A little over a month ago an invitation showed up in my Flickr inbox to check out the photostream of someone going by the name Fartparty.org. The invite almost found its way into the trash, but luckily a shrewd stroke of marketing genius garnered this “fart party” at least a gander. Lets be frank here, farts and party together at last? I’m there.
Turns out that the party, as it were, is the concoction of San Francisco based comix artist, biker, and beer and cheese junkie, Julia Wertz. Her comix are not only chock full of gut busting scenarios, but actually serve as a de facto autobiographical journal chronicling the absurdities, annoyances, and genuine experiences from Julia’s life.
Often blunt and crass, Julia’s voice is a mixture of sharp wit and an astute observation. After checking out her work I found myself utterly addicted, and decided to do the only thing a self-serving writer could do — hit her up for an interview. Conducted between hangovers, Julia was kind enough to answer some questions and literally pulled no punches. Parents, consider this a warning, as this interview does contain expletives.
So, without further ado, I give you Julia Wertz.
Mario Anima: So, Fart Party. Everyone loves farts and parties are always fun. What made you decide to put the two together?
Julia Wertz: One night (well, every night) Oliver couldn’t stop farting and I suggested we throw a party and fill the balloons with farts. When we want everyone to go home, we’d pop the balloons. I never planned for it to be the name of my comics, but the next morning I had to decide a website name and I just went with that because I couldn’t come up with anything else. If you Google fart party, some pretty hilarious porn comes up. This isn’t exactly a new taboo area, some adults actually have fart fetishes (also known as Eproctophilia) and will try and find new fart porn content within different adult sites like TubeV Sex and the abundance of others over the internet.
Mario: What made you decide to become an artist, and what lead to the birth of Fart Party Comix?
Julia: I never really wanted to be an artist and I still don’t really consider myself one. I showed only a marginal interest in drawing in high school and after that, stopped making any attempt at it for years. I discovered comics (besides the customary Calvin & Hobbes adoration) a few years ago and I still have a lot to learn about them. I started making stick figure comics as just a fun, less traditional way to keep a diary. I started making Fart Party Comix in September 2005 and put the site up in November 05. The name does make me feel bad for my poor mother who has to say it every time she answers the ‘so what is your daughter doing these days?’ question.
Mario: Who are the major influences on your work/style?
Julia: Sam Henderson, Johnny Ryan, Liz Prince, Jeffrey Brown, Bill Watterson, Peter Bagge, Nicholas Gurewitch, Tom Gauld and Simone Lia, Derek Kirk Kim, Matt Groening, Alec LongstrethIm sure I’m leaving out tons of people who I’ve totally ripped off. And the most fabulous should be famous cartoonist/artist I know, Laura Park. Mario: Like many others, I found the Fart Party through flickr. Has social networking through sites like MySpace and flickr helped out your readership?
Julia: Yes, very much. Since The Fart Party is still very new and has no official readership yet (I printed my first minis for APE 06 on April 8th) MySpace and flickr have been a great way to force people to read my comics and meet other artists. I have more cyber friends than I do real friends. I’m a total nerd like that.
Mario: Do us a favor and give our readers an overview of your cast of characters appearing in Fart Party Comix.
Julia: There’s Julia (me) who likes bikes, beer, cheese, caves, comics, and bears. Oliver (my boyfriend) who likes bikes, beer, cheese, snow, video games and goats. Josh (my older brother) who likes bikes, beer, cheese, the beach, books, and monkeys. Cheryl (my mother) who is constantly trying to get her kids to stop muckin’ around with all those things and figure out what they want to do with their lives.
Mario: Has anyone had an issue with their representation in comic form?
Julia: Sort of. Oliver thinks I make him too mean and he’s probably right. I tend to cut off the comic right after a mean/sarcastic remark and purposefully exclude the real, mushy ending to the story. When he’s mean or sarcastic, it’s always in jest, but I kinda sorta forget to explain that because mushy stuff is for jerks.
Mario: I know you took some flack on flickr for your ‘Reading the Newspaper’ strip, any thoughts on that?
Julia: I just think if you’re going to pick a religion to follow, you should do as much research into its origins as possible. And if you do that, you should discover what an illogical load of crap it is. Taking flack for that strip was fun though. I want more flack! Flack all over the place!
Mario: Has criticism had any influence on your work at all?
Julia: The aesthetic criticism I’ve received about my inability to draw I’ve kept & tucked way for when I have time to focus on my drawing skills. I have received a lot of criticism in regards to the immature content and my excessive swearing, but that’s not very helpful because all I’m trying to do is represent who I am RIGHT NOW and I am immature and swear excessively.
I’m not going to change my sense of humor because someone got their granny panties all in a bunch. I really could use some legit, constructive criticism, so if anyone reading this has some, please contact me.
Mario: You’ve shared a number of personal experiences throughout the course of the strip ranging from childhood discoveries, inappropriate dinner conversations, and intimate details regarding your sex life. Is anything too personal, or off limits, for you?
Julia: I’m not allowed to draw Oliver’s wiener because he said so. And don’t expect to see twat shots anytime soon.
Mario: Got it, no twat shots. Okay, so speaking of embarrassing childhood experiences, your first swear really hits home with me. My first swear was pretty similar, some family members were visiting and a curse-laden argument erupted. Later that evening I ended up shouting out “fuck everybody!!!” at the top of my lungs at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party while atop one of those helicopter rides. Needless to say, my mother wasn’t pleased. How often do you find that a lot of your readers relate to your experiences?
