A graphic novel about Jeffrey Dahmer? I am not a true crime reader. I am not even a fake crime reader, so I didn't think I would be interested. Boy, was I wrong. Last week I took My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf home based on a few coworker recommendations. I started reading fairly late one night and didn't put this book down until I was finished.
This book is sad, surprising and gross. But there is more than just morbid entertainment here. Backderf went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer in Ohio in the 70s. His personal insight combined with meticulous research and interviews create a story that isn't really sympathetic, but does feel complete and informative. Backderf is a career comic artist, so the black and white illustrations feel like a natural way for this story to be told. He also includes some original drawings of Dahmer that he had done in high school. This isn't an easy read, but it is more than just shock value.
The library owns a few other true crime graphic novels, including Green River Killer: A Tue Detective Story by Jeff Jensen. This graphic novel is illustrated by Jonathan Case in a more traditional comic hero style, but done in black and white. Rick Geary also has a series of Victorian era historical true crime graphic novels. Geary's style is much more stylized than Case's artwork and fits perfectly time period he is representing. The gory cast of characters include Lizzy Borden, H. H. Holmes (made famous by the excellent Devil in the White City by Larson), and Jack the Ripper.
Serious murder profiles and graphic novels....who needs light summer reading?