My Friend Dahmer

A Graphic Novel


(Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
My Friend Dahmer
"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. In [this story], a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche-- a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget."--Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York : Abrams ComicArts, 2012
ISBN: 9781419702167
Branch Call Number: GRAPHIC B Dahmer D
Characteristics: 221 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


From Library Staff

Even serial killers went to high school.

From the critics

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Dec 17, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

"I had normal friendships in high school . . . and really never had any close friendships after high school."
- Jeff Dahmer

I briefly met Derf Backderf a couple of years ago, when he was telling a small group I was a part of about this book. He said that Jeffrey Dahmer killed his first victim two weeks after Backderf last talked to him, at high school graduation. Before that they were classmates, peers, and friends.

Though the word "friend" is a bit of an overstatement, as Backderf wasn't all that great to Dahmer; still, Backderf and his group of buds were about as good as friendship ever got for Dahmer. They never quite bonded with him and didn't much associate away from the captivity of school, but at least they accepted him there. That was a welcome contrast from his reclusive home life with his unhappy family, trying his best to repress the host of impulses he knew were wrong without ever sharing them with anyone. At school Dahmer could at least act out a little to relieve the pressure, and Backderf's group accepted him as a curiosity and entertaining spectacle as much as a friend.

Backderf has recreated as much of Dahmer's middle and high school years as possible from his perspective as someone on the edges of Dahmer's life. He draws from his own memories, those of friends and associates he interviewed, Dahmer's as shared in interviews with journalists, and the public documents and records available. He shares his graphic account with highly effective artwork and fairly matter-of-fact writing, choosing for the most part to let the story speak for itself. It is a fascinating, sad portrait, one well worth reading.

The section titles tell a bit of a story all by themselves:
- Part 1: The Strange Boy
- Part 2: A Secret Life
- Part 3: The Dahmer Fan Club
- Part 4: Becoming the Monster
- Part 5: Fade to Black

May 21, 2014
  • JCLMELODYK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

No one could have saved Dahmer. But they sure as hell could have saved his victims. It is almost incomprehensible the number of people who chose to ignore this psychopath.

Apr 24, 2014
  • CraigGraziano rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

My Friend Dahmer is much more than just a grisly expose on the teenage life of a future serial killer; it is also a rumination on the culture of 1970's suburbia, where teens were left to their own devices in the wake of divorce or career-minded parents.

Read more at: http://www.librarypoint.org/my_friend_dahmer_backderf

Feb 23, 2014
  • KateHillier rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

There's always that guy or girl in your class. This is of story of that guy actually becoming a serial killer. There's enough out there about infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer but this is the story, as much as can be said, of his youth. Of how isolated he was in school and just how his spiral began. I think what I like best about this is how honest it is. Backderf doesn't claim to be closer to him than he was, he supplements with other sources as needed (there are comprehensive notes in the back), and explains why certain people are omitted. It's a disturbing but also tragic book. The tragedy, as the author states, stops after Dahmer kills his first victim but you just wonder if there was some way he could have been saved. That somebody could have noticed or done something even though there was probably nothing to be done

Dec 30, 2013
  • martypants rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An incredible work of non-fiction!

Dec 17, 2013
  • mawls rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An intimate look at Jeffrey Dahmer told through the eyes of a former friend before Dahmer was an infamous serial killer. I was nervous to read this because of the subject matter, but I'm glad I read it. The story is Backderf's story and it is well researched and not told lightly.

Nov 24, 2013
  • kpb98 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

oftentimes hard to take but still compelling. not for the faint of heart though. many of the graphic details are in the appendix. still interesting as it gives a rare story of someone who knew a murderer "way back when"

Nov 17, 2013
  • briannek7 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A deeply unsettling but fascinating must-read. Bear in mind that it doesn't go into the details of the crimes for which Dahmer is best known, so you may want to do a little research before or after you read this.

Aug 11, 2013
  • Mark_Daly rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A scrupulously told story that asks all the right questions and wisely refuses to provide answers. In 1991 Derf unexpectedly found himself at the fringes of infamy, and after decades of effort, in this book he wrings the experience of all it's worth. Autobio comics and reportage combine in this compelling work.

Apr 30, 2013
  • DexDude rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A very interesting read. It's a very well described account of Dahmer's life that actually backed up by facts (they are even listed in the back of the book in great detail). I really enjoyed reading this book and didn't put it down until finshed it.

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