Len Kody was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, not far from the real Back of the Yards neighborhood. He was 8 years old when his late mother bought him Marvel Tales #227 off the spinner rack at a 7-Eleven. It was a Spider-Man story written by Stan Lee with Todd McFarlane art on the cover.
The comic’s action-packed interior illustrations and Stan Lee’s wise-cracking dialog immediately captivated young Len Kody. It changed the course of his life forever.
How does one become a comic book writer when they grow up? Len didn’t know. But he knew that was what he wanted.
Through determination and quite a bit of good luck, Len actually snagged his first professional writing gig before graduating high school. He continued pursuing comics work during and after college. He partnered with a number of local Chicago-area artists, plugged into a nationwide community of creators and, eventually, Len independently produced some work of his own.
It was by way of Chicago’s community of comic creators that Len crossed paths with Jimmy Briseno, founder of the Made Collaborative project. The two met for coffee in Logan Square during what turned out to be Len’s final week in Chi-Town. Great changes were afoot in Len’s life at the time — he was about to relocate to Los Angeles.
Even so, Jimmy’s pitch captivated him:
Made Collaborative is a social entrepreneurship enterprise that uses the magic of comics and storytelling to empower urban youth and give them a voice.
Len loved the idea because comic books had provided him so much purpose and direction; this was an opportunity to share that with others. When Len and Jimmy concluded their first meeting with a handshake, it was the beginning of a prosperous partnership and a beautiful friendship.