By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
2Grandpa’s Publishing is a homegrown operation — literally.
Hyde Parker Stuart M. Rankin, 77, runs the children’s books publisher with his business partner, Al Hawkins, out of his apartment at the Newport Condominiums, 4800 S. Beach Drive.
“We don’t have any office space,” Rankin said in an elegantly furnished room with a full view of downtown. “Right now we’re just getting off the ground, and there’s no sense in spending money that we don’t have to spend.”
But the company has already self-published several illustrated children’s books by Rankin and illustrated by Hawkins, dealing with a range of topics including bullying, guns and strangers with candy. Their first and longest title, tells the tale of an albatross who saves a hummingbird from Lake Michigan gusts and takes him on a journey across the world.
“It was both of our mutual desires to give back to the community,” Hawkins said.
Stuart, a former history and geography teacher at Hyde Park High School, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave., is also a former marketing executive for Leo Burnett. Hawkins is a former art director for Foote, Cone and Belding – now Draft FCB – from Kansas City. Both men already knew of each other, but became friends while working at high-rise Michigan Avenue office building in the ‘80s.
“Being Black in advertising and marketing and all of that – we all knew each other,” Hawkins said.
2Grandpa’s published its first book in 2012, after Rankins sought an illustrator through Hawkins and instead began collaborating with him.
“My gift was that I could draw,” Hawkins said, adding that when he was in advertising he and his colleagues wouldn’t use computers. “You drew an ad. And you drew storyboards.”
Although the company is a hobby for both men, they have big ambitions. Stuart says they’d like to get an office in the Hyde Park Bank Building, 1525 E. 53rd St., and that they have reached out to both CPS and the Henry Booth House, a citywide Head Start provider about distributing their books. Eventually, he says, he’d love to see their signature characters Miles and Chloe become like Rocky and Bullwinkle.
“We’d love to see them on TV,” Rankins said.
For more information about 2Grandpa’s Publishing, visit 2grandpasrh.com.