Courtney Calai

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Courtney Calai: My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf was such a fantastic and eye opening graphic novel! It greatly exceeded my expectations, which were honestly already very high. This graphic novel goes into the high school adolescent life of a teenage boy that experienced close interactions with the famous serial killer, Jeffery Dahmer.

Of course, all of these interactions were before Dahmer made any successful attempts at his game. It was interesting to see how both boys lived very similar lives but one had a very big secret and a very unstable and unhappy life at home with family. All the interactions they had, except one, were in school because Backderf always sensed something was off about him. What I found the most interesting was that there was a big gap of missing adults in Dahmer’s life and Backderk really made us as the readers be reminded of that multiple times and of course, as almost blaming all of the missing adults in his life. Dahmer’s dad left because his parent’s split up, his mom hardly paid any attention to him, and the teachers and counselors at school thought of him as just a nobody stoner kid, who actually didn’t smoke marijuana but drank like a pirate during school hours whenever possible. He would come to school with beer and chug them all throughout the day. Even his peers noticed but they didn’t say a word to any adult. He would constantly reek of alcohol and skip a ton of classes, yet still go unnoticed by every adult in the school. Dahmer would pretend to throw fake epileptic fits and mimicked the slurred speech and spastic tics of someone with cerebral palsy. He found this the only way to really make any sort of friends in high school because he was seen and the really weird guy who made it funny to act like someone with disabilities. This would catch the attention of what is later to be known as the kids of the “Dahmer Fan Club” who even later left Dahmer’s side because of a public dare. They paid him to act and scare people at a mall for hours but it wasn’t just that which through them off to not interacting with him anymore but the fact that they had witnessed his drinking problem right in the back of their car. Before he pulls this stunt, he finishes off a six pack of beer, gulping each one down like water, in ten minutes. This freaked them out and made them sort of lose respect for him when he went around in the mall. In the end, Dahmer even loses his so called “friends” and he ends up being all alone.

Of course, all of this comes to the conclusion of him going crazy with his mind all alone about these sexual fantasies in which he cannot fulfill, until he does… It also bring back another interesting fact that the first time he acted on his impulse was with a male jogger who always came by his house after school. Dahmer was gay and figuring this out in the 70s was rough for any kid but what made it worse was that he wanted the guys to be dead. Dahmer struggled his whole life as a socially awkward guy going deeper and deeper into a black spiraling tunnel in which he never was able to make it out of.