Unshelved – Gene Ambaum & Bill Barnes

Hi, this is Circulating Ideas, the librarian interview podcast. I’m your host, Steve Thomas and my guests today are Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, the creators of the Library web comic, Unshelved. They’ve published, they started publishing Unshelved in February of 2002 and they have eight published collections.

[Gene] I know what the rule is, I’m not supposed to swear when they walk in the room, so I can’t help but swear.

[Bill] It’s target fixation. They said one time, I went to motorcycle safety school and one of the things they teach you is if there is an obstacle on the road, do not look at it. You want to look at where you want to be, not where you don’t want to be because wherever you look is where you’ll actually go.

That’s what they taught me when I took a gun safety class too, but it didn’t really work very well.

[laughs]

It didn’t make any sense at all.

Just know where the target is, now don’t look at it.

Just set it.

Put it right there.

That actually is on course. Alright, what are we going to talk about, Steve?

All right, first thing I wanted to ask you guys about was I saw, last week when Dave Kellett did a library-themed Sheldon, I don’t know if you saw it cause I saw the tweet he sent you.

I did, it was a hilarious late fee joke.

Yes, well and then he tweeted that he felt bad that when he does library-themed jokes cause he feels like he’s taking food off your plates and so what I’m wondering is how you’re going to exact your revenge upon him.

I didn’t eat lunch that day, that’s all I’m going to say.

[laughs]

My children didn’t eat lunch that day. Dave is, we exact our revenge in Dave on subtle and nefarious ways. We tricked him into doing a really ridiculous contest with us a few years ago where we all endeavored to do the worlds funniest comic strips on… uh…

Coffee cup lids.

On coffee cup lids because we were sitting around, because Gene had done a whole sequence of coffee cup lids and I was, “This is terrible, but you know who could really pull this off is Dave Kellett.” And so we called him up and we were, “You should do this.” And then it turned into a contest. Which I think basically he won, because in the end he’s better at stuff like that.

We did the best strip overall, I think we won the week.

Really?

I do.

Okay.

Yeah.

For panache.

We had, we had Gary Tyrell from Sling.com judge it, and his judging is in our fifth book in Read Responsibly and he gave each one half of them, so.

Do you know Dave well? I mean, have you seen him at conventions, and?

Yeah, Dave, Dave’s actually a good friend of mine and we’ve been, we’ve been exhibiting together for years and basically I’m a big gushing fanboy about Sheldon.

Yeah, we both, we both read it all the time. So, I mean, it’s cool to see him doing that stuff.

And what are the other comics do you guys, webcomics or print comics, whichever, do you get inspiration from? Or just enjoy?

You know, for as often as I am asked that question, you would think I would prepare an answer, but I am always completely flooded by it.

I think the only webcomics I read right now, I read Wondermark and XKCD and I read Wasted Talent once in awhile, Angela Melick. But I don’t read a lot of webcomics. I’m reading a lot of French graphic novels these days, but I wouldn’t say they’re inspiring, in so much as depressing. They make me feel like an untalented hack.

[laughs]

I, I to some degree minimize the amount of webcomics I read, I think because I’m always afraid I’m going to steal from them. And this is the exact opposite of what my, my friend and Not Invented Here collaborator Paul Southworth does which was to imbibe every piece of comedy ever to make sure he never, ever duplicates someone else done.

I also read Not Invented Here, also the comics [laughs] [laughs] How’s that for a plug?

You read it every day right?

Sort of that, that was my standard, my standard. I do actually.

But, once in awhile someone will write a book about libraries and the funny things that patrons do and that the wacky things that librarians say and they hand it to us and we’re, “We are not reading this.” This is way too close to what we do.

Yeah, I had this, I had this whole bookshelf of things that I will read once we’re done with this cause I don’t want to take anything out of them. We, it’s kind of horrifying because they’re books that I totally want to read, it’s like, and the bookshelf just keeps getting deeper and deeper and deeper and, there they sit.

But in terms of, in terms of comic strip influences, I grew up reading Doonesbury and so my dream always used to do a giant ensemble cast with lots of stuff going on and I loved Bloom County which sort of started as a rip off of Doonesbury so that’s cool. And I did read Garfield for a while as a child, but the strips being produced now are so literally the same strips that were produced as a child, so.

Yeah, I believe 20, 25 years ago Garfield was funny and then he just kept doing the same thing over and over again, and.

