JefferyDahmerBy HART D. FISHER, AL HANFORD (Boneyard Press; 1992)

This was perhaps the most infamous underground comic of the nineties.  That notoriety was due to a lawsuit filed against its publisher Boneyard Press by several relatives of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims.  Thus, “JEFFERY” DAHMER: AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY OF A SERIAL KILLER was pilloried in the media and a protest march took place outside the Illinois home of the comic’s scripter Hart D. Fisher—who responded by having a barbecue with a live band in attendance, and putting out a succession of further Jeffrey Dahmer comics (THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF YOUNG JEFFY DAHMER, DAHMER’S ZOMBIE SQUAD and JEFFREY DAHMER VS. JESUS CHRIST).

The irony here is that the comic is, as Fisher himself has admitted, quite subdued and non-explicit—read: “responsible”—in its depictions of Dahmer’s crimes.  As an opening disclaimer proclaims: “It is an attempt to deal with a monster, to cope.  For the victim’s [sic] families…you have my sympathy, but this story must be told.”

The narrative consists of comprehensive flashbacks experienced by an incarcerated Jeffrey Dahmer, from his first murder in June of 1978 to his July 1991 arrest.  The facts of Dahmer’s crimes are adhered to reasonably closely, with narration that aspires to the type of sardonic reportage found in True Detective magazine (“Too bad you had to be dead to make it to Jeffrey’s bed”).  Unfortunately the 21 page count isn’t nearly enough to do this 13 year saga justice, with the hows and why of Dahmer’s proclivities ignored in favor of a perfunctory recounting of his murders, leading to a shockingly offhand conclusion.

Also on display are a number of distracting grammatical errors, from the misspelled title to a line about Dahmer victim Steven M. Hicks “excepting a ride” from his murderer.  That’s to be expected, I guess, in an underground comic like this one, as is the sketchy, and only occasionally effective, black and white artwork by Al Hanford.  In short, JEFFERY DAHMER: AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRPAHY OF A SERIAL KILLER isn’t much, and would have doubtless sunk without a trace were it not for all the pointless furor (most of it from people who evidently didn’t bother reading the comic before condemning it).

That furor is explored at some length in Boneyard Press’s follow-up THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF YOUNG JEFFY DAHMER.  Featured is a lengthy editorial by Fisher on the controversy, and a photo montage of the march on his home.  It’s worth tracking down for those things alone, although the rest of that comic, like the one under review, can be safely dismissed.