Abrams ComicArts, TPB, £16.99
Reviewed by Dave Brzeski
This graphic novel wasn’t sent to me for review. I hadn’t planned on reviewing it at all. It was simply recommended to me my my friend, Chris, who insisted that I must read it. This wouldn’t automatically pique my interest, as Chris and I tend to have very different tastes. They do cross over, but often as not, if I love it, he doesn’t much like it and vice versa. For us both to love something, it’s probably going to need to be a bit special. This is one of those rare occasions when Chris and I both loved something, and it is, indeed, a bit special.
Derf Backderf knew Jeffrey Dahmer. They went to the same school and he was, at one point, the closest thing Dahmer had to a friend. Dahmer was always weird, very weird, but it was the 70s and his peers found his weirdness hilarious. The signs that something was seriously wrong were all there, plain to see, but it’s always easy to have 20/20 hindsight.
The art is cartoony in a way that really works. I think the story would have actually been less powerful had it been drawn in a more realistic style. The story takes us through Dahmer’s life, all the way up to the first in his killing spree. The final line of dialogue, which Derf remembers actually saying, when he had a reunion with his other friends, ten years after last seeing Jeffrey Dahmer, is as chilling an example of prescience ever uttered.
This is not only a great graphic novel, it’s an important one. It rightfully sits next to such classics as Maus, Barefoot Gen and A Contract with God.