I bet it’s funny now. I bet if you’re seven and you turn to Garfield, it’s still hysterical.

I still think it’s great, I mean it, but it is, it has that same sense, right? I mean, I wonder if you had an index to it, I mean some kind of colophon for Garfield that you looked it up to see how close that joke was to a joke 20 years ago, how close it would be.

So what do think, what is a colophon?

Isn’t that when you organize it by word?

No, isn’t that, I thought a colophon was when you talk about what font you used.

Is it? Steve, help us out here, you’re a librarian.

I don’t remember, I can find out, I can find out anything though, but.

People like you type that in as an index.

No, no, there’s some word for when you take every, every word that appears in a work of literature and then you index the number of times that it occurs and where it is and I believe that’s a, that’s a.

This is, this interview’s going to grind to a halt while we tell it to you.

It starts, it starts with a C, that’s all I know. I’m just a little sick right now.

A colophon is a, it’s a brief description of publication or production notes relevant to the edition.

Yeah, no, that’s not what I’m talking about.

Well I’m completely wrong.

Yep. It’s not the first time so that’s okay.

I am the world’s worst librarian.

Though I am glad to have it recorded now for, for posterity every time he’s wrong. Now I’ve forgotten what the question was.

Me too.

Well, one thing that, that came up while you guys were talking, I was thinking do you want a large cast,  you said Doonesbury. Did you guys intentionally make the cast of Unshelved large? Or did you just introduce a new character and they hit things off and you just enjoy?

Well let’s just say Unshelved actually has a pretty small cast. I mean it has, it has the four, well now three librarians and one page and then it has a small, really a small number of recurring patrons, maybe less than a dozen, of which only three or four have names.

Right.

And then, and then some other people who pop up once in a while. And Not Invented Here has a bigger cast than Unshelved, just cause that’s the way it’s skewing.

So, I mean all those guys, like Buddy or Ned or whats-his-face, Roger, did you intend them to keep coming back as to when you first introduced them? Or did they just, you liked them?

I think that was more Bill’s annoyance with having to draw different people all the time.

Absolutely.

Which is pretty taxing actually, so he, so he put them with the, put the jokes into different slots and I think started assigning people who have been there before.

Yeah and I think, I think you can absolutely, the difference between my two strips is that, the one I draw I am wildly lazy about stuff so I want as few characters as possible and the one I write I will just make up characters on the whole knowing that Paul really loves to do character design and so he wants to have as many as possible.

So if Gene ever comes up with a new character, you’ll talk him out of it usually?

No, I, no I, when the strip comes out it’s, he’s drawn the guy who appeared five weeks ago.

[laughs]

Yeah, I mean Gene, Gene does not generally, unless it is incredibly relevant, like we have, there’s this older, bald dude called Computer Victim. He made a name but we call him Computer Victim and so when it’s a computer strip, I just used computer victim, even if Gene hasn’t indicated that because he’s, he’s just the guy. And also, I mean the nice thing about having characters is as soon as he appears you know he’s going to have a computer problem, and that lends to the humor.

Right.

But I used to, years and years ago, seven years ago I used to, I was probably still writing intense descriptions of everyone who came on.

It was your Alan Moore phase.

It was crazy, I’d be, “Where’s the flowered dress I ordered for this lady?” And Bill would be, “I didn’t feel like drawing a flower.”

Yeah, flowers are hard.

Stripes are easy.

Yeah.

Everyone’s a prisoner.

Originally, originally I intended to draw the characters in different clothes, but it is actually jarring to have characters in different clothes, because, because they don’t like that person you just saw and that would probably imply that I was better at drawing their faces. And so if I have them, by having them in the same clothes every day, the, our poor people they must just smell terrible in very similar wardrobes.

Well, it’s the same thing in general, I mean with, with all the old classic strips, I mean Charlie Brown wore the same outfit.

I know and obviously there’s great precedent for it, but it was my intention to do that differently, but, and again when we started Not Invented Here I’m, “We should have, we should have Desmond in a different Hawaiian shirt every day,” and Paul’s, “Yeah, you draw that!” And so that was that.

Next year is your tenth anniversary of doing the strip. Do you have any plans for anything really big to do for that anniversary?

I’m planning on not feeling like I’m going to vomit. [laughs] [laughs] [laughs] Today’s a bad day to ask that. [laughs] [laughs] [laughs]

And right now you’re, everything is not vomiting.

Not vomiting, tomorrow, what do we do tomorrow?

