This month’s issue of the Slate Book Review features illustrations (and a sweet logo) by Derf Backderf, the cartoonist behind the fascinating, discomfiting graphic novel My Friend Dahmer, out this month. The true story of Derf’s high school interactions with a young Jeffrey Dahmer in the mid-1970s, My Friend Dahmer offers a portrait of the monster as a young man, struggling with the demons that would soon drive him to murder—while trying, and failing, to fit in at a typical suburban high school.
Derf’s vibrant art in My Friend Dahmer is reminiscent of the work of the great comics artists of that era, especially R. Crumb’s. But his storytelling is thoroughly modern—an empathetic attempt to dig into the mind of a young man whose psyche was crumbling day by day, using research, reporting, and his own memories of the time. It’s a book that never shies away from the horrors Dahmer would perpetuate—indeed, that views them as the terrible results of a family and school (indeed a decade) that let its kids run wild. Often that parental neglect was benign, but sometimes—when there were no adults to notice a young man driven by mental illness dangerously off the rails—it was tragic.
My Friend Dahmer is one of the most thought-provoking comics released in a long time. I’m very pleased that Derf is illustrating the inaugural issue of the Slate Book Review.
See all the pieces in the new Slate Book Review.
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.