Julia Wertz is an amazing indie cartoonist and she embraces all that entails. (I recently wrote about her prior major work TENEMENTS, TOWERS & TRASH, which I hauled to NYC with me on my last trip to that amazing shit-smelling, rodent-infested, culturally vibrant city.) She overshares, imparting gross parts of one’s life that’s rarely described elsewhere, but is also very earnest and sincere and honest and heartfelt, even if that means showcasing her troubled mental underbelly.
The rawness of indie comics is something that simply can’t be recreated in other mediums, partially because of the scribbles and sketching and personal lettering, but just … there’s an intimacy when you read a comic or graphic novel. You push it up to your face, almost like you’re hugging it. It’s not like a film, which is projected quite a ways away from you. It’s not like a novel, where scrutinizing the font will not bring any sort of further elucidation, whereas with a comic or illustrative work, drawing it closer to your eyes may bring everything into focus.
Wertz has been through a lot — self-admittedly by her own hand — and she’s put so much of herself out there, and it’s so artfully done.
(I’ll note that I pre-ordered this book some time ago, forgot that I pre-ordered it, then ordered it again and she notified me asking: “Are you sure you want another copy?” How many other creatives would do that?)
So yeah, I’ll always be in her corner.
IMPOSSIBLE PEOPLE — the full title is IMPOSSIBLE PEOPLE: A COMPLETELY AVERAGE RECOVERY STORY — is quite the epic as it’s over 300 pages long and spans quite a bit of time and change. It still contains Wertz’s immaculate architectural reproductions, but also retains her expressive cartoon roots. When I was reading it, I’d gawk at the street in one panel, then laugh at the exaggerated simplicity of her comic self throwing her arms up in the air. It’s a perfectly calibrated work.
On a side note, with IMPOSSIBLE PEOPLE, Wertz does an incredible job of underscoring the importance of human interaction and communication when you’re struggling. As she’s a very witty, sardonic person, it’s all handled with both the levity and gravitas it deserves, while also not shying away from how difficult that can be. Obviously I haven’t lived Wertz’s life but, when dealing with my own problems, I found that the solutions that helped her get sober mirrored my attempts to deal with my mental issues.
In other words: do not be afraid to reach out to people. Do not be so proud or scared. I know that’s easier said than done — I’ve been there. However, so many folks are either hurting or hiding their hurt or have made a sort of temporary peace with it, or they simply suffer with it. When they hear that you are in need, most will lend an ear or shoulder or both, or they may even ask for your ear or shoulder. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, you’re making yourself vulnerable. In the long run, it’s worth it. You will find folks you can rely on; well-wishing folks who will have your back and folks you can earnestly and honestly talk to without (mostly) feeling judged. You are not alone, but you do have to make the effort to not be alone. You have to do the work.
You can pick up a copy of IMPOSSIBLE PEOPLE via Bookshop: