Monday, August 4, 2014

Angoulême interview

The fine folks at the Angoulême Int'l Comics Fest, who awarded My Friend Dahmer a prize earlier this year, have posited this lengthy interview about making My Friend Dahmer. It's in English! Check it out here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Off to France!

Comix fans in France! Don't miss the Salon du Livre d'Arras on May 1. I'll be there all day, along with the rest of the Éditions çà et là collective: Joseph Lambert, Ulli Lust, Li-chin Lin, Mana Neyestani, Brooke Gladstone and Joff Winterhart! 

Afterwards, I'll be doing a week of signings in Paris and a few other locales. See the full list below. This will be my third tour in France in the past 12 months, but my last for awhile, so be there or be square.

Derf Backderf (Mon Ami DahmerPunk Rock & mobile homes)

Jeudi 1er mai : toute la journée au Salon du livre d'Arras
Vendredi 2 mai : Super Héros, 175 rue Saint Martin, Paris 3e, 17h
Samedi 3 mai : un petit doublé avec

Folies d'Encre à Montreuil, 11h à 13h

Comics Records, 76 Rue Charlot, Paris 3e, 16h à 18h

Mardi 6 mai : Le Migou à Auch, 14h
Mercredi 7 mai : l'Usage du Monde, 32 Rue de la Jonquière, Paris 17e, 18h30

저 친구 다머

That's what the title "My Friend Dahmer" will look like translated into Korean, the next foreign edition due out, sometime in 2014!

I thought a Japanese publisher would be the first to snap it up for an Asian market, since they're such huge comix fans in Japan, but, hey, I'll take it. It's such a fun thrill to lay eyes on one of these translated editions for the first time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Conservo-blogger tees off on MFD!

Here's a first. A rightwing blogger weighs in on MFD

Surprise! She doesn't like it.

The blogger in question is a housewife and blogger from suburban Chicago. Her grand cause is public libraries, particularly her local branch. She has been waging war on this poor institution for several years, specifically because it, like virtually all public libraries, doesn't have filters on its public computers, so pedophiles can use them to view child porn. Really. Not that anyone is doing that, there's just the possibility that they can. This has become a total obsession with this homeschooler mommy. She's also one of those book-yanking buffoons who believes all objectionable tomes should be removed from the shelves.

She has peppered her local library with Freedom of Information requests, has a Facebook fan page where she logs her complaints and the library's many "crimes", gets in arguments with library board members at meetings, confronts librarians on the job and tapes their exchanges with her phone, pulls objectionable books off the shelves and rants about them, and makes a general nuisance of herself, all with an air of holier-than-thou pomposity and a  toothy grin. It's all the usual things gadflies do. Seems like every town has at least one. Those poor librarians must cringe when she stomps through the front entrance every day.

She weighs in here on MFD. Why? From her statements in the video she posted on Youtube, it's mainly because the American Library Assoc. gave MFD an Alex Award, which honors the best books for teen readers every year. Right in her wheelhouse and her suspicions (and hackles) are immediately raised. Librarians love it and it's a book about a serial killer. It must be objectionable and inappropriate, right?

She starts off by stating how much she dislikes graphic novels. Nothing like dropping those preconceptions, honey! She also hates my art. "This guy's artwork just grosses me out."  

She admonishes her "audience" (which appears to be her off-camera co-blogger and a kid, very likely her own, who sends in questions) because they don't know who Dahmer is. She then proceeds to give a laundry list of factually incorrect statements about his life and crimes! She even manages to work in that Darwinism is to blame for Dahmer's spree! Holy crap, what a maroon.

Among the highlights:

She places blame on ME for Dahmer's crimes, because I didn't intervene when I was 16. "If (Derf) had been more aware of his role in society, perhaps he could have saved a bunch of people from being sliced up and eaten. Don't think he's a great guy. I think he's a jerk"

Oh. OK. Apparently, she missed the major theme of the book, about indifference and culpability, and the brutal honesty that I employ to discuss these issues. The overall tone of regret that infuses the book also sails right past her. Not surprisingly, our conservo-blogger here is not the most perceptive of readers. 

