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Robot Reviews | Hark! A Vagrant, Pope Hats and Mickey Mouse

Hark! A Vagrant
by Kate Beaton
Drawn and Quarterly, 168 pages, $19.95.

The thing that amazes/impresses me the most about Kate Beaton’ comics is how much everyone loves them. OK, not everyone — I do know one or two stragglers that refuse to find anything amusing in her sly little comics — but a lot of people from disparate fan bases really like her stuff. Indie readers like Kate Beaton, Superhero fans like Kate Beaton,, and (perhaps most notably) people who hardly ever (if at all) read comics like Kate Beaton (like my wife). She crosses boundaries in a way I don’t think I’ve seen any modern cartoonist do, let alone a webcartoonist. I think that’s even more impressive when you consider how often she relies upon (relatively) obscure historical figures and literature as the basis for her strips.

Other than that I really don’t have much to say, except that those who own her first book, Never Learn Anything From History, and haven’t bought this one yet because they’re worried it reprints the same material can relax; it doesn’t. Basically if you appreciate intelligence, wit (or smartassery) and the chance to learn something on the side, then this is the book for you.

More reviews after the jump …

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What are you reading with Annie Koyama

Little Tommy Lost

Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Annie Koyama, owner and operator of the wonderful Koyama Press, which publishes fantastic books that you should buy ASAP. To see what Annie and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click on the link below. Continue Reading »

Huizenga, Yokoyama and Marra oh my: Things I bought at SPX

The Body of Work

I suppose on a certain level running through all the loot you nabbed at this or that convention seems a bit like bragging, even if the intention is merely to say, “Hey, here’s some cool comics you should check out.” That being said, it seems like a while since anyone’s done one of those “here’s the stuff I bought” posts, so I thought I’d run down some of the more interesting-looking books I nabbed at SPX this past weekend. Forgive me.

The Body of Work by Kevin Huizenga. In addition to promoting the release of Ganges #4, Huizenga had a couple of mini-comics for sale as well. This one features some of the comics he’s been posting online like Postcard from Fielder.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Sterling Hundley

Blue Collar/White Collar

When it comes to AdHouse Books’ Chris Pitzer, there’s one basic fact: When he publishes a book, I know it’s important to pay attention to it. So when I found out about Blue Collar/White Collar, which collects the work of award-winning illustrator and painter Sterling Hundley, I immediately contacted Pitzer to see the book and (soon after checking out the book) to get Hundley to commit to an email interview. In the course of this discussion I was pleased to find out that Hundley has plans to create his own characters and stories in the future. After reading the interview, be sure to enjoy the 10-page preview that Pitzer offers interested readers.

Tim O’Shea: In the Foreword to the book, you wrote: “In a time when access has reached the Faustian ideal, information is often confused with knowledge. I refuse to accept that appropriation and homogenization are the movements that will define our generation. The search for original thought is a journey of faith – a belief that art is necessary because it isn’t necessary. The compulsion to create is emblematic of life that has moved beyond the base functions of survival. Art is evolution.” How much living and pursuing of art did you experience before realizing “a belief that art is necessary because it isn’t necessary”?

Sterling Hundley: Coming from a family that is primarily Blue Collar, I’ve always questioned the validity of a pursuit of the arts. You can’t eat it, or use it. Art serves no utilitarian function. Having lived long enough, I’ve come to realize that art is as necessary as any other basic function.

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AdHouse to publish Tom Scioli’s American Barbarian

American Barbarian

In advance of this weekend’s Small Press Expo, or SPX, in Bethesda, Md., AdHouse Books has announced they’ll publish Tom Scioli‘s webcomic American Barbarian.

The hardcover collection will be 6″ x 9″, the same dimensions as the Afrodisiac hardcover they published last year. It ships in early 2012, according to the publisher’s website.

Both AdHouse and Scioli will have signed and numbered American Barbarian prints at SPX, free with any purchase from Scioli or AdHouse. Other AdHouse guests this weekend include Jim Rugg, Lamar Abrams, Ethan Rilly and Sterling Hundley.

