Librarians know how to have fun, that’s for sure. Just one glance at the cover artwork for Library Mascot Cage Match, and you’ll understand why. Even the synopsis is pretty great:
What’s so funny about a library? Just about everything, as you’ll find out in Library Mascot Cage Match, the third Unshelved collection. In addition to a year’s worth of comic strips featuring library mascots duking it out and the return of the masked mystery man known only as “the Shusher,” LMCM features the all-new full-color graphic novelette Empire County Strikes Back. Can Mallville’s librarians defeat the mother of all bookmobiles?
Unshelved is a daily comic strip set in a library, the Mallville (a play on Superman’s Smallville) Public Library, to be precise. Co-authors and illustrator Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum (not his real name) shared their view of what it’s like to exist in a library space, from 2002-2016. Guest illustrator Chris Hallbeck replaced Gene Ambaum in the final days of new comic production, and the strip published its final new comic on November 9, 2016. Lucky for us, they reuse their material, so when you visit their website or sign up for their feed, you can still re-live the 14 years’ worth of gems.
Just take a look at some of these characters! One can only imagine the shenanigans they encounter:
Dewey is a teen services librarian. When confronted with rude or crazy customers, he says the things we’d like say, but we don’t because it would get us fired. He’s got a way with teens because he’d rather be reading comics or playing video games. Coffee and a sense of irony see him through new library polices, and help him deal with bad behavior.
Tamara is a children’s librarian. She enjoys Aikido, storytime, vegan cookbooks, and rainbows. Tamara is cheery and idealistic, but don’t cross her. Her favorite letter is “T.”
Colleen is an old school reference librarian. She often feigns feigning computer illiteracy, and will defend the print reference collection to the death, if need be. She recently retired under the best possible circumstances and is set to become a nightmare patron (she knows where all the skeletons are buried AND what rules they broke). Doreen is her daughter.
Mel is the library’s beleaguered manager. Caught between an unreasonable administration and noncompliant staff, she tries to keep the chaos to a minimum. Her great passions are fly fishing and office supplies. Mel can’t state an opinion that isn’t immediately contradicted by events.
Buddy is a former summer reading mascot who was hired as a library page. He still wears his costume every day. Despite a colorful past and a weak grip on reality, Buddy single-handedly keeps the books on the shelves.
Elsie is the Mallville Public Library System’s cataloger. No one ever sees her do anything except knit, but the work all magically gets done. She rarely leaves the admin building’s basement.
Merv spends a lot of time in the library for someone who doesn’t like to read. He enjoys action figures, web surfing, and video games. Dewey is either his idol, the only person who will talk to him, or both.
Ned is Mallville’s media-savvy attorney. He is also a civil libertarian who exercises his freedom of expression in a unique way.
If you find yourself in need of some hilarious, relevant, and perhaps all too relatable reading material, take a gander at the collection of Unshelved book title collections at Goodreads.