New Comic Alert: Small Potatoes by Paul Madonnaby GoComics Staff
Small Potatoes is a charming and emotionally nuanced look into a world where the potatoes may be small but the dreams are big. The feature launched in October 2016, and ran for just over a year when creator Paul Madonna took a three-year hiatus to write his second novel. Now, he and the Potatoes are back in this COVID-weary world, taking on new existential crises, one week at a time.
First, are you excited to show Small Potatoes to the world again? We missed you!
Thanks! Yes, I’m very excited to bring back the Potatoes. I took a break to focus on my second novel, Come to Light, which will be available in October. After three intensive years of working on that, it’s a pleasure to return to making smaller pieces for weekly publication.
Where will your Potatoes take us the time around? Will there be elements different than a few years ago, or are they picking up where they left us?
The Potatoes will never change. They will always be the thoughts in our head that we know better than to voice. One of the reasons I brought them back was the pandemic. Being locked down was—and still is—making me stir crazy. I figured the best thing I can offer right now is some comic relief.
To me, your style feels more like a graphic story told daily than a comic in the traditional sense. Is that how you define it?
This is a good question. Yes, I want the strips to feel active. The marks are always quick, and the characters are always moving. And with the writing style, because these are online comics, I’m not restricted by the traditional newspaper panel structure. With the three- to four-panel gag limitations removed, I can allow the setup and payoff to unfold in whatever number of panels the joke requires. This is refreshing because while I still aim to tell one main gag, it doesn’t have to follow the same beat as traditional strips.
Tell us about your new novel – the reason for the hiatus, right? Is it an illustrated novel?
Yes, the new novel is my sixth book and the second in my illustrated mystery series. It’s called Come to Light, from West Margin Press, and was a big reason for the hiatus. While I was previously doing Small Potatoes, I was also doing another very different weekly series called All Over Coffee in The San Francisco Chronicle, as well as writing my first novel, Close Enough for the Angels. After that, I was exhausted. I ended both series, took a break, and decided I would try to do only one thing at a time. I wrote a novella, On to the Next Dream, then the new novel, Come to Light, and also collaborated with the author Gary Kamiya on another new book, Spirits of San Francisco. With those now completed, I’m taking another break by returning to comics. Which makes me think I’m either on a giant pendulum, or a glutton for punishment. Probably both.
We love to ask all our creators this: What comics do you read every day?
I’m an obsessive comics reader and have been since as far back as I can remember. As a kid, the joke in my family was that from the day I could read the first thing I asked for when I visited someone’s house was their comics section of the newspaper. I read every strip—even the ones I found annoying. But I loved all the different styles of drawing and writing. My all time favorite was Peanuts. I had every paperback collection published, and read them to the point of memorization. I’m also a single-panel cartoon addict. I grew up loving artists like Gahan Wilson and Gary Larson and even today can’t get enough single panels, by anyone.