The Two Guys with PhDs are back for another Publisher Spotlight, and this time they turn their attention to recent releases from AdHouse Books. On this episode, they look at the publisher’s 2015 catalog (so far), but first Derek talks briefly with AdHouse’s founder and publisher, Chris Pitzer. He gives the lowdown on the origins of the press, how he translated his designer skills into publishing acumen, the process of artist acquisition, and some of his most notable (and unlikely) publishing successes over the years. After that, the guys plunge into their discussion of the five books that have come out — or are about to come out — from AdHouse this year. They start with the new edition of Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Street Angel. Both Derek and Andy Kunka had already discussed last year’s Street Angel when they had Rugg on for an interview earlier this year, but this new edition gives the reader a different color experience. Whereas the earlier book contained black and white art, this one sets the illustrations on pink paper, giving Jesse “Street Angel” Sanchez’s adventures a whole new feel as she keeps the world safe from ninja gangs, evil geologists, nepotism, and math homework. Next, the Two Guys discuss a truly offbeat book from Eric Haven. Ur is a collection of strange, absurd, and hilarious short comics reminiscent of the works of Michael Kupperman, Evan Dorkin, and Ryan Browne. Highlights include the heroics of Bed Man, Dream Lord of the Night Sky, and the demented adventures of everyman Race Murdock. Without question, this is one of the guys’ reading highlights of the week. Next, they turn to the fourth issue of Ethan Rilly’s Pope Hats. The guys bring different perspectives to Rilly’s work, with Derek having read the previous issues and this being Andy’s first exposure to the series. Fans of Pope Hats will find this a different kind of issue. The story of Frances and Vickie is temporarily put on hold while Rilly presents many of his previously published short comics, including the meditative “Stained Glass” and the psychologically moving “The Nest.” After that, the guys look at Sophie Goldstein’s novella-length work, The Oven. This is an alternate world, post-apocalyptic narrative about living off the grid and how empowering and life-changing such a move can be. Goldstein’s simple, evenly paced art reveals deeper levels of understanding than its small page count might suggest. Finally, Derek and Andy wrap up their spotlight with a discussion of Kathryn and Stuart Immonen’s soon-to-be-released Russian Olive to Red King. Much like The Oven, this is a relationship story that unfolds slowly, allowing character to develop in organic and natural ways. In addition to the art, one of the most striking aspects of the book is it’s last third, composed almost entirely of text. The guys note that while prose-heavy narrative can be a potential put-off in comics, Kathryn Immonen handles the story brilliantly, using the text to add depth to its more stoic art. Andy declares this one of his favorite books of 2015 so far. In fact, you could say something similar about all of this year’s AdHouse books taken together.
A big THANKS to Chris Pitzer for helping to make this show possible.