Julia: Yes. I get a lot of ‘that’s so me!’ and ‘we’re just like that!’ which I think is great because I’m trying to capture the banal and mundane experiences we all have but tend to forget. I do have future comics planned that are more exclusive, but I have to wait until A) I learn how to draw and B) everyone I love has disowned me or is dead.
Mario: Your work often contains verbose discussions between characters which are punctuated by aptly timed punch lines, however occasionally you speak volumes without using very much dialogue at all. Do you have a preference either way?
Julia: I prefer the least amount of dialogue possible because too much distracts from the story. And I’m a lazy bastard and I hate long hand writing.
Mario: It seems as though whenever you choose to use color things tend to get a little violent. Is this intentional or just coincidence?
Julia: It’s intentional. I don’t know anything about color yet, so I shy away from it, but I like the blood and guts to stand out so I color them. I do, however, know that red and green are opposites so I tend to overuse those two colors and the violent comics look like some kind of weird Christmas murder scene.
Mario: There is a laundry list of obsessions running throughout your comix. Let’s run through some of them. First of all, cheese — an addiction I share with you, but would you mind shedding some light on this for our readers?
Julia: Do I really need to? Cheese is fucking delicious, that’s all. I don’t trust people who don’t like cheese. (illustration by Laura Park)
Mario: What is your favorite cheese and to what lengths would you go to obtain some?
Julia: I’d kill a man for cheese. With my bare hands.
Mario: Is there any cheese you would kick out of bed?
Julia: Cheap cheese. American cheese. Dick cheese.
Mario: Bikes — how many bikes do you have and what kind are they?
Julia: I have two road bikes. One is a white beater bike that I use for riding around the city, named Bikey. The other is a fancy red Specialized Dolce named Dr. Luv n Brite that I only use for longer bike rides. I had a bike that got stolen and I cried all night.
Mario: Do you prefer one over the other? If so, does the other get jealous?
Julia: I prefer Dr. Luv N Brite only because he’s faster and more efficient, but I have a special fondness for Bikey because we’ve been through a lot together. I imagine Bikey doesn’t like being left outside at night while the Dr. gets to stay inside. I only have room in my studio for one bike. I live in a wee hobbit hole.
Mario: Video games — we’ve seen references to Tetris and Nintendo, so what games are you into?
Julia: Funny you’d ask because I actually hate most video games and I hate when people want me to watch them play, as if I could give two damp shits. But I do like playing old Super Nintendo games like Super Mario, Tetris, Donkey Kong, and Mario Kart. But I only get to play them when I go home for Christmas & Thanksgiving. Oliver likes those fancy, newfangled internet video games but I have absolutely no attention span for them. He gets mad because I refer to all video games unit things as Nintendo, but I can’t break the habit.
Mario: TV — you enjoy reading trashy magazines at Borders and renting trashy TV shows on DVD, what shows are you completely hooked on? Ok, i know this is a loaded question because you seem partial to Lost. “Partial” may be a little off-base…secretly addicted might be more accurate.
Julia: Funny again, because I don’t even watch TV. I don’t even own a television, that part of my comics is borrowed from Oliver’s old apartment where there was a TV but we only watched movies on it because I work nights. I do, however, like renting shows on DVD. And by shows, I mean Lost. That show is so fucking awful but I can’t stop watching it. I do love Arrested Development though. That show is so good it makes me have to pee a little.
Mario: Booze — obviously beer is a mainstay. Do you consider yourself a connoisseur or will any beer do the trick?
Julia: If I’m going sit around & drink some BEER, it would have to be Hefeweizen, preferably Franziskaner. Unless I’m broke, in which case, I’ll just drink your beer.
Mario: Comix – what titles do you read regularly?
Julia: Excluding books & people listed above, I regularly follow the web comics Perry Bible Fellowship, The Atrox, Patches, Exploding Dog, Onion and Potato, Toothpaste for Dinner and American Elf. There are others I like but I don’t know too much about web comics (even though The Fart Party is considered one) and frankly, I think most web comics are crap.
I’m really uneducated about alternative comics, and comics in general. I’m just at the beginning of the learning process so Ill probably look back on my answer in a few years and shit a brick about it. I hate most newspaper strips, but I do enjoy Brevity and Bizzaro. And, I’ll admit it, Mutts is disgustingly adorable.
Mario: Aside from Bicycle Love, what else have you put out in the past?
Julia: Nothing really. Bicycle Love was my first collaborative mini that I put out the same time as I did The Fart Party #1 and #2, all which I printed up at Kinko’s the day before APE. It was my first printing attempt and I fucked it up proper.
Mario: You’ve got the Fart Party #1 mini available now. How can fans go about picking that up and what will they find inside when they do?
Julia: Email me for mailing instructions. I have some minis available at Pins & Needles, Comix Experience and Dogeared Books in San Francisco. If you want your local comic book shop to carry The Fart Party, tell them, and if they don’t laugh at you, let me know.
Mario: Also, you’ve got a scars themed mini planned for this summer. Tell us a little about what is in store for us there?
Julia: During my second grade year, I went to the emergency room five times for pretty hilarious accidents. I missed a lot of school, ate a lot of ice cream and read a lot of books. It was the best year of my life.
Mario: We missed you at APE this year, largely because we were lame and unable to attend. Are there any other ‘Cons you attend regularly?
Julia: Not yet. APE this year was my first Con. I really want to attend Mocca in New York this June so I can throw my comics at people and run, but I can’t afford the plane ticket. High school hand jobs just don’t pay as well as they used to.
And there you have it folks, I’d like to thank Julia for being kind enough to sit down and chat with us. Make sure you check out her work at http://www.fartparty.org/.