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All Over Coffee

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  362 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In February 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle began printing an enigmatic feature called “All Over Coffee.” Almost immediately, letters of love and hate, confusion and praise poured in. Accustomed to the familiar formats of comic strips and cartoons, some readers struggled to understand a creation that seemed to live both within and beyond those boundaries.
All Over Coffee blends t
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by City Lights Publishers
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City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
In February 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle began printing an enigmatic feature called “All Over Coffee.” Almost immediately, letters of love and hate, confusion and praise, poured in. Accustomed to the familiar formats of comic strips and cartoons, some readers struggled to understand a creation that seemed to live both within and beyond those boundaries.

All Over Coffee blends the timing of comics with the depth of poetry. Artist and writer Paul Madonna has fused art, literature,
Andy Karlson
Oct 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: draftspersons and aesthetes.
This would have been an easy 5 stars were it not for the at times unbearable pretentiousness of the texts that accompany the drawings. But I get ahead of myself.

This is a collection of a comic strip that appears in the San Francisco Chronicle. Each strip consists of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous pen-and-ink drawing of a building or park or view from different parts of the city, paired with a snippet of dialogue written in the style of overheard conversation. There's the rub.

Madonna (the author/art
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Artists, all people who love San Francisco!
Paul Madonna rocks! His drawings are excellent and his words are quite often very inspiring and thought-provoking, which are two things I prize highly :) I borrowed this book from the library and read all the works and also the short auto-biography at the back (which is really a valuable and interesting part of the book and I highly suggest everybody make sure to read it-- he talks about his creative process and how he came to be a comic-strip artist for the SF Chronicle. It was also really inte ...more
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, august08
Awesome snippets of conversation paired with beautiful drawings of San Francisco.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I almost never rate books 5/5, to best make use of the full rating range.

This book is a series of short descriptions - overheard conversations? people in the coffee shop? - with a backdrop of drawings of San Francisco. It's strangely haunting. I spent a lot of time exploring the city alone when I first moved here and it really captures that very nonspecific feeling, the sense that there are a million worlds around you that you will only get a glimpse of.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
"I don't get superheroes," she says, "if you could see through everything you'd see nothing at all." (p.19)

We've all thought these kinds of things and Madonna has actually written them all down, alongside his beautiful pen and ink wash drawings. A great coffee table book!
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
love his work. a tad overwhelming to read straight through, so i know i didn't appreciate all the drawings the way i'd like to.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up this gem at the City Lights Bookstore while attending a 3-day workshop in San Fran. I had snuck away from my tour group and had wandered through Chinatown and alleys spray-painted with Tupac-faced dragons to get to CLB. Once there, I rummaged through some Ferlinghetti tomes and stared at old pictures of Ginsberg before I spotted this book on a rickety display by the register and coughed up nearly $35 impulsive dollars. I had to lug it all the way back through Chinatown to the bus, an ...more
Matthias Ferber
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is a strange, beautiful book that I hardly know how to describe. It's a collection of what for lack of a better term I have to call comic strips that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle between 2003 and 2006. Each consists of one or two illustrated panels and some text that often has no apparent connection to the artwork. The illustrations are lovely sepia-toned pen-and-ink drawings of scenes from San Francisco (or, in a couple of cases and without explanation, Paris); they might depict a familiar la ...more
Susan Eubank
Great pictures!
Here are the questions discussed at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Arboretum Library of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden on December 20, 2017:
(view spoiler) ...more
Laura Fingal-Surma
Aug 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: san franciscans
i try to avoid buying books on impulse since i have at least 30 in my shopping cart on amazon, but i walked by all over coffee in borders, and the pictures drew me in. it was one of two books autographed by the author that i purchased on a whim that day (thankfully the other was from a smaller neighborhood bookstore). i had high hopes and figured i would buy a large scale print of one of the drawings. execution, however, falls short of concept, and i found the stories interesting but not particularly ...more
Kristen Northrup
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fromlibrary, art, comics
He's like a west coast Maira Kalman, which is a good thing. These pieces originally ran in the newspaper, one at a time, so they tend to be very self-contained and it's better to space out the reading over time to keep them from all mushing together. Although I really like how he draws buildings, San Francisco ends up not very attractive. Maybe it's just the sort of grimy color wash. Trees and clouds, on the rare occasions where they appear, don't look quite right, although they improved signifi ...more
We didn't get the San Francsico Chronicle when we lived in the Bay Area, so I did not see these drawings of San Francisco by pen and ink master Paul Madonna back then, but have just discovered him now, via his Album series of balsa airplanes.

Paul Madonna is also classified under graphic novels by some, though, as one reviewer says: he "deconstructs storytelling." The language is sparse, but elegant and visual. This excerpt explains: I am also reminded of some of the work of Chris Van
Jun 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poets and eavesdroppers who adore San Francisco
I think this book, All Over Coffee, a compendium of Paul Madonna's sketches and musings, would be most enjoyable if you like his work. Frankly, as a longtime reader of the San Francisco Chronicle, I always looked forward to his spidery ink drawings that took little nooks and crannies of the City, held them up close, and were accompanied with pithy, witty, and sometimes downright sad (and also sometimes a little kooky) quotes of unseen characters who habituated these environs he so painstakingly ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
all over coffee is a visual love-letter to the beautiful city of san francisco. alongside highly vivid and dramatic, yet simplistic and bold, drawings of SF's landscapes, architectures, and skylines, are notes...jottings...literal impressions also written by paul madonna himself. visually, the attention to detail for every drawing really WOW'd me. for the drawings alone, it's worth the purchase. as a new resident of SF, all over coffee provided me with a much better...a more personal... and sent ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, nonfiction, own_it
4.5 stars. Loved the art and it made me miss the Bay Area, even though the strip was new to me (I didn't read it when I lived in the area). The dialog was harder for me to get into at first...I had trouble finding its voice (and sometimes, the more simple narratives read in my head like the voice of SNL's "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy"...that made it hard to take seriously). But by the middle of the book the narrative improved for me, and the artwork became more and more beautiful. I will be read ...more
Debra Lowman
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautiful drawings done in pencil and pen and ink combined with poetry...sigh.