Talking Comics with Tim | Stuart Immonen

Centifolia II

This weekend marks Toronto Comics Art Festival 2011 (TCAF), where among the many great storytellers appearing, Stuart Immonen celebrates his “return to his eclectic collection of work” with the premiere of Centifolia II (and the return of the out-of-print Centifolia I). To mark the debut/return of Centifolia, I contacted Immonen for this hellaciously enjoyable interview. This exchange was a blast for me, particularly given that Immonen indulged numerous follow-up questions in our email exchanges.  A great many storytellers are immensely funny people, but I genuinely think Immonen possesses a rare wit and wealth of knowledge that reveals itself not only in this interview, but more importantly, it informs his work. I wish I was attending TCAF, for numerous reasons, but the fact that “there will even be a limited (100) slipcase edition [available at TCAF] that includes a special S&N print and custom slipcase design” is the ultimate “damn I wish I was going” talking point for me. Need more convincing how great these books are? AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer (the publisher of Immonen’s Centifolia) offers consumers nine-page previews of Volume I and Volume II for everyone’s enjoyment.

Tim O’Shea: When one hears that the book is culled from your sketchbooks, it might seem a bit misleading. Not every sketchbook sports pages with fully designed logos (“9 Nuts and Why I Hate Them” for example).

Stuart Immonen: Well, I think that’s probably due to the term “sketchbook” being more often used to describe a collection of finished pinup drawings and not so much actual sketching– i.e. ideas in development, visual note-taking, idle doodling and so on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former– I love being able to enjoy and study the completed work of my favourite artists, but I’m also interested in process; the journey of how an artist gets to the final piece, and that’s what Centifolia tries to be.

Some of my most well-thumbed artist’s books fall into this category: Tardi’s Chiures De Gomme, Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Datebooks, Ashley Wood’s Sencilla Fanta… even Dupuy and Berberian’s Maybe Later qualifies.So… I’m interested in pulling back the curtain and showing readers a little of how I work.

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Comics A.M. | Duncan wins LA Times Book Prize; Wizard World returns to LA

Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One

Awards | Adam Hines has won the graphic novel category in the 31st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his debut book Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One. The other nominees were Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld, Karl Stevens’ The Lodger, Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know, Book II, and Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft. [press release]

Conventions | More than two years after canceling its Los Angeles convention, Wizard World announced it will return to the city Sept. 24-25 with Los Angeles Comic Con, to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Big Apple Comic Con, which previously had been scheduled for those dates, will be moved to the spring. [press release]

Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson talks with Viz Media Vice President Alvin Lu about the expansion of the publisher’s iPad app to include iPhone and iPod Touch. [Publishers Weekly]

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Read Afrodisiac online for free

Afrodisiac, by Jim Rugg

Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac took the comics world by storm last year and recently received an Eisner Award nomination. Only thing is, the book is currently between printings.

“To ensure that every possible Eisner Award voter has all of the necessary information to cast their ballot in a responsible and educated manner, we have decided to put the entire book online for FREE,” the team posted on AdHouse’s site. You can check it out for yourself over at the Issuu website.

AdHouse to publish Stuart Immonen’s Centifolia V2

Centifolia 2

AdHouse Books has a habit of producing some pretty exquisite-looking books, so it’s no wonder Stuart Immonen has teamed with them to produce Centifolia V2, an 128-page collection of the artist’s sketches, concept designs, illustrations and comics.

I believe the sold-out first volume was self-published, but AdHouse will also bring it back into print. They’re also offering a limited slipcase edition that includes both volumes and a print.

“I was very happy to be approached by Stuart to help make this happen. We’ve been con-buddies for a few years now, and I really love his work,” Pitzer said.

All three will be available starting at the 2011 Toronto Comics Art Festival on May 7 & 8. You can find the entire press release after the jump.

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Duncan the Wonder Dog nabs Lynd Ward prize

AdHouse Books announced on their blog yesterday that Duncan the Wonder Dog, by Adam Hines, has won the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize. This is the first year for the prize, which is sponsored by the Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, which is affiliated with the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The judges award the prize, which consists of $2,500 and a copy of the Library of America’s two-volume set of Lynd Ward’s graphic novels, to the best U.S. or Canadian graphic novel published in the previous calendar year by a living author.

Duncan sold out in print back in January, and AdHouse has published it as a digital graphic novel while waiting for the new books to arrive. Hines has also posted Show One at his blog, although he mentions plans to take it down this month when the print edition becomes available again.

Fantagraphics notes on their blog that Drew Weing’s Set to Sea is a runner-up for the prize. The Center for the Book people haven’t sent out an official announcement yet, but the internet runs faster than the printing press. On that note, it’s interesting that both these book awards went to graphic novels that have significant digital releases—and in fact, are both available in their entirety online. It seems like the opposite of Ward’s handmade, low-tech ethos, but really it isn’t—handmade by their creators with minimal editorial interference, webcomics really are the new woodcuts.

