Q&A: Julia Wertz

Since 2005, Julia Wertz has been writing the autobiographical, misanthropic strip known as The Fart Party. But recently, she released I Saw You …, an anthology of comics based on real life missed connections from Craigslist and other sources. Funny, sad, creepy and just weird, the anthology assembles works by knowns and unknowns, including the very known Peter Bagge and the somewhat-known Jeffrey Brown.

Now that the book is out, Wertz seems not so sure of what she’s unleashed on the world, apologizing for the negative tone some of her answers took. But maybe she’s just sick of all the interviews. Regardless, the answers are, in the least, funny and crass … sort of like Fart Party.

I was originally going to post my interview request as a missed connections ad on Craigslist. Would this have been too weird, and has anyone already tried this?

It would have never happened then because I don’t read the ads anymore. I haven’t even looked at them in over a year.

What set off the idea of creating this anthology?

I was just procrastinating while looking for a job on Craigslist by going through the other various categories. Because I’m a cartoonist, it was just natural to want to put the two together but I didn’t want to do a whole book on my own so I decided to make an anthology.

How did you go about assembling the plethora of artists and writers in this book?

Half of them I hand picked and the other half submitted stuff after an open call for submissions online

For your own comics, I can’t help but notice the character is exactly how you draw yourself in “Fart Party.” Were these true-to-life missed connections that you posted?

The events were true but not the missed connections park, I never posted any ads. I just did it that way to match the theme of the anthology.

How many of the others come directly from real life ads? I guess this is more, what’s the definition of “inspired by” – is it all verbatim ads, or are some of them just theoretical missed connections ads?

We had to say “inspired by” since you can’t use the direct wording of the ads due to legal issues. So people picked an ad and changed it around, or they made up events they imagined transpired to lead to the ad. So yeah, some are theoretical, some aren’t really even about the ads, just the concept and some are the cartoonists unique take on an actual ad.

Were there any comics that didn’t make the cut? If so, why?

There were a lot that didn’t make the cut, but mostly due to time/space issues.

What compels a person to post a missed connections ad?

I have no fucking idea. Like I said, I don’t post them or read them, I’m totally sick of them. I guess people think that they’ll get a date out of it but I highly doubt that ever happens.

One of my former roommates knew someone who would meet girls by making eye contact with them at a book store and then post an ad. A serial offender, if you will. When I lived in Philly, there was also a lady who worked in a toll booth and every other day she would post a missed connections ad. They were always written in all caps. Jason Viola’s comic, “Pork Pie Hat,” seems to be about somebody waiting for a missed connection to happen. How many ads do you think are the same person?

That guy sounds like a fucking douche bag. I think anyone who uses missed connections as a legit way to try to date is pretty pathetic.

I’ve noticed in DC the number of response backs, often calling out posters, almost starting the Craigslist version of a flame war. In
fact, “Best Dance Ever!” includes one of these about a missed stripper connection. What kind of culture have these ads bred?

it’s a culture where you can say anything on the internet and you can do it anonymously so there’s no social barrier. Sometimes that can lead to really funny writing but it is also negatively effecting the way we communicate with each other today. Technology and the internet is breeding this weird, self absorbed generation of kids who are disconnected from their real lives due to over connectivity online. I guess I’m more ranting about the internet than the Craigslist ads but I’m just scared for the future generations.

Missed connections are never going to go away. Think there will be any follow up books?

If so, not by me. I’m fucking DONE with anthologies.

Some of these seem to stretch the bounds of believability. Do you think there are a lot of these ads that are fake?

Totally. People have too much time on their hands.