Lovefool 05.27.13 | Doodlin’ and Brewdlin’ with Ink & Drink Comics

Lovefool pays a visit to the fine folks at Ink and Drink Comics, a group of St. Louis-based cartoonists in it for the love of the game.

 

 

 

 

 

It feels like summer when I roll up to Cicero’s. The parking lot is filled with what I can now non-ironically refer to as "young people" and it’s warm and slightly breezy and, inside, it’s dark and the AC is on. I walk in and am standing at the top of those weird steps looking for JG,FE and clutching a notebook when someone yells "Hey! Over here." Grateful for the nod, I look over and meet the gaze of a dude I’ve never seen before in my life. "Well, you’re holding a notebook and looking confused. That means you’re probably one of ours."
 
Well, I explain, not necessarily. I am a writer. But I’m writing something for PLAYBACK. You know, the comics thing that Jason edits? I’m met with a vaguely blank stare but my new friend still perks up. Everyone loves a writer.
 
So at least we know JG,FE is pretty serious about keeping his nerdy things apart, as he previously claimed when I asked why we aren’t covering Ink and Drink comics on PLAYBACK, seeing as it’s kind of a big deal.
 
"Because it’s a huge conflict of interest?"
 
"Oh," I said, "I can see that. Well, I want to write about it."
 
"Okay," said JG,FE. And then proceeded to tell me a meeting time and a place, eventually, and then nothing else. Even when I cornered him at the bar and begged for guidance, I was told I’d have to find my own way in this world.
 
So here’s the first thing I noticed about Ink and Drink Comics because I’m completely shallow: they’re very pretty. I’m not sure what I was expecting but handsome dudes and willowy blondes and indie dreamgirls wasn’t it. And they’re so nice, as evidenced when a few of them knew me from here and, as such, greeted me like an old friend.
 
"Oh? This is Erin. You know, Erin. She writes Lovefool. Yeah, it’s Erin."
 
(NTS: stop telling all your embarrassing secrets in your weekly column.)
 
The second thing I noticed, because, again, terrible person, was that they were legit. There were art supplies all over the table and doodling was already going on. Except it wasn’t like my doodles, all abstract flowers and stars. No, this was actual casual art. And I’ve read some of the I&D books so I knew that they were a talented bunch, but seeing it happen in front of me—no photoshop, no editing, nothing but pen on paper –that was something impressive. There were tablets open with scripts being started and sketchpads being passed around. The crew means business.
 
But this is supposed to be fun, so they also mean nibblies and beer and lots and lots of laughing and requests to add a left-handed drawing of Batman to someone’s book. (Your Lovefool declined. Gracefully, I hope, but, seriously, I can’t even draw Batman with my normal right hand.)
 
Ink and Drink Comics meets one Tuesday a month and the date is determined at random, almost. An email goes out to the mailing list and people may or may not show up. Books are released approximately every six months, in the spring and fall, typically with a quiet release at a convention followed by a nerdy gala at Star Clipper. Every title is named with a drinking pun that is typically fairly funny. For example, the Western anthology that came out about a year ago was titled Off the Wagon and their fantasy book was called Hammered and that is very funny to me. Stories vary wildly within the books, with a space western that Carlos assured me “wasn’t very Firefly-y” in the Western book and a manga-style retelling of the Trojan War as a high school rivalry in Tanked, their newest anthology about war. There’s also a release every Free Comic Book Day, with Ink and Drink talent stationed at various locations throughout the St. Louis metro region.
 
I&D has three editors: Jason Green, whom most of my faithful nerdlings know as JG,FE, and Carlos Gabriel Ruiz, who you should know as the talent behind Pretentious Record Store Guy and the nicest man on Earth. Rounding out this super trio is the fantastic Steve Higgins, who has turned his career as an English professor into being a professional nerd and feeds me Pocky. (Steve is also the man we can all thank for starting me here at PB:stl.) They pick topics and are available for assistance. They participate in the books themselves, with JG,FE once contributing an epic shoplifting story to the crime anthology, Shots in the Dark, that I made him tell me three times at parties, it was that good.
 
The anthologies are mostly local affairs, with the talent typically either coming from St. Louis or somehow otherwise connected, with a few exceptions. They’re distributed locally, at places like Fantasy Books, Slackers, Apop Records, and a few other random places around town. They make it out of the neighborhood typically via conventions and by being the sort of thing you send your friends with a “Hey, look what so-and-so is doing!” No one makes any money from Ink and Drink books, but no one loses any money, either, since participation is free and any money made is rolled back into promotional materials. The Ink and Drink team, from editors to artists, is doing it for the love.
 
And speaking of the love, we’re interested because their next book, the fall 2013 book for those of us keeping score at home, will be a romance anthology called On The Rocks, which I am totally tempted to get in on. I could write a romance comic. Heaven knows I read enough of them.
 
“Good liars make the best artists,” starts a story that ends with “I can’t believe you’re stealing cake from nuns!”
 
“What are you doing?”
 
“Draining the pizza – I’m literally draining this pizza, there’s water falling off of the edge.” was another notable exchange, prompted by someone spilling water all over another member’s pizza. There was a beat of horrified silence and then laughter as the culprit immediately started offering to replace the pizza because he’s a good dude. And, yes, there was absolutely a pizza being drained.
 
And, referring to his now-defunct-but-about-to-be-revived-via-Kickstarter weekly paper-and-ink minicomic (!!!), See You Next Wednesday, Mike Harvey admitted that he had some special motivation to work on his book, telling me “My friend said if I fail, he’s going to punch me. If I didn’t have a comic on sale by Wednesday morning, he would punch me. If I start this again, he’ll punch me.”
 
I’ll keep you posted on his upcoming Kickstarter and we’ll keep a tally of punches, nerdlings.
 
On the other side of that, quite actually at the other side of the process, you have Carlos, who successfully funded a graphic novel run of Pretentious Record Store Guy via kickstarter, discussing distribution with Aaron Ford—who is scary cool and currently collaborating on a book about a post-apocalyptic St. Louis with JG,FE that I’m pretty interested in—stating that after he distributes his Kickstarter books and distributes to his current network, “the rest of them will sit in my basement.”
 
“Mine sit at the end of my bed,” Aaron responded, “and I cry.” | Erin Jameson
 
Ink and Drink Comics are available at Star Clipper, 6392 Delmar in the U. City Loop, and other fine local St. Louis retailers. To learn more, check out previews of Ink and Drink’s books, or order online through IndyPlanet.com, visit www.inkanddrinkcomics.com.

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