“These devils and red-eyed bunnies are powerful, devoid of cutesy charm, and the language and lettering that presents them is integral and key—the “Dukes,” the “Knights,” the “Kings,” the gleeful usage of archaic words like “Thee” never uttered in the United States, except perhaps by cults—and while they crop up elsewhere, they certainly seem to have become more rooted n Chicago than anyplace else. “ From Anthony Haden-Guest’s foreword to Compliments of Chicagohoodz.
A rare, private collection of photos, calling cards, and ephemera serves as inspiration for Compliments of Chicagohoodz. The book analyzes the unique visual language and graphics of Chicago’s gangs, drawing upon decades of interviews, documentation, and collecting of memorabilia, and featuring commentary from gang members and Chicago artists.
The practice of creating and distributing gang business (“compliment”) cards was popular in Chicago for over fifty years. These displayed the organization and branch, its active and fallen members, and rivalries. Compliments of Chicagohoodz tells the stories behind the names, bringing the reader closer to the individuals who created, owned, and added their personal touches to the card as it passed from hand to hand.
James “Jinx” O’Connor’s photographic documentation of gang graffiti and members captures a lost era of large-scale color promotional murals and an extraordinary style distinct within street art. The book also explores other forms of representation including varsity-style sweaters, patches, and drawings. Through these images, Compliments of Chicagohoodz traces the development and consolidation of the neighborhood street organization from doo-wop to hip-hop, from greasers to gangster rap, from dances, bands, and softball teams to racketeering, narcotics trafficking, and domestic terror.