Monday, January 10, 2011

Graphic Novel Monday: REVIEW: Drinking at the Movies, by Julia Wertz

Drinking at the Movies, by Julia Wertz. Published 2010 by Three Rivers Press. Graphica. Nonfiction. Memoir.

Drinking at the Movies, veteran comic Julia Wertz's first full-length graphic novel tells the story of her move to New York City from San Francisco from 2007-2008. Previously she's released two volumes of her Fart Party serial comic and edited the anthology I Saw You....  I'm a big fan of Wertz's raw and often raunchy style, her expressive drawings and her slice-of-life subject matter, and her latest book did not disappoint.

If you've read any of her previous book you'll find yourself on familiar ground but this is the first time that she's stretched her comic legs into a longer story and although she does split the story into anecdotal shorter comics, the parts work well together as a whole. She uses the series of apartments she lives in to frame the story. The main thrust of the story is about growing up, taking responsibility and building her life in a new city- kind of typical 20-something stuff that many of us have been through.

All of this makes Drinking at the Movies a very satisfying read and a more mature volume than her previous books. This is a good thing- right? Of course. I mean, I loved the crass Julia of old but this new Julia is just as appealing. This book doesn't have as much swearing, violence, sex or blasphemy as her Fart Party books so readers expecting a longer Fart Party may be disappointed. But I don't think many people will be; it's still laugh-out-loud funny and just as true to life. I love how open she is about her personal life. She talks about her brother's struggle with addiction and shows us her own; her alcohol-soaked anecdotes are amusing but hint equally at a dark side to her life. She touches on relations with family and friends and the difficulty she has forming romantic relationships and getting a foothold on professional success, and she gives us a nice happy ending to it all. And she does it in her trademark visual style, which has grown up, too. All in all a winner.

Here's an interview I did with Wertz following the release of her last book.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the author for review.


Zibilee said...

I have to admit that I am curious about the Fart Party books now, but who wouldn't be with that kid of title? I am glad to hear that this book shows the author has matured a bit, and that she is still just as penetrating and relevant in her books. It does sound as though I would like this, and I am intrigued by the fact that she uses her different living spaces as cues tot he different times of her life. Great review, Marie. I am adding this one to my list!

Anonymous said...

Excellent review. I'm a big fan of graphic novels and I find the genre very accepting of certain stories.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read anything by Wertz, but now I want to!

Marie Cloutier said...

Everyone, read it! It's a fun book.

Anonymous said...

i haven't heard of this, thank you. i will have to check it out.


Kathleen said...

I just started reading graphic novels last year. This is one I will add to my list. I love memoirs and true stories and this one will fit the bill for me.

Suzanne Yester said...

Well, I'm always looking for graphic novels that come with a great recommendation! And I love seeing NYC as a background to the story.

Thanks for sharing!

Swapna said...

I haven't read any of Wertz' books, but this looks like a fun read and I'm always on the lookout for new graphic memoirs. THanks for the review!