Tag Archives: derf backderf

Workers of the world! Here’s a list of comics to celebrate your Labor Day

Ah, the pleasures of having Labor Day off to celebrate work. It’s a contradiction as old as time, where honoring work means taking a (well-deserved and utterly necessary) break from it. After all, most workers have jobs that go year-round and the daily grind does take a toll. A day off is the least that can be afforded to them.

Recognition is the other thing we should doling out in industrial quantities during this federal holiday. As such, comic books are filled with stories about the fruits of labor, both in a literal and a politically figurative sense. Be it by actually exploring the hardships of being a worker to acknowledging the monumental task that is organizing movements in support of them, labor is central to the motivations behind some of comic’s best stories.

Here’s a short list of comics that either directly or indirectly showcase the roles workers play in keeping life and society functional. These comics dive headfirst into the specifics of what ‘putting in the work’ means, recognizing that everything that’s done in the service of others usually rests on human struggles both painful and exhausting. The comics below give workers their time in the spotlight so we can appreciate just how much it takes to go out and keep the world turning.

Labor Day Comics

1. Trashed, written and illustrated by Derf Backderf

This book can best be described as a sobering love letter to one of the most underappreciated and openly repudiated jobs known to humankind: garbage collection. Following Backderf’s critically-acclaimed My Best Friend Dahmer, Trashed is based on the author’s time as a sanitation worker himself, surrounded by other workers just as enthused about collecting trash as he was (which wasn’t a whole lot). The inner workings of sanitation are presented through a combination of autobiographical anecdotes and well-researched facts and data that reveal just how complex, dangerous, and even clumsy picking up and storing trash can be. It’s a funny but scary look at how sanitation can save the world while also turn it into a ticking time bomb.

Damage Control

2. Damage Control, originally created by Dwayne McDuffie (W) and Ernie Colón (A)

A superhero’s job is to save the day, crumbling infrastructure be damned. With them, though, comes a unique concern for property damage, mostly focused on the inevitability of mass destruction. In comes a company solely dedicated to cleaning up after extinction-level battles and then putting the pieces back together called Damage Control. In essence, this Marvel comic is about unsung heroes. It’s about doing essential work knowing there’s no glory waiting at the end of it (much like Trashed, in some respects). McDuffie’s scripts are a masterclass on chaos and property politics, but it’s Colón’s attention to detail amidst the chaos that sets this story apart. The original series (there are a total of 4 series published) takes to a kind of MAD Magazine-style approach to comedy with visual gags and crude humor leading the charge, but it’s all well-orchestrated and it makes for reading that rewards those who scan comics pages whole multiple times.

Labor Day Comics

3. She-Hulk: Law and Disorder, written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Javier Pulido

At a glance, Soule and Pulido’s She-Hulk gives the impression of being a kind of ‘slice of life’ story about a superhero that chooses law as her preferred battleground. The book, however, is about so much more, and it might have more in common with Damage Control than an actual legal drama. She-Hulk takes the anger-filled superhero and turns her into a working-class woman that’s trying (and struggling) to make her own legal services business work. She puts it all together from the ground up but is immediately confronted with the hardships of balancing work, heroics, and the semblance of a personal life on an even keel. One of the greatest, and most entertaining, aspects of the comic lies in the formation of the character’s legal practice and how at odds it can be being both a superhero and a normal person with other interests. It dives deep into the complications of working multiple jobs, but it shows an appreciation for those who lead their lives under that predicament. Soule and Pulido create a story that supports and applauds those who undertake the task of holding several jobs at once, honoring the sacrifice it requires of one’s self to survive it.

Labor Day Comics
Ex Machina

4. Ex Machina, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Tony Harris

While aggressively political and metaphorical, Ex Machina does something few other stories on governmental responsibility manage to achieve: make the role of an elected official look and feel like a real job. The story follows Mitchel Hundred, a man that renounces his superhero persona to become mayor of New York city. After only managing to save one of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hundred realizes he can do more good as an elected official rather than as a superhero. Vaughan and Harris take full advantage of this setup to go beyond political speeches and discourse to get Hundred’s hands dirty with the real act of running a government. Hundred has to address the legality of surveillance in times of crisis, protocols for public demonstrations, controversial content in city museums, infrastructure, and police freedoms all while controlling the urge to use his still functioning superpowers to speed the process up. As is the case in She-Hulk, Hundred also attempts (with few successes) to balance his personal life with the job. Problem is, the job demands too much of his time, hence the temptation to use his powers. Ex Machina is a stark reminder that being an elected official actually means holding down a job with real consequences attached to it, something many politicians seem to have lost sight of.

Gotham Central

5. Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, written by Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka and illustrated by Michael Lark

The profession of law enforcement is under serious scrutiny at the present moment, and rightfully so, but it’s still a job certain men and women take on despite the complexities of outdated and dysfunctional practices that are in desperate need of revision. And that’s on top of the racial problems that have shaped its many, many systems. However, there are those who do take the job seriously and work hard to ‘protect and serve’ with the best of intentions under the law. Gotham Central prioritizes this viewpoint, focusing the cops and detectives that work in Batman’s Gotham City. Without the resources or the exceptions afforded to the Dark Knight, the GCPD is still tasked with responding to criminal activity, regardless of whether it’s of the supervillain type or not. Main characters René Montoya, Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver, and “Josie Mac” MacDonald, among others, are divided into day and night shifts in a city that is in a constant flux of crime. The job takes its toll on a personal level and there’s an emphasis on how much one gives in the line of duty, but there’s also an appreciation of honest cops walking the line in the face of overwhelming police corruption and abuse. It’s a complicated and sometimes contradictory read, but it makes no excuses while confronting the damning inconsistencies of the job.

Labor Day comics
Wooblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World

6. Wooblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, edited by Peter Buhle & Nicole Schulman

The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, has a wild and exuberant history, to say the least, which makes it the ideal subject for comic book storytelling. The IWW was created in Chicago, Illinois in 1905 as a union for marginalized workers led by Marxist principles. Miners, lumber workers, immigrant workers, indigenous workers, non-white workers, severely underrepresented female workers, and workers all over that had no rights or protections saw in the IWW as the means to fight towards better working conditions. Wooblies! (alluding to the nickname given to the members of the union) enlists the talents of cartoonists such as Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar, Trina Robbins, Sharon Rudahl, Sue Coe, Carlos Cortez, among others to tell the story of how forgotten and underrepresented workers rose up against the odds to gain the rights and respect owed to them. The anthology has a very underground ‘comix’ feel to it, but it’s allegorical and metaphorical inclinations do a better job of capturing labor struggles better than a traditional story ever could. This might be the quintessential Labor Day reading right here.

Workers, laborers, holders of jobs, these comics honor your contributions, your efforts, and the near impossible feats you pull off. Read and relax, but overall, enjoy your hard-earned Labor Day holiday.

SPX 2018 Announces New Special Guests

Small Press Expo has announced the first group of Special Guests for SPX 2018. The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 15-16, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and will have over 650 creators, 280 exhibitor tables and 22 programming slots to introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics. Additional Special Guests will be announced shortly.

SPX 2018 will have the following creators as Special Guests to this year’s show:

Roz Chast

Roz Chast is a long time cartoonist for The New Yorker who wrote and illustrated the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? from Bloomsbury. It won a National Book Critics Circle Award, a Kirkus Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent book is GOING INTO TOWN: A Love Letter to New York. She has published eight collections of her cartoons, illustrated several children’s books and received honorary doctorates from the Pratt Institute and Dartmouth College. Photo courtesy of Bill Hayes.


Derf is the author of My Friend Dahmer (Abrams Comicarts, 2012), the haunting account of his teenage friendship at Revere High School with the future serial killer. It has been hailed as one of the finest graphic novels in recent memory by Slate, The Plain Dealer, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, Le Monde, El Mundo, The Guardian and many more. The film adaptation of My Friend Dahmer premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and played in cinemas in the US and abroad throughout 2017 and 2018.

SPX is honored to show a screening of My Friend Dahmer, after which Derf will talk about the book and movie.

Ellen Forney

Ellen Forney authored her 2012 graphic memoir, Marbles for which she was the 2012 recipient of The Stranger Genius Award for Literature as well as the winner of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis 2013 Gradiva Award.

Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life is the eagerly awaited companion book to Forney’s 2012 best-selling graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me.

Ron Wimberly

Ronald Wimberly is a cartoonist/designer. He’s worked with The New Yorker, Dargaud, DC, Marvel, Image, Darkhorse and many others. He’s exhibited his comics in New York, Tokyo, and Paris. Ronald was the 2016 Columbus Comics resident and two time resident cartoonist at Angoulême Maison des Auteurs.

Anders Nilsen

Anders Nilsen is the author of nine books including Big Questions, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Poetry is Useless and the forthcoming Tongues. His work has appeared in Kramer’s Ergot, Mome, the New York Times and elsewhere and been translated widely overseas. Nilsen has garnered three Ignatz Awards and the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize.

