Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? by Harold Schechter and Eric Powell is a true crime, biographical graphic novel telling of the life and morbid legacy of serial killer and cannibalist Edward Gein. The book dropped last August and I had been dying to get my hands on it since then. Luckily, my library hold finally came through and after being completely enthralled by the story in a single sitting, I know I must add this to my personal graphic novel library one day, especially as an enthusiast of true crimes relating to serial killers.
Most of us are familiar with the terrors of Gein via cult classic slashers such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1978) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which were inspired by the real-life events surrounding this dude. Yet who was Edward Gein? What made him become such a grave-robbing, human munching madman? When you take the mystery surrounding him and combine it with the grotesquely curious nature of his crimes, you’ve got a concoction that I absolutely cannot resist. With the excellent straightforward and almost docudrama style writing with the simplistic and modestly detailed illustrations we are given a chance to truly understand a remnant of America’s most shocking criminal legacy.
The graphic novel begins as most biographies tend to, transporting us to Gein’s childhood where we get to learn about his mother and the abusive childhood that he endured. Most serial killers have some sort of psychological (and as well as some physical/sexual trauma) that sets their brains into a dark and twisted motion. With Gein, his mother was a grade S Alpha-Female douchebag of epic proportions. To witness the level of her mental and emotional abuse can be quite overwhelming, but it also puts into perspective how much a parent’s “nurturing” ways can instil what kids shall eventually value as adults. It’s marvellously contemplative, yet also chillingly creeptastic.
The layers of abuse and outside influencers that kick-start Gein’s cannibalistic career are told in a seamless manner, giving it quite the cinematic affect narratively speaking. It’s one of the biggest qualities that make it nigh impossible to put down. As the information and revelations of Gein’s life and interests unravel on the pages, as the small town begins to ponder the crux of the crimes and disappearances, as everything starts to fall into place like a beautifully perfect puzzle, the reader gets more and more drawn into the story.
I love how the artwork never strays beyond the confines of the shades of white and muted tones of green and grey. It provides an old-timey, retro ambiance that is excellent for depicting the time period as well as the small-barren-town environments. Your eyes become so familiar to the colours that once the more graphic depictions of Gein’s creation’s are dropped upon the pages, it takes a moment to truly realise precisely what you’re staring at, and with that realisation comes a splendid dimension of shock that drives the curiosity even further and deeper; you get hungry to know what happens next, even if you already know the gist of story.
I highly recommend Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? to fans of dark tales and the true crime genre, more so if you enjoy graphic novels. I will warn you, however, that this is definitely not suitable for kids between the strong language, nudity, and totally disturbing nature of the crimes that are shown clearly and without restraint. Aside from that, if you’re into serial killers and things (like me), go pick this up. It’s absolutely fantastic in the most fucking uneasy ways possible.
Publication Date: August 2021
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks
Genre: Graphic Novel, True Crime, Biography
Rating: Mature (M)
Page Count: 224
Content Warnings: Graphic depictions of death, body mutilation, and animal cruelty. Psychological and domestic abuse including of children. Gaslighting. Cannibalism. Graphic nudity. Some sexuality. Alcoholism. Uncomfortable representation of mental illness. Questionable themes on transgender dysphoria as a consequence of abuse.
Availability: In-print; eBook and hardcover editions available