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Derf Backderf Having a Very Good Year

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 19, 2012

In case you missed it, Revere High School grad Derf Backderf's book "My Friend Dahmer" has become one of the most widely praised titles of 2012 -- and not just by fans of graphic novels. Time magazine put it among the 10 best nonfiction books of the year, ranking it fourth. Time said:

"By pure, horrific chance, Backderf went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer. Miniing his memories, Backderf creates a shockingly recognizable, almost tragic portrait of the future serial killer as an alienated kid in a toxic family."

I asked Backderf via Facebook if he wanted to comment, and he sent this:

"The critical acclaim has been all I hoped it would be. Can't say I'm surprised, and I don't mean to sound egotistical. I knew it was a great story, and my earlier self-published stories also got acclaim, so I knew this final incarnation, which was SO much better, would be a critical hit. The book is already in its third printing, just nine months after release, so that's nice, too. And French and German versions are on the way in 2013. The former gets me a free trip to France!

"It's been the best year of my career, to be sure. It's a nice payoff after slogging away for so long, doing what I do and sticking stubbornly (some would say foolishly) to my own artistic vision. To paraphrase Elvis Costello: I'm an overnight sensation after working for 20 years!"

And what's next?

"Next up is a collection of short stories that I'm throwing together, one that combines the frequent "true stories" I do in my comic strip with longer unpublished pieces. Then I'll pick my next "big" project, and start the long, slow process of making a book. I'm hoping some writing gigs come my way from comic book publishers, too. We'll see."

By the way, you can read my April interview with Backderf about the book here.


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