Anders will be debuting the latest volume of his acclaimed series Tongues at SPX 2018.

Rina Ayuyang (Saturday Only)

Rina Ayuyang has been nominated for the Ignatz and Eisner Awards, and she was honored with a MoCCA Arts Festival Awards of Excellencez Silver Medal. Her comics have appeared in Mutha Magazine and The Comics Journal. She is also the publisher of the micro-comics imprint Yam Books. Her first book was Whirlwind Wonderland.

Rina Ayuyang’s latest from Drawn & Quarterly, Blame This on the Boogie, is the true story of how Hollywood musicals got one person through school, depression, and the challenges of parenthood.

Joshua Cotter

Joshua W. Cotter is the author of Skyscrapers of the Midwest, Driven by Lemons and the Nod Away series. He lives in rural northwest Missouri with his wife, children, cats and an acute sense of impending mortality. They keep him making comics.

Joshua will be at SPX 2018 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the release of Skyscrapers of the Midwest from Adhouse Books.

Lawrence Lindell

Lawrence Lindell is a cartoonist, author and teacher from California. He created From Black Boy With Love, Hey, People of Color, Couldn’t Afford Therapy, So I Made This and the webcomic The Section. When he’s not drawing/writing comics, he is usually buying/reading them.

Small Press Expo (SPX) is the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons. SPX is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together more than 650 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers, and distributors each year. Graphic novels, mini comics, and alternative comics will all be on display and for sale by their authors and illustrators. The expo includes a series of panel discussions and interviews with this year’s guests.

The Ignatz Award is a festival prize held every year at SPX recognizing outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning, with the winners chosen by attendees at the show.

As in previous years, profits from the SPX will go to support the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program, which funds graphic novel purchases for public and academic libraries, as well as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), which protects the First Amendment rights of comic book readers and professionals. For more information on the CBLDF.

My Friend Dahmer’s Official Trailer

Based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf, My Friend Dahmer tells the story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest United States between 1978 and 1991 before being captured and incarcerated. He would become one of America’s most infamous serial killers. This is the story before that story. Jeff Dahmer (Disney Channel’s Ross Lynch) is an awkward teenager struggling to make it through high school with a family life in ruins. He collects roadkill, fixates on a neighborhood jogger (Vincent Kartheiser, “Mad Men”), and copes with his unstable mother (Anne Heche) and well-intentioned father (Dallas Roberts). He begins to act out at school, and his goofball antics win over a group of band-nerds who form The Dahmer Fan Club, headed by Derf Backderf (Alex Wolff, “Patriots Day”). But this camaraderie can’t mask his growing depravity. Approaching graduation, Jeff spirals further out of control, inching ever closer to madness.

My Friend Dahmer is out in theaters November 2017.

My Friend Dahmer Gets a Trailer

Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest United States between 1978 and 1991 before being captured and incarcerated. He would become one of America’s most infamous serial killers. This is the story before that story.

Based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf, My Friend Dahmer tells the haunting, sad, funny, true story of Jeffrey Dahmer in high school.


Around the Tubes

The weekend has come and gone and we’re still mulling over the box office results and recovering from Salt City Comic Con. We’re in the planning stages from a whole bunch of cons coming up in the next months, so hold on to your hats. While you wait for that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

CNBC – 4 ways comic books shaped Elon Musk’s bold vision of the future – How have comics influenced you?

CBR – Spider-Man Is Only Sony Character in the MCU, Feige Says – Until he isn’t.

The Beat – Derf on how Trumpcare could affect cartoonists – The comic community should care about this.

Unknown Comics – Selling Comics: Who Is My Customer? – Some interesting advice.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Crosswind #1

Talking Comics – God Country #6

Comic Attack – Samaritan: Veritas #1

Comic Attack – Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years

Comic Attack – Solarman #3

How to Love Comics – Transformers: Phase One Omnibus

Around the Tubes

bm_cv14_dsIt was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What’d you enjoy? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below. While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – Con Volunteer Headaches Are Coming Home to Roost – Wait for the lawsuits to start flying!

Vogue – Roxane Gay on Writing Difficult Women and Her Outlook on 2017 – Get some insight from the writer of Black Panther: World of Wakanda.

ICv2 – Marvel Promotes Nick Lowe – Interesting move.

