Article written by Andy Jones.
'My Friend Dahmer' a graphic novel by Derf Backderf. Published by Abrams.
As a comic reader of many years, the urge to push comic books onto other people to read(and then discuss) is a strong one, but its rare that I NEED someone to read what I have. My friend Dahmer, is one of those books.
the writing and artwork are both by an Actual school friend of Jeffrey dahmer, and reflect an insight into a person, that police and media profiling cannot offer.
While it is easily said that 'serial killers' are a pop culture mainstay, and that we take an almost vulgar interest in their life's, this book is NOT what that is about. The writer takes lengths to point out that while any sympathy for Dahmer is lost as soon as he crossed a murderous line, and that he is to be pitied, not revered, his early life deserves to be documented. This being said, i will admit i shed a tear reading this book for the first time, and i was definitely moved. Now i don't sympathise with a murdering cannibal, but end the tale before any 'impulses' are acted upon, and its the story of a very poor home-life, and detail of a social outcast.
Coming in at just under 200 pages of art, the book is well written from a standpoint of an observer, and makes no attempt to lead you one way or the other on your feelings towards the Protagonist, but details accounts and observations of their shared childhood. The author will at times use gathered information to fill in blanks as necessary for a smooth read, but will include details of these accounts at the end of the book, so as to eliminate the 'you weren't there, how do you know what he was doing' moments.
The book is Black and white throughout and don't be expecting any Alex Ross artwork here! This is the all encompassing work of one guy, his life and his vision, and thus the artwork is more Schulz than anything! With this in mind it works well, and will attract both comic fans and 'coffee table aficionados' alike. The book is laced with photographs and actual paraphernalia from the time, and ends with a section of sources and notes that the author had gathered before putting his final draft together.
In Summary, If you want a dark retelling of murder and savagery, this is NOT the book for you, but if you want an insight into a person, and first person accounts of their life, and indeed staggering points of 'you could have prevented this', then this is a definite recommendation. I would go as far as to say its one of the best things i have ever read as far as comic book work goes, especially on the side of Indie books.
You can buy this book on Amazon HERE
You can find Andy's review page HERE
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