Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Dahmer Fan Club

Those of you who have already the book, know all about the Dahmer Fan Club. For those who haven't, this was a small band of band nerds and advanced placement brains, my inner circle in high school, that became fascinated with the strange kid who performed bizarre antics, faked epileptic fits in the halls, pretended he had cerebral palsy, etc. Sometime in our junior year, we began referring to ourselves as the Dahmer Fan Club and cheered Jeff on in his strange, scholastic performance art. These typical, goofball, teenage antics became the stuff of urban legend once Dahmer's grisly crimes came to light 13 years after high school.

Above is a sketchbook drawing of the Fan Club from 1977 that we used as an official roster. For readers of the book, that's Dahmer up top, with Kent next to him. Mike is directly below them and I am below Mike, dead center. Neal is in the lower right. Kent, Mike, Neal and I were the four principle members. The others here were lesser participants that I winnowed out of the story to keep the cast of characters to a manageable number.

As the self-proclaimed Minister of Propaganda of the Dahmer Fan Club,  I slipped Dahmer into dozens of drawings: cartoons in the school paper, theater posters, student council election flyers, sports pep posters, etc. Most of these alas, did not survive. But at one time there was indeed a massive football banner featuring Jeffrey Dahmer! It just doesn't get any more surreal than that.

The yearbook cover (above) was to be my "masterpiece." The school was Revere, the teams were called the Minutemen so everything had a tiresome Revolutionary War theme to it, despite my hometown having virtually no patriot history. In 1776, it was little more than pine forest and Indians. This is my rendition of the iconic Spirit of '76, with, of course, a spazzing Dahmer as the drummer on the left. Alas, the yearbook advisor and editor had caught on to us by that time, recognized Dahmer in the above sketch, and killed the cover. The finished pen & ink drawing is unaccounted for. Only the sketch survives.

I was, however, allowed to contribute the following cartoon to the yearbook, a big 2-page spread.

All of the various members of the Fan Club are represented. Dahmer himself is lower right, looming larger than life over the crowd, and contorted in one of his trademark fits. Almost all the word balloons up top are "Dahmerisms," catch phrases we invented and sprinkled in our daily patter. Note one balloon says "BAAAA!," which was Dahmer's signature sheep-like bleet. Another says "Dahmier" which is how we often pronounced his name, with a heavy French accent, although I can't recall why we did this.

I look back at this stuff and just shake my head in disbelief.