Info: Harry N. Abrams, copyright 2012, 224 pages
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): High school could have been sooo much worse.
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.
Pretty creepy. Backderf knew Dahmer in school. He considered him a friend, a troubled friend, but still a friend. Derf Backderf tells the story of the Dahmer he knew, the loner and oddball who made him laugh. He attempts to humanize him which is difficult because even at a young age Dahmer was troubled, terrifying. Was Dahmer a product of the environment he grew up in? If an adult had stepped in, would the notorious seriel killer have just been a normal boy? We’ll never know, but Dhamer left a lasting impression on the author.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork, but the story moves well and is divided into sections to show Dhamer’s retreat into, well, darkness I suppose. Backderf obviously is trying to tell his side of the story with compassion, remembering the boy he knew, but shedding light on the internal struggles he was facing. Not my favorite graphic novel but definitely worth the read.