Drinking at the Movies

October 17, 2010 | Graphic novels

drinking at the movies

The comic strips that detail the sordid, often surreal adventures of Julia Wertz’s life could have aptly and perhaps more cleverly, been called For Better or For Wertz or From Bad to Wertz. Everything you need to know about how this talented young cartoonist approaches her life and work can be understood by learning what she did call the strip: The Fart Party.

That title, and the title of her new book, Drinking at the Movies (Three Rivers Press, 192 pages, $17), is the perfect test to see if you’re a Wertz kind of reader. Either you think it’s juvenile and turn up your nose, or you smile and pick it up.

Those so inclined are rewarded with some spectacularly raw, cute and clever autobiographical strips, dealing with such subjects as public urination, drinking, personal hygiene, drinking, how to lose a job, drinking, American politics and drinking. Chronicling Wertz’s transition from San Franciscan to New Yorker, and from miserable barista to miserable cartoonist, Drinking at the Movies presents a remarkably identifiable sequence of events for those with vivid memories of barely surviving their 20s.

She does a great job capturing the confusion and exhilaration of being young and trying to figure out your place in the world without resorting to the usual saccharine fare that dominates autobiographical comics. The book even has, perhaps in spite of the chronically acerbic Wertz herself, a reasonably happy ending.
(This article was first published in the Toronto Star)

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