Everything Is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee Collection

Paul Madonna. City Lights, $27.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-87286-515-0
In this exquisite second collection from his long-running weekly San Francisco Chronicle series All Over Coffee, Madonna captures snapshots in time as he explores the relationship between image and text, with a mixture of single- and multi-panel strips all presented vertically. Completely devoid of people but never of life, each panel revolves around a geographical setting, from recognizable landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge to an anonymous block that's so gorgeously rendered in Madonna's precise yet fluid pen-and-ink style, it feels like it could be anywhere and everywhere. The integration of text—from snippets of fiction and autobiography to single sentences stretching across panels—is as deliberate as the pen strokes and ink washes, and as essential to grasping the complete picture. Though there are no conventional narrative arcs, Madonna continually revisits such themes as place and memory as he deconstructs the traditional storytelling elements in this "comic strip without the comic, whose main and only character [is] setting." With pieces depicting San Francisco, New York, Barcelona, and Tokyo, Madonna's work is something to savor, because, as the artist writes, you "want to absorb every moment of this, enjoy every second." (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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