Before we hit the US, I conducted a quick e-interview with Julia Wertz, artist and creator on the hit comic, The Fart Party. In order to celebrate the release of her latest book, she sent the word out that she would be conducting some interviews so ever the opportunist I sent away a few questions.
So, here goes!
Trav28 (T28):After reading your work you have quite the eclectic ear, what are the five most important songs on your play list right now?
Julia Wertz (JW):These songs are relevent for just this week. Some of them are long time keepers, some just a toss off for a few days.
1. Devil Makes Three- Old Number Seven
2. Mika- Lollipop.
3. Ida Maria- Oh My God
4. Bon Iver- Skinny Love
5. Louis Prima- Buona Sera
But if I look at my itunes most played list, these are the top 5:
1. Regina Spektor- Summer in the City
2. John Denver- Take Me Home, Country Roads
3. Cat Power- Lived in Bars
4. Ingrid Michaelson- Be Ok
5. The Band- The Weight
T28: comix or comics?
JW: Comix if ya nasty. Nope, didn’t say that. Nnnng haaaated it.
T28: In reference to the above, many of us have an influence or something that has affected us on a personal or superficial level. If I had to choose 5 it would be 1) V for Vendetta. 2) Maus. 3) Box Office Poison. 4) Strangers in Paradise. 5) Dark Knight Returns. I'm not sure any of these would be in your repetoire but I'm interested to see what has made a dent in your reality?
JW: Not in any particular order, I’d say these five books influenced/affected/changed things for me:
1) The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
2) My New York Diary by Julie Doucet
3) Bill Peet; An Autobiography by Bill Peet
4) Drinking, A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
5) Spaniel Rage by Vanessa Davis
T28: Your whisky (or whiskies!) of choice? Are you a lass that likes her single malt or a decent blended scotch?
JW: Ice cream!
T28: Fart Party has attracted a lot of attention. Do you ever feel that you compromise yourself or to quote that semi famous song by Accept, is it "Balls to the Wall"?
JW: The latter. Sometimes I’m embarrassed by stuff I’ve put out, but I never regret it. There’s no point in over analyzing or dawdling over it. It is what it is.
T28: The stage is set - Fart Party the movie has been green lit. You have a lead actress (Lizzy Caplan) but who would direct and co-star? And ideally, would it be animated, live action or a CGI extravaganza complete with Burger King and Pizza Hut ties ins?
JW: Live action. It’s weird enough to see my real life as a comic on paper. If it was moving and talking I’d probably have a heart attack about it. If I could pick co-star I’d pick Mike Birbiglia but that’s just because he’s hilarious and I have a ridiculous schoolgirl crush on him.. Maybe someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Paul Rudd. Well, no, those are just guys I want to hang out with. This is why I shouldn’t be in charge of anything but fart jokes probably.
T28: As to the merchandise, would we see Fart Party Burger King toysor McDonalds Happy Meal toys? If so, what would they be?
JW: Thinking of “me” in plastic the size of something that a kid could choke on gives me the douchechills. I’d wind it up and walk it off the roof.
T28: Bears, Ninjas or Zombies? Who would win in a fight?
JW: Bears, fer sure. Ninjas and Zombies were made redundant by 2006.
(Interviewer note: For anyone who has read Julia's work, bears feature prominently in her earlier works and are a source of both massive humour and importance for a good proportion of the first collection of Fart Party strips)
T28: What is a typical day for you?
JW: I usually wake up around 8, and I have to eat breakfast right away or I go insane. I read the news and answer emails and then write for a few hours. If I have time, I go on a long bike ride or a short jog. Then I head up to Pizza Island, which is the cartoonists studio I share with Sarah Glidden, Domitille Collardy and Karen Snider. I’ll usually work there until the early evening and then I go off and do whatever it is I do at night. I’m usually back home around midnight, then wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a pretty sweet schedule, but I don’t know how long it’ll last so I’m trying to really appreciate it now.
T28: I should have asked this above the previous one - are you a breakfast burrito or pop tart kind of gal?
JW: Neither. I’m an unabashedly granola and organic yogurt eater in the morning. I’m from Northern California! That said, I do think strawberry pop tarts are delicious when camping in the same way that cheese in a can is only good when you’re hiking.
T28: You've taken Brooklyn and New York to your heart. The city has many secrets but which are your favourites and have there been any eye opening moments that you never ever expected?
