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Copyright © 2018 Shut Up and Listen. All rights reserved.

Published in Bloomington, Indiana

JULIA WERTZ

published 5.17

Julia Wertz is an American cartoonist  and urban explorer. She’s best known for her graphic novels Fart Party vol. 1 and 2, Drinking at the Movies and The Infinite Wait and Other Stories. She does monthly comics and illustrations for the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine and the New Yorker. We asked Julia about her relationship with music, the first comic she made and her latest book. 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

JULIA:

As a kid, I wanted to be a speleologist/spelunker, but only because I liked exploring caves. Once I figured out how much schooling and studying would have to be done to achieve that, I dropped it immediately. During my teen years, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do, and I was fine with that. Then I found comics and that was it for me. I consider myself very lucky not have had to struggle with figuring out what to do with my life. But that extreme luck is counterbalanced by financial insecurity, so it keeps me humble. 

 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

What was your first comic about?

 

JULIA:

My first comic is unlike anything I made afterwards. It was called Hobo Spider, and was about exactly that - an anthropomorphic spider on a journey of self-discovery. I made it for my friend Shannon Shaw (of Shannon & the Clams) a few years after high school. It was very silly but I still like it. Glad I didn’t pursue the talking animal comics route though.

 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

What is your new book about?

JULIA:

It’s called Tenements, Towers & Trash: an Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City. It’s a mix of humorous history comics and then/now cityscape illustrations. My character is in it a little, but I wanted to step back and work on a book about something other than myself, because I got really sick of myself. Autobio can be dangerous for a few reasons - first because you can start to blur the lines between reality and the comic, and second because it can really make you hate yourself. Plus, I just wanted to draw hundreds of buildings for some insane reason I still haven’t really figured out.

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

What have you recently been obsessed with?

JULIA:

The TV show Patriot, on Amazon. It’s probably the most original show I’ve ever seen. It’s not at all what you’d expect from reading the description. It’s deeply but subtly funny, like you have to pay close attention and probably watch it twice, minimum. There are both verbal and physical humor that are easy to miss. It’s so well written, and has a lot of surreal, arty scenes that are really beautiful. Also it has an amazing, folksy soundtrack that’s part of the plot, and the songs sang by the main character are so fucking good.

 

 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

When do you listen to music?

JULIA:

I listen to music when walking or driving. Taking long city walks while listening to a specific playlist are my favorite. But I don’t get to do that as much now that I left NYC, now I take long car rides through the country, which requires totally different playlists.

 

 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

What was the first album you ever bought?

JULIA:

It was a Mariah Carey album, I forget which, that I got when I was 10. It was a CD, which felt fancy at the time after growing up with tapes and records. I remember being super fucking pumped to go to the Warehouse and buy it with money I earned doing chores.

 

 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

How has your taste in music changed over time?

JULIA:

I certainly don’t listen to Mariah Carey on my own accord anymore, but I won’t change the station if a classic song of hers comes on. In high school I went through a huge-cock rock phase during which I was ridiculously obsessed with Guns N’ Roses. Now I’ve kinda gone back to the stuff I grew up with as a kid - 70’s soft rock and folk singers.

 

 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN:

What song will you never get tired of?

JULIA:

Jim Croce’s ‘Operator’ or the Beach Boy’s ‘Sloop John B’.