As to what happens at the gatherings themselves, I noticed a bit of drinking, of course, but also a lot of drawing (of very dirty pictures), and a lot of discussion about art and comics. There were several artists drawing away in a few different sketchbooks, as well as some friendly catching up amongst friends. “In the typical jam,” says Cheese, “people bring sketchbooks. Since I’m the host, I’ll bring three or four, and the style we’ve been running with is the style of the old Zap Comics underground comics, which is Artist 1 does the first panel, Artist 2 does the second panel, Artist 3 does the third panel, and so forth. That’s really how we’ve been doing it for ten years. We also do exquisite corpses, this month we have a jam wall which is a big sheet of paper that everybody’s been drawing on, that’s been a real success, I might bring that into the regular jams.” It really is a flurry of activity, but with all that’s going on, it’s also a very relaxed environment. It is a bar, after all. Also, it isn’t all lifers like Cheese and Darryl Ayo. Artist Ken Lee, who once worked as a caricature artist in amusement parks and on the sidewalks of New York’s Times Square (he drew a caricature of me while we talked), reports that he’s been coming to the jams “off and on for about a year,” while Vanessa Satone tells me that the Tenth Anniversary Jam is actually her first time attending one, and that she heard about the Jams from Ayo. "We’re always trying to expand the membership here," he explains. "We’ve got a good core number of people, but we could always use more. It would be the first Thursday of any given month. It’s a free event, and there’s a lot of people who are into comics either professionally or as fans in NY, so I want to encourage them to come in.”
Cartoonist Joe Meyer, who like Ayo has been coming to the jams since “soon after they started,” feels that this type of meet-up is more than just casual socializing, though. This is actually something a cartoonist needs. “I think it’s important,” Meyer earnestly relates. “Cartooning is such a solitary activity. You’re by yourself drawing at a desk, you’re off in your own little world. It’s not so much getting together and drawing, although that’s part of it. Out of this the anthologies have come along, and the friendships, and that’s awesome. It’s the social aspect. Because the cartoonist can get isolated and solitary. You don’t get good by being a social person, so this is an opportunity to meet people of your ilk and commiserate, relax. Let your hair down, drink something, and not worry about…we all come here, we’re not worried about “oh god, did I draw this guy’s arm correctly, did I spell something wrong?” We’re having a drink, we’re shooting the shit, just hanging out. I think it’s healthy for any cartoonist to get out there and socialize.” Cheese concurs: “Indy comics, and even mainstream comics, it’s a really solitary pursuit. If you’re a true cartoonist, you’re writing and drawing your own stuff, and you’re just alone all the time. It’s really misanthropic. But if you get a bunch of misanthropes into a room together and get a couple of beers into them, it’s really a lot of fun,” he intones with a smile.
The House of Twelve group is, of course, planning for the future. “We do the continuing series on Comixology,” reports Cheese, “and I have some plans for a webcomic, and we have a new print book coming out at SPX. It’s a collection of some of the Comixology stuff. It’s 28 pages, it’s full color, and it’s 4 bucks, limited edition. I’m only printing 100 of them. That’s what we have right now. We’ll have more stuff down the road in a couple of months. If you want to order a copy of the House of Twelve anthology, visit houseoftwelve.com. “There’s a PayPal button on almost every page.” Or for more information about the group, Cheese uses social media to get the word out. “There’s a Facebook page. We have a couple hundred fans through that. I update my personal page, and my Twitter account. We have a Tumblr now. We got 1100 hits last week. That’s the extent of my social media experience. I advertise the jams a couple of weeks before they happen, and we hang out.”
Just as we went to press with this article and the interview on the next page, Indy Hunter 5 Ohhh! learned that Darryl Ayo earned a nomination for the Ignatz Award for his story "Ghosts," which was published in House of 12. We at The Outhouse congratulate Ayo.