What are you going to do for your daughter’s college education? Not vomit.

Not vomit. [laughs]

Ah, that was a good question. I guess we, we sort of started tossing some ideas around. We have probably some book that we’ll come out with. We’re still figuring that out. We are really poor at planning ahead and so no, we do not have any concrete plans for our tenth anniversary.

I mean it will be a PLA year so maybe we’ll do something fun at PLA. We’re kind of thinking about a program.

Yeah, we do have, we do have some programs in mind for either PLA or ALA or both.

Okay.

And then, obviously, we’re not the people who control that. Yeah, it would be fun, I mean I really want the world to just erupt in spontaneous celebration.

I know, I know there’s, there was one, I’m blanking on which book it is, one of your books you had a, an original story in the middle of, a long form story.

Yep, the Library Mascot Cage Match and the story is Empire County Strikes Back.

Right, do you plan to do that again in another, in a future book? Or.

I will say this. One of the funnest things I’ve ever, I’ve ever done with Gene, it was really fun to do, to break of our mold. It was also one of the hardest things we’ve ever done together.

Yeah, we’d never worked on anything of that length before, so rewriting that was extremely painful.

Well I know, and I know you guys generally use the traditional comic strip three grid style, three panel strip and so that was a little bit different from what you normally do too. Except for the book clubs, obviously, or.

It, I mean it’s different in form factor, but I think, I think the strange thing was is that I sat down and I wrote, I mean, I mean, I write a comic script for Bill usually and then he looks at it and he takes a pass at it and he changes a couple of things, or changes almost the whole thing sometimes, and that’s not very frustrating cause my level of commitment to that is smaller. But when I wrote a 24 page comic, and then he took to it and was, “Well, these last four pages are just complete crap,” I was, “Now wait a minute mister. This is, this is a lot of work on my behalf here.” And trying to negotiate those changes was, was harder than it normally is. I think cause I was so much more invested in it, initially.

Right, right.

That’s, so we just got down to the work.

And there was still a point where, I mean it was just, it was just a new thing for both of us and we’d really, we went back to first principles in a big way. I mean I remember Gene telling me here’s what storytelling looks like and we have to have this and it has to seem that all is lost and then out of that comes, you know, they pull victory and. Something we hadn’t really ever done before.

We don’t really do arcs very much, right. We do a week long arc in Unshelved and not like a whole comic book size arc.

Yep.

Yeah, I was surprised, on your weekend reruns you’re doing now, it’s doing the introduction of Buddy and I went back and reread those and I realized, I didn’t realize, I didn’t remember that storyline being quite so long, but it went on for a long.

That is the longest storyline we’ve ever done by far.

We planned one longer, but we, we cut that, it was.

We axed it. See, the one we axed was the story where they remodel the library and.

It was going to be epic.

It was going to be epic, and then we were, “This is the least funny thing ever written in all space-time.” So we just had Buddy do it overnight.

And that’s probably the most work we ever just tossed.

Yeah. But probably wise. It was good to do, some days you have to kill your baby.

It was so terrible.

Yeah.

That was a, that was a baby that was worth throttling in the bathtub. If we had a lot of original material in a book, would the book sell better? And the answer was no. Which is one of the reasons that our books have not since then had a lot, had more original material.

But we think we can probably do something as a stand alone.

I know a stand alone is something different, but it didn’t, it did not inspire people to run out and buy the collection who wouldn’t otherwise have, so.

So, have you guys talked about doing a stand alone kind of thing?

Oh yeah, we’ve talked, we talk about everything and it’s amazing how much we talk about versus how little we actually do.

Fair enough.

Lots of planning.

Lots of planning. Lots of good ideas. But the world is full of, everyone has a good idea, what’s hard is execution. And this year, this year we have, we have a really good idea for a thing we want, we really want to do and the challenge is that we’ve also had a very successful year in terms of booking speaking engagements. So we’re doing 13 talks around the country.

And that’s one thing, that’s one thing I was going to ask. I didn’t know if, I was wondering if you guys were finding it harder to find libraries to speak at? And, so many libraries are having budget crisis at the moment.

We don’t find them, they find us. I mean they literally just email us and say, “Can you talk?” So, we’re not, we’re not calling up libraries and saying, “Please can we speak there?”

Right, right. But you’re not seeing any less?

I will say that I was a little surprised at this year, turned into such a boom year for us.

I think things are on the, on the upturn.

Okay.

