny fairy with a siren call that reaches beyond the boundaries of linear time. Her potential is great, but still not fully realized, as the fairy form she inhabits is small, undeveloped and not yet a true agent in her own destiny. 

She has a special relationship with Russell, who can summon her for help when both of them are dreaming. The depth and the nature of this creative connection is yet to be explored in the pages of Back of the Yards. 

 

The Young Cousins - Russell & Draymond!

Cousins Russell and Draymond share a fraternal bond that is cemented by the fantastic world they both share. It’s a world inspired by the manga and video games so popular in today’s youth culture. The stories they create make them feel powerful when they are so often made to feel powerless by neighborhood bullies and other stressors.

Many of our Phase One participating youth had similarly intricate imaginary worlds, worlds they would create with others. Made Collaborative has provided a structured outlet for these stories and we’ve developed them into real comic books with the help of professional artists and writers.  

In the dream dimension, Russell and Draymond are Teshue and Shiro, powerful ninjas forever locked in mortal combat. They collaborate on an intricate storyline that incorporates both elements of the real world and the dream dimension. Their imagination is powerful, but, unlike Andre’s abilities, their shared narrative is not yet “self-aware” enough to have evolved beyond the potential for escape.

Give them time. They’re still young. 

Interestingly, Teshue, Russell’s alter ego, is capable of summoning Tamia’s fairy from for assistance. But the process is difficult for Russell to master. And since the fairy has a developing will of her own, she isn’t always helpful to Russell. At not helpful in ways that are immediately obvious. 

The Mysterious Lynchpin that Connects Them All - Mr. Carl Castaneda!

And as we previously described, to tie all of the youth characters together as part of a common comic story narrative, we developed the character of Carl Castaneda.

Mr. Castaneda, that is.

Mr. Castañeda has the poise and bearing of a seasoned teacher. 

But nobody knows who he is. Mr. Castañeda may or may not be a real teacher, but his afterschool arts program is ardently attended by those in the know. Their regular meetings in Room 23 are no secret, nor are they what one would call common knowledge. By all appearances, Mr. Castañeda handpicks young people of promise and extends them a personal invitation.

His recruitment efforts have been fruitful. Tamia and Russell are both already in the program. Andre was recently invited.  And from there, a special bond between Andre and Mr. Castaneda begins formation from which we will build through future collaborations with participating youth.

And Last But Certainly Not Least, the Bedrock of the Neighborhood - The Elders!

And last but certainly not least, central to the Back of the Yards comic narrative are the Elders.  Created by Jimmy Briseno and Len Kody to help provide further context for both the fictional Back of the Yards fictional neighborhood and the younger comic characters, the Elders are 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, 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 pageantry. 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.

 

Read Issue #1!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Let’s Collaborate!

Table of Contents

Related Studio Cards

Character
Cards

Who is…
Peaches?

Studio Card #11

QR Code for Studio Card #11
Summary Traits
For now, known only by his nickname, “Peaches,” he is one of the neighborhood’s “Elders” who observe and comment upon the activities of the younger folks. Peaches backstory is rich, deep and yet-to-be revealed!
Core Personality Traits & Values
Peaches is the dignified moral compass the Elders. Even though he is very much a realist, Peaches tends to see the best in people and he encourages them toward a righteous path.
Primary Archetype
The Mentor
Motto
“Though our destiny is now our own, our search for that destiny has only just begun.”
Collaboration Background
Peaches was developed by Jimmy Briseno and Len Kody as part of the initial Issue 1 scripting process.
Debut
Issue #1 of the Back of the Yards comic series
Read more
Source
Cards

A Map of The
Hero’s Journey

Source Card #7

QR Code for Source Card #7
What
With this inaugural Made Collaborative Studio Card production we introduce you to, well, the Made Collaborative Studio and with that, we take a quick glimpse of the early origins of this project.
When
The Made Collaborative Studio began as a modest grass roots project started by a ragtag group of participating artists in Chicago and was designed to provide a unique collaborative opportunity for after school programs and participating youth from our urban communities.
Who
This Made Collaborative Studio project technically started over 10 years ago as only a kernel of an idea in the mind of the project’s founder on one of his many bus rides home and through much trial and error over the years, evolved into the Made Collaborative Studio virtual model that exists today.
Why
The Made Collaborative Studio was created to help promote creative thought and provide a unique (and free) collaborative experience for afterschool programs and participating youth alike.
Read more
Character
Cards

Who is…
Big Earl?

Studio Card #12

QR Code for Studio Card #12
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
Read more
Character
Cards

Who is…
Carl Castaneda?

Studio Card #8

QR Code for Studio Card #8
Summary Traits
Mr. Castañeda is a mysterious teacher and mentor who guides our main characters on their road to realization. Glimpses at his own foggy past reveal that he embarked on a similar journey long ago.
Core Personality Traits & Values
He clearly knows more than what he is saying, but the best teachers do not give they answers but merely point the way.
Primary Archetype
The Mentor
Motto
“Your dreams are part of the same primal energy that brings all existence into being!”
Collaboration Background
Mr. Castañeda is a character developed by Len Kody. He is a way of tying the various narratives and characters created by the first wave of participating youth as part of an after school program in the West-Side of Chicago.
Debut
Issue #2 of the Back of the Yards comic series
Read more
Character
Cards

Who is…
Andre Davis?

