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Derf Backderf


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

In six months I've gone from a college student to being taught the finer points of sweeping crap off the road like I'm a drooling moron. Yes, there's little doubt I've hit rock bottom.

The man whose childhood mate turned out to be serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (MY FRIEND DAHMER) is back and this time it's a load of rubbish. The subject matter, that is, the graphic novel itself is hilarious, being a fictionalised reworking of his time on the bins in small town America in 1979 and 1980.

In fact, his first version of working this rich source of fertiliser - I mean material - into comics form, as an autobiographical mini in 2002, earned him an Eisner nomination. He returned to it a couple of times before polishing it up into this version you see today. Now, I always thought they said you can't polish a turd but Derf Backderf has clearly proven otherwise with a bit of elbow grease and done a sterling job recycling his experiences into comedy gold.

Anyone who has had a shit job, temporary or otherwise, will attest to the soul-crushing repetitive horror it can reduce your day-to-day 9-to-5 life to. And yet, and yet, if you are the sort of person who can find humour in adversity, and friends in the unlikeliest of places (well, second unlikeliest after a psychopathic serial killer, perhaps...) you can still find innumerate childish ways to wile the painful hours away and have a laugh or two. Granted, it's a nihilistic sort of pleasure which if you were staring at the possibility of it extending through the rest of your working career it well might send you round the bend, but if it's for a year or two, who knows what valuable life lessons you might pick up. Along with the trash, in Derf's case...

I do like Derf's dark sense of humour, I must say. He's a keen social conscience, though, partly honed from his work on his long running syndicated cartoon strip The City that appeared in over 140 publications. And here, alongside the, as he puts it, ode to the crap job of all crap jobs, he takes the time to regale us with more than a few shocking statistics regarding the ever-growing problem of just what happens to everything we casually throw out of our houses ever week with barely a second thought. I don't know what the answers to mankind's wasteful ways ultimately are, neither does he, but in the meanwhile my plan is to just keep reading comics as funny as TRASHED and try to ignore it...