My Friend Dahmer
Punk Rock and Trailer Parks
Derf quickly became a favorite cartoonist of mine after reading his webcomic Trashed. I'd been meaning to read Punk Rock and Trailer Parks since it was released and there's been notable talk about his epic work, My Friend Dahmer for years, so I finally decided to dive into them. I was not disappointed.
Derf has a real punk rock, underground comix aesthetic that should be easily noticeable to any reader, but his real strength comes in how he poses his characters and his ability to exaggerate expressions and body language. Punk Rock and Trailer Parks is an excellent little piece of fiction about young men growing up in the height of the 80's punk rock boom in Akron, Ohio. I really liked this book, having gone through my own awkward punk rock phase in high school. Derf's story, and his own experiences most likely, were a lot more authentic than anything I ever did, but the emotional connection was the same. It's got great laughs, great music references, and full frontal nudity. A must read for any disenfranchised youth.
My Friend Dahmer, on the other hand, is a much heavier subject. As it turns out, Mr. Derf Backderf was a high school companion of Jeffery Dahmer, the serial killer. Derf's comix aesthetics give us an honest, unglamorous look into the high school life of the future killer. It's a great look at the social lives of teenagers and an eye witness account to the daily life of a disturbed young man. Through the eyes of Derf and his companions, we see the story of a clearly troubled young man who, not only never received a helping hand from the adults around him, seemed only to be pushed further over the edge by his own parents. This is clearly Derf's greatest work. It manages to maintain a sense of dark humor to itself, while still staying reverent to the unfortunate situation it recounts.
I look forward to anything else published by Derf.