Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Julia Wertz

Julia Wertz is the cartoonist behind The Fart Party, the only online comic I read. Not only is her strip really funny, but she has a really under appreciated talent for creating a real "character" in the strip. The comic is, for all intents and purposes, auto-bio but I like it because it's such a saga. Anyone interested should pick it up in print form, since it's more fun that way.

Julia always tells me to format the links on this blog so that you dont have to cut and paste them, but here I am, ignoring her in her very own entry:

1. can you describe your drawing routine---how often you draw, how many hour per day---how you break up the day with drawing?

I probably end up drawing about every other day and doing computer work and real work on the days in between. Some weeks I won't draw at all, sometimes I'll draw all day. I break up the day with the internet, which is the biggest time waster ever. I'm so relieved that scrabulous was killed. It existed solely to taunt us procrastinators.

2. how much revision/editing do you do in you work?

Not nearly enough.

3. talk about your process---do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I don't write scripts to the extent that they look like scripts or thumbnails. I mostly scribble a few lines on the back of the paper and it forms in my head. Most of the time I make up the drawings as I go, but sometimes a whole comic will be inspired by a singular image I thought up randomly.

4. do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

Mostly as a whole, if I'm working on Fart Party. If I'm working on one of my San Francisco mini comics, I work on each panel individually as a separate piece.

5. what tools do you use (please list all)?

Mechanical pencils and Pitt pens.. Rotring Art Pens look like shit but I love the way it feels to write with them. When I'm ink washing I use those portable watercolor brushes filled with basic non-waterproof fountain pen India ink and water. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect pen, but I suspect most people always are.

6. what kind(s) of paper do you use?

I really like the Strathmore windpower paper, but I usually just end up using regular crappy paper from the dollar store. For ink washes I use Bristol.

7. do you read a lot of comics? are you someone who reads comics and then gets ectied to make more comics---or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I read more "real" books than comics. The ratio is probably 10 to 1. I'm often more inspired by literature, but I think that's just because I read it more than comics. I love comics and find them often inspiring, but until they create the dollar racks for comics at the Strand, I will always read more literature.

8. do you make comics for a living? if not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics making process?

I make enough that I can work part time and do comic projects part time, but right now I'm unemployed and because I have to do so much traveling, I can't get another job until after the new year, so things are looking a little grim. However, when I am working (usually some crappy coffee shop/server/bartender gig) I find that I'm more inspired to draw daily comics because I'm out there in the "real" world, not sitting at home staring at the computer. But sitting at home has it's merits too. I find it easier to reflect on the past and draw material from it since there isn't much in the present going on to stimulate the "must get this on paper now" feeling.

9/ do other artforms often seem more attractive to you?

Hm…I tried to think of an art form besides music that I found more attractive (not aesthetically) but I really can't think of one. I'm just so drawn to the combination of art and literature that it's hard to think of a medium that I like more.

10. what artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

This is going to sound so junior high, but I often feel a (one way) kinship with music. Music is one of those things that is always there, especially if you're an ipod/walkman junkie, and nothing can transport you so quickly back to another time in your life as can one specific song. When I latch onto certain tones and lyrics of a musician or band, it's hard to not feel connected to them. I have an almost obsessive love for Okkervil River. I don't even know if they're good or not, I can't tell anymore, I just listened to them a lot during difficult times over the last few years.
As for artists, I tend to feel a kinship with every lonely, frustrated cartoonist. Even though my first book is all about a relationship and it has disgustingly cutsey moments, I don't feel a kinship to other relationship comics at all. I didn't even feel connected to them when I was in a relationship, I've always liked the solo thing. But that lonely, frustrated cartoonist bit can get really fucking tiring, so I always love a good gag joke or humorous strips.
I also feel a kinship with photography. I think it's absolutely amazing to take one split second and freeze it on paper forever. I think I try to do that with some of my comics, but it's not nearly as inspiring as seeing it in a spontaneous form that is often more or less of a beautiful accident.

11. is a community of artists important or not important to you?

