Aafje Maeve: My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

The graphic novel that I chose to write a response on is My Friend Dahmer and I will start off with what I believe to be the only positive about the novel. I really liked the artist work on the panels that contained no words. I find it very impressive for someone to take a bunch of wordless panels because sometimes pictures don’t have to contain words in order to understand what is going on in the story. The resemblance to Jeffery Dahmer in the artist artwork is uncanny! A superb job was done on the imitation of what Dahmer would look like in a cartoon form from the expressionless face, the glasses, and the hair, all of it looks very good.

This graphic novel turned me off though because I don’t like creepy stories, horror stories, or depressing stories in general and this was too sad a story in my opinion. I found it especially creepy in the wordless panels where Dahmer finds the dead cat on the side of the road and takes it back to what I like to call his, “secret lair.” I admit that when a bunch of kids his age came along wondering why he had a dead cat and were curious as to what he was going to do with I felt slight bad for Dahmer’s character. The reason I felt bad for Dahmer was because in that moment he appeared to be the kid that wanted to fit in and show something cool that he was interested in and the other kids shunned him because his hobby was so weird to them. On the other hand I cannot blame them for the reaction that they had because having a fascination for dead things and seeing how fast they can decompose in chemicals is not something that can be deemed normal.

When I first heard the story of Jeffery Dahmer I was very appalled and creeped out and thought that he was nothing more than a very evil man. Knowing what I know now about psychological disorders and the fact that Dahmer was a sociopath I was able to have a better understanding but I still had no sympathy for him because of course he had no sympathy for his victims and he was very gross and disgusting to me.

This novel went along with the theme that I have somewhat learned from this class and that is that graphic novels to me, appear to touch upon nothing but very dark and sad story lines and I really hate that. I think the world is filled enough with the dark and depressing because we live in a sinful world and it seems easy to find the darkness and no one wants to focus on the positive or the lighter stuff. It was not just this book that I read but the books we had to read in class were very depressing to me and I don’t like that. I think after this graphic novel I don’t think I will be touching another graphic novel and it’s nothing against those who do enjoy them but I’ve discovered that this genre just isn’t for me overall.

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Aafje Maeve: The Freddie Stories by Lynda Barry

In my first response to graphic novels I wrote about how little I had really read and said that I was a “comic book virgin” of sorts. Well I can officially say that I lost my comic book virginity to Lynda Barry’s The Freddie Stories. At first glance of the cover and the title I wasn’t really expecting much. The title alone led me to believe that it would be all about these cute little adventures that a little boy named Freddie had. As I started to read the comics I was very surprised at how sucked in I got and that I wanted to read more. I also said in my last response that this genre hasn’t ever really appealed to me and it turns out that I really was judging a book by its cover. One of the reasons I liked The Freddie Stories was because Freddie and I had one thing in common and that is being put in IEP or “special ed” classes. I was in IEP as a child because of my medical history with epilepsy and some of the medications I was on affected how I learned in school. I was placed with an IEP when I was in first grade and well through all of elementary, junior high, and high school.. Freddie hung out with some fairly strange characters because of his special education classes and there were a lot of interesting people that were similar to students in my IEP classes as well. I had almost wished that Freddie was a real person so we could have a chat and relate to one another because in school all of my friends were in the normal classes, and my IEP made me feel like I stood out and not in a good way. Another surprising factor was how this graphic novel at points made me want to tear up. It broke my heart to watch Freddie feel guilty over the house that burned down with a lady inside and it broke my heart even more as more bad things kept happening to him. Freddie’s mother made me so angry because she really didn’t appear to care about him and it mostly made me upset because I know that there are real mothers like that who really shouldn’t be mothers at all. The point in The Freddie Stories where I felt very confused would be when Freddie talks with strange phrases and the strange looking voodoo doll man appears out of nowhere. To me it felt strange because I didn’t see where it was relevant to the story but then I have always figured that not all graphic novels are supposed to make sense. I wish that my first graphic novel had been a little more upbeat because a lot of times I thought all the events in Freddie’s life were too depressing and I really enjoy happier stories. However like I said this was a great first graphic novel to gain some “experience with.”