Art: Eric Powell
Design: Phil Balsman
Publisher: Albatross Publishing
I can’t decide if this review is a warning or a sales pitch.
Eddie Gein is a killer who has infiltrated much of the American conversation. He’s been attributed to the development of the villains of Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If you listen to anything True Crime or horror related, his name, likeness, or crimes have come up at some point.
Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? is a graphic novel exploration of Eddie Gein’s history and crimes, the investigation process, and the community’s reaction. Schechter and Powell cleverly weave fact with hypothetical conversation to immerse the reader in Smalltown, Wisconsin. It might not provide new information to the long-time True Crime Fan, but it’s an entertaining read for new and old fans alike!
Powell’s art excels, too. It’s pencil sketches and shading, but thoroughly detailed. Powell captures a variety of body-types and facial expressions, really immersing the reader into the narrative and experience. But Powell’s art, coupled with Schechter’s words, pushed this story from semi-educational to truly horrifying.
Powell and Schechter dive into fictional conversations, reimaginings of events, and replicating trial scenes that add a layer of realness that shortens the fantastical distance that Gein’s notoriety has created between us and the nature of his crimes. From silhouettes to slang, the team cleans away the academic veneer that comes from the passing of decades. It pulled the wool of distant moral horror off my eyes; it felt sickening to read.
The True Crime Genre is one that should be criticized for its potential exploitation of victims and criminals. Many narratives create false ideas of criminals, crimes, and victims. The genre tells stories of sensationalism and disbelief. It’s as if the idea of crime is mystical, as if we don’t have theories as to why someone commits horrible acts. Narratives struggle to balance empathy with moral statements. This book doesn’t really change that.
I feel the book leaned more to the dehumanization of Gein’s victims. Powell replicated how ropes cut into the bodies of the victims far too well; it felt like a violation of the victim’s dignity. Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? seemed to capitalize on the moral horror of Eddie Gein and his crimes. The book clearly shows that horror can happen in any town and at the hands of any person. The book is high quality and an example of the complicated relationship between graphic novels and fictional stories.
If you want a story that adds to the genre, I recommend My Friend Dahmer, the graphic novel.