Yummy Tells The Story of The Tragedy of Gang Life
By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 23, 2010 8:40PM
Yummy tells the story of a young gang member who killed a 14-year-old girl.
When Yummy’s story was making headlines and the front cover of TIME Magazine, Greg Neri was a filmmaker teaching workshops to inner-city Los Angeles kids. Gangs were part of the students’ daily lives, and Yummy could have very well been one of their friends or siblings. So Neri decided to write a graphic novel based on Yummy’s story to use the tragedy to teach kids a lesson. “My telling some kids to stay out of gangs means nothing to them,” Neri said in a press release for Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. “But Yummy’s story is such a compelling wakeup call that I don’t have to say anything, or moralize the issues.”
With help from illustrator Randy DuBurke, Neri tells the true story of Yummy through the eyes of a fictional classmate. Neri explores many of the same themes as the TIME Magazine piece did. He was a kid with a teddy bear who liked Snickers. And he stole cars and killed someone. Was this 11-year-old boy a coldblooded killer or a victim of his situation? These are heavy questions for middle schoolers to consider, but a graphic novel is the perfect medium. DuBurke’s illustrations, black-and-white and excellent at showing emotion and shadow, carry readers through the story about a kid who was essentially doomed to die on the streets since the day he was born.
Randy DuBurke illustrates the graphic novel about Yummy's life and death.
While Yummy is an excellent tool for classrooms and juvenile detention centers, it also makes us wonder how much has changed since 1994. Mayor Daley was already six years into his mayorship when he admitted that Yummy had slipped through the cracks. Now that Daley’s on his way out so many years later, have those cracks been sealed?