202: Library Comic – Gene Ambaum and Willow Payne

Steve chats with Gene Ambaum and Willow Payne, the writer and artist of Library Comic, about the transition from Unshelved to Library Comic, integrating spiders into the strip as much as possible, creative Kickstarter merch ideas, and Gene’s terrible taste in books and movies (according to Willow).

Gene Ambaum is a library guy who lives in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time he reads and dreams of having more spare time. He co-created and wrote Unshelved.

Willow Payne is a Florida-based artist who has worked with Gene on Unshelved Book Club comics and their as-yet incomplete epic Barbarian Girl: The Burning Blade of the Badlands. She graduated from The Center for Cartooning Studies in 2014 and will inevitably take over the comics world. Her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, and Philip Pullman. She took over as the artist for Library Comic in June of 2019 with strip 581.

Today’s show is brought to you by Syndetics Unbound, from ProQuest and LibraryThing. Syndetics Unbound helps public and academic libraries enrich their catalogs and discovery systems with high-interest elements, including cover images, summaries, author profiles, similar books, reviews, and more. Syndetics Unbound encourages serendipitous discovery and higher collection usage, and was recently awarded Platinum distinction in the LibraryWorks 2021 Modern Library Awards. To learn more about Syndetics Unbound, visit Syndetics.com. While there, be sure to visit their “News” tab to check out the Syndetics Unbound Blog for news and analysis, including a break-down of 2020’s most popular titles in public and academic libraries.


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2: Unshelved

Steve speaks with Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes from the webcomic Unshelved.

Read the transcript.

Librarian Gene Ambaum and cartoonist Bill Barnes began publishing Unshelved on February 16, 2002. They have eight published collections.

Gene Ambaum (by Bill Barnes)

Gene Ambaum uses a pen name because he’s scared of his own shadow. He is so good at making fun of strange, difficult customers in Unshelved because he is the strangest, most difficult customer of all. He taught English overseas because no one there was in a position to criticize his spelling. If he ever starts another comic strip it will be about poop, because that’s what he spends most of his time thinking about.

Bill Barnes (by Gene Ambaum)

Bill Barnes loves librarians, show tunes, and meat. He can count his toes without taking off his shoes. Over the past eight years, he has tried to convince Gene that the meaning of “partnership” is doing what he says 99% of the time. He can often be seen wandering the floor at trade shows playing “The Final Countdown” on his ukulele Death Adder. In his spare time he draws Unshelved and writes a comic about the software industry, Not Invented Here.