My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf

3 starGenre: Graphic Novel 
Publisher: Abrams Books

You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer — the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper — seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides.

In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche — a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.

If you’re reading this graphic novel for insight into Jeffrey Dahmer then you’ll be disappointed. Instead, My Friend Dahmer depicts the story of a loner who was picked on by the author and found solace in alcohol to deal with his disturbing thoughts and feelings. Despite this, it was interesting to gain some perspective about Dahmer as a teenager, but I can’t quite get away from feeling like Backderf was a complete, for lack of a better word, dick to Dahmer. For that reason, I would have to agree with another review  I read that this graphic novel should have been named “My Acquaintance Dahmer”. Backderf admits multiple times throughout the novel that he was not friends with Dahmer and was weirded out by him.

I’m not a fan of the artwork. I found it too cartoony for the subject matter. Maybe that was Backderf’s intention, but I found it distracting from the story being told. The drawings of the characters were confusing as well since they all looked similar, so it made it hard at times to follow who was talking or associate an identity to the characters.

Overall, My Friend Dahmer wasn’t exactly what I expected or wanted but was still interesting nonetheless. I would definitely recommend borrowing this from the library.

2 thoughts on “My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf

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