(Via The Beat.)

What Are You Reading?

Wolverine Noir #1

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading, our weekly look at whatever books, comics or cereal boxes we happen to be reading at the moment. JK Parkin is on vacation for the next week, so I’ll be your host until he gets back.

Our guest this week is Vancouver artist Jason Copland, who has contributed to the Perhapanauts series and currently draws the online comic Kill All Monsters (which is written, of course, by our own Michael May)

To see what Jason and the rest of the crew are reading, click below.

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Six by 6 | Six great non-superhero comic book fights

Today’s Six by 6 sprang out of a recent post Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon did on five of his favorite superhero fights. It’s a pretty excellent list and made me want to come up with my own, though I thought I might see if I could expand it a bit by staying away from the superhero genre and moving into other realms. What great fights could I find in the world of manga or alt-comix, I wondered?

Turns out I didn’t have to look too far. I should note though that this list is by no means definitive — it’s simply a list of six comic book battles that I like a whole lot. I’ve probably forgotten some. Actually I’ve probably forgotten plenty. Feel free to let me know what I’ve overlooked in the comments section.

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Finalists announced for Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

Duncan the Wonder Dog

The finalists were announced this morning for the 31st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which honor works in 10 categories, including biography, fiction, history and, yes, graphic novels.

Finalists and winners are selected by panels of three judges composed of published authors who specialize in each genre or category. The winners will be presented April 29 in a ceremony at the Chandler Auditorium in Los Angeles as a prelude to the 16th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The finalists in the graphic novel category are:

• Adam Hines, Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One (AdHouse Books)
• Dash Shaw, Bodyworld (Pantheon)
• Karl Stevens, The Lodger (KSA Publishing)
• C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage (Fantagraphics)
• Jim Woodring, Weathercraft (Fantagraphics)

For the full list of finalists in all categories, visit the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes website.

Downloadable Duncan: Sold-out graphic novel now available digitally

Duncan the Wonder Dog

Adam Hines’ Duncan the Wonder Dog has done pretty well — a little too well, as it turns out. The first printing has sold out, and the second won’t be ready until later this spring. So Hines did the logical thing and took the digital road, but in this case, it’s the road less taken: Rather than go with a comics app like comiXology, he is releasing Duncan in downloadable form via MyDigitalComics.com. MyDigitalComics allows users to either download comics in PDF or CBZ format or keep them in the cloud and read them via an online web viewer.

Chris Pitzer of AdHouse, which publishes the print version of the book, talked to Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance about the decision to publish the graphic novel via MyDigitalComics rather than comiXology. One factor was that comiXology needed to reformat the files for mobile devices like the iPhone, which neither party wanted to do. On the other hand, since the files were already in digital form, no prep was needed to sell them as PDF or CBZ downloads, so the digital cost is lower than print.

And if you want to view it for free, take a look at Adam’s blog, because hard as it is to believe, all of Show One is up there now. So why pay for a download? Because unlike a PDF, the web isn’t forever — Hines plans to take Duncan back offline in March.

Need to know more? Publishers Weekly reviewed Duncan this week.

Looking forward, looking back: Chris Pitzer on AdHouse in 2010 and 2011

Afrodisiac

If you’re looking for a company that started and ended strong 2010, look no further than AdHouse Books, the independent company that’s published books by Joshua Cotter, Paul Pope and James Jean, among others. Although they aren’t the kind of company that puts out a huge amount of books, they are one you can always count on to put out something interesting.

As for those bookends for the year, AdHouse kicked off 2010 with the release of Afrodisiac by Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg, and ended it with Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines, which landed at the top of some folks‘ best comics of the year lists. (Including my own; it came in at No. 16 on CBR’s list for 2010).

I spoke with AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer about the previous year, the above two books, their new AdDistro initiative and what they have coming up for 2011. My thanks to Chris for sending over a lot of cool art to show you as well.

JK: Thanks for agreeing to talk to us today, Chris. I thought we could start off talking about 2010, and in particular some the bigger projects you put out.Let’s start with something that seems like it came out a long time ago, Afrodisiac. It seemed to garner a lot of attention when it came out in January.

Chris: Thanks for the interest in AdHouse, JKP! I dig what the Robot 6 blog does, so I appreciate the opportunity to chat about this stuff. In regards to Afrodisiac, it was an HONOR to work with Jim and Brian on that. We’ve been “dancing” around the topic of publishing it for years, and it was nice to finally have it happen. Yeah, it feels like so long ago, doesn’t it?

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