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My Friend Dahmer Hardcover – March 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419702165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419702167
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Derf Backderf has been nominated for two Eisner Awards and has received a host of honors, including the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for political cartooning. His weekly comic strip, The City, has appeared in more than 100 newspapers over the past 22 years. Backderf lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Customer Reviews

A wonderful graphic novel.
Author Derf Backderf knew Jeff Dahmer in high school and this book is a narrative of his recollections.
I could not put the book down and read it at one sitting.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I didn't intend to read this all in one sitting. I put it down once, because I was deeply, deeply perturbed and needed a minute to collect my thoughts. Then I picked it back up and read for a couple more hours. It's not just Dahmer that's upsetting. In fact, he becomes a consequence of an inattentive, uncaring system. Seeing authority figures fail to execute their duties, and the consequent existence of the Dahmer who became infamous, was the truly upsetting part for me. Memoir, horror, tragedy, true-crime, perverse coming-of-age,My Friend Dahmer is chilling.

I'm very careful recommending comics works to those that don't read many comics. This is an obvious pick. And if you do read comics regularly...why haven't you purchased this yet?
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Harrison Koehli on March 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
First off, let me just say that I couldn't put this book down. It was both fascinating and disturbing and fulfilled that strange curiosity that comes up whenever you read an account of someone so disturbed that they engage in the most heinous acts imaginable. How could they be that way? What must go wrong inside of them to allow them to do such things? And what were they like as teenagers? Well, that last question may not be typical, and it was only after reading the premise of the book that I really thought about it. Would there be signs at that age? What is the reaction of people close to such psychopaths to learn about the reality that lies behind the mask of sanity?

Well, in that department, My Friend Dahmer delivers. There's plenty an anecdote to inspire nervous laughter, wide-eyed disbelief, and stunned disappointment at all the missed opportunities that might have prevented such a despicable spree of murder. Dahmer's antics in high school were odd, to say the least, and betrayed very early on a remarkable lack of empathy and capacity for manipulation, as well as the growth of the necrophiliac desires that would prompt his many murders.

But I think it's in Dahmer's capacity for manipulation that the book suffers. It seems to me that even with the benefit of hindsight, Backderf might be buy into Dahmer's story of himself a tad too much. Backderf (but he's not the only one) presents what he believes to be the motivation and psychological history that led to the man Dahmer became: a broken home, absent parents, strange and shameful desires. It's a story that inspires pity (but not necessarily compassion, as Backderf himself writes). But is it the truth? After all the reading I've done on psychopathy and character disorders, I highly doubt it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Hoyer on February 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing, very personal memoir of a high-school nobody who is now remembered as a monster. It in no way absolves Dahmer, but it humanizes him to the extent where we can see him as a person. Not that we can see what went on in his head, but the context in which he lost it. This is a very personal story, but Derf has filled it in with outside research (without stepping out of the personal story) and the (text) timeline at the end fills in the horror story for those who don't know any or all the story.
I've been reading Derf for ages, and he's one of my favorites. I love his comix. His other book Punk Rock and Trailer Parks is a boisterous remembering of the punk era in the 80s. My Friend Dahmer is not happy or uplifting. But it's a gripping story of alienation, neglect and everyday inattention.
All the characters you remember from high school are in this book. And also a serial killer.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reckless Reader on December 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is exactly why I keep picking up random graphic works to see what is going on out there in the land of people who draw books, instead of writing them -- every so often, I hit one that is completely brilliant, one that does what no number of words could do, one that simply captures the weird that exists in everyday scenes.....the artist here is not trying to do the definitive work on what makes a serial killer what he is - he's simply trying to recount what he saw of this strange tragic creature as he was growing up with him....the book ends up being brilliantly ambiguous precisely because it depicts in considerable detail what formed J Dahmer, and how all that specificity still does not "explain" Dahmer...that degree of ambiguity is left for the reader to bring to the story, the artist simply tells his story and leaves it for the reader to glean what he/she may. The critique of this book, that it does not answer all the questions about Dahmer, is precisely what makes it so great -- it is not trying to be definitive. And the less I say about the drawing, the better, because I understand so little of what Scott McCloud has taught us about "cartooning" -- but like Potter Stewart's comment on pornography, I can't define great drawing, but I know it when I see it, and this is IT. Get it, read it, in one sitting, and come away profoundly disturbed - it won't leave you untouched, which is perhaps the point of "art"....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dee18 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He became infamous after his 1991 arrest and 1992 conviction, when he received 15 life terms, only to be murdered by a fellow inmate in 1994. Dahmer has become part of America's serial-killer history and infamy, in part because of the gory horror of the murders which included rape, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism.

But before he was the `The Milwaukee Cannibal' and `The Milwaukee Monster', Jeffrey Dahmer attended Eastview Junior High and later Revere High School, with John Backderf (who illustrates under the pseudonym Derf and Derf Backderf). In fact, Backderf while not close friends with Dahmer, was part of the `Dahmer Fan Club'; a group of self-proclaimed `nerds' who were fringe-friends of Dahmer's, and in 1991 would be interviewed by detectives about Dahmer's first murder of a hitchhiker called Stephen Hicks.

It was John Backderf's bizarre pseudo-friendship with the man who would go on to become one of America's most infamous serial-killers that prompted him to first write a short comic anthology about growing up with Dahmer, published in 1997. From there, Backderf explains in the preface to `My Friend Dahmer', that he continued to muse on his high school memories of the boy, to the point that he released a self-published comic book version of what would later become the graphic novel `My Friend Dahmer', published this year by Abrams ComicArts.

The novel follows Dhamer's schooling from the moment that Backderf actually remembers noticing him in Junior High. Through to the days before graduation and his last encounters with the now adult Dhamer who would go on to commit his first murder shortly thereafter.
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