Pond’s autobiographical graphic novel, set in California at the end of the 1970s, describes the period shortly after she left art school due to a lack of funds, taking a job first as a dishwasher, then as a waitress at the Imperial Cafe in Oakland, Calif. All the regulars and staff at the cafe have pseudonyms, and she becomes Madge. She’s on the cusp of adulthood, and society is about to move from an era of dreamy love to one of angry punk. This affecting portrait is filled with well-observed characters, all going through transitions of their own, including poetry-writing cooks who are jumping into marriage, and wise-cracking, love-seeking waitresses commiserating over busted romance. This is no rose-colored memoir, though—neither figuratively nor literally, as the book is printed in turquoise duotone, giving everything a serene feel that suits such long-ago memories. Pond’s work is realistic enough that the characters are familiar, but cartoony enough that we can laugh at their foibles. And she takes a realistic look at the counterculture of the period; sometimes even the hippies get on her nerves, which may please non–baby boomers tired of the over-glorification of that generation. Her detailed portrait of thee Imperial Cafe’s small community, as it remains unaware of its own directionlessness, offers a warm take on universal themes of seeking and belonging. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/14/2014 Release date: 04/15/2014 Genre: Comics
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.