The Beat – A year of free comics: Derf’s Punk Odyssey – As long as this gets posted we’ll keep sharing.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Batgirl #6

Talking Comics – Batman #14

Newsarama – Justice League of America: The Atom

Newsarama – Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #3

Comic Vine – Moon Knight #10

IGN – Mooncop

Comic Vine – Superman #14

SPX 2015 Announces Special Guests Derf, Jessica Abel and Ted Rall

spx-logo-240SPX has announced Derf, Jessica Abel (Saturday only) and Ted Rall as guests at SPX 2015. This is in addition to the previously announced guests Kate Beaton, Luke Pearson, Noelle Stevenson, Michael DeForge, Gemma Correll, Noah Van Sciver, Matt Bors, Lilli Carré, Theo Ellsworth, C. Spike Trotman, Jennifer Hayden, Stuart Immonen, Scott McCloud, Bill Griffith and Kathryn Immonen.

SPX 2015 takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 19-20, and will have over 650 creators, 280 exhibitor tables and 22 programming slots to entertain, enlighten and introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics.

Making its debut at SPX will be the latest autobiographical graphic novel by Derf, Trashed from Abrams Books. Derf’s squiggly, wonderfully exaggerated cartoon style is used to tell the story of what it was like to be a twenty-something garbage man, replete with all the losers and idiosyncratic townsfolk he had to deal with while collecting the trash. His previous graphic novel My Friend Dahmer won the Prix Révélation at Angoulême in 2014, and was listed as one of Time Magazine’s Top 5 Non-Fiction books of 2012. Derf’s long running alt-weekly strip, The City, which he ended in 2014 after 25 years, led him to win the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Merging the worlds of comics and verbal podcasts/radio, Jessica Abel interviewed the creators of such shows as This American Life, Radiolab and Snap Judgement, for her latest book, Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio from Broadway Books. The book uses the visual world of comics to uncover the narrative techniques now being used by the best journalists and storytellers in the world of podcasts and radio. Ms. Abel is a long time teacher of comics, having written two well-known and often used books on the subject, Mastering Comics and Drawing Words & Pictures. Her graphic novel, La Perdida, won two Harvey Awards and was Comic of the Year at Time Magazine. Ms. Abel will only be at SPX on Saturday, September 19th.

An enfant terrible of the political cartoon world, Ted Rall’s latest work is appropriately about the enfant terrible of the surveillance world, Eric Snowden, who was interviewed extensively for this book. In his latest graphic novel, Snowden from Seven Stories Press, he talks about how Snowden and other whistleblowers revealed the full extent and impact of the surveillance being performed by the NSA and other government agencies. Mr. Rall is a long time political cartoonist, comic’s journalist and writer, having won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice, as well as being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning.

Small Press Expo (SPX) is the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons. SPX is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together more than 650 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers, and distributors each year. Graphic novels, mini comics, and alternative comics will all be on display and for sale by their authors and illustrators. The expo includes a series of panel discussions and interviews with this year’s guests.

The Ignatz Award is a festival prize held every year at SPX recognizing outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning, with the winners chosen by attendees at the show.

As in previous years, profits from the SPX will go to support the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program, which funds graphic novel purchases for public and academic libraries, as well as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), which protects the First Amendment rights of comic book readers and professionals.

SPX 2012 – 10 Questions With Derf Backderf

One of my favorite reads this year is Derf Backderf‘s My Friend Dahmer, a graphic novel chronicling Backderf’s friendship with killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Backderf went to high school with Dahmer and his graphic novel is his account of his memories and what Dahmer was like during that time period. A fascinating read and highly recommended.

Abrams ComicArts in the lead up to this weekend’s Small Press Expo, where Backderf will be attending, allowed us to interview the creator about the graphic novel.

So join us for 10 Questions with Derf Backderf!

Graphic Policy: There’s numerous ways to tell this type of story, why did you turn towards a graphic novel as opposed to a prose book, or maybe even a movie?

Derf Backderf: Because I’m a comics creator and this is how I tell stories. I was already a working pro when the Dahmer story dropped from the sky and fell into my lap. There was never any question I would spin it into a graphic novel. It just took a little longer– 20 years total– than I planned.

GP: You describe your earlier works that lead to this graphic novel as a catharsis and a way to work through your friendship with Dahmer. What was going through your mind when the news broke of what he did?

DB: I staggered around in shock for the first few weeks. I was trying to process what Dahmer had done. This was  a guy I sat next to in study hall and gave rides home from school!  And each revelation that came out of Milwaukee was more shocking than the last! In an instant, as the news broke, Dahmer transformed from a strange kid in my past into the most depraved serial killer since Jack the Ripper. I had a few sleepless nights mulling that over, especially when I realized just how close I was to that first murder.