Studio Card #3

QR Code for Studio Card #3
Summary Traits
Andre is a young African American high school youth who suddenly obtains god-like superpowers through an encounter he has in an alley within his Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Core Personality Traits & Values
Andre is bright, inquisitive and self-reliant, always searching for the truth and a greater understanding of himself and others … but he may also be susceptible to the trappings of his newfound power …
Archetype
The Hero
Motto
“To dare is to do.”
Collaboration Background
Andre’s character was initially developed during the original Made Collaborative in-person classroom collaborations with youth in the fall and winter of 2013, as part of an after school program in the West-Side of Chicago.
Debut
Issue #1 of the Back of the Yards comic series
Read more
Character
Cards

Who is…
Dex?

Studio Card #10

QR Code for Studio Card #10
Summary Traits
Dexter Coleman, or “Dex,” is one of the last of a previous generation of neighborhood troublemakers who are alive and not in prison. He’s gone (mostly) straight in his older years, trying his best to make amends for the bad deeds of his youth.
Core Personality Traits & Values
Dex is a wisecracker, a sharp dresser and a straight talker. Even though his moral compass has evolved over the years into that of a respectable citizen of Back of the Yards, he’s still known to indulge in a few vices.
Primary Archetype
The Rebel
Motto
“I ain’t got time for dreamin’. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Collaboration Background
Dex was developed by Jimmy Briseno and Len Kody as part of the initial Issue 1 scripting process.
Debut
Issue #1 of the Back of the Yards comic series
Read more
Action
Cards

And Action!
Create a Hero’s Journey

Action Card #3: Create A Hero’s Journey!

QR Code for Action Card #3: Create A Hero’s Journey!
Collaboration Summary
Action Card #3 will challenge you develop your own Hero Journey storylines (based on concepts developed by Joseph Campbell) which you can use for own creative projects. You can also submit your Hero Journey storylines to us if you would like us to help further develop your ideas, and in some instances, include those storylines as part of Back of the Yards comic series.
Collaboration Background
At the heart of our project’s collaborative is the creation of Hero's Journey storylines. This all started as part of a supplemental art program in the West Side of Chicago where participating youth would help create the original characters of the Back of the Yards comic series, and with that, independent storylines for those characters, which we then synthesized into one integrated comic storyline. With this collaboration, we are simply trying to extend this same collaborative opportunity to others virtually.
This & That
Action Card cover illustrated by Andrew Dimmett. Content developed by Jimmy Briseno, Len Kody and … you? Learn more on how by linking to the QR Code above.
Read more
Source
Cards

Carl Jung’s
Character Archetypes

Studio Card #4

QR Code for Studio Card #4
What
This Studio Card production features Carl Jung’s Archetypes of the Unconscious Mind. This Studio Card sets forth the 12 primary character archetypes.
When
These 12 character archetypes can be used by participating youth for their own independent collaborations, just as they have been used by others throughout the course of time, from the ancient Greek plays to modern day Star Wars trilogies.
Who
These character archetypes are important to understand because unlike character stereotypes, which are superficial generic generalizations, archetypes are said to have been deduced through the development of storytelling over tens of thousands of years, indicating repeating patterns of individual and group experience.
Why
Character Archetypes can help one gain a better understanding and development of literary characters and stories for not only our Made Collaborative comic publications, but also independent collaborations of any participating youth and others.
Read more
Source
Cards

Law Enforcement
And Community Relations 

Source Card #13

QR Code for Source Card #13
What
This collaborative series is a peek into the issues facing law enforcement and community relations within our urban communities.
When
We will begin Part I of this collaborative series with a snapshot of the early origins of modern day policing, setting the stage for a deeper dive into the present day issues in Part II of this series.
Who
This Source Card overview begins with a look at a man named Robert Peel who may not be a household name to many of us, but as it turns out, in many ways he may well be the founding father of today’s modern day police force as we know it.
Why
To facilitate a collaborative process that promotes just a little more understanding from all sides on a complicated set of issues facing our country’s urban centers. And along the way, with your help and input, incorporate some of these themes and issues into our Back of the Yards comic series.
Read more
Source
Cards

Law Enforcement
And Community Relations

Source Card #5: Law Enforcement and Community Relations

QR Code for Source Card #5: Law Enforcement and Community Relations
What
This collaborative series is a peek into the issues facing law enforcement and community relations within our urban communities.
When
We will begin Part I of this collaborative series with a snapshot of the early origins of modern day policing, setting the stage for a deeper dive into the present day issues in Part II of this series.
Who
This Source Card overview begins with a look at a man named Robert Peel who may not be a household name to many of us, but as it turns out, in many ways he may well be the founding father of today’s modern day police force as we know it.
Why
To facilitate a collaborative process that promotes just a little more understanding from all sides on a complicated set of issues facing our country’s urban centers. And along the way, with your help and input, incorporate some of these themes and issues into our Back of the Yards comic series.
Read more

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.

UPLOAD YOUR IMAGES BELOW