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My Friend Dahmer

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  7,721 ratings  ·  1,267 reviews
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 ri ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Harry N. Abrams (La Martinière)
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Kelly No. You can find other books about Dahmer though, but this is (as far as I know) the only comic book.
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Community Reviews

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Hunger For Knowledge
2.5 stars.

First version of My Friend Dahmer was an instant cult classic that was able to gain some high praise and acknowledgment despite of being an incomplete self-published work from Backderf, a man who claimed to be a friend of one of the most notorious serial killers in our human history, Jeffrey Dahmer.

Luckily for us, Backderf was not happy with his achievements and wanted to update his version of the Dahmer story by doing more research, drawing better illustration art and making My Friend
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

"This is the grand finale of a life poorly spent and the end result is just overwhemingly depressing . . . A sick, pathetic miserable life story, that's all it is."

- Jeffrey Dahmer

I need to get one thing out of the way before I begin . . .

Dallas Commercial Photography

That being said . . .

Dallas Commercial Photography

Sorry. Mitchell made me post that.

For serious, though, My Friend Dahmer was a fascinating read – and one of those books that will have your co-workers saying “it was weird e
This was really disappointing. So... it's sorta a memoir by this guy who knew and kinda bullied Jeffrey Dahmer when he was in High School. Sounds okay! How can that be boring.

It's kinda boring.

Problem is, I'm more sympathetic to Dahmer than Derf! That's crazy! I mean, it's Dahmer and Derf is just like... a douche. But even then the douchiest douche can't possibly inspire more negative feelings than a goddamn serial killer! I mean... can it?

Derf's not even that much of a douche. Kinda flawed i
Looking through my old high school yearbook, you'd never be able to pick out which one of the kids chased his girlfriend across a parking lot and put a bullet in her head before turning the gun on himself. Yet, that's exactly what he did just a few years after graduation. There's nothing about his picture that would lead you to believe he would be capable of such violence. He did not win an award for "Most Likely to Commit Murder." In the yearbook photo, he's just another smiling student, eager ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cat skulls stacked to the black hole sunset
Recommended to Mariel by: stem to stem
I had normal friendships in high school... and really never had any close friendships after high school. - Jeffrey Dahmer

I followed up a suicide book with a shut-in book and on those heels My Friend Dahmer. I'm more than a little bummed out right now. Sometimes I'll try to bring myself out of myself by allowing me to act incredibly over the top mopey cry baby. I'll put in a bleak song and really get into it. Somehow this cheers me up. It is out of the system. Reading My Friend Dahmer made me cry
This book humanizes Dahmer in a way that I have thought for years to be kind of necessary. In Derf's conclusion, he states that we should have pity/compassion for Jeffrey up until Jeffrey chose to take a life, and then at that point, Jeffrey "should have turned the gun on himself" and taken himself out of his own misery. I'm not sure how I feel about that exact delineation -- monster or not, I don't wish for anyone to kill himself -- but in cases of famous killers who experienced much alienation ...more
James Renner
The artist mostly known as “Derf” was a bit of a mystery during my tenure at the Cleveland Scene and Free Times. He was the guy behind the coolest comic strip in the paper, The City, which ripped on Cleveland every week but also seemed to celebrate its crazy residents at the same time. I would occasionally see him at company parties, quietly watching from the back, this tall dude with a long face who usually seemed pissed at something.

There was this rumor he’d been friends with the serial killer
I have read some wonderful autobiographical graphic novels this year! When browsing my local library's shelves for a new one, I came across My Friend Dahmer, which looked like a funny story about a group of high school boys and their hilarious antics during the course of three years. Typical coming of age story, right? Wrong! It wasn't until I got home that I realized the "friend" known as Dahmer was none other than the Jeffrey Dahmer!

My Friend Dahmer is the true story of Backderf's "quirky" fa
Intimate, sensitive, nuanced, complex, dark, bold, clunky, grotesque, sordid, disturbing, horrifying, engrossing, haunting: an instant true-crime classic that brings to mind the psychological insight of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, the restrained depravity of Rick Geary's Victorian murder documentaries, and the subversive cartooning of Robert Crumb and Howard Cruse. Highly recommended to fans of alternative comics!