Put yourself in my shoes. I had a typically uneventful adolescence. Can’t say I enjoyed it much as I was living it, but looking back, I had a lot more fun than I realized at the time. I breezed through the curriculum, I had great friends, we had our memorable, goofball antics and then we all got out and went off into the world, where most of us found happiness and success. But when the Dahmer story broke, with a snap of the fingers, my entire personal history was redefined in a chilling and very sinister way. Now I had clarity, and I looked back at those silly episodes with Dahmer, his bizarre puzzling behavior, and the darker, inexplicable stuff, like his binge drinking, and I realized, my God, THAT’S what was going through his head as he was doing that stuff?

On top of this, I was being hounded by every media operation in the country. Dahmer didn’t have many friends, and within days the entire media machine zeroed in on me. My phone rang off the hook, reporters pounded on my door. It was not a very pleasant experience.

GP: You knew Jeffrey Dahmer and you touch on it throughout the graphic novel, but was there any inclination to you that he might be capable of such brutality and sickening acts?

DB: In hindsight, yes. But at the time, I couldn’t project like that. I recognized Jeff’s very disturbing behavior, especially the drinking, and that here was a dark, troubled soul who was missing chunks of his humanity. But I was just an unworldly, small-town rube. I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t date. I was a band nerd who had his face buried in a comic book most of the time. As Dahmer became darker and darker, my only instinct was to avoid him. I’m not going to apologize for that, because that was a pretty good instinct! That could well have been me chopped up in the trunk of his car. Besides, if society is counting on a 17-year-old farmboy to stop one of history’s greatest fiends, there’s not much hope, is there? The big question is: where were the damn adults?

GP: You hint through the narrative that maybe if anyone spoke up about his drinking in high school he might have received the help he needed. Did you yourself feel regret or responsibility for not speaking up and getting him that help?

DB: Well, of course had I known then what I know now I would have spoken up, alerted school officials, done anything I could to stop Dahmer in his descent. But I didn’t know those things. This also wasn’t 2012. This was 1978. It was a very different time. It was the Stoner Era and the one iron-fast tenet of the teenage code was: you never narced on another kid. Ever. Even if you weren’t a stoner, ALL kids adhered to that code. If you were fingered as a narc, your life would be a living hell. You’d be ostracized, mocked, very likely beaten to a pulp. I wasn’t going to risk that for Dahmer, who was a guy, to be blunt, I didn’t like very much by the end of high school.

GP: Have you heard from any of the victim’s families at all?

DB: A lot of interviewers ask me that. The answer is no, and why would I? This story isn’t about Dahmer’s crimes. This is the story BEFORE that story, the tale of a young man marching inexorably toward the edge of the abyss as disinterested adults stand by and watch. There’s no violence to speak of in my book, no depictions of necrophilia or cannibalism or heads in the refrigerator.  My story ends at the moment when Jeff kills his first victim, and even that happens off camera. His bloody spree exists in the book only as foreshadowing, this black doom that looms just beyond the last page.

I understand that there are hundreds out there who still mourn Dahmer’s 17 victims, and I know also that they have no interest in seeing Dahmer humanized. I get that. But this is my story. I lived it. I was a part of it and I have every right to tell it. Judging from the acclaim, I’ve done a good job with it. I’ll just let the book speak for itself.

GP: There’s been a few other graphic narratives that have taken on the story of true serial killers, Green River Killer being the other that comes to mind. Is there something about the mix of visual and prose that helps tells those stories?

DB: I haven’t read the others, so I really can’t say. A lot of comics fans seem drawn to the serial killer/ zombie thing. I don’t really get it.

GP: Overall, it seems graphic novels are becoming a much more accepted way to present journalism, any thoughts as to why this is becoming more popular and accepted?

DB: The quality of those books has a lot to do with it. Spiegelman, Sacco, et al. The comics media is a great way to tell stories. With just a little reference a creator can fashion a scene or an entire time and place, as I did, in greater detail, and easier,  than virtually any other medium. It would take weeks of work, dozens of people and quite a chunk of money for, say, a film company, to create a movie scene that I can draw in a couple hours.

Now, not every comics creator can pull off comics journalism, of course. I myself have a degree in journalism, so I know how to research a story and how to interview, things that most comics guys would probably struggle with. It’s not nuclear physics, but journalism does take some training. There are skills that have to be mastered.

GP: You were into art and comics at a young age, but how did you turn that interest into creating comics “professionally?”

