By Meredith Deliso
Julia Wertz and Martin Lemelman don’t have much in common. She’s a petite twentysomething from San Francisco who came of age in the culture of overshare and is quick with a fart joke. He’s a father of four who grew up in Brooklyn during the 1950s and ’60s and is a retired professor who illustrates children’s books.
One thing that does unite them is the graphic memoir — though each approaches the artform differently.
In “Drinking at the Movies,” Wertz chronicles her move from San Francisco to Brooklyn and the ups and downs — mostly downs — that follow.
“I didn’t think anyone would want to do a book that was ‘Young girl moves to New York and everything is crazy.’ It’s the most overdone topic in movies and literature, just embarrassingly common,” said Wertz, who was inspired by the very first comic book she read: Julie Doucet’s “My New York Diary.”
The move was great fodder, though, for her often absurd yet thoughtful strips, as Wertz gets fired from one miserable job to the next (seven), goes from one crappy apartment to the next (four), finally settling in Greenpoint, and through it all drinks lots of whiskey (too many bottles to count).
In “Two Cents Plain,” Lemelman tells of a completely different coming of age — growing up in 1960s Brownsville as the son of Holocaust survivors and living in the back of a candy store.
“It became a book not only of my memories and my parent’s memories, but the life of the neighborhood,” said Lemelman, who incorporated memorabilia from his parent’s shop, from family photos to scanned artifacts, in addition to his pencil sketches. “It’s wonderful working within the graphic memoir form because you can do so much with it.”
Tonight, both comics will discuss graphic memoirs at Word in Greenpoint.
“Writing about New York seems to lend itself to poetic frivolities of humiliating proportions,” writes Wertz in her introduction to “Drinking at the Movies,” “which is why it’s probably better to just back away and let the comics speak for me.”