- Posted by Johanna on January 13, 2006 at 9:06 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
- CREDITS: written by Gene Ambaum; art by Bill Barnes
- PUBLISHER: Overdue Media; $14.95 US
Unshelved: What Would Dewey Do? is the second collection of the webcomic strip about librarians and their patrons.
The Dewey of the title is a young adult librarian, named (I’m guessing) after the classification system. Like his patrons, he’s interested in comic books and video games, and he doesn’t have much time for pretension or the way things have always been done.
Bill Barnes (artist) and Gene Ambaum (writer) really know their stuff. The characters seem realistic, exactly who you’d meet at a library, and judging from the industry praise they get, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Some of these gags seem like they have to have happened in real life, because who could dream them up otherwise?
The strip’s denizens are also welcoming to the reader. Each has their own wacky way of getting through life, but together, they seem like people you’d want to know. The book is a kind of comfort food, humor that stems from caring. These folks like their jobs, even when they’re complaining about, for instance, neglectful parents. (I suspect many comic shop workers could relate to the “this is not day care” situation.)
A particular sequence that struck both my funny bone and my sense of recognition revolved around Dewey feeling old before his time. I loved the list of things a teen patron couldn’t recognize in their original form. Other strip runs involve ergonomics, a haiku poetry slam, providing tax forms, problems with the Patriot Act, and the ever-popular computer glitches and stupid customer questions.
The comics are reprinted at a very reader-friendly two inches high. The simple art style could stand further squashing, but postage-stamp sizing is an unfortunate strip trend that it’s nice to see avoided. The line weight consistency could be improved a bit — at times, it appears that the artist has switched from a drafting pen to a marker and back again within the same strip.
The book concludes with a funny two pages on how the strip is created. This is definitely worth reading for those who love their libraries. I’ve also reviewed the first volume.