Kedzie Avenue gets the Illustrated Press treatment | Bleader

Kedzie Avenue gets the Illustrated Press treatment

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  • Courtesy Illustrated Press
Since 2011, local collective Illustrated Press has given the comic format more immediacy with its graphic journalism. (The 2013 Reader cover story "How to Survive a Shooting" won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia's format-buster award earlier this year.) Comprised of DNAinfo reporter Darryl Holliday and illustrators Erik Rodriguez and Jamie Hibdon, the Illustrated Press's latest venture, a second full-length book entitled Kedzie Avenue, takes readers up and down that Chicago street, retelling stories and analyzing the diverse communities that surround the thoroughfare as it cuts through the north, south, and west sides.

"Kedzie came from an idea we had a while back, actually from a story we did [earlier] this year,” said Holliday. “We wanted to take a bus ride from Ashland—the Ashland number nine bus—from top to bottom. Kedzie Avenue was essentially that idea but expanding it as far as we could take it."

He continues, "It was a good example of this main artery of the city that sort of has every piece that you can find in the city along it. We wanted to hit all of the issues we cover in our regular work and see if we could somehow string them altogether in the idea of a single street."

In the course of reporting the book, they've shadowed a North Lawndale College Prep student as she makes her three-hour commute to school ("We wrote the story around kids taking long routes as a way of opportunity," said Holliday. "How you have to get to a point with those resources that they need to survive in the world.") and dug deep into the five-decade reign of former alderman Bernard Stone. They've also touched on gentrification along Humboldt Park's beloved Paseo Boricua. "Paseo Boricua is interesting to me because development around there is just going crazy and there’s a lot of questions of who’s moving in, who’s being pushed out," said Holliday. "It's a really good example of that sort of contemporary look at what’s happening in the city right now. Paseo Boricua kind of embodies a lot of that."

Overall, Holliday says the book will visit 15 different neighborhoods and highlight dozens of stories from Chicagoans across the city. The ultimate goal of Kedzie Avenue is journalistic to its core: to bring stories from the community to the community. "From the beginning, a lot of our work has had to do with going into these communities and bringing the story back to them as opposed to just taking the stories and never interacting again or never really showing up or not keeping in touch," said Holliday. "It's about how we bring the stories back around to the community in the ways that actually inform them of what's going on."

Currently, the comics collective is heading a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a long winter of reporting and illustrating for Kedzie Avenue. They've reached just over a third of their fundraising goal, with 12 days left to go.

"If you're a Chicagoan then the love of the city is just going to pour out of this book," said Holliday. "The love of the city is what we're about, we want to celebrate and showcase all of the different cultures and everything that happens here. All the issues that we cover are issues that are important across the country if not across the world."

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