Best Graphic Memoir

Over Easy, by Mimi Pond

This tender, dishy quasi-memoir, based on Pond's stint as a waitress at Mama's Royal Cafe in the late Seventies, is both an ode to a bygone era and a loving lampoon of its prejudices. Denied financial aid at California College of Arts and Crafts (now known as simply the California College of the Arts), Margaret, a lonely art student, forgoes her fourth year and signs on at The Imperial Cafe, where the coffee is strong and the waitresses, outfitted in thrift-store chic, are hard-boiled. There, she learns to flirt and tell dirty jokes while serving a revolving cast of amiably stoned poets, punks, and dealers. Pond is an effortless, engaging humorist — her writing credits include episodes of The Simpsons and Pee-Wee's Playhouse — and she nails the details: the staff's bantering camaraderie, the cheerful, anything-goes hedonism, the fashion miscues. Her playful ink-and-watercolor drawings are equally charming, capturing vintage Oakland at its scruffy best. A touching memorial, Over Easy is also a monument to life's enduring virtues: friendship, rock 'n' roll, and perfectly cooked eggs.

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