Meet Jay Wertz, an LA-based American author compiling the complete history of World War II in both hardback books and comic books – a passion project which has given him a greater appreciation of the British.
What do you admire most about British people?
The British people have a spirit of determination, perseverance, justness and fair play. This was shown time and again in World War II and I believe they continue to demonstrate these traits as a nation today.
Was there a particular reason you chose LA?
I moved out here from Hanover, Pennsylvania after attending film school at Temple University in Philadelphia. I wanted to be a filmmaker… a director… and tried to imitate those of my generation who did the same – Francis Ford Coppola and Hal Ashby, for example. Hollywood is where everything happens – every film and television project passes through Hollywood at some point in its life. I’ve managed to spend my entire career working in the industry.
What do you miss most from home?
While I don’t necessarily miss the changing of the seasons, I do miss the beauty of the central Pennsylvania countryside, especially as it is in the spring and fall. There was a simplicity of life there that is difficult to find in Los Angeles – in any large city, I suppose.
What was your first impression of LA and has it changed since?
When I first arrived here this was the Hollywood that I had studied and seen in the movies. The studios were like so many Camelots – mysterious and foreboding walled castles where magic happened. Admittedly there was a seediness, but the landmarks and buildings had history and character. The car culture was in full swing – drive-through everything. Now I believe Los Angeles has lost its identity. It’s just another overbuilt city with too many cookie-cutter buildings, too many people and an overburdened infrastructure.
What do you find is the biggest difference between living here versus Pennsylvania?
The traffic. Every activity – work, worship, working out, meeting with friends – has to be meticulously planned to deal with a constant stream of mechanized humanity. And by the time I arrive at a particular activity, the process of arriving has sucked the life out of me. I’m sure it has gotten worse in Pennsylvania as well, but nobody spends as much of their lives in their cars as Angelenos.
Do you have a hidden gem in LA that you want to share with our members?
I love the Magic Castle. For those fortunate enough to visit it, that special place provides a great ambience, decent food and unmatched entertainment.
What would you suggest to others who are thinking about making the move here?
If you are coming to Hollywood to market a talent, an idea or a screenplay, have a definite and detailed plan, and hopefully a phone full of contacts, already in place. Hollywood is not the place where dreams are made, it’s the place where deals are made. The worldwide web and social media have allowed for the dissemination of self-made videos from around the world. It seems one can build a body of work and that all-important first contact list from anywhere.
Lots of our members seek out words of wisdom – what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
As Winston Churchill said, never, never, never give up.
What are you working on at the moment that our readers might like to know about?
While I always have a movie script ready for the next deal, my most immediate projects include The World Turns to War, part of a 12-book series on World War II with unique participant interviews, dynamic visuals and up-to-date historic thought. I also am writing and directing the art on a series of graphic histories of WWII in comic book form, and a serialized graphic novel. And I’m developing a few unique “aps” with historic and nostalgia themes. The best place to begin to learn more about my works and getting copies of them is www.monroepublications.com.