The Fart Party Really Stinks
January 15, 2014 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Cartoonist Julia Wertz reflects on the years she spent consumed by alcoholism and depression, via comics and prose. [Previously]

"My theory is that since the best comedy often springs from tragedy, cynicism, sarcasm and misanthropy, those who excel in comedy usually come from a background comprised of those events and character defects."

The title refers to a previous incarnation of her autobio comic, published online and in print as Fart Party. A selection of those older strips can still be read in her archives here and here.

(Please note: this essay and her comics talk frankly about suicidal thoughts, depression and alcoholism.)
posted by Narrative Priorities (12 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
When my girlfriend (now wife) moved in, she decided to re-read her copies of Fart Party and left them around the house. At first I was sort of eh; the art and humor wasn't great (or at least to my taste) and it was just one of those comics about quotidian shit that didn't really interest me. But after a few strips, I got hooked, and then just devoured both books.

There's something wonderful about them that I just cannot at all put my finger on. If I had to guess, it's that they are so honest with a sense of humor and without at all asking for pity or understanding or apologizing. And all from the perspective of a young woman, which was sort of novel as the truckloads of quotidian-shit comics out there are generally done by dudes and as a dude, I have my own quotidian shit for the most part, thanks.

I am really glad she's doing better, and I am glad she was brave enough to release some of this stuff. She's an artist in every sense of the term and I hope she does whatever the hell it is that she needs to do to be okay.
posted by griphus at 10:18 AM on January 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

She is completely new to me--but I was touched, frightened and deeply impressed. This is a very accurate (frighteningly accurate) representation of what I witnessed as a talented, loveable and generous family member slowly, and then more rapidly spun out of control. Fortunately now 7 years sober. Thanks for sharing
posted by rmhsinc at 10:27 AM on January 15, 2014

Huh, wow. She's been one of my favorite cartoonists for a while (I'm still amazed to think about what a murderer's row of talent Pizza Island was), and this was fascinating.... I have this recurring thing of liking artists with mental health/substance/both issues and just assuming that by the time I've discovered them, all of that was worked out and in the past. So when I was first getting into Wertz's work and thinking "wow, she went through some bad shit, but at least she's moved on," she was in fact still going through bad shit. I don't know, that freaks me out.

At any rate, it's good to see that now, maybe, she's moved into "gone through bad shit, moved on" mode.
posted by COBRA! at 10:36 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, thanks for posting! I really like Julia Wertz and hadn't seen this piece. She is brave and great, and thinking about the comic where she said she was going to grow up and call Fart Party Flatulence Soiree always makes me laugh.
posted by mlle valentine at 10:46 AM on January 15, 2014

Man, that is just raw in the way that Allie Brosh is raw writing about depression and having gone through some drinking phases of my own it rings a little too familiar.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:57 AM on January 15, 2014

It's funny, I was teaching a class of 12-year-olds at my church this Sunday, and the curriculum section was "art and ethics". One of the questions for discussion was "Should you take drugs if you think it makes you make better art?"

Lots of hemming and hawing (don't want to say bad drug things in front of adults I'm sure) but one girl was like "Absolutely. Art is the most important thing."

I just nodded, because she's 12 and figuring out what she thinks, and also I've had this very discussion with artist friends. Of course, two of them are now dead from suicide, so drinking might've helped them create for a while, but then it combined with their untreated depression to kill them.

I kind of want to share this piece with those kids; but it's a little adult and might scare their folks. I may put together a listing of really awesome women cartoonists and just happen to include Wertz, though. (and Brosh of course).
posted by emjaybee at 11:07 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's a bit disquieting when the article moves from the cartoony stuff to the pencils and cursive.

The panel where she has the bag of liquor and she says she's frustrated can't stop doing this one thing over and over somehow got across the idea of addiction much better than anything else I've seen. It's not said like that often.

Thanks for the link.
posted by ignignokt at 3:23 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Thanks for this. Her work is inspirational and very sobering to an old ex-alcoholic like me...

"What's tomorrow? November First? And a Monday? I'll definitely stop drinking forever tomorrow..."

Yikes I was exactly the same...
posted by Monkeymoo at 4:57 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

When she looks in the mirror after hard drinking and sees a youthful looking face.

Happens to me all the time.
posted by Colonel Panic at 6:21 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apologies for posting it with the old title -- she hadn't changed it at the time.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:55 AM on January 16, 2014

It sounds like it was something added to the article without Wertz's knowledge. I meant my comment as an update, not as any kind of criticism.
posted by zamboni at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2014

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