A rare voice and original style come together to form one chilling, creeped-me-out-to- the-core story. I mean how many people can say they were once friends with Jeffrey Dahmer? *shivers just walked down my spine*

An interesting first-hand account of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school days. A story that got under my skin. The “if-onlys” and “what-ifs” in life can haunt us if we let them. Mr. Backderf sounded a bit haunted to me.

If only someone had noticed…or what if someone had spoken up
Wow, what a monster.

And yes, I'm talking about the book.

Derf gives his perspective on the youth of a future serial killer. Dahmer was one of his classmates in high school, a "mascot" for his group of friends as Derf puts it. Derf's story about Dahmer was published first in a shorter version, a decade or so ago. Now, Derf gives it the full treatment. 200 pages, to be (almost) exact.

Here's what I liked about it...

1. It was completely subjective. And it's completely transparent in its subjectivit
Jun 26, 2012 Samrat rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Samrat by: Raina
Um, well, Backderf seems like a pretty awful person. And sure, Dahmer's worse, on account of the murder and cannibalism and necrophilia and all that. But it was pretty uncomfortable how unselfconsciously he discussed participating in all these cruel schemes in high school and how if only some adult would have done anything. I mean the blame rests with Dahmer, not Backderf or his fellow peers, but... for a book that seems to argue over and over again that adults have failed him, I mean, Derf does ...more
A. V.
While reading the preface I was struck, quite negatively, by this line urging readers' to "Pity [Dahmer], but don't empathize with him." Given the title, this seemed like a rather ironic plea, but I held out hope that this was just an overzealous attempt to assure the world that Backderf was in no way endorsing mass murder, but the novel itself would still be an attempt to draw out some depth of humanity to such a well-known horror story. Alas.

The art is fine. Maybe better than fine, but who kno
Lisa Beaulieu
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
How I started the new year: by reading a graphic novel about a serial killer.

But before you judge me, this is a very thoughtful, fascinating, well written and drawn story from the perspective of a fellow high school classmate. I had no idea if I'd read more than a few pages when I picked it up on New Years Day. But I finished it, mesmerized, in one sitting and then immediately made my husband read it. And then per the notes in the back of the book, I watched the NBC Stone Phillips interview on
3.5 stars

If I open one eye, keep the other closed whilst reading John "derf" Backderf's graphic biog-novel My Friend Dahmer I am genuinely creeped out and in awe of a masterpiece of freakishness; I then open my other, cynical and jaundiced eye and see a mocking, shallow instrument of self-promotion and -aggrandizement. But then I think, What would I do if I went to high school with perhaps the most notorious serial killer of our generation. Would I write a book? If I was able to do so, yeah, pro
If you’ve ever known a serial killer, you know that there is a pre-kill period ripe for mining. Instances in a life that foreshadowed the dismembered body stuffed into a drain pipe (or the family all dressed in bloody pajamas, axed to death in their country home, as the case may be).

Derf Backderf’s graphic novel “My Friend Dahmer” considers the awkward teen years of Jeffrey Dahmer, who went on to fame as a killer who trolled Milwaukee’s gay community and had a taste for human flesh. A trophy col
I distinctly remember hearing about this book several years ago and without any idea of the substance, I figured it was another attempt to cash in on the hideous Dahmer story. Ends up the author attended junior and high school with Dahmer and I was hoping the book might provide some new insights. It does, to a certain degree but while the author knew Dahmer I don't know if you could say they were "friends".

As far as I could tell...he didn't have any friends, period.
He was the loneliest kid I'd e
This is the kind of first hand account - journalist inside the story - that Joe Sacco is the undisputed master of, but isn't often seen in comics. What's unique about this book is that Derf had no idea that the things he was observing would become another side of a bigger story. There's an intimate closeness to the subject that really adds a more terrifying perspective to the crimes than what you'd get from yet another retelling of the grisly details.
Jenny (adultishbooks)
Confession time: I find serial killers fascinating.

