Congrats are in order for Derf Backderf, whose graphic novel My Friend Dahmer (Abrams ComicArts, 1-4197-0216-5) made it to number 4 on Time Entertainment's prestigious Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2012. It's highly unusual for a graphic novel to garner such buzz, but My Friend Dahmer is racking up quite the reader body count. In fact, Ibid Filmworks picked up the rights to make it into a movie! In this captivating autobiographical account of Backderf's middle and high school years, he pieces together an almost sympathetic portrait of Dahmer as a disturbed young man who devolved into a notorious serial killer.
Through his quirky cartoons, we are told Dahmer's haunting story in an unobtrusive way: we see him as a loner, as a victim of a troubled home, as a self-medicating alcoholic, as a budding sociopath in the indifferent world of 1970s suburbia. Backderf's unique vantage point elicits profound insight and some serious queries: Were the existence of Dahmer demons already an indication of an inevitable sinister outcome, or could this troubled youth's life have turned out differently if someone had noticed the red-flags and just reached out to help?
Deeply unsettling and frighteningly tragic!