Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Special Collections

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Those who have followed my ramblings for a while might have noticed my love of libraries.

The origins of this affair reach back to those awkward years of youth. Sports weren’t really my thing, so I’d ride my 10-speed to the local county library and spend hours reading books, looking at art, or making photocopies at 10 cents a pop. Eventually my 10-speed would be stolen which stung at the time, but it didn’t affect my love of the book buildings.

I was informed earlier this week that the VCU Special Collections had recently installed an AdHouse exhibit. Smack dab between a zombie comic collection (Love Eats Brains!) and a Richmond crime display. Heck, there was also a nice Los Bros. and 9/11 show, too.

Honestly, I have been meaning to make it over to SC for a while, but nothing acts like bait more than an ego boosting display. I really liked the touch of the graph paper used for the AdHouse exhibit. It pulled everything together rather nicely. Almost like blue prints for the publishing foundation. Thanks to Celina for such a great job!

After taking a few pics of the exhibit, my first contact from the SC… Cindy (aka “that comic book lady”) Jackson offered to walk me around and show me the collection. The first thing that she pointed out to me was the famous Billy Debeck Office Door with Barney Google and Spark Plug. When I asked about James Branch Cabell, I was taken through the proverbial wardrobe into his personal library. It was a weird sensation. One minute you’re in a 1970’s library, and the next you drop back in time 70-some years.

We then ventured out into the “guts” of the operation, where acquisitions are continually processed into the collection. I was told that literally TONS of comics and books about comics arrive each year to be processed, and I believe it. They appeared to have almost anything you might want to read. From Screw magazine to the Comics Journal to locally produced zines from Richmond (Throttle, anyone?). One of my personal highlights was seeing Kelly Alder’s Mama Zu’s comic book in the collection as well.

Before I left, Cindy showed me how to search their database of comics and comic-related books. If you have a chance, you should check it out, and better yet, try and make time to visit the library. You can read almost anything you might want. AND… if you can’t make it, you can even browse certain parts of the collection online… like PS magazine!

Thanks to the Cindy, Celina and the staff of the Special Collections for all your hard work!

AdHouse. Nine Years.

Monday, December 19th, 2011

As some may or may not have noticed, we have sort of been celebrating our nine years of making books. How did we celebrate? By having the MOST productive year to date. (Also, did you know that not only did AdHouse start in 2002, but it appears Top Chef and Project: Runway did as well?)


(Also, not included in the photos were the reprintings of BOTH Duncan the Wonder Dog and Afrodisiac! As we mention on its page, Duncan is yet again between printings with the new printing due around 3/2012.)

I thought it might be a neat thing to look back on nine of our publications and give some background info, or “behind-the-scenes” type of knowledge bites. I guess I picked these nine because I felt they had the most interesting stories, etc., but in reality, how could I love one child/book/comic/creator over another? I hope you enjoy…

Might as well start with the first:

1. Pulpatoon Pilgrimage by Joel Priddy.
While this information has been hashed out in what feels like countless interviews, I figure I might as well poop it out again, since it IS the beginning. I was made aware of Joel’s book through mutual friend, and RVA resident, Kelly Alder. Joel and I met, I liked the book and I tried to get it published by other publishers. I sent the proposal to Top Shelf and Alternative, but they never really got back to me, so I took what little knowledge I had gained from Eclipse Comics and freelancing here and there, and started AdHouse Books. Some notes about the book… To create the flashback sequence we reproduced those pages in a shade of the black. The first printings we received didn’t accurately reflect that, so we had to go back to press! Although the cover has a UV coating, it still gets worn a bit. I recall seeing around 10 copies of this book at a Comic Relief many years ago. Good ol’ Rory probably bought them off me at a huge discount. Factoid: Joel was one of the few creators who actually made it into all three of our Project anthologies.

2. Project: Telstar by various.
I’ve always been a big fan of comic anthologies. Taboo, Ganzfield, Top Shelf, Fly in My Eye… they all were enjoyable. Obviously, some more than others, but that’s what an antho is about. So, having decided to do this AdHouse thing, I dove into making one myself. Granted, I had just come off helping Jeff (Alternative Comics) Mason with 9/11: ER, so I guess I had the “cat wrangling” still in me. And yes, anthologies is like wrangling cats. Although, I’ve never wrangled cats. Anywaze… I guess the aim with MY anthology was to try and bring OTHER aspects of image making into the mix. So, since this first one dealt with robots and space, I asked illustrators like Dave Plunkert if he wouldn’t mind contributing. Some notes about the book… metallic ink! rounded corners! dull & gloss UV! (could you tell I was like a kid in a candy store?) Dave Cooper allowed us to use some illustrations he had created for a telecommunications company for the covers and endpages. Since they were actually sequential, it was a VERY nice touch. I feel bad that some of the signatures in the back got screwed up, but I guess that’s the biz. The printer would later call me a liar in regards to this printing snafu. No problem. Lots of other printers out there.

3. Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1 by Joshua Cotter.
I forget what year of the MoCCA Festival it was, but it was still at the Puck building, so that means people were in charge who knew what they were doing. (zing!) I was up walking around, which is a luxury at a show, and I saw some skinny kid with a mini-comic in his hand that I had just heard about. I seem to recall it had just won that Isotope Mini-Comic award, and I was curious to see if I thought the judges had any taste. So I asked that skinny kid if I could buy some of those comics from him. I think he gave them to me, being the shrewd business man that he was. Flash forward a few weeks, I finally get to read them, love them, and want to help him spread the gospel of the Midwest. So we come up with a plan to print the mini-comics into a full size maxi-comic and then let him produce new content as he sees fit. I consider the experience of working with Josh Cotter to be one of the best perks to this old AdHouse thing. He is genuine. I love him. Some notes about the comics… Josh would actually create the original cover art smaller than the printed version. The result? You have a slightly fuzzy/warm thing that happens. Also, even though we printed the comics at the same printer using the same specs for all four issues, the “off white” would actually change per issue. I don’t think either Josh or I was upset because in my mind that hit home the whole “seasonal” aspect of each issue.

4. Process Recess by James Jean
The one book that has probably made the most money for everyone involved. And by that, I’m talking that whole secondary (ebay) market thing. But I digress. Let’s get back to the beginning shall we? My first SDCC where a booth was shared by THREE publishers. Heh. We were packed! Anyway, as luck would have it, James was hanging with a company that had the corner booth. Since Farel D. was hanging with us, he came down to shoot the poop. They were friends from SVA/Meathaus. He mentioned working on a hardcover collection of his sketchbooks with the corner booth company, and liked what we had done with Project: Telstar. Eventually something happened with the corner booth company to have that book not happen, and James approached me about publishing what would eventually become PR1. Fast forward many months, and we’re debuting the book at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. It was in conjunction with an art show at Super7. This would have been an awesome weekend except for the fact that all my other books would NOT show up until Monday. So, after selling out of PR1 halfway through Saturday, I decided to head on home early. Ended up passing a kidney stone on the plane trip, too. Again, I digress. James and I would go on to produce two more PR books. And now his monograph, Rebus, came out from Chronicle this Fall. It IS beautiful.

5. Southpaw by C. Scott Morse
The first time I met Scott Morse was at a Small Press Expo where I had him autograph my copy of Little Grey Man. I seem to recall he was having a good time behind the table with two other people, but took the time to sign my book. Flash forward a few years, and here he is contacting me about an anthology he heard about through some form of comical grapevine. So, yeah, Southpaw first appeared in Project: Telstar. It didn’t really tell the “full” story there, so we had the fancy idea of expanding it into a book by making each panel a page. Southpaw was the first of what I had hope would become the Animalia Triology, with Monkey & Spoon being the 2nd volume to follow. A third volume never took shape. I wanted to add some fancy “French Flaps” for these books, so we arranged for this to happen. Imagine my surprise when the interior pages actually went past the folds of the cover. The printer advised me that was due to a more affordable french-flap binding method. Huh. As you can see, you learn as you go. Recently Mr. Morse tweeted that he was celebrating his 10th anniversary of Red Window (his self-publishing venture). I would like to congratulate him, and thank him for letting me be part of it. It was indeed an honor, and I’ll cherish the memories we’ve created so far.

6. Mort Grim by Doug Fraser
Halfway through the list and I’ve only talked about one comic book, floppy, pamphlet, what have you? For shame! So, which to choose… The first one? The quickest selling one? How about the one I’m most proud of? Mort Grim by Doug Fraser. Again, a little back story about my relationship with Doug. Having come from the design industry, I was privy to those HUGE workbooks that get produced once a year that sells illustration and photography. If you’ve seen these,  you know they are BIG. So.. with only so much room/shelf space available, I’d eventually have to get rid of the older ones. But before I would do that I’d always snip one page out… yep, you guessed it. the Doug Fraser page. So, I had been collecting the work of Doug Fraser for a few years when lo and behold, he happens to be friends with good ol’ Kelly Alder. (See Pulpatoon above.) So, I end up talking Doug into being in all three of our anthologies, and eventually producing this homage to flatheads. I was also lucky enough to be able to show with Doug at SDCC one year and RVA another. I simply LOVE his new work. Oh… and he was nice enough to supply the “house” for AdHouse. My dream is to one day have a house built like the one he drew.

