My Friend Dahmer
On page 30 of 224
I soaked Derf’s miniature “My Friend Dahmer” for free online years ago, and really REALLY loved it. So far, his long form version (in my physical hands) has me really REALLY annoyed.
The miniature was more like him taking dictation from God, consenting for his pencil to be led where it will, while the longie has him trying to force his subjective narrative into the minds of his readers. I would need a brain transplant to conclude from what I can’t comprehend that a given point of view is nonsense, yet that is precisely how he dismisses perspectives on Jeffrey Dahmer as an anti-hero, a take on the guy that can easily be supported by a close reading of Derf’s earlier work.
He should really just shut up and draw. Yes, to this point I’ve been treated to more words than pictures, and in fairness I had been warned. I read an interview with the author a while back that put me off-balance, learning then that he wasn’t as sympathetic to Dahmer as it seemed his first book was. Reminds me of Robin Williams talking about the ultra-sympathetic character he played in “One-Hour Photo”, or Ed Asner about his Lou Grant character’s famous line to Mary Richards: “You have spunk”; I hate spunk”. Asner thought that his most beloved line was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard.
“When I was a kid, I was just like anybody else.”
This quote from Jeff is immediately contradicted by a photograph of him being a freak in high school. Nevermind that the greater experience of childhood is pre-adolescent (when freakiness is the norm); the thrust is to discredit what comes out of Jeff’s mouth. Just as when in the action of this graphic novel, Jeff’s peers (represented by a single speaker) call Jeff a liar when he tells them he’s been dissolving roadkill in acid as any good young scientist would. Jeff gets angry and acts like a freak, as any normal person would if the default position they met in life was for people to disbelieve them.
After Mom and Dad, the cartoonist was extremely high on the list of people responsible for the way that Dahmer turned out. It is interesting that Derf shifts blame by asking where all the adults were, when grown-ups are like those unseen voices in Peanuts cartoons talking gibberish when you’re a kid in a kid’s world. You seriously think that ostracizing him was going to endear him to you?
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