Derf, or Derf Backderf, is the pen name of the American cartoonist John Backderf. An art school dropout, he worked on a garbage truck before turning to cartooning. He studied journalism at Ohio State University, where he drew political (and often controversial) cartoons for the school paper. After his studies he got a job as a cartoonist at a newspaper in Florida, where he was fired after two years because of "general tastelessness". Derf moved to Cleveland and launched his comic strip 'The City' for the Cleveland Edition in 1990. 'The City' became one of the most widely-read alternative cartoons, and has appeared in over 140 publications during its nearly 25-year run, including The Chicago Reader, the Village Voice and the Dallas Observer.
He is originally from the small rural town of Richfield, Ohio, where he went to school with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Derf wrote and drew a graphic novel about his friendship with Dahmer, called 'My Friend Dahmer'. The first installment was published in Fantagraphics' Zero Zero in 1997, and Derf self-published a black-and-white comic book in 2002. An extended edition was published by Abrams Comic Arts in 2012. His background was also the inspiration for his other graphic novels, such as 'Trashed' (SLG, 2002) and 'Punk Rock & Trailer Parks' (SLG, 2010).
Derf's art has also appeared on many posters, T-shirts and CD covers, and in magazines like Playboy, The Wall Street Journal and Progressive Magazine.
My Friend Dahmer