The Denver Comix Social Club Plus Drinking is a casual tight-rope walk of drinking and doodling. Officially an opportunity for illustrators to get together and chat about their craft, it's also a chance to flex some creative muscles -- often the only muscles that comic artists have.
"It's like a support group for cartoonists," says Ted Intorcio, creator of the Head & Torso web comic series. "We get inspired by what everyone's doing. It's productive, but we also get to know each other." The group meets from 7 to 10:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Sub-Culture, a Capitol Hill sandwich shop, where the artists got to collaborate on a large mural now featured on the wall above the table where they gather each week.
The comics started meeting three years ago, under a different name, at Leela European Cafe; some internal drama about six months ago split the group into factions. "There were some people who wanted to have an agenda, have assignments," recalls Lonnie "MF" Allen, who then joined with a few other artists to start their own drink-and-draw night at Sub-Culture. "It began as just a bunch of artists getting together. And they wanted to kick people out if they weren't drawing, or their stuff wasn't up to professional level. So if it was going to be run like a regime, I just figured I'd get together with my friends for a drink somewhere else.
"Everyone here loves to draw and wants to draw," Allen continues, "but there's no pressure to produce. If someone's in a weird mood and doesn't want to draw, then it's up to them. I want it mainly to be fun."
"It's fine if people don't want to draw one night, but we are looking for people who are actually producing things," says Noah Van Sciver, creator of the Westword 4 Questions comic strip and author of the upcoming graphic novel The Hypo.
And ultimately, that's the beauty of Denver Comix Social Club Plus Drinking: There are no rules, but there are expectations. "We want people to work on things while they're here," Van Sciver adds, "not just be here for socializing only."
"We want to see what's going on the comic community," says Intorcio. "If you're not working on anything while you're here, that's okay -- but at least bring your sketch book so I can see what you've been working on in your free time."
One of the club's regular traditions is for the ten to twelve people who show up each week to join in a comic jam -- the illustrative equivalent of passing around a pipe, with each artist taking a frame of a comic strip, adding their piece of the story. When we caught up with the group last week, the theme was "Your Favorite Cartoon Characters, Where Are They Now?"
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Page down for each artist's contribution. And if you want to see the group in action, go to Sub-Culture tonight: Newcomers are welcome.