The Fart Party Volume 2

Writer / Artist
The Fart Party Volume 2
The Fart Party Volume 2 review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Atomic Books - 978-0-978656-94-2
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2009
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9780978656942
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

By the time Julia Wertz planted the strips collected here online she knew she had an audience for her acerbic observations combined with disclosures about her personal life. Acidity, vulnerability, humour and heartbreak drawn in a spontaneous style prove a beguiling combination, although as her introduction notes, we can’t always rely on exact truth. It turns out some events concerning her split with boyfriend Oliver to end Volume 1 weren’t exactly as depicted, but not in a way that breaches the general honesty contract between autobiographical creator and audience. There’s some backtracking here as she relates elements of the long distance relationship.

There’s considerable appeal to Wertz’s scratched out panels, despite some looking like they were drawn as she rode her bike, and the sketchiness devolves to stick figures for a batch of strips about visiting former boyfriend Oliver in Vermont. He, or his absence, occupies much of the first half of Fart Party Volume 2 and at times the all too natural contradictory emotions lead to sequences where the strip is no longer unique. However, with Oliver out of the picture, Wertz introduces other topics, the dicks she has to put up with while waitressing offering plenty of material and deserving to be called out on a website. There’s a little too much gosh wow admiration of fellow cartoonists, which is very much contrary to her usual fractious personality, yet it’s also nice to see them draw her strips as she visits them.

Eventually Oliver is consigned to the past, and the quality is again elevated via Wertz having to scrabble around for different material, and falling back on her quirky youth, likes and dislikes and observations. These are where Wertz absolutely shines as they’re cartoons no-one else could produce, dependent on her experiences and attitudes, and delivered with comedic awareness. One strip concerns a favourite sweat shirt over the years, a precise and funny encapsulation in six panels. In one panel she’s in a bed with a guy who asks if she’s going to take it off. She isn’t, because she likes it more than him. As a sample variety selection, other strips involve the difficulty of finding a new room to rent after a glowing review of her comics in The Onion, a surprise mystery box gift and the heartbreaking ending to a strip where Wertz claims she’s rather be asleep than awake.

Such passing comments usually don’t draw as much attention as the comedy, and until highlighted when both Fart Party books were combined as Museum of Mistakes it might be the pain and depression don’t register on the way to a punchline. Furthermore, Wertz isn’t in the business of explaining anything beyond the immediate strip. After a sequence where moving to Portland is mentioned several times, the destination suddenly becomes Brooklyn, and her documentation can occasionally slip into indulgence. Her primitive cartooning isn’t nearly as appealing when applied to a farewell series of San Francisco views, although reprinting that zine in its entirety explains the move being to Brooklyn.

As before, Wertz ends with a section of hilarious mail and reviews her strips have generated, along with her incisive responses. God bless America.