My Friend Dahmer by Derf BackderfMy Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer

byDerf Backderf

Paperback | March 1, 2012

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The bone-chilling graphic novel that inspired the major motion picture starring Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer.
2013 ALA/YALSA Alex Award
2014 Revelation Award at Angoulême
2015 ALA/YALSA Alex Award (Excellence in Narrative Nonfiction)
Named a BEST OF 2012 by Time, The Village Voice, A.V. Club, comiXology, Boing Boing, Publishers Weekly, MTV Geek, and more!
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 My Friend Dahmer, 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.
Also available by Derf Backderf, Trashed.

Find teaching guides for My Friend Dahmer and other titles at
Derf Backderf has been nominated for two Eisner Awards and has received a host of honors, including the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for political cartooning. His weekly comic strip, The City, has appeared in more than 100 newspapers over the past 22 years. Backderf lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
Title:My Friend DahmerFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 0.88 inShipping dimensions:9.25 × 6 × 0.88 inPublished:March 1, 2012Publisher:Abrams ComicArtsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1419702173

ISBN - 13:9781419702174


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting & thought provoking Really creepy and sad. This story focusses mainly on Dahmer's high school days. It's a story of isolation and despair. The author and his friends do not come off well but many teens would and have done the same tricks and antics. This is such a sad story. Dahmer had issues, as was seen at the beginning of this book and these issues would have required constant and deep therapy from a very early age, with no guarantee of help for Dahmer or hope for his future victims. But that chance was never given. Dahmer was truly alone in every aspect of his life. This is also a scary story. Dahmer may have been reclusive and no one noticed that this boy needed help. It's so easy to slip between the cracks of a safety net.
Date published: 2018-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique Insight into the Teenage Years of Jeffrey Dahmer I purchased this graphic novel leading up the release of the indie film of the same title and was not disappointed. The story was a chilling look into the teenagehood of Jeffrey Dahmer and illustrated a uniquely personal account of his relationships with peers while attending Revere High School. The illustrations were fascinating, haunting, and the overall story is tragic while detailing the events leading up to his first murder.
Date published: 2018-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting I was born in 1994, so naturally my knowledge of Dahmer was very limited. After watching the movie trailer, I became a lot more interested as to who he was. I hardly ever read graphic novels, but this one was amazing, haunting, and at times, sad. I would definitely recommend.
Date published: 2017-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting This is an interesting backstory to one of the most infamous serial killers out there. It is a definite must read and something that I simply couldn't put down. It's a very simple read, but it leaves you haunted by the end. It is an interesting side to the story; reading about how one man knew Dahmer before he became the killer he was, and how, possibly, there is always more to the creation of a monster than just the man. It's definitely an eerie read, and I cannot wait for the movie.
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Irresistibly haunting I'd consider this a definite must read. I got through it pretty quickly, mostly because I couldn't walk away from it. I love the way the author/artist drew Dahmer in this, he's just so creepy. The dark shadows on his eyes is the perfect way to instil a sense of unease in the reader. Also, the style of the artwork really adds to the theme and story behind & within each panel in the novel. Fair warning, I got goosebumps several times while reading this. It's terrifying, to say the least. But so damned good. The scene that got under my skin the most is the very final panel, where the Dahmer Fan Club members are having coffee back in their hometown. They start to discuss old classmates and what may have become of some of them... "Ya know what? Dahmer is probably a serial killer by now! ... And we all laughed." That about sums it up. These guys simultaneously knew exactly what was wrong with Jeff Dahmer, while also having no clue what was wrong with him. At least, not until the rest of the world knew too.
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and Artfully Done I had seen My Friend Dahmer in stores some time ago, and I initially became interested because of Backderf's interesting art style. I admit I balked at first, since I didn't want to be mistaken for a serial killer enthusiast (to describe the subculture politely.) I recommend getting past that apprehension, because My Friend Dahmer is a great, tastefully done cautionary tale. After I finished reading, I was desperate to talk about the book, but of course it's about someone that nobody really wants to bring up. One of the things that struck me the most was Backderf's emphasis that someone should really have checked on the odd teen Dahmer; he had all the warning signs of something being horribly wrong, but a naive - almost neglectful - school system let him out into the world. In a time now where mental illness understanding and early intervention are still in their infancy, the book's message really rings out clear; how many at risk teenagers are out there, being poorly handled by their surroundings? For someone like me who wants to become a teacher, this is what stuck with me the most. Backderf's eye-catching blocky art style compresses the terrible things around Dahmer into something you can bear to look at. I greatly appreciate how he avoided drawing violent acts (i.e. Dahmer's animal abuse), leaving it up the imagination. It makes a book that is accessible for the squeamish or apprehensive, like me. I've heard that there's a live action movie based on this book coming soon, which is dismaying; a story about someone this grotesque works best through cartoons. I'm not sure the movie will avoid the exploitative content like Backderf did, but time will tell. Personally, I feel already that the book is better. I highly recommend this graphic novel to anyone who wants something off the beaten path, wants a true crime story, or just wants something extremely fascinating and compelling. I'm definitely going to check out the rest of Backderf's books, such as Trashed, which looks more upbeat and a lot of fun (which I definitely need after this book.)
