Cartoonist Julia Wertz’s Fart Party vol. 1, which had been out of print for more than a year, is once again available. It’s a good excuse to catch up with one of our favorite creators, with whom we hadn’t spoken for quite a while. If you aren’t yet acquainted with her comics, check out fartparty.org, which not only has a bunch of fantastic content, it has info on how to purchase her other books, including Drinking at the Movies, which published last summer and has been very well received.
We caught up with Wertz right after she finished a West coast trip where she participated in a few readings, peddled some comics, and took some cool pics of abandoned stuff on Highway 101.
Osmosis Online: Are you self-publishing at all these days, aside from the Web site?
Julia Wertz: Not at the moment. I might do another mini comic next year, but I haven’t had the time in a while. I’m sitting on a short book about my college years that I’m considering self-publishing next year just to get it out there and out of my life.
OO: It’s interesting that you say “get the college story out of your life” — is there something you think will be cathartic about publishing it? Or is it more a matter of not letting time you put into something go to waste?
Wertz: Oh, nothing that intricate, I just want to put the material out there because I have it. There’s not much to those comics, just some dumb jokes and funny stories. I don’t see them as part of my whole “story” so I just want put them out there for shits. I’ll probably end up just putting it all online for free though.
OO: How’s it been transitioning from doing it all yourself versus being published by Three Rivers/Atomic Books?
Wertz: It’s sooo much easier. I was really awful at getting minis printed and filling orders in a timely fashion. I like that I don’t have to bother with any of that except for when I sell books on my website. I’m also terrible at PR stuff so they take care of most of that. At least Internet-wise. I still plan/book all my own touring and convention stuff.
OO: That’s awesome that “Fart Party vol 1” has an intro by Peter Bagge. Is that the kind of thing you pursue, or the publisher, or was there some other way it came about?
Wertz: I’d sent Peter some comics and he really liked them so I asked him to write the intro for the collection, it was all very casual. For Vol 2, Nicholas Gurewitch wrote the intro, which he offered to do after we met at SPX a few years ago. I’m a huge fan of Perry Bible Fellowship, so suffice to say I’m pretty pleased with both intros. Intros are something the author pursues, not the publisher. Or at least it’s been in my case.
OO: If I recall correctly, you made the move to New York about four years ago from the Bay Area?How are the comics scenes different in your view? Any real advantage/disadvantage to either? Do you feel like a part of a particular “comics community” (is there such a thing?)
Wertz: There are pretty solid comic scenes in both places, but the Brooklyn cartoonists seem to hang out a lot more often. And there are more events to attend in NY. The biggest bonus for being part of the NY comics community is sharing a studio in Greenpoint with four other lovely lady cartoonists. I share the space with Sarah Glidden, Domitille Collardy, Karen Sneider, and our latest addition, Kate Beaton. It’s easier to get more work done when people are around and I can’t fuck around on the Internet as much.
OO: I read Greg Baldino’s take on “Drinking at the Movies” over at Bleeding Cool and I love how he referred to you as “the Dorothy Parker of mini-comics.” Is it simply a reference to wit, or do you and a bunch of other cartoonists hang out making quips at the Algonquin Round Table?
Wertz: The latter, of course! Actually I think at our studio we mostly sit around making boner jokes and quips about farts. Not quite as sophisticated…
OO: So, Cathy (that long-running comic strip) came to a close. Does the absence of a long-running, super-successful women-centered strip mean that there’s a specific void to be filled? Should it be? Is this the kind of thing a cartoonist like yourself would try to move on, or is the newspaper format (not to mention handcuffing of certain sensibilities) too unappealing? Should we be striving for post-gender comics?
Wertz: Newspaper comics and the type of comics I, and others in my arena, do are vastly different and don’t really have a lot, if any, cross over. I suppose a few folks do (Keith Knight for example) but frankly I don’t think the two are comparable. As for syndicated female cartoonists, I think it’s less of a matter of sexism as women just not being as interested in doing those types of comics. If you look into the indie comics world, it’s lousy with successful women cartoonists! But I also agree that we should strive towards post-gender comics. We’re all just people making comics, who fucking cares if we’re men or women? If a comic is too girlie for you, just don’t read it. I don’t read superhero comics, so I don’t sit around lamenting how it’s a male-centric community. I just don’t care.
OO: I’ve been writing about entrepreneurs lately for a local newspaper and in talking to them, I’m seeing a lot of parallels with being an independent cartoonist. Do you see it that way?
Wertz: I suppose indie comics entrepreneurship is a thing people do, but I’m the worst at it. I’m insanely lucky in the sense that publishers and agents have always approached me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t bust ass getting comics done. That’s about all I’m good for. Bust ass, that’s a gross phrase.
OO: What kind of comics (or other media) have caught your attention lately? Anything you’d particularly recommend? Anything that inspires your own work?
Wertz: I’ve kind of been into going to improve and local stand-up comedy shows lately. Not particularly because I’m a huge fan of the medium, but because I really enjoy watching people wing it. Even when it’s bad, it’s good, ya know? Because it’s so uncomfortable. Although there is a free comedy show in Brooklyn called the Big Terrific that I’ve only gone to twice but both times were excellent. I’d highly recommend it, plus it’s free so if it sucks that night, who cares?
OO: I dig those abandoned buildings you posted photos of on your blog . . . potential fodder for comics, or is that something off to the side?
Wertz: I have a bunch of things to put into work “off to the side” once I’m finished chronicling what’s happening right now. I assume my life won’t be this chaotic for that much longer (I know the comic makes it seem a bit boring but I tend to tone down or completely omit the drama) so I’ll visit those projects later. I have a kids book I’d like to work on too.
The abandoned places/buildings are mostly just a casual hobby. I’m fascinated by dilapidation and what comes out of it. As a teenager I spent a lot of time hanging out at an abandoned castle in the hills or at an abandoned military base called Skaggs Island. I just like to be in places that were once inhabited and now left to fall apart. I’m not really sure why. There’s just something really beautiful about abandonment.
Ahhhahaha that was so cheesy!! Barf!
We’d like to thank Ms. Wertz for the time and profundity! Be sure to check out fartparty.org to learn more about Julia Wertz and her extremely funny and compelling comics.