The Customer is Always Wrong, Mimi Pond's latest fictionalized memoir is, if anything, even better than Over Easy, the volume that preceded it. It is 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.
Madge is a waitress with dreams of being a cartoonist, yet finds herself absorbed in the lives of both customers and fellow restaurant staff. Each character and encounter is fully realized in a compelling manner through Madge's lens, particularly Lazlo, her boss at the diner and the secondary focus of the book.
This is a meaty volume (450 pages) that takes its time in developing the story, which allows for a massive payoff—several actually—by the end. The art style is expressive, charming, and very distinctive; it effectively brings to life 1980s Oakland. Yet the book is overflowing with thoughtful questions and discussion about the nature of life itself, about ambition, about community-eternal topics that relevant in any era.