DB: There was  never a question that this would be my career. At age five I knew I wanted to make comics and I never wavered from that goal. The only question was what genre I would work in, and I tried them all. In high school I wanted to draw superheroes for Marvel or DC. Then in college I fell in to political cartooning and pursued that for a while. In my mid-20s I started making these funky comic strips for alt-weekly newspapers and that was my breakthrough success. Then 10 years ago, I published my first graphic novel, on a whim, and I’ve gotten more attention for this work than anything else I’ve done. Probably should have started with graphic novels! Oh well.

GP: Do you have advice for those getting into the business?

DB: Tough, tough business. Have a good day job and make comics as a labor of love. If you’re good, and doggedly persistent, your work will find an audience.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

DB: More books. More Comics. Work until you die.

Review – My Friend Dahmer

When it comes to serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer is the one that sticks out to my generation. That’s the serial killer horror story so many around my age were glued to, hearing the gruesome details over and over. That’s why, with much fascination, I dove into reading My Friend Dahmer with a morbid fascination.

The graphic novel, written by Derf Backderf, covers the high school years of Dahmer. The story, from Backderf’s perspective with help from some research, dives pretty well into Dahmer’s high school career leading up to his first grisly murder. We find there were signs, lots of signs, that showed Dahmer was off, even then. Prone to violence towards animals, drinking issues and his acting out, Dahmer’s issues were largely ignored, it was the 70s after all.

Backderf’s story and art are solid. He paints a picture and gives enough insights that you understand what could lead to Dahmer’s crimes. You read through the graphic novel hoping the results will be different, but you know that’ll not be the case. You know the results, which makes Backderf’s graphic novel even more tragic. You see the warning signs being laid out, and know the result, it’s unnerving and fascinating, like slowing down to look at a car wreck.

The narrative itself is great, going smoothly through the years and events. It’s a page turner where you just want to find out what will happen next and what might drive Dahmer over the edge. There’s also enough that you feel sympathy for the killer, you want Dahmer to get help, you want someone to come to the rescue, but again, you know that’ll just not happen. His art too just seems to fit “the 70s.” It’s hard to describe, but overall with the story, it’s is a solid combination.

The graphic novel is for those who like crime comics, real life stories or has a fascination with morbid things and/or serial killers. An absolute “buy” in my mind.

Story and Art: Derf Backderf Publisher: Abrams ComicArts

Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

SPX Announces the Small Press Expo 2012 Programming Schedule

The Small Press Expo is pleased to announce the SPX 2012 Programming Schedule.  SPX has its usual thought-provoking programming featuring leading comics artists and critics in conversation. As in previous years, the Programming Schedule will feature two simultaneous tracks on both Saturday and Sunday, September 15th and 16th.

SPX 2012 programming highlights include special spotlight discussions with headline guests Daniel Clowes, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, François Mouly, Adrian Tomine, and Chris Ware, all of whom will also join in several other panel discussions.

This year’s programming schedule will include several panel discussions, with artists including Nick Abadzis, Derf Backderf, Michael DeForge, Theo Ellsworth, Renée French, Sammy Harkham, Tom Hart, Dean Haspiel, Stan Mack, John Porcellino, Katie Skelly and Lauren Weinstein.

This year’s panel discussions will include:

  • A discussion of Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, featuring Clowes, Mark Newgarden and Ware.
  • A spotlight on British comics, including Abadzis, Glyn Dillon, Nobrow’s Sam Arthur, Ellen Lindner, and Luke Pearson.
  • A consideration of comics as children’s literature with French, Mouly, Newgarden and Brian Ralph.
  • Reflections on life after “alternative comics,” with Clowes, the Hernandez Brothers, and Tomine, moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.
  • A discussion about the needs and challenges of institution building in comics.
  • Our annual hands-on comics workshop, led by Robyn Chapman, Hart, and Alec Longstreth.

The complete SPX 2012 Programming Schedule with full descriptions and participants may be found at http://www.spxpo.com/programming.

This year is the seventh year that SPX programming has been organized by Programming Coordinator Bill Kartalopoulos. Kartalopoulos is a comics educator, critic and curator who has taught classes about comics at Parsons The New School for Design and co-organizes the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. He is a Contributing Editor for Print Magazine, and assisted Art Spiegelman on the production of the Eisner Award-winning book MetaMaus.

Programming on Saturday will run from 11:30AM  until 7 p.m. Sunday programming will run from 12:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.  The complete SPX 2012 Programming Schedule may be found at http://www.spxpo.com/programming.