While I absolutely love the comics people I've met over the past few years, I don't think they are important to my comic. In fact I think that my (fart party) comics often suffer due to that because I'll get hung up on some technical art thing or comic rules that aren't really relevant to my style, but there are other projects I'm working on now where cartoonists friends have definitely helped in terms of artistic advice. However I've always worked very independently so I tend to just enjoy a community of artists for the down time, for grabbing beers or drawing at cafes. This whole 20 questions thing kind of boils that right down, as in there's no way my non-artists friends will have any interest in reading this, but my artists friends will, so they're both important in different ways.

12. what is your parents/family's reaction to your work?

My mom HATED it at first, now she understands what I'm trying to do with it. I can't blame her though, for example, one comic people often cite as their favorite is the "Diarrhea Mask" where I'm at my first dinner with my mom's husband's kids and I inappropriately explain to everyone what a diarrhea mask is. Of course my mom was appalled, so to see it in comic form was even worse for her. To her, that comic was just another disgusting poop joke. To me, it represented the way I was struggling to connect this new family at a time in my life when I was a little too old to be dealing with that, but not old enough that I was able to think before I spoke and embarrassed my mom. But she eventually came around and now she emails to tell me what strips she likes.
My extended family is really religious and they all think I'm going to hell. Seriously, they send me emails telling me that and try to get me back into religion. They corner me at family gatherings and preach at me. At one point it was so bad that my mom even confronted them and told them to back off. Because their kids are all safely married, having babies and working in the church, they think me and my brothers are all "lost lambs of Christ." hahaha I'm laughing as I type this.

13, what is more important to you---style or idea?

Idea. Without a solid idea, the style is irrelevant, it's just a pretty thing to look at. I love pretty things to look at, but those aren't the things that I connect with or that I find inspiring. That's the main issue I have with "art comics." I don't connect to them at all besides being pleased aesthetically. They don't have substance to me, they don't have an idea I can work with or mull over in my head.

14. is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

A pleasure. I love drawing. However, I despise doing things like laying out my drawings in Adobe to make a mini comic. That's five different kinds of pain in the ass.

15. when you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I don't really see myself as an artist, I see myself more as a jack of many trades and a master of none, so to present myself as an artist would be a fallacy. I wrote a lot before I found my calling to comics, so I often consider myself more of a writer. But then again, I don't write as much as real writers, so that's kind of a fallacy too. Fuck, um, I don't know. I'm a bum.

16. do you feel at all connected to older comic artists like steve ditko or jack kirby---or does this seem like a foreign world to you?

It definitely feels foreign to me. I know a lot of cartoonists would judge me for that, but I'm still fairly unschooled in the comics world. I tend to draw more inspiration from contemporary, alternative comics. I'm not into superhero comics, art comics, abstract comics and I attribute that to my reading more literature than comics. I'm fascinated by the past, but I want to work with the material at hand, with what is going on right now. Although that said, I do feel a connection to a lot of older and/or dead writers.

17. do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Absolutely. I'm always threatening (to myself) to quit Fart Party. But then as soon as something happens, I'm right back at the drawing board. And I have a feeling that someday I might get too frustrated with comics and go back to writing. But then I'll get tired of that and go back to comics. it's a cycle and I feel impulses to go in all different directions.

18. do you draw from life?

Yeah. I hate drawing people but I love drawing cities. I love drawing buildings and cafes and store fronts and houses, sidewalks and trashcans and garbage. I love drawing people's kitchens and workspaces and bookshelves. Periodically I try to force myself to draw people, but I get frustrated really fast and give up. I find THINGS to be more fascinating that PEOPLE, but that is probably just a reflection of my artistic insecurity and failures.

19. do you pencil out comics and then ink? or do you sometimes not pencil?

I pencil when it's a "real" comic, but when I do my traveling stick figure comics I don't pencil.

20. what does your drawing space look like?


Aaron Renier said...

So wait... she can't read when she poos... but she can draw comics as she pees? AMAZING!!!

Dustin Harbin said...

Looks like her strip should be called "The SHART Party!" Get it? Because of the--

Steve Lafler said...

The drawing space looks so industrial -- do you draw in public buildings?
This makes me want to revive my old character Mr. Poop.

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