An Acclaimed Cartoonist, On Why She Needed To Quit Comics And Comedy
"My success as a professional funny person grew hand-in-hand with depression and alcoholism." Julia Wertz considers her current sabbatical from writing comics.
In a column on Narrative.ly, she describes how depression, comedy and alcoholism went hand-in-hand. Her wrenching story runs contrary to all the feted myths of art-making — of art as some heal-all expressive catharsis or safe refuge. It's the opposite of Steve Job's "Do What You Love." What you love will eat you alive.
"I'm not sure I realized taking a break was good so much as i just did it, and realized much later that I was doing better," Julia said through email correspondence with BuzzFeed. "There were some other things that coincided with it, but I think sitting at the computer/drawing desk all day, every day, is really bad for mental health. I haven't quite figured out how to work in a healthy manner, so I've just stepped back completely."
In Julia's own words:
If you ask someone who works in comedy what is the most difficult part of being professionally funny, many, if not most of them, will tell you it's the depression. I'm not saying all funny people are depressed, but having spent a lot of time with cartoonists, comedians and comedy writers over the past decade, I can assure you that the percentage of those struggling with depression is higher than average.
My theory is that since the best comedy often springs from tragedy, cynicism, sarcasm and misanthropy, those who excel in comedy usually come from a background comprised of those events and character defects.
And the parting question:
if I'm happy and healthy, does it have a negative effect on my comedic work? And the answer is that I don't know. And I don't particularly care. If being a good comedy writer means I have to be depressed, then fuck it, I quit. The world doesn't need more fart jokes anyway.
Read the whole story at "The Fart Party Really Stinks" on Narrative.ly.
Julia Wertz is a professional cartoonist and amateur explorer. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she now lives in New York City. Her comic books are available at JuliaWertz.com, and photos and documentation of her explorations can be seen at AdventureBibleSchool.com.