She also worries that teenagers who read this book could be turned into roadkill loving pervs!  "What kind of kid is reading this? What if it's someone who is dealing with this kind of issue? What it it's a kid who didn't think he'd be sexually turned on by killing animals and then gets a look at this and thinks, oh, that might be fun!"

Now, THAT'S a new one! Comix turning kids into pervs. Calling Dr. Werthem!

In the end, she grudgingly confesses it's not the outrageous book about murder and necrophilia she obviously hoped it would be when she plucked it off the shelf. 

"It's a sad one, but I see how it could start a good conversation. So I'm not gonna give this one a total thumbs down. It's not terrible."

I debated it, but I won't post the video. I'm not giving her the hits, because I'm guessing she doesn't get many.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

France Book Tour 2014!

Thurs., May 1 
Signing, all day
Arras, France 

Fri., May 2
Signing, 5 pm
Librairie Super Héros
175 Rue St. Martin, Paris

Sat., May 3
Signing, 11am to 1 pm
Folie d'Encre bookstore

Sat., May 3
Signing, 4 to 6 pm
Comics and Records
76 rue Charlot, Paris

Tues., May 6
Signing, Noon to 6 pm
Le Migou bookstore

Weds. May 7
Talk and signing, 6:30 pm
L'Usage du Monde bookstore
32 Rue de la Jonquière


Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Friend Dahmer book trailers

I get a big kick out of these. MFD has become a standard in many high school curriculum, thanks mainly to the American Library Assoc., which has championed the book right from the beginning. MFD has been on its recommended reading list for teens for three years straight, along with several other honors and lists. It's been amazing. Probably accounts for at least two printings of the book.

A staple of high school English classes these days is the homemade book trailer. Instead of a book report, make a short video about the book of your choice. There have been a number of these popping up in my news alert lately. A pretty fun assignment for high school. Wish we could have done one of these back in 1978! We did make some goofy films. All the members of the Dahmer Fan Club were involved in these. But not Jeff, unfortunately. Friend Neal has copies, and I've seen them recently. They're totally nonsensical, but it's a hoot watching our young selves clown around, in real life, just as I depict our antics in the book.

Above is one is one of the better trailers, although it's hard not to crack up at the stuffed animal road kill! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MFD now in its 6th printing!

Here's the cover. Note the nifty Angoulême Prize sticker. Mon Ami Dahmer is also in its 6th printing in France.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PBS interview

Here's the interview with the PBS station in Cleveland, originally broadcast to coincide with the launch of the book back in March 2012 (Jeezus, has it been that long?). The station repackaged it following the Angoulême Prize. I get nothing but love from this PBS outlet over the years. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Friend Dahmer wins an Angoulême Prize!

Read all about the Angoulême Festival in Frank Santaro's column in The Comics Journal.  I stayed for two more weeks on a book tour throughout France and Belgium. Read my take on it all on the Derfcity blog.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hometown musings

I'm often asked what kind of reaction I get from people in my hometown, specifically from my fellow classmates from Revere High School. 

The answer will surprise you. I haven't received much reaction at all!

That's understandable. Not many kids in the Class of 1978, or any of the surrounding classes,  had anything to so with Jeff, as you know from reading the book. He was never a popular kid, even before he began spiraling out of control, and once he started to weird out, he was totally ostracized. He wasn't physically bullied that much in junior high and high school, certainly no more than I was. Mostly he was ignored. That's a form of bullying in my view, maybe a more insidious form than a direct punch in the mouth. Junior high was pretty rough, but by high school, most of the sadistic creeps had lost interest in slapping geeks around anyways, or had been shuttled off to the vo-ed school to learn auto repair, or had dropped out, or maybe just got bored with the "sport." Bullying in the last years of high school was mostly verbal, unless of course, a geek stupidly forgot his place and got uppity. Then he was taken down in front of a cackling crowd in the cafeteria or someplace else where the humiliation could be maximized.

This was my lot, too, and I didn't really give a shit, to be honest.  I happily kept to the band room, the art rooms and the library. It was a survival technique, and an effective one. I knew well to avoid certain areas of the school. The long hall that ran past the gym and athletic office was always full of jocks and their toadies. A hall in the lower level that contained the shop classes was always packed with psycho stoners. I wouldn't have wandered down that hall on a bet. There was always that fear that some stoner troll would jump a passing dork just for yuks. I didn't take photography in high school for this reason, even though I had an interest. The photo lab was right across from the shop room. "I remember that feeling," said friend Neal when we talked about this. "Vividly."

That's the reason I adopted my first pen name, "Tonto Bahovich." I was subversively filling that school with art, as the self-proclaimed Minister of Propaganda for the Dahmer Fan Club, but also, outside of the Dahmer nonsense, on my own. I hung up fake political posters, drew weird cartoons for the school paper, illustrated screeds, all sorts of things. No one, outside of my friends, who I swore to secrecy, knew who Tonto Bahovich was. I've used pen names ever since!

Needless to say, I didn't keep in contact with many kids from my school. I observe in the book that Dahmer's sudden disappearance after graduation was remarkably complete. He just vanished, and I thought that odd at the time that I never saw him again, not around town, or at the mall, or the movie theaters, anywhere. But, truth be told, the other 198 kids from my class vanished from my life just as quickly and almost as completely. I kept a small contingent, my inner circle of ten or so. The vast majority of the rest I never saw again. Maybe I'd spot one of my classmates in the months or years that followed, at the local mall, or on campus at Ohio State where 50 or so Revere kids attended. I confess I usually ducked into a building to avoid them. Seems stupid now, but I wanted a clean break. After college, I lived in other places. When I returned to Ohio, I moved to Cleveland. My Mom and my brother still live in my hometown, but outside of visiting them, I have nothing to do with my birthplace. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I grew up there. Bath-Richfield is a great place, to be from. I can't imagine living there. 

It's a bizarre construct, a high school class. These people are so important for that crucial period that you can't envision life without them, and then they're gone and life improves dramatically. It's not like I'm still lugging around any baggage from my school years. Why would I? I went off to college, rebooted, and achieved all I wanted. At Ohio State University everyone knew my name, and my work. That's how college is supposed to work. High school was simply something I had to endure to get where I wanted to go. I'm grateful for the experience, every miserable and/or joyful moment of it. I wouldn't be the person, or the writer, I am without that history.

I went to my last class reunion in 2008, several years before MFD came out, and had a lot more fun than anticipated. I was reluctant to go at all, but a couple friends harangued me into tagging along. There were several events that reunion weekend, including a tour of the school, which was surprisingly fun. I walked the halls again, after quite a few years, and used the opportunity to take a couple dozen reference shots for MFD, which was still in the planning stages.  Near the main entrance, high up on the wall, is the school's Hall of Fame, honoring illustrious grads. Yeah, I'm in it, the first and only art grad selected. There was a crowd of alum gathered under the display, looking it over. One guy, a minor football star with whom I don't recall ever exchanging a single word despite attending school together for seven years, was pointing out to his family the HOFers that he knew. He came to my display, furrowed his brow and said "This Backderf guy, he graduated with me, but I have absolutely no memory of him AT ALL." I was standing right next to him. I just laughed and walked away. 

Only a couple dozen of my schoolmates bothered to track me down after the book came out. I would assume they all know about it, and that quite a few have read it. Wouldn't you? Since the silence has been deafening, I must also assume that these people don't approve of it, or don't approve of me writing it. 

So that sums up my contemporaries, but what about the townsfolk? Bath-Richfield is a small town, after all. Truth is, I also heard very little from them. In Bath, Ohio, there are only a few who remember the Dahmers. A lot of the other adults in that neighborhood have, sad to say, died. That generation is all in their 80s and 90s now. Besides, the Dahmers moved away decades ago. Joyce split in 1978, never to return, and Lionel and his second wife sold the family home in 1983, relocated briefly to a condo in town, then moved to an adjacent community, where they live to this day. Younger brother David moved away for college and never came back. So the sum total of the Dahmer family's time in Bath was around 15 years. There are still families in town who can trace their roots back to the 1850s!

