Madonna's intent is to provoke your emotions, using imagery and writing to get a response: “I want to tell stories; I want to have unique relationships that make people respond emotionally and make them think.” As a cartoonist, it hasn’t always been easy to find an audience, especially since Madonna’s work straddles the fine line between art and comics, with a sprinkling of poetry. Thirteen years ago, Paul decided to make his mark through zines instead of going the gallery route that often didn’t see his work as display-worthy. For years he hand-made, stapled and distributed his zines at random coffee shops, inserting them between pages at bookstores and slyly placing them inside newspaper dispensers in hopes of discovery. While none of that amounted to anything for his art career, he jokes, it did find him the love of his life, Joen, who picked up one of his zines 12 years ago. They’ve been together ever since.
Although he has several published books, a huge following and an impressive body of work, Madonna has remained a humble guy, and his passions still sparkle with an incredible affection for his craft. He even geeks out on the more mundane tasks of art-making, like pressing his soaked sketches for days to keep them flat.
Paul Madonna’s depiction of the city through his drawings and writing is an inspiration to countless San Franciscans today and definitely for many years to come. Don’t be surprised if years from now you might find Madonna’s body of work exhibited at a contemporary museum detailing life in the 21st century.