And about there, economically and I also think when things, when things are depressing you really don’t want somebody to come in and talk about how bad things are. There’s always going to be those people, you want people to come in and entertain people and make things light. So maybe that’s why it’s a good year for us.

We’re the, we’re the circuses in bread of circuses, bread and.

Are you guys willing to give any hints as to what the future of, of Colleen is?

I think we’ve already talked about how poorly we plan ahead right? [laughs] [laughs]

What can we say about that? Now we have to instantly negotiate a.

I, I would say that I love Colleen.

Me too.

Yeah.

So we probably have not seen the last of Colleen.

Probably, I think she’s a great character.

Yes.

Okay, that’s all we’ll say about that.

She lives in, she lives in a model library neighborhood somewhere. How’s that?

Okay.

I don’t want, I don’t want you to give anything away you don’t want to give away, so.

Well I, it’s not going to be too long before we have some kind of answer, I would say.

Okay, you just shut up now.

Sorry.

Stop talking. You get sick and suddenly your mouth’s like blah, blah, blah. I’m usually the one who can’t stop speaking.

Here’s the, okay Steve here’s our plan for her. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

Yeah don’t, yeah I’ll edit it out, yeah you just tell me and I’ll. You guys have used social media quite a bit to get the word out about your strip and I noticed while I was trying to figure out if you guys had an account on Twitter, I noticed that the @Unshelved account is just some woman who posted something in 2009…

It is the bane of my..

…and her only follower is Bill.

Me, yep.

Are you stalking her in case she gives up the name?

Yes, yep, you know it’s the bane of my existence. Actually, we did a, we did a sequence in Not Invented Here where somebody has the Desmond account and it’s the bane of Desmond’s existence and that’s, and somebody does really have a Desmond account and they really just had a single tweet.

I just want to say this is not the bane of my existence. I could care less.

We have different banes, it’s true. I have, I have, particularly like one, it’s, we have different priorities and one of my largest priorities in life right now is to get to the next tier in the Alaska Airlines frequent flyer plan.

Oh my god.

And like I’m, I’m moving heaven and earth to make sure that happens.

He’s, he’s telling me to take an extra flight. I mean I hate to fly and he’s, “Take an extra flight somewhere man, you can make it too!”

Cause this year we’re traveling so much that we’re started to get upgraded to first-class once in awhile. I’m, “This is good, we should do this more, plus we get free drinks.”

And you guys, you guys will go to ComicCon next week.

We are, we are.

Yep.

That is our, that is our hardest show of the year.

Why is that?

Well, because we, we do two kinds of shows. We do library shows and we do comic shows and I guess we do Book Expo America which is somewhere in between. But, the library shows are really fun, because first of all a lot of our fans were there. And anyone who’s not a fan is absolutely a potential fan.

Right.

And so anyone who walks by I’m, “Comic strip about a library?” And so they either say, “Get it,” or they’re, “Tell me more.” And so that is the best kind of selling because it is very rare when you get someone who is just not interested and if they’re not interested, someone behind them is.

Right.

And the comic shows are much more generally the, well they’re the general population. I mean they’re, and they’re really, they’re not even comics fans these days. Comic Con is the chance of someone who walks by who actually cares about comics is fairly low.

Right.

There’s a few there, yeah, they’re there to meet some TV star or movie star or something.

But at the comic shows there are more people dressed like Slave Leia and Batgirl.

Yeah, that’s an upside, I’m not saying Leia.

I heard Darth Vader was walking around ALA this year, so.

There was storm troopers, I didn’t actually see Darth, it’s possible.

I didn’t see Darth Vader.

I saw the stormtroopers. Anyway, so, so the, what it means is every time someone walks by, that sale is starting from, it’s starting from zero and doesn’t often get much past zero.

I think it’s starting from minus one, actually.

It is kind of starting from minus one because the other thing about ALA or any of the library shows is just the fact that we’re cartoonists and doing a comic makes us stand out and it’s interesting to people and at Comic Con it’s not interesting at all.

Well I, but at Comic Con we do find people who are complete book geeks and who are very, very interested and so, and that, that’s well worth it, because they’re incredibly dedicated fans of the medium.

They’re there, we just have to find them. But it is, it’s just, it’s a hard show because we have to find them as opposed to them finding us.

But it is, but it is worth your time to go, it’s not, it doesn’t feel like it’s a waste of time.

