Brendan McGinley tackles the taboo with these two comix from the fringe. J. Bergdorf puts into comic form a portrait of one of America's most notorious serial killer. Then, Wildroot's adventures return in new reprints of Cocaine Comix
My Friend Dahmer
J. Bergdorf, a.k.a. Derf, is an alternative comics artist who attended high school with the gruesome necrophile Jeffrey Dahmer. Like so many future comic artists before him, Derf was in that caste of “band nerds and brains” to which Dahmer, if he didn’t belong, then certainly orbited.
Derf’s 28-page portrait shows a kid so far down the totem pole that even the freaks and geeks below the band nerds eschewed him. His odd behavior, a currency by which he communicates socially, devalues as his weirdness loses its ability to entertain. Eventually, each of the strings tying Dahmer to society — family, friends, future — is cut, and his shyness turns to apathy, which turns only on itself.
Derf charts this decline in Dahmer’s binge-drinking, which doesn’t make him drunk or disorderly, but only conditions him to become numb. The book swings between horror and a lot of words like “monstrous,” and “unholy,” which gives it lurid air, though they’re obviously quite appropriate to their subject. The book is at its best when it focuses on the isolation, claustrophobia and nihilism of a boy by himself in a nowhere town that hates him. At these points, Dahmer’s anatomy twists and contorts, he looks as though his neck has snapped on the gallows and his bloated face turns dark with jagged shading.
Even though the burgeoning alternative comics scene had its unfair share of perverts and cranks that were in it for the shock, it’s good to see that some creators could get into the blue stuff (or in this case, the white stuff) with some other levels of thought and humor at play.
Our “hero,” Wildroot, wanders through Hollywood in true flake fashion stumbling into sex parties, muggings and event horizons, mostly buried bizarre-haircut-deep in a mountain of blow.
The jokes are pretty good, like a dirtier version of MAD, and the art is appropriately influenced by Don Martin (with a complete Wally Wood-style cover by William Stout). And you can’t say an orgy of sexual freaks aimed at reaching a super-sexual black hole and transcend the boundaries of this world isn’t the kind of good idea that’d make Vertigo history.
Brendan McGinley is a long-time writer for ComicBase. His comic favorites include anything featuring Grim Jack, Punisher, Guy Gardner, Green Lantern, or written buy Evan Dorkin, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Deadpool… and the list goes on. But he insists he is of discriminating tastes.