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Wertz, Julia – Drinking at the Movies


Drinking at the Movies

Where to even begin?  It’s cheating for me to just say that this is fantastic and leave it at that, right?  Crap.  This covers the time between the summer of 2007 and the end of 2008, as Julia decided to move to New York after all the things keeping her in San Francisco fell away at once.  Parts of it seem to be taken from her “Fart Party” comic and maybe another mini or two, but I’m far too lazy to go back and check which parts.  Most of it seemed new to me, and I do try to keep an eye on this sort of thing.  The book even almost has an uplifting ending, although I’m sure Julia would hate to hear that, as she seems to more or less give up the drinking and get on with a few more “adult” responsibilities.  In the meantime we get to see her drunken year and a half in all its glory.  There’s the random nature of her move (hilariously explained as her natural propensity to always take the difficult path), how bums seem to gravitate to her and how she can’t seem to hold a job.  There’s her oddly happy home life and the fact that she gets along with her whole family, even though an older brother has had some trouble unrelated to her.  Yes, drinking at the movies does take place, and it seems to take place fairly often.  Do they serve liquor at the movies or does she smuggle it in?  The world may never know; I know some places are smart enough to serve liquor with their movies.  Other highlights (out of about 190 pages, so I’m cutting this list extremely short) include her odd ability to quiet a baby, the various ways she gets fired from her jobs and her utter lack of sadness about any of them, her hobo-like appearance and the fact that she only uses three outfits, her childlike eating habits, being ignored by obnoxious assholes who hit on everyone else, and, of course, drunken shenanigans.  I read a chunk of comics on her website that seem to indicate some serious maturing going on in some ways, but her stuff is still hilarious as ever, so no worries there.  Something about a tv adaptation of “Fart Party” was mentioned in this, but I haven’t seen anything about it since, which would be a shame.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t see a way that it wouldn’t fall apart on television (unless maybe it was an IFC and she had a serious hand in the creative aspect), but it would have made for some excellent comics.  There also don’t seem to be any minis in her store, which is odd, but all her books are available and you get special bonus goodies for ordering them from her.  If you’ve avoided her comics so far because maybe you don’t like unconnected but fantastically funny comics, this one has a more or less coherent storyline, so your excuses are over.  Buy it and be happy. $15

Wertz, Julia – Fart Party #7


Fart Party #7

I love the comics where the toughest part of the review is to figure out which page would be funniest as a sample. Julia’s work always has plenty of possibilities, so I just went with the first page. That way when you buy it nothing in the middle is spoiled! That’s not usually an issue in Fart Party, but things are more or less linear this time around, as Julia leaves San Francisco, lives with her Mom for a few months, almost moves to Portland and ends up in New York. One or two of the strips are even downright melancholy. Other subjects in here include stress, creative ways to open a wine bottle (actually, I probably should have sampled that page. Dammit!), drunken phoning, nature, comics, a shooting, a found kitten, and turd blossom. She’s set up a pretty strict standard of funny to live up to with each issue, and so far she hasn’t even come close to missing the cut. Oh, and the first four issues are out in a collected edition from Atomic Books, so I believe this makes the whole Fart Party “saga” in print. Huzzah!

Wertz, Julia – Fart Party #6


Fart Party #6

It took about three panels of this issue for me to briefly wonder if Julia has lost her edge a bit, if she’d been hanging out with too many comic bigwigs and that she’d maybe gotten a bit melancholy. Then the punch line of that strip (spoiler alert! It involves that cover) knocked that nonsense right out of me. There is a sadder theme in here in general, as she deals with losing a long term boyfriend and a crappy job, but there’s still plenty of funny to be found. As always, talking about these things in too much detail has a tendency to make them unfunny, so I’ll only say that subjects in here include a candy cane turd, advice from Keith Knight, not getting hit on by creeps, being written up in the Onion, a week on the wagon, and embarrassing moments from her past. There’s one thing about these issues that I have to wonder though: why are some of the strips neat and gorgeous while some of them look like they took her about 15 minutes? Again, as I mentioned in the last review, I’m not here for the art, and it’s not like any of the sloppy ones are any less funny because they don’t look quite as good as some of the others. I just wonder what’s going on there. $3

Wertz, Julia – The Fart Party Sampler


The Fart Party Sampler

Would you believe there’s not a single fart joke in here? Three cheers for that, although there are plenty of poop jokes in here. None of that makes the slightest bit of difference though, for one simple reason: this comic is funny. Seriously, consistently, laugh-out-loud (to drag out the tired cliche) funny. Will-I-get-in-trouble-if-I-sample-every-page funny. It’s mostly just online because Julia’s too poor to print too many of these things, which is a damned shame, and a good reason for you to go that website up there and order comics. What, you want to read about the actual comic first? OK. In here are strips about career options, being small, how to get a boyfriend, drinking, first swear word, Squitches, Jesus camp, insomnia, and babies vs. abortions. And that’s just the first half of the book. She seems to have completely avoided the strip trap of doing every one with the same damned number of panels and set-up, these range from three panels to the whole page. And did I mention that it’s hilarious? I really was laughing pretty much all the way through, which is a rare and welcome thing. Sure, this is the sampler and maybe all of her other comics suck, but looking at some of the examples on the website I really doubt that this is true. She’s also trying to save up money to go to James Sturm’s Center for Cartoon Studies, but screw that. So she could maybe learn to refine her drawing skills, but so what? She already knows how to tell a good story, what more do you need to know? $2

Wertz, Julia – Fart Party #5


Fart Party #5

Curse this brain of mine, it’s almost totally worthless at this point. There I was at Chicago Comics, with most if not all of the Fart Party comics just sitting there, waiting for me to buy them. This sorry brain, knowing how much I enjoyed past Fart Party issues, informed me that I must have had at least the first few issues, so I settled for getting #5-7. Alas, all I had was that sampler reviewed above. So many left behind… As you can probably tell by now, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite comics, after reading all of two of them now. This issue is a “travel” comic, which can be a dicey proposition unless you’re Julia Wertz. She doesn’t linger on any of the obnoxious, boring things that can sometimes mar a good travel comic and sticks pretty much to her format of a few panels followed by an ending involving the funny. Maybe the art’s a little choppier than in her past work, as pieces of this were done on trains and I’m sure on various couches, but who reads this for the artwork anyway? Anything that makes me laugh this often could be 100% stick figures and I’d still be telling everybody to buy it. There are also comics from various people Julia met along her travels and even a few pictures in case you were wondering what some of the people shown in here actually look like. Seriously, anybody who’s not reading this series is only hurting themselves. $3