7. Pulphope by Paul Pope
I just HAVE to include the book that took the longest to assemble… Don’t I? So, yeah, 2.5 years in the making. I would give Paul the shirt off my back, but man, does he know how to push your buttons at times. And honestly, he’s not doing it on purpose. It’s just him. He’s an F’n rockstar. So, here’s some tales of Paul, myself and the book. My first meeting of Paul was at SDCC. I recall he thought I would be younger, thinner and with curly hair. Did you know I had a letter published in Heavy Liquid? Tis’ true. The book… I seem to recall the beginnings being talked about after PR1. We “back and forthed” for about a year or so and then made a HUGE advance during an SPX where we sat down and went through the art we had, and the flow of the book. If I haven’t mentioned it… I am VERY proud of this book. The end result is something that I think is one of the best monographs I’ve ever seen. Yeah, there might be a few mistakes here and there, but step back and behold the big picture. I guess this might have been the project I “most” edited, and thus, have such a sweet spot for it. One of the things I always told people… yeah, it’s an art book, but be sure to read the essays. I love Paul’s writing. I usually learn a good bit from him. For instance, he told us why Dark Horse published Lone Wolf & Cub at the size they did. One of my favorite graphic tricks in the book… the Napoleon serigraph being “screened” on the pages (which was my idea), and one I don’t recall having seen before. At SDCC2011 Legendary announced they will be printing a book called Pulphope. Heh. Maybe they’ll change the name between now and then, but hey, it only adds to the mystery of Paul Pope! Well, I think they might not include the erotic section, and I’m fine with that. I’ll always cherish my memory of staying in Paul’s apartment during the first NYCC weekend and scanning those pages in from a dimestore sketchbook. Viva la Pope!

8. Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines
One of the questions I’ll get now and then is where the hell did this book and the artist come? Well, it was a blind submission. I “think” it came in as a PDF that was sized to 11×17, which made me wonder what he had planned. (Shades of Kramers?) After he confirmed that the size was a mistake, I sat down to read the 390-some pages. And I was blown away. I realize that there is probably at least 20-25% of information going over my head when I read Duncan. But I’m OK with that. When I eventually got Adam on the phone, I asked him why he submitted to AdHouse. He answered that he thought I was small enough to actually reply. Smart man. We debuted Duncan at the 2010 SPX and it’s been a wild ride ever since. Actually, SPX 2010 was when I first met Adam Hines. What a weird, wonderful world. I have to thank Calvin and Laura for getting on the stump with me in regards to how great the book is. I think because of them the work was seen by more people, and thus would eventually go on to win the prizes and awards that it has. Nine more volumes? Heh. Sure. Why not.

9. Blue Collar / White Collar by Sterling Hundley
I thought it would be a nice hakuna matata type of thing to bring it all back full circle to feature our latest endeavor, Blue Collar / White Collar, the art book of Sterling Hundley.  By “full circle” AdHouse started in 2002 with Pulpatoon, because the creator was here in Richmond, VA. As far as I can tell, Sterling has been in and around Richmond most of his life. I think he has done some education stints in other places. Anyway, after “dancing” for a few years about doing some type of project together, we landed on this collection. One of the things I like to try and do when the opportunities arise is to use a new production technique if it makes sense. Well, after a brainstorming meeting between Sterling, Jeff Love and myself, we came up with the idea for the inserted signatures that help indicate a new direction within the book. While this seemed like a neat idea at the time, I didn’t realize what a puzzleish nightmare it would become. Trying to keep the inserted section between the printed signatures while pages were added and subtracted meant a constant reorganization process. Add in the fact that the pages were numbered and that there was an index in the back, and you get the idea. But… I’m glad we did it. Seize the day and all that. I’ve called Sterling “Capt. America” because I do believe he is fighting the good fight. I hope our adventure in book making is one he will cherish.

Well, I guess that about does it. I hope you enjoyed this look back, and I appreciate all the support you’ve given us over the years. Here’s to nine… much more interesting than ten. XOXO, cp.