This collection comes from a comic strip that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Madonna's art is beautiful and from the heart. They show the corners and scenes that form the backdrop of everyday life in SF. Coupled with the drawings are "conversations", presumably taking place over coffee.

It's a beautiful book. My only comment would be that the poetry was rather forced. If it was meant to portray convers
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like offbeat graphic novels
This is one of the graphic novels that were newly processed and ready to circulate at my library. So I snagged this one to look at during Club Anime today. It's a very interesting book with thoughtful snippets of conversation or observations that one could/would make while drinking coffee, or looking out the window.

The artwork is amazing and deserves to be appreciated in good light and not in the darkened basement auditorium while voluptuous anime women are pulling tiny cell phones o
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Relyn by: spotted at an art museum
I can't believe I nearly forgot this book. I was finished with my top ten for 2009 when I remembered this treasure of a book. I fell in love with it immediately when I spotted it at The Legion of Honor Art Museum in San Francisco. I bought it as a souvenir of my trip. What a wonderful trip that was. What a wonderful book this is. The art is incredible. The idea, unique. The writing, superb. I LOVE this book.
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Madonna has certainly achieved his goal of creating beautiful work. I loved the way his drawings capture San Francisco from very human angles. He chooses perspectives and details that someone walking around would see, which give the strips an almost intimate feel. The text is also so cool: surprising, thoughtful, and giving a feeling of lived reality, even if it's fictional.
My only objection to this book is its binding, which makes the book very awkward to hold.
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this book! I found it one random afternoon exploring city lights bookstore, it was one of those books that immediately catch your attention, and you end up sitting with it for half an hour, unexpectedly.

It emphasizes the beauty in the details behind this gorgeous city-landscapes painted without people, and some small narratives thrown into the mix for a little dimension. Its fantastic!!
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: manga-graphic
beautiful. daydreamy. a step away from reality while still being reality bound. the title is perfect, as even though it relates to how the author/artist arrived at this project, it is also how it feels when viewing the book: sitting, relaxing in a fave chair with a great cuppa and soaking up the sun. nicely done.
ANIOTUS Marcus Longmuir
This book jumped at me from the shelves of City Lights. I flipped the pages and it opened to an image of the bar next door and the table I just left with my new friends. You can read this cover to cover and build your own sense of narrative flow, or you can flip around, or open it to just a single page. For those who love cities, welcome to the ultimate homage to city life.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This brings a whole new meaning to the term "coffee table book." Madonna's artwork evokes San Francisco as only a local can - it's a city of contrasts: great beauty, ugliness, lushness and harshness; an urban garden with lots of thorns that can make you cry or laugh as they prick you. It's a book that lets your imagination run wild and will haunt you long after you put it down.
Kurt Klopmeier
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
amazing cityscapes of San Francisco rendered in ink and shaded in sepia tones, captioned by intimate everyday thoughts and slices of life. mixes the timing of comics with the minutiae of poetry. sometimes very affecting sometimes not so much. and the spare use of color makes it pop out when he does add a small dash.
Sep 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who's lived in the Bay Area
I love books that have a real sense of place, and All Over Coffee is beautifully rooted in San Francisco. Sometimes the text accompanying the gorgeous SF scenes was trying a little too hard... but more often it was just quirky and thought-provoking and occasionally it was strikingly insightful.
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
There's no other piece of art like this. It's in a class of it's own--tremendous visuals, inspiring/poetic writing, clever conversation, and images from San Francisco that are better than any photograph you've ever seen.
Sara Habein
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites
All Over Coffee is a gorgeous book, an instant favorite, and I cannot recommend it enough.

(My full review can be found on Glorified Love Letters.)
Erin Harper
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a good lunch read today. The author spent a lot of pages talking about how he got to where he is in the afterword, which was nice too. I don't think I'd read the strip daily but liked the book.
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was at a friend's house on Christmas eve and he had just received this book as a gift. I was anti-social for about an hour as I was consumed by the poignant poetry and the sketches of SF as a background. Oh yeah, and the binding is at the top of the book. I dig that.
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Paul Madonna is an award-winning artist and writer. He is the creator of the series All Over Coffee, which ran in the San Francisco Chronicle for twelve years, and the author of four books,  All Over Coffee Everything is its own reward Paul Madonna is an award-winning artist and writer. He is the creator of the series All Over Coffee, which ran in the San Francisco Chronicle for twelve years, and the author of four books,  All Over Coffee Everything is its own reward On to the Next Dream , and  Close Enough for the Angels . Paul's drawings and stories have appeared internationally in numerous publications such as the Believer and zyzzyva, as well as in galleries and museums, including the Oakland Museum of California, the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the William Blake Association in France. His work has been made into murals for private and corporate clients such as Tacolicious, Google, and Starbucks, as well as printed onto chocolates, dresses, and hats. Paul holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and was the first (ever!) Art Intern at MAD magazine. He was a founding editor for, has taught drawing at the University of San Francisco, and frequently lectures on creative practice, even when not asked.
Paul is available for private commissions as well as speaking engagements and presentations.
“We tear ourselves inside out for something the world may love, then base our worth on that.” 4 likes
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