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My Friend Dahmer Paperback – March 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419702173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419702174
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Derf Backderf has been nominated for two Eisner Awards and received a host of journalism honors. He has published a number of previous graphic novels and has been consistently published in both magazines and newspapers across America.

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Customer Reviews

This graphic novel is, in a way, very simple.
S Shepark
That said, if you like Derf, you'll probably like this book too.
David Fonseca
I could not put the book down and read it at one sitting.
CowboyBob

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 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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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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19 of 21 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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5 of 5 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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr. E on February 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "My Friend Dahmer" Derf Backderf has created a work that should be required reading for all school counselors, educators, and indeed anyone with an interest in the psychology of alienated outsiders. This is probably the single best work on the early origins of a serial killer that has ever seen print. All the warning signs of troubled youth are presented clearly in a very engrossing manner. The work is tastefully done. The art, while cartoonish, sets a great mood for the story. The horrid excess of Jeff Dahmer's crimes are left unseen, as it should be. What is truly fascinating about people like Dahmer is not the gory details of their violence, but the psychology that unleashes such horrors.

Derf really captures the essence of high school of that era. I was an early 80s student, myself, and little had changed by that point. I knew plenty of people much like the ones shown here. As a Dungeons & Dragons nerd, I too was near the bottom of the social ladder, much like Derf and Dahmer were. I can attest to the authenticity of Derf's portrayal of high school life of 30-odd years ago. As I read, I found myself wondering about the whereabouts of marginal characters I knew in my own school, like "Einerschteiner", "Squiddy" and the infamous "Onion". I'm just glad I haven't read about them in the newspapers.

Derf himself had a ringside seat to the genesis of notorious serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer's psychosis as a teen in 1970s small town Ohio. Derf was the leader of a group of self-described "band nerds" who associated with Dahmer in a strange blend of hero worship, fascination, pity, and disgust.
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