"A remarkable and important book, a vivid and enlightening trip into our city's gangster past that does not contain stories about a guy who went by 'Scarface.' Lavishly illustrated, it traces the history, development and complexities of the neighborhood street gangs with assurance and intelligence and a focus on their creative spirit." — Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune
Volume one from the original Chicago street gang research website, Compliments of Chicagohoodz is a rare, private collection of gang business cards, photos, and ephemera. The book deciphers the intricate and arcane visual language and graphic design of Chicago’s gangs, drawing upon decades of embedded journalism, interviews, documentation, and collecting of memorabilia, and featuring commentary from gang members and artists.
The practice of creating and distributing street 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. Over 675 cards with commentary.
James “Jinx” O’Connor’s photographic documentation of gang graffiti and members captures a lost era of large-scale promotional murals (“emblems”). The book also explores other forms of branding from Chicago's tribal "nations," including varsity-style sweaters, embroidered 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 and girl gangs to gangster rap; from dances, bands, and softball teams to racketeering, narcotics trafficking, and domestic terror.