Interesting talk, but yes, I will say it’s not, not a waste of time. And plus it’s a fun show, it’s so, it’s so fun for me to be there. I mean just to run around and see the toys and stuff alone is awesome. Bill finds it a bit more wearing I think.

Are you doing, are you doing the panels or anything?

I love, I love that. Well I used to. Used to go to the, Gene is going to be on a panel on Comics In Libraries and I used to love going to that show because I would go to see Joss Whedon speak. But it’s gotten so big and crowded that I would literally have to start standing in line first thing in the day and be in line for 12 hours and that means I can’t be at the booth selling to people which is the reason why we’re there, so.

And I tend to, I tend to not like that big media stuff very much, I haven’t, I haven’t really gone to see a big media event since I saw Kevin Smith probably seven years ago. And so, and I don’t, I don’t like it because of the lines, but I’ll go to see, I think Lewis Trondheim is one of my favorite cartoonists right now, he’s French and he was a guest of honor and I ran up to see him speak for an hour and that was just fantastic for me. It wasn’t very crowded though unfortunately, which is kind of horrifying to me because I think everybody should love this guy and know who he is. But, it was fantastic so that I could arrive as the show started and get a seat reasonably close to the front and just hang onto his every word. Which was excellent.

Yeah, Gene was feeling bad that there weren’t more people there, so he ran outside and he screamed, “Joss Whedon’s in here.” That didn’t really happen.

Didn’t work? [laughs]

It didn’t happen. I’m just making it up. You’re looking healthier by the way.

I’m feeling a little bit better right now.

Yeah, I think it’s Steve, Steve’s dulcet tones…

I think the arsenic you gave me, in my coffee, it’s probably, had something to do with it. Ooh.

I know the, the Unshelved Answers part of your site was really popular and then they had the service switch to a different type and so you guys had to shut it down. Could you describe what, what it was?

Unshelved Answers is, there’s a great site called, started years ago, called Stack Overflow, which was a question and answer sect for program writers and I, I’m by training a programmer so I know all about it. And then they, they took the engine behind that and they distilled it and they called that Stack Exchange and they said, “Hey, would you like to start a site like Stack Overflow except for your particular business?” And we said yes. So we did that and we started one for library stuff and it was very successful and we called it Unshelved Answers, but not long after they did that, they changed business models and they said, “You know what? Instead of having you do this, we’re going to do it ourselves.” And so now there are Stack Exchange sites for dozens of different things, and I subscribe to several of them, one for music and one for programmers and one for comics and they’re all really great and actually we’re trying to get one started for libraries, it doesn’t quite have critical mass.

But you are working on something?

We love the idea of, of having, having a website that wasn’t Unshelved where the community could come together and one of these days we’ll do something like that again.

Okay.

Essentially all the data from Unshelved Answers is on our site. Is that right?

Yes, so the collective wisdom is still available.

And there’s some, there’s some open source competitor to Stack Exchange, right?

Yeah.

I can’t remember what it was called, but it’s named on that, on that sub-site of our site.

Yeah.

And so we’re kind of hoping that someone will take the ball up and reference and read, put that information into, into that site if it’s possible, but. We don’t really, we don’t really like it’s viable at this point.

So, Bill has your, you have your other site, the other strip, Not Invented Here. Gene, do you ever plan to do another strip? Or Bill do you want to?

I will probably keep creating comic strips for the rest of my life.

Okay.

I’m a serial comic strip creator.

I hired somebody, I’m not quite ready to talk about specifics about this, but I hired somebody to draw a picture book for me, literally two weeks ago now. And so, you know, more about that later. But, what? Bills making a face.

He’s already told you more about it than he’s told me.

[laughs]

Just a fantastic web comics artist, that’s all I’m going to say.

You just can’t stop and. Ask him, ask him questions about his sex life, Steve. He’ll apparently discuss anything today. No seriously, usually our dynamic is that I’m the one blabbing about stuff and he’s, “No.”

It must be the medications, so.

No, absolutely.

No, you know what it is. What I find is that when I talk about stuff I don’t do it.

Yeah.

And, and when I do stuff and I can talk about it, when it’s out I feel much better. I feel like that’s giving it a go and so until this is further along I’m not going to discuss specifics of it very much, but I, there’s a lot of things that I want to do and I’m working on some of them.

