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Billed as Wertz's first Graphic Memoir, I think it works better as Fart Party Vol. 3...

  • Aug 25, 2010
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Rating:
+3
I've been following Julia Wertz's Fart Party comics for a few years and I have to say that I'm an addict. Though she's hesitant to call Fart Party a webcomic, that's how I discovered her stuff and it's what I've mainly been following through the years. Drinking at the Movies is her third Fart Party collection (after The Fart Party - 2007 publication - coming back into print soon, and The Fart Party Vol 2), and it's the first to mainly feature strips and stories that haven't been featured online previously. Though I really dug this collection, it's unfortunately billed a bit more as a stand alone edition and contains a few flourishes to that end that sort of weigh the book down a bit.

First off, what I really dig about Wertz's work, and what really shines in this book is her irreverent sense of humor, her screw-it-all attitude. In the past she's pushed this humor more in the realm of say the Kids in the Hall or Monty Python, but in her more recent work it's taken on a more personal and matured slant. Sure, she's still the same white, middle-class girl with some arrested development issues, but she's opening up in her work and letting people get a glimpse of a more real comic version of Julia.

Her artwork is also getting better by leaps and bounds. Whereas some of her earlier work was sparse, with a lot of talking head panels, she spending a lot more time these days building her background environments. Granted, it's still crude, but it's improving.

There are a couple aspects to the book that felt flat or left me wanting a bit. First, there's a few pages of odd political satire thrown in that feel tacked on in an attempt to mark the timeframe of the story. At the end of the day politics don't really pertain to her work in terms of story, and it's only sort of a loose allegory to the strides she was making in her personal life at the time. Again it works to sort of frame the story in terms of time, but again, it's superfluous.

The other issue I felt needed a little bit of work was the overall framing of the book. Being a memoir, it's not terribly imperative that she stick to a journal-like structure, but it plays out much like that. I think she's still trying to shake off the webcomic, strip-a-week structure to her storytelling and even though the book seems like it should stand alone it doesn't and is still dependent on the first two Fart Part collections. For sake of story she probably should have incorporated some of those strips into Drinking at the Movies to better round out her story and to keep people who haven't visited that material some background into these plots which do pop up in the new book. She also brings up a lot of situations that are left unresolved in the book. Again, the material is based on real life which obviously doesn't wrap up all nicely like a sitcom, but it speaks to a need for editing out things that don't fit the point she's trying to get across. At the end of the day the book makes a fine third collection, but it's weak as a stand alone story.

I think fans of James Kochalka's (American Elf Volume 1: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries Of James Kochalka (v. 1)) or Evan Dorkin's work (Dork: Who's Laughing Now? (Dork Volume 1) (v. 1)) will find a lot to love in Wertz's Drinking at the Movies. For people looking for a one and done graphic memoir though, they might be disappointed...

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More Drinking at the Movies reviews
review by . December 21, 2010
DRINKING AT THE MOVIES is an autobiographical graphic novel by Julia Wertz about her move from San Francisco to New York. The book examines some of her experiences there including the various apartments she lived in, the various jobs she worked, her struggles with drinking, and her emotions over her brother's drug addiction. The book is at times comical, at times very serious, and at other times absurdly surreal (such as when Wertz's brain literally leaves her body after a drunken spree …
About the reviewer
Shawn Robare ()
   I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books, and buy a lot of useless nostalgia crap. I run Brandedinthe80s.com, am a co-organizer of the Up! Fair (upfair.org), and am one of the co-hosts … more
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Lizzy Caplan Reviews Drinking at the Movies

In addition to her breakout role as "Janice Ian" in Mean Girls, Lizzy Caplan's film credits include Hot Tub Time Machine, Cloverfield, and My Best Friend's Girl. She'll next be seen in 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle. On television, Caplan received raves for her performance as a vegan with a habit for vampire blood in the HBO drama True Blood. Read her review of Drinking at the Movies:

Drinking at the Movies, Julia Wertz's new Fart Party book, may just be her best work yet. My copy is certainly dog-eared within an inch of its life. She exhibits the same hilariously self-deprecating grumpy grump from her previous books, but Drinking brings a whole new layer to the Julia Wertz experience. That's right, I said "the Julia Wertz experience" ... which actually sounds more like a carnival ride to be avoided, one that will leave you inexplicably drunk with holes in your clothes.

In this book Julia is darker, lugubriously introspective, and dare I say, more vulnerable than in her previous works. Yet she's still really, really, obscenely funny. There aren't many authors working today who can illustrate the pervasive despair that sometimes likes to crash on your couch in your 20s--but Julia Wertz nails this. In fact, you should probably get copies for your parents and other assorted relatives who like to mumble things like "youth is wasted on the young" when you complain about stuff. Maybe reading Drinking at the Movies will kickstart your ...

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ISBN-10: 0307591832
ISBN-13: 978-0307591838
Author: Julia Wertz
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
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