Thursday, December 29, 2011

"My Friend Dahmer" by Derf Backderf


A graphic memoir by Derf Backderf who went to high school school with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. What we get are snapshots of Dahmer's life before he totally answered to his darker side. Yet, clearly he was on that road to mayhem perhaps all his life. One is never sure, because I think everyone has a Dahmer they went to school with. And that is the quiet shock of the narrative, at least for me.

There are two worlds that are expressed in this 'graphic novel.' One by Backderf, who seemed to have been charmed with a good family life and friends, and then there is Dahmer, a tortured soul with no friends and a disturbing family set-up. The thing is the problems he had at home is not that different from millions whose family are going through divorce or drug related problems. Some can just pick up the pieces and go on, but Dahmer can't go on.

Dahmer basically went through school totally wasted on alcohol. & to amuse the school population he pretended to be spastic. Which was obviously a role he took to his heart on many levels. The disturbing part of the narrative is that no one picked up on his problems or worse, they didn’t care or bother to think about it. The title is miss-leading because Backderf is not a friend of Dahmer . He knew him causally at school, and like his other classmates saw him as an object to use or have fun with. Which is typical of teenagers in that social setting, and Backderf doesn't run away from that role in his teenage years. But clearly the problem with Dahmer was obvious and the fact that his community didn't see it coming is the shocking aspect of the narrative.  

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