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not that great... I am a bit confused by this one... Narrator make hasty accusations, trying to put blame on society for Dahmer's behavior all the while being defensive, because of the weird relation (bordering on bullying/shaming) he had with the future serial killer. This is not a terrible read buy any means, but you won't find any new information or insight on Dahmer that you won't find in most of the others publications on him already out there.
Date published: 2017-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting perspective This graphic novel offers a different perspective on Dahmer, as told by one of his schoolmates. It was unpleasant but at the same time intriguing.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting One of the great things about graphic novels is that they often make for a quick read, but it can also work against it since it can devalue the work itself since you don't spend as much time invested in it. This graphic novel is a gem and it is fascinating in it's own way. I wish it were longer, but I also think it is the perfect length the way it is too. Would definitely read again.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye opening look at a human being in turmoil Sad tale of Dahmer's descent in high school told by one of his schoolmates. It's a different side of Dahmer, who is so often portrayed as a monster, seen as a teenager dealing with problems internally and externally, much bigger than he can hope to handle. It's also an unpleasant reminder about how thoughtless many of us were as teenagers, viewing everything as a joke even though the unpleasantness of many of the things we dismiss is there right on the surface.
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from From Disturbed Kid to Monstrous Serial Killer If you read my reviews regularly you'll know I read a lot of serial killer books, both fiction and true crime.  I have never read about Jeffrey Dahmer before though.  On purpose.  When that case went public I was just so horrified with the whole thing I could not watch any of the interviews nor was I barely able to even look at him when they showed him on the news.  Since then I've had no desire to read anything about him.  When I heard about this graphic novel last year I was tempted because of the unique perspective.  What was it like growing up as Dahmer's friend in jr/sr highschool then finding out he was a monster?  But I couldn't bring myself to lift a somewhat self-imposed ban on the topic.  Then one of my favourite blogging buddies, Joy, reviewed and recommended it.  I knew if she liked it I'd be able to handle it.  It is superb! Derf tells how he knew Dahmer in grade school, jr & sr high.  They lived in the same small town but it wasn't until highschool that they started to hang out.  Derf's group of friends were outsiders themselves geek band kids, not with the cool kids, and somehow they adopted Dahmer into their group, as a sort of mascot.  Dahmer acted out in class putting on a "spaztic" routine that became the centre focus of Derf's Dahmer group.  It was teen-age boy goofing around stuff, probably hurt a lot of feelings, but these kinds of kids didn't really care.  Derf tries to make sense of that time looking back at it now as an adult who knows what Dahlmer became.  Dalmer is portrayed as fifteen-year-old Derf Backderf knew and saw him.  A regular kid, but one with probably more than his fair share of problems, parents who didn't seem to care, that were wrapped up in the anger of their ending marriage.  A guy with rumours circulating about him and dead animals, a freakishly large and muscular kid, one who acted like an epileptic having seizures, while mentally challenged and lisping at the same time.  Dahmer's act.  This was just his thing.  Derf has sympathy for this kid he knew and went to school with.  And he asks "where were the adults in all this? Did no one notice Dahmer needed some help?"  Derf and his friends gradually pulled away from Dahmer because each in his own time became aware that Dahmer was scary ... dangerous scary.  At this point as a reader we can sit and look back with Derf at the situation.  Derf has sympathy for him; he knew the kid; maybe many of us can sympathise up to this point too.  The rest of Dahmer's story did not have to happen if someone had cared or noticed or bothered to take positive action for the disturbed kid, Jeffrey Dahlmer.  But no one did. And so, both Derf and the reader accept reality.  As an adult Dahmer is responsible for his own actions.  He killed, tortured, mutilated and did despicable things.  Here is where Derf makes it clear that this monster is no longer anyone he, the author, sympathizes with.  With Dahmer's first kill he chose to continue doing so and the past cannot be blamed for his actions anymore.  The author muses that Dahmer could have done many things to prevent further killings, turning himself in to the police or mental health facilities, killing himself, etc. There is a lot of thinking here for the reader to grasp how a child, someones highschool buddy end's up a monster of a serial killer.  I love Backderf's artwork.  Dahmer always looks so uncomfortable in his own skin, whether he is sad, mad, embarrassed or just being plain creepy.  I'm glad the book is done in b/w as I find these true crime novels work best in the graphic format without any colour.  I am so pleased to have read this and I think I will read a book on Dahmer's case in the future now.
Date published: 2013-12-19