Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Julia Wertz's Impossible People: Keeping it cute and real

So many books and comics and movies about addiction - true or otherwise - stumble into degradation porn, where they have to show how low you can really go as a human being. (The answer is always low. Very low.) They can also find dramatic moments that speak to the human condition in these depths, but real life isn't always as simple as that.

The world of Julia Wertz's cartoons isn't gross - it's cute, full of big eyes and the most adorable bangs. Her comics, like this year's Impossible People, are massively charming, and Wertz has a brilliant ear for dialogue - recanted or otherwise

Her new book is also full of supreme comic timing and terrific pacing, with a 300+ page story that never feels representative, or preachy, or dull in any way.

But what it shows how easily you can slide into substance dependency, from just having a couple of wines every night to chugging whole bottles, to checking into rehab for it all. There are few sudden revelations, just the dawning realization that there is a problem, and it need to be sorted out, because when your doctor says this could kill you, you should fucking listen to them.

There are still moment of drama in he book, it starts with Wertz's car sliding away into a tropical jungle on her birthday, and moments of outright comedy, but this depiction of long-term addiction - just day after day with morning pick-me-ups and endless hangovers that never get any better - feels true, without ending too far into the degradation gutter.

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