This was a graphic novel I was very interested in reading because Dahmer always fascinated me since his MO was pretty sick and twisted. My expectations were met which I was pleased about. This is a good visual account of the author's time in high school with Dahmer. This was well researched and full of heart (pun not intended). I really enjoyed reading it and it was endlessly fascinating.

The art is cartoonish and amateur and not very sophisticat
Borrowed from the Library

1. An autobiographical graphic novel about knowing someone that became one of the most infamous serial killers.

2. It's very sad, so sad.

3. But utterly repulsive as you witness, in paper and ink, Dahmer slowly falling apart and you can't help but pity him, but be disgusted, as his family leaves him alone to his demons.

4. Derf is just living your usual suburban life.

5. It's about what lurks underneath the skin and consciousness of your neighborhood while you're on the bus
Someone left this book at my work's office and I just picked it up and started reading (slow work day). I finished the entire thing in about an hour.

I see MANY people here in the reviews complaining about Derf's "where were the adults?" ponderings but honestly I think that is FAR from the main point of this book.

I love reading about serial killers. I've always found them incredibly fascinating and I think this book does a great job of really giving a view into his life that no other author real
Hannah  Messler
Yikes, this book is super good.

I saw this over the summer for the first time, on a table at Bergen Street, I think. It held zero interest for me, with its Mad-style art, and its premise of (I assumed) sensationalist cashing-in on Having Known Someone We've Heard Of. And then I kept seeing it, and the art began to look less derivative and more genuinely odd, the premise to seem potentially less sensation and more personal, and then finally the other day I was feeding cats in Park Slope and stopp
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 hav
Ismael Galvan
This has to be one of the best and most disturbing comics I've ever read. The interesting part is that despite being about Jeffrey Dahmer, there's actually very little violence in the book. The disturbing element arises from Derf Backderf's insight into Dahmer's teenager mind. We already know what he's going to become. But we're presented Dahmer at a time when there was still hope that some adult could have intervened. This comes from the perspective of Backderf's teenage memories. I suppose the ...more
Backderf points out at the beginning that the truth is adjusted for the story, which is about what happens when a person's image is adjusted for comic illustration. I think that's an important tone to read the whole thing in - it's very openly his perception of the story, based on his own experiences and the experiences heard from others as he felt best to interpret them, and I think expressing them in the format of a comic, especially in Backderf's heavy-lined, awkward-limbed style is a sort of ...more
Sam Quixote
This is the story of necrophiliac cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school years told from the perspective of John “Derf” Backderf who went to the same school as him and knew him a bit socially too. The book doesn’t go beyond high school graduation but presumably most people coming to this book will know the horrific crimes Dahmer committed from age 18 onwards until he was finally caught and sent to prison where he was murdered by a fellow deranged inmate.

The book’s tone presents Dah
Matt Glaviano
Certainly not enjoyable -- but extremely well done.

What I liked about My Friend Dahmer was its ability to operate as two stories at once. One of the stories was unexceptional; a memoir of a pretty normal teen growing up in 1970s America.

The other story was extraordinary; the creation of one of the 20th century's most notorious serial killers. It's the first of the two stories that really makes the book work. Not only can you juxtapose Derf to Dahmer, but his "normality" manages to highlight a l
April Helms
I had heard about this book, and decided to give it a try when I saw that it was one of the books which won this year's Alex Award. For those who don't know about Jeffrey Dahmer, he was arrested and found guilty in connection of the murders of 17 men and boys. He grew up - as did the author - in a community about a half hour from where I live. Indeed, Backderf, who has done editorial cartooning, comic strips and a previous graphic novel and lives in the Cleveland area, was in the same graduating ...more
Gopal Rao
Serial killers aren't really that interesting of a topic for me, but it seems like they are one the societal and cultural touchstones of this time. There are numerous tv shows about them, like AMC's The Killing, or Hannibal.

Most of the serial killer fiction I have seen tries to dissect the killer's psyche from the present backwards by looking at the gory details of their crimes and trying to establish patterns that can be traced to their "birth" as a killer.

My Friend Dahmer, which is a non-fic
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