Written by: Harold Schechter & Eric Powell
Illustrated by: Eric Powell
Designed by: Phil Balsman
Edited by: Tracy Marsh
Published by: Albatross Funnybooks
Ed