JW: Bottle Beach at Dead Horse Bay is one of my favorite things in Brooklyn, and was something I definitely never expected to exist. It’s a stretch of beach covered in old bottles from a landfill that burst in the 50’s. Tons of the bottles are whole, but the beach is mostly broken glass and it makes the prettiest sound when the water clanks them all together. It’s the most beautiful garbage I’ve ever seen.
T28: You've documented the move from West to East but who has the best Pizza? (don't lie!)
JW: East coast, no contest. 8 of 10 slice places in NY are good, whereas the opposite is true on the West coast. I don’t know why, it’s baffling.
T28: OK, being a bloke (and a UK bloke at that), I see why you get angry at people but some of the bods and peeps you've encountered during the course of the Fart Party seem sooooo....well, shallow. And a bit, shall we say....closed minded/obtuse. Is this a cultural difference in that you seem to catch people on a bad day or is this your comment on society at large? (there's probably more than one question in there!)
JW: Actually it’s probably more of a reflection of how I used to be, which was a bit more negative and disgruntled than I am now. And often, nice, open minded folk don’t make for good comic fodder, so it’ll end up just being the one asshole out of a group of many that gets put into a comic.
T28: Is there one strip that you've done that you're particularly proud of?
JW: I’m pretty proud of the pages I did recently regarding my dream and sleep history. I thought it was an interesting way to combine boring dream stories with some of the problems that effected my sleeping patters throughout various stages of my life. And maybe the strip about never being able to find the perfect pair of winter boots or a winter hat, because it’s the bane of so many peoples’ existence, not just mine, but it’s so dumb to talk about. So I did it anyways.
T28: You have an amazing dialogue with your mom. As a kid did you find that she valued honesty and open communication as a opposed to "saying the right thing"? Were there times that you felt that this set you apart from your peers as you were growing up?
JW: Communication was a big part of the way I was raised. My mom is a no-bullshitter and she didn’t care at all about what the proper thing would be to say, but only about the dialogue of what was surrounding the issue. She’s even more so like this today, and we have a great relationship because of it. As a kid it sometimes set me apart when I would say things without the usual filter of “is this appropriate/proper?” and sometimes it would get me into trouble. My older brother was kind of shy growing up but I had a pretty big mouth. But I think my mom was always amused by it rather than embarrassed.
T28: There was a point where you became obsessed with the News? Did you feel that this had an impact upon your work and shaped it in anyway? I say "News" as opposed to "politics" but feel free to juxtapose or rip apart as you feel fit :)
JW: I’ve always been obsessed with the news, and politics when they’re in the news, but not so much politics alone. I just began to include news events in my comics because I thought they helped ground the story in time and add to the overall picture. I don’t think it impacted my work much beyond that aspect. Although the state of health care has provided me with some great comic material.
T28: Glenn Beck? Satan or genetically mutated baby-man?
JW: I don’t give a sharp toot about Glenn Beck.
T28: Your top 3 mammals.
JW: kittens, bears, sloths
T28: What is in the pipleline next for you? After the release of "Drinking at the Movies", is there another book in you?
JW: I’m going to do a follow up to DATM and then probably retire the yearly books and work on one big book that I know will take me at least 5 years. I figure I’ve already embarrassed myself enough for a lifetime, why stretch it out year after year? Although I’m always flipflopping about that so who knows.
T28: Following on from the above, are we going to see a pure "prose" work from you one day?
JW: Maybe? The big book I referenced above might be pure prose rather than a graphic novel. I haven’t decided. The material is so dense, I’m not sure a graphic novel would suffice unless it was 1000 pages. It might work better as prose, but if I go that route, I have a lot of work to do on my writing skills.
T28: Ok - the eye thing on "cartoon Julia". Why? Your eyes look fine to me!
JW: Why would I draw wonky eyes on a cartoon character? That seems self explanatory, no?
T28: Word association
JW: I hate this game
T28: Which would you rather be lost in - The Strand Bookstore or Bloomingdales?
JW: Depends on the circumstances. If you mean that everything else is the same, people around, open hours, etc…then the Strand. But if you mean trapped inside overnight when no one is around, then Bloomingdales all the way. That way I could inflate a raft and eat all the boxed foods. Oh wait, shit, I was thinking Bloomingdales is like Target but I googled it and it’s all clothes and shoes. Barf. Then it’s back to the Strand.
T28: Which has the better class of geek shopping in it - Jim Hanley's Universe or Forbidden Planet?
JW: I don’t know, I don’t shop at either. A few years ago I ate a pot brownie and went into Forbidden Planet and I haven’t been able to go back since. *shudder*
Well there you go folks, my first interview. Now go buy her books, stat.