My Friend Dahmer got lots of coverage in my hometown when it was released. Unlike Milwaukee, where I refused any and all interview requests (and still do) and my publisher made no promotional push at all, I made the media rounds here in Ohio. Dahmer doesn't generate the kind of anger and shame in the Akron area that he does in Milwaukee. He "only" killed one victim here, and there isn't the political and racial  blowback that his spree in Wisconsin generated. 

And local media in Ohio was interested plenty. There isn't a lot of media left in Akron. There's no tv station, for example, and only a few radio station, all owned by the same Akron company. Cleveland's media, 50 miles to the north, has always dominated, and that stretches all the way back to my day. But I did what I could. I appeared on the Akron AM talk radio show for a couple hours. The Akron Beacon Journal, the paper I grew up reading,  did a front page story on me and the book (above). That was a goofy thrill. Best of all, my little hometown monthly magazine (a newspaper, when I was a kid), The Bath Journal,  featured it, as well. This magazine is delivered free to every resident in town. Between the two publications, everyone knew about MFD

Bath-Richfield, like all suburbs, is a transient place. A large percentage of the population rolls in and out every few years. No where is that more evident than in my graduation class, the Class of 1978. There are only a few of the 200 kids who stayed. This is stark contrast to graduating classes as little as 10 years prior. Most of those kids remained in town, or nearby. What happened? Well, the Great Seventies Recession for one thing. The nearest city to Bath was Akron, the Rubber City, tire capital of the world. In 1968, it was a booming place. The sidewalks were packed downtown, the highways were jammed at rush hour, the tire factories ran day and night and the economy roared. By 1978, Akron was a ghost town. The tire factories were closed and the  downtown was a board-up wasteland, crumbling and desolate. There was no reason for us to stay, because there was nothing to stay for. We had to leave, and almost everyone did. As a result, for the first time in history, a generation's connection to our hometown was broken, and that dramatically changed the nature of the town. Today, there is a greatly diminished sense of place.

My point here is, by the time MFD was released, there simply weren't many left in Bath-Richfield who had any personal attachment to the story.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Angoulême Int'l Comic Fest

If any of you out there are attending the Angoulême Int'l Comic Fest, here's my schedule.

All signings will be at the Editions çà et là booth, Stand N39, Espace Nouveau Monde, place New York

Thursday, January 30
14h-15h30 : Talk & presentation for high school students
16h-18h : Signing

Friday, January 31
10h-13h : Signing
15h-15h30 : Talk Official Selection, Espace Sélection Officielle Cultura
17h-19h : Signing

Saturday, February 1
10h-13h : Signing
17h-20h : Signing

Sunday, February 2
10h-13h : Signing
16h-17h30 : Award ceremony Angoulême festival

Friday, January 17, 2014

Europe Book Tour 2014

For those of in France, if any of you are out there reading this drivel, here's the schedule for my fast-approaching tour with my beloved publisher Éditions çà et là.

Feb. 4: à Millepages BD, Vincennes

Feb. 5: Philippe le libraire, Paris 

Feb 6: au Grand Nulle Part, Rouen

Feb. 8: à la librairie Bulle, Le Mans

Feb. 10: BD Net Nation, Paris 

Feb. 11: Multi BD, Bruxelles

Feb. 12: Gibert Joseph, Paris

Feb. 13: La Cour des Miracle, Caen

Feb. 14: Univers BD, Paris 

Feb. 15: Bachi-Bouzouk, Pau

Feb. 17: Book in Bar, Aix en Provence

Feb. 18: La Réserve à Bulles, Marseille

Feb. 19: Esprit BD, Clermont-Ferrand

As previously announced, Mon Ami Dahmer has been chosen as a Sélection Officielle. It's a huge honor and puts it up for the Grand Prize. This is the Cannes of comix. I won't win, of course, but at least for once I won't be losing to Chris Ware! 

And, I just found out today, I'll be back in France in early May for more signings and another book fest!