Monday, November 16, 2015

[IGH] Book Review: Trashed

By Reboot

Hey again! Hope you've all been well.  I recently read Trashed by John "Derf" Backderf to review for you all. Already being a big fan of another graphic novel of his, My Friend Dahmer, this was not much of a chore for me to read. And I don't think it will be for you either.

If you haven't already read My Friend Dahmer, I suggest you stop reading this review right now, go get yourself a copy, read it, then come back to this. It is easily one of the most fascinating autobiographical graphic novels out there. If you are unfamiliar, it's about how Derf was friends with Jeffrey Dahmer (yes, THAT Jeffrey Dahmer) in high school and examines Dahmer from his own perspective. This is a unique blend of slice of life meets page turning suspense just in the knowledge of knowing what will eventually happen.

Trashed is a different kind of story. It has elements of My Friend Dahmer in that there is some basis on Derf's personal experiences as a garbage man. Yes, Derf was briefly a garbage man in his younger years from 1979-1980. Where the two novels differ is that in Trashed all of the characters and events are fictionalized (though the main character does go by J.B.). They are certainly based on those experiences from years ago, but we don't know exactly to what extent the events in this book happened.

Basically, this is a story about a young man, J.B., frustrated with college who drops out and has to find work. This results in pressure from his parents to get a job asap, which lands him working sanitation for the town. We are then introduced to all sorts of characters working sanitation as well as different townspeople, which immerses you into a gritty, messy, lived-in world.

Throughout the story, facts about how much garbage we create in the country and how we dispose of it are woven in. More often than not, these facts and figures are woven into the story seamlessly. However there are points, particularly towards the end for me, where the facts and figures were coming up too often and interrupt the flow of the story. Kind of like watching a movie for the first time with a friend of yours that is absolutely obsessed with it and keeps pausing said movie to tell you more facts about it. Though I love the enthusiasm, and it's very clear that this is something passionate to Derf, there were perhaps a few moments throughout the story where it could have been smoother.

Derf's artwork is top notch here. Honestly, this book is worth the purchase just to have that much Derf art available for you to look at. His gritty, often disgusting depictions of garbage pick up are beautifully rendered on the pages. And I love the way Derf captures subtle annoyances and grumbles in characters' faces. If I had any complaint, it's that some of the imagery gets a bit repetitive, with similar panels of garbage bags ripping throughout the book. Perhaps it could have been trimmed down a little bit, but at the same time I imagine the repetition was viewed as being important for the story.  It makes the reader understand how often these things happen to garbage men, and I wouldn't wanna discourage Derf from including as much artwork of his in the book as possible.

All in all, I recommend Trashed to anyone that enjoys slice of life style comics. If you're already a fan of Derf, this is a must get. 

Trashed is available in stores now.

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