Steve, the, the reason I started Not Invented Here was because I was just itching to do that. I had all these stories from when I worked in the software industry and I really want to tell them. And, and you can see it, if you look carefully through almost ten years of Unshelved, you can see me trying to do that. Trying to talk about technology. Trying to talk about, and it’s just not a good fit. There’s some technology in libraries, but most of it wasn’t a good fit. And the extent to which I would start another comic strip or something like that is because I feel like I can’t do it in my other two comic strips. They’re just stories and characters that cannot exist in the library or in an office. The, the comic strip I was working on before I started working with Gene was a comic strip based on my wife’s and my experience traveling around the country in an RV for nine months. And it was just this whacky, fun, cultural experience and traveling and people who do it and old folks and their RV’s and I really wanted to talk about that. So that’s the.

What was that one called?

I went through various names and it never really showed up on the web, so you can’t find it.

Okay.

But, but one of these days I’d like to reboot that. I still want to do that, so maybe I will.

Reboot it and do it the whole family this time and no RV?

I’d love to do that.

And then you, when you guys first started you were called Overdue, but you had some, there was some trademark issue with that I guess? Is that.

Yeah, the key to intellectual property is, it’s not who actually wins, it’s who can afford to stay the course in terms of lawsuits. So, we, there was a, there wasn’t even anyone knocking on our door. We just looked around and said, “Oh, this one person has a better claim than we do on there. A much bigger company than we do.” So we just did the very conservative thing.

So they didn’t actually come after you, you just.

No, no, no, no and actually in the end I slightly preferred the name Unshelved and we got our own domain. I mean, Overdue.com was not available, but Unshelved.com was, so that.

Isn’t Overdue.com a collection agency or something? Or it was.

It ought to be. But the joke about the name Overdue was that it could either be about a library or a collection agency or a maternity ward. We had all options. We could always pivot.

How about we call it Overthedo? But I don’t think that, that fell by the wayside.

And is it right that the way you came up with the new name Unshelved was you held a contest with your readers?

We, we did. But I think, I think that somebody came close, right? But nobody named it. Nobody said.

I actually think somebody did. I think Unshelved was one of the names. And mostly what it, it just gave us more stuff to argue about. But.

Well, no, no we had to make a whole rubric. We had to start, we had to agree on the percentage of things, like what was, what was this percentage important and then we had to go through the ten finalists, it was crazy. But it kind of taught us how to argue a little bit more I think.

How did you guys meet up for the first time?

Gene knew my wife before I did. They were friends and then I was, I was working at a software company and then I quit. And then I did that thing when I realized after I quit my job that all my friends were work friends. They were friends because we all worked together and when I left they didn’t come with me and so I’m, “Oh, I need new friends.” And she said well you should hang out with Gene. She didn’t actually say Gene, cause Gene’s not his real name, but she said, “You should hang out with Gene. You guys, you guys would enjoy reading comics and going to bad movies together.” Which we did.

I’m going to vomit now.

Okay, he’s going to vomit now Steve. Can we bring this interview to a halt?

You know the, do you know why? Because I just saw those, those comics we bought in Austin, Texas.

Oh yeah, those aren’t pretty.

Oh, they’re terrible.

What other breaking question did you need to ask us before Gene died?

I can tell you guys are huge book fans because you do the weekly book club and you do the book reviews on the site and.

Yeah, no, we’re big nerds.

Yeah, it’s all fun.

Are you both comics nerds? Or is that just Gene?

Well we’re different comics nerds. He’s a, he’s a broader comics nerd.

Yeah, I mean I will try almost anything and Bill has this giant shelf of Marvel stuff.

It’s true, I have and some Image, but mostly Marvel. Yeah, no I, I essentially read the same comics that I read as a kid and anything that’s too far out of there is too far out of there. But I.

I’m always looking for that experimental thing that, that just blows me away by doing something completely unexpected and.

I would, I would say Gene is more of a student of the, of the art form and I just, I enjoy the stories I enjoy. And that’s true with the reading too, that I read fairly narrowly unless I have reason to do otherwise.

Okay. Well, thank you guys for agreeing to do the interview with me.

And this will be, this will be the last interview before Gene died, so that will be, that will be good.

Sigh.

I mean he died in the middle of it and he came back and then he’s going to die again, so.

Yeah, no, he was resurrected, it was quite a thing.

It was Bill’s mouth to mouth that really helped me out.

Oh, right, if only we had video.

All right, well, good talking to ya.

All right, thanks a lot, guys.

Okay, thanks Steve, take care.

Bye bye.

Right, bye.