Title: My Friend Dahmer
Author: Derf Backderf
Genre: Graphic Novel/Memoir
Number of Pages: 224
I’ve been wanting to read this book for forever and and it ended up being a little bit disappointing. The premise (the author’s high school friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer, years before he became an infamous serial killer) is really intriguing but for me the execution was just okay. The artwork was really off-putting, even ugly- I just couldn’t warm up to it.
Derf Backderf made a lot of assumptions about Dahmer’s upbringing and family that he didn’t have a right to make. In particular he placed a lot of blame on Dahmer’s mother in a sorry-not-sorry way even though he hardly even knew her. He equates Dahmer’s mother’s abandonment of him to Dahmer’s later desire to possess his victims ‘so they wouldn’t leave him’ and I couldn’t help thinking that was a bit of a stretch.
That woman obviously had a ton of mental issues and on top of that she had Jeffrey Dahmer as a son, I think she should have been given the benefit of a doubt. I understand that the author didn’t want to identify with Dahmer (obviously) but he still put a lot of focus on adults who should have realized how troubled he was when he was a teen and not Dahmer’s sadistic crimes themselves.