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My Friend Dahmer

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  23,968 ratings  ·  3,291 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 Abrams Books
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Flora It might be okay for the 12-year-old. Visually, there's nothing more graphically disturbing than depictions of roadkill. There are some topics that ar…moreIt might be okay for the 12-year-old. Visually, there's nothing more graphically disturbing than depictions of roadkill. There are some topics that are a bit more sensitive involving Dahmer's household atmosphere (parental neglect; divorce; his mother suffered from depression and was taking way too many drugs), 70's high school culture (drugs, alcohol, and insensitive teenage humor toward people with disabilities), and of course Dahmer's struggle with his unusual sexual preferences.

Thinking back to what I was like as a naive 12-year-old, I would have found it most difficult to process the last part, and I would have been slightly uncomfortable with the brief description of teenage hormonal lust. But there wasn't really anything that would have made me feel scarred for life.(less)
Tina I don't think he was using Dahmer to get publicity. The short version was published in 2002 and this version (the longer one) was published in 2012. D…moreI don't think he was using Dahmer to get publicity. The short version was published in 2002 and this version (the longer one) was published in 2012. Dahmer died in 1994 so I think if he wanted fame, he wouldn't have waited that many years to publish it. He also says in the preface that he did a lot of research for this because he wanted to make sure it was as truthful as possible (there are notes at the end of the book that explain where he got the info for each event).
Also, I don't think it was the author's responsibility to take care of Dahmer... Sure, they were school friends, but everyone has their own problems, especially in high school, and you cannot expect that a teenager will somehow know that Dahmer had really bad problems. As it was said in the preface, the adults (teachers and the parents) should have done something, but they didn't because looking the other way is easier. The author couldn't have possibly known what would happen in the near future - how could he? He probably should have said at least something to some one, but he didn't. That's just the decisions we make. A kid taking care of another kid doesn't really make sense.
The author obviously has a lot of talent and I think he realized that he had this very unique opportunity to make something truly amazing. He wanted to portray Dahmer as a real person (before he became a serial killer) and I think it worked out really well. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Emma Giordano
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Dahmer is probably a serial killer by now!" - Derf Backderf, 1988

4.5 stars. A truly fascinating tale. I picked the graphic novel up as I had no idea when I would find the time to travel to see the movie, but I'm pleased I experienced the story in it's original form first.

I've been interested in this story since I saw the movie trailer. The perspective of a past friend of a serial killer is not one we are often exposed to, let alone in more than a brief interview at the time of the killer's arre
...more
Fabian
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Gush! Times a thousand...!

THIS IS THE BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL I'VE READ ALL MY LIFE...*!

There. This is a profound, one of those once-in-a-life, lightning-in-a-bottle-type experience... This dude is master chronicle (auto)biographer, expert storyteller, and amazing cartoonist all in one... & this is the project that only HE could produce... A type of unicorn, really (you CANNOT possibly let it pass you by). I've never been shaken by something in this genre, like, ever. Until now.

* Lie. Actually, it IS
...more
Joanna
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Carol (Bookaria)
I was a teenager in 1991 and still remember the day we all gathered around the TV to watch the shocking news about Jeffrey Dahmer. The stations were talking about it continuously and kept showing the footage of officers taking bags, boxes and containers out of Dahmer's apartment. It was upsetting and revolting.

For those who don't know, Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer apprehended on 1991 (Click here for his wiki page.)

That is why when I first heard about this graphic novel a few years ago I d
...more
Matthew
Sometimes when reading non-fiction it feels like it is just an extended research paper. But, when the author was actually involved in the events, it gains a bit more of a personal investment. My Friend Dahmer is definitely the most intense first-hand non-fiction I have ever read. It's not just another exposé on a horrifying story, it is well fleshed out, truthful retelling of previously little known events from before the nightmare began.



I can tell that Backderf went out of his way to as truthfu
...more
Melki
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

"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
...more
F
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
loved this!
Great information and animation
Lots of hard work put in this
Paul Bryant
I had thought all you needed to know about Jeffrey Dahmer was in
1) The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer by Brian Masters
2) A Father’s Story by Lionel Dahmer
3) The Stone Phillips interview with Mr and Mrs Dahmer and Jeffrey available on youtube
But now comes this peculiar addition, a graphic novel about the author’s friendship (kind of) with JD during his high school years at Eastview Junior High School in Bath, Ohio. This was the kind of friendship where a group of guys fairly low down in the social hier
...more
Jan Philipzig
Intimate, nuanced, complex, dark, grotesque, sordid, disturbing, horrifying, 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!
Johann (jobis89)
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
"He was the loneliest kid I'd ever met."

Written (and illustrated) by a classmate of one of America's most notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer, My Friend Dahmer depicts the teenage years of Dahmer's life and his slow downward spiral into murder.

As much as I love the gory graphic details associated with serial killers and true crime, I also have a real interest in what makes a serial killer. Why do they kill? Is the urge something you are just born with, or is it a consequence of life events?
...more
A. V.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
...more
James Renner
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Mariel
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
Rebecca McNutt
I'm not sure what to think of Dahmer. This graphic novel attempts not to defend his crimes, but to understand that he was a human being, though his actions were monstrous. Taking true crime and mixing it with a boyhood coming-of-age scenario, My Friend Dahmer will make readers never look at serial killers quite the same way again.
Licha
I debated between one star and two, but in the end the GR description of one-star won. I did not like this book. It felt exploitative.

Although the author mentions he researched the case of Dahmer, this book focuses on Dahmer's teenage years in high school. I'll explain why I felt like the author tried to milk knowing Dahmer and writing a book about his "friendship" with him. This is only my impression, and I may be way off base.

Derf knew Dahmer from middle school but never spoke to him. Dahmer
...more
Samrat
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Danger
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A humanizing look at an infamous serial killer, My Friend Dahmer does what little works are able to do, and that is make you feel sympathy for the bad guy. And make no mistake, Dahmer is the BAD GUY here. Backderf’s autobiographical account of his teenage friendship with the killer is not the sugar-coated memoir of a lost soul, nor is it particularly exploitative of Dahmer and his crimes. In fact, we hardly even TOUCH on his crimes in here. Instead, this is the portrait of a damaged person (alth ...more
Raina
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
...more
Erin
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I don't read many Graphic Novels they're just not my thing. My Friend Dahmer is only my fourth Graphic Novel the other three being the March series by my bae Congressman John Lewis. For me to pick up a Graphic Novel it really has to peak my interest, and I am intensely interested in crime.

You know a book is great when it makes you have sympathy for a depraved serial killer like Jeffrey Dahmer. As I read this I wondered if maybe Dahmer could have been saved from the evil path he took, had someo
...more
Sam Quixote
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
rachel
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
Jon Nakapalau
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book comes closest to answering the 'Dahmer question' than any other book I have read on the subject. Derf went to HS with Dahmer...think "Fast Times at Sociopath High" and you are there.
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Content warnings: violence, animal abuse, ableism, homophobia, necrophilia, sexual assault.

My Friend Dahmer is a nonfiction graphic novel about the author's time growing up as a junior high/high school classmate of the infamous serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. He explains how pitiable of a teen Dahmer was, and the home life that plagued him, as well as going into some of the mental health struggles the killer faced from a young age, such as his obsession with corpses and their insides, or his desp
...more
Julia Sapphire
3.75 ish stars
Laura
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it

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
...more
Lisa Beaulieu
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A big part of me is really hesitant to put a book about Jeffery Dahmer in with my beloved 5 star reads, but I have to be true to the book world and give it what it deserves: 5 stars. This is pretty brilliant. The illustration style is fantastic: very original and perfectly suited to the story and mood. Derf Backderf was a high school friend/acquaintance of Jeffery Dahmer and therefore has a fascinating perspective. Derf and a bunch of guys were intrigued by the odd humor and strange personality ...more
Mariah Roze
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have always been obsessed with true crime, so when I found out that there was going to be a movie made based on this graphic novel I needed to read it.

My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel by one of his previous friends from high school, Backderf. They also knew of each other in middle school. This book shows the different experiences that a disturbed young man, who struggled against the morbid urges. He was a shy kid and became an alcoholic as a teenage. This books shares the whole story throug
...more
Portal in the Pages
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
In-freaking-credible.
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John Backderf is a Eisner-award-winning American comics creator, also known as Derf Backderf. He is most famous for his recent graphic novels, especially My Friend Dahmer, the international bestseller which won an Angoulême Prize, and earlier for his comic strip The City, which appeared in a number of alternative newspapers from 1990–2014.

Derf has been nominated for multiple Eisner, Harvey and Ign
...more

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“He was a nobody. One of those shy kids who turned into social invalids when that first blast of adolescence hit, meekly accepted their fate, and became invisible.” 7 likes
“It's my belief that Dahmer didn't have to wind up a monster, that all those people didn't have to die horribly, if only the adults in his life hadn't been so inexplicably, unforgivably, incomprehensibly clueless and/or indifferent. Once Dahmer kills, however - and I can't stress this enough - my sympathy for him ends. He could have turned himself in after that first murder. He could have put a gun to his head. Instead he, and he alone, chose to become a serial killer and spread misery to countless people. There are a surprising number out there who view Jeffery Dahmer as some kind of anti-hero, a bullied kid who lashed back at the society that rejected him, This is nonsense. Dahmer was a twisted wretch whose depravity was almost beyond comprehension. Pity him, but don't empathize with him.” 3 likes
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