By Mimi Pond. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Hardcover, 448 pages, Monochrome, 2017.
A YOUNG WOMAN’S ART CAREER BEGINS TO LIFT OFF AS THOSE AROUND HER SUCCUMB TO ADDICTION AND ALCOHOLISM
The Customer is Always Wrong is the saga of a young naïve artist named Madge working in a restaurant of charming drunks, junkies, thieves, and creeps. Oakland in the late seventies is a cheap and quirky haven for eccentrics and Mimi Pond folds the tales of the fascinating sleaze-ball characters that surround young Madge into her workaday waitressing life. Outrageous and loving tributes and takedowns of her co-workers and satellites of the Imperial Cafe create a snapshot of a time in Madge’s life where she encounters who she is, and who she is not.
Told in the same brash yet earnest style as her previous memoir Over Easy, Pond’s storytelling gifts have never been stronger than in this epic, comedic, standalone graphic novel. Madge is right back at the Imperial with its great coffee and depraved cast, where things only get worse for her adopted restaurant family while her career as a cartoonist starts to take off.
Praise for The Customer is Always Wrong
Mimi Pond is a treasure, one we ignore at our own risk... Her latest book — a thick, semi-autobiographical bildungsroman called The Customer Is Always Wrong — might be her greatest work to date. It’s a lengthy and detailed portrait of a young woman working at a restaurant in late-’70s Oakland and the cast of characters around her — some of them shady, some of them lovable, and all of them compelling. Pond’s hand is confident and her figure work hops balletically across the page; her facial acting is simple, but searing.Vulture
An absolute master class in cartooning, character, caricature, and storytelling that is as emotionally resonant as comics get, but without resorting to anything approaching melodrama or cheese.Under the Radar
The sobering wake-up call to naive nostalgia... [The Customer Is Always Wrong offers] a look at the end of a wild ride, punctuated by deeply profound moments in a time that could swallow you whole.Brandon Yu, San Francisco Chronicle
Mimi Pond is an incredible storyteller in any medium... But the greatest depths of melancholy, tragedy and humor are found in her quasi-memoir graphic novels, starting with Over Easy (2014) and now with The Customer Is Always Wrong, about an artist named Madge and a rogues’ gallery of restaurant customers wandering through Oakland in the 1970s.Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
Madge's coming of age is hilarious, terrifying, moving, and compulsively readable. Great drawings and great writing.Roz Chast, author of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant...
Lively, entertaining, empathic, and very funny—beautifully capturing the angst of 20-something working-class artists in the anything-goes sensibility of the late ‘70s Bay Area.PEN America
Madge is like a boho '70s Dorothy traveling through Oakland's edgy Oz: a place of drugs, sex, racial tensions, heartbreak and, sometimes, redemption. I love Mimi Pond. I love Madge’s journey towards self-discovery. And I love the "Imperial Cafe,” which, all these years later still makes the best cheddar, green chile scrambled eggs you’ve ever tasted.Peggy Orenstein, Author of Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
Whether navigating abuse, abortion or the narcotic of love, [Customer] contains the highs and lows of a human life... [it] engenders a potent sense of empathy that reflects Pond’s graceful storytelling and articulate figures.Sean Edgar, Paste
Immensely enjoyable.Kirkus Starred Review
Sharp and ambitious... If Pond’s last book was a sitcom, The Customer is Always Wrong would be an HBO drama with a Sunday night time slot.Jezebel
A book filled with ghosts... An Oakland that doesn't exist anymore, a culture that doesn't exist anymore, and people that don't exist anymore, in more ways than one.Hollywood Reporter
Aptly named... Madge is an art-school dropout working at a diner filled with junkies, drunks and derelicts in late-1970s California.Sue Carter, Fashion Magazine March 2017
Set in late 1970s Oakland, this comedic graphic novel from Over Easy author Pond follows a waitress named Madge whose career as a comic artist finally starts to take off.Entertainment Weekly
The sleazeballs, drunks, and assorted weirdoes of the Imperial Cafe are the backdrop for a book that manages to make an epic out of the life of a struggling artist serving up coffee to a cast of characters both funny and deeply human.Barnes and Noble Blog
Readers looking for complex, character-driven storytelling will find a lot to love in The Customer Is Always Wrong.Oliver Sava, AV Club