Indie comics folk around Brooklyn and beyond have been quietly grieving over the imminent end of Cartoon House, a giant loft in South Williamsburg inhabited by a bevy of cartoonists over the years, and scene of many someday legendary comic book people events. In the first in a series of micropress profiles for Publishers Weekly, Robyn Chapman looks at the history of Cartoon House and the publishing companies of its three most prominent members, Bill Kartalopoulos, Austin English and Dave Nuss.
As cartoonists moved in, the parties became frequent and, at times, legendary. The final Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival after-party last November was packed shoulder to shoulder with cartoonists from Chris Ware on and featured a spontaneous wrestling match between Hot Dog Beach’s Lale Westvind and RAV’sMickey Z.
More than being an ideal party locale, Cartoon House offered Kartalopoulos, English and Nuss a comfortable space in which to publish. In a city where the one-bedroom “micro apartment” measures just 300 square feet, it’s a luxury to have enough space to store book inventory.
Cartoon House was indeed one of a kind, and the last throwback in the city limits of the group living situation that often fired up idealized visions of New York City: a big raw space where artistic folks could be wacky and creative. It was also the place where you could dip cookies into frosting and call it a snack. Cartoon House is definitely a “you had to be there” thing, and if it wasn’t as protean as Fort Thunder, it will probably give birth to as many stories.
Bill K. informs us that the final move out date is in November—the raw space will probably be divided up into a couple of apartments which will rent for sickening amounts. Will there be one more big party? It would be sad if there weren’t.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.