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Julia Wertz

July 11, 2011

Don’t let the title of Julia Wertz’s first books of comics dissuade you from reading Fart Party Volumes 1 & 2. The books are filled to the brim with Julia’s specific brand of sharp insight, her clean endearing drawings, and her exploration of growing up. It’s not all serious though – Julia talks about cheese too.

Her last book, Drinking at the Movies, documents her move from her home of San Francisco to New York and  gives Julia a chance to test her limits and learn about herself through her humor and a healthy sprinkling of self-deprecation.

While reading any of Julia’s work, it’s hard not to feel like her voice is telling your story. The silly things we cook up in our brains, the mishaps, the funny minutiae we focus on for far too long – Julia nails it and you wish you were friends so you could tell her you relate.

Thankfully, Julia is working on a new book, from Koyama Press, due in December of 2011. Museum of Mistakes is sure to be more of Julia telling it like it is and we at 12 Questions can hardly wait.

1. What is your hometown?

Napa, California. But not the fancy “wine country” part. That’s actually up valley, not the city of Napa, which many people understandably mistake it for. I grew up on the edge of the valley, across the street from where the valley hills began. I’m embarrassingly northern California through and through. 

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

My brother always jokes that I love the tv show Bones because I identify with the main character who is emotionally broken and doesn’t  know how to love. I guess that’s about right.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

There was actually talk a few years back of making a TV show based on my books, and the actress I talked to was Lizzy Caplan. I’d still cast her as me.  She’s got a great, wry sense of humor with a bit of sweetness, which is a good comedy style. And she kinda looks like me, just way prettier.  

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

I’d say that it’s more “works” that inspire me, and one of the most inspiring artists for me is Paul Madonna. He draws such beautiful San Francisco city scapes in a lovely, melancholy ink wash. I love buildings and cities more than people inspired art.

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

I just finished Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy and it’s kind of everything I want in a mystery book. It’s three separate stories that all weave together and have some excellent word smithery. I also always recommend Jeanette Well’s Glass Castle, which is such a surprisingly good memoir about growing up in poverty. She never seeks sympathy from the reader like most memoirs do, which sets it apart from the rest. And for a light read, I recommend Carter Beats the Devil and for a great historical memoir, A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

All Okkervil River albums are in heavy rotation. But I’m more of a playlist type because I get bored easily. I just found this band, Dawes, that I really like, at least for this week. Okkervil River is definitely my favorite band though, and my friend Will Schaff does all the artwork for their albums, which is amazing and spooky.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

Embarrassingly, it was Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. That movie is so stupid and has no sappy parts, but for some reason towards the end I got all teary and was like “they’re eating pancakes, waaaah” and I felt like such a chode. Don’t tell anyone I told you that.

8.  Cat person or dog person?

Cat. I grew up with lots of cats roaming around our property and I have a cat now. I like that they’re quiet and low maintenance. Dogs are too needy. But I stand by the rule that cats should never outnumber the humans or you cross into crazy cat lady territory. Unless they’re all outdoor cats, like mine growing up, that’s different because they’re just kinda like wild pets you feed.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

Truth. Kindness is “nice” but not always necessary and kindness can mask truth and other ulterior motives. Truth is always the most important factor in almost everything.

10.    How do you define sin?

I don’t abide by the biblical definition, which is all encompassing. I consider a sin (I never use that word) to be a contemplative action with the wrong intentions, not something accidental or an addiction or something along those lines. People only “sin” when they are fully aware of the pain it might cause another person.

11.    How do you define virtue?

I guess I define virtue as always being honest and aware of who your choices are effecting, and making the choice that has the least amount of negative impact on others.

12.   Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

I want to be cremated and have my ashes thrown off the Golden Gate Bridge, so I won’t have a headstone. But if I did, I guess it could say “Julia Wertz, daughter, sister, didn’t amount to much but was loved by a few” or “if wishes and buts were clusters of nuts, we’d all have a bowl of granola”

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Maybe some of my favorite comedians? Like Marc Maron, Mike Birbiglia or Patton Oswalt. 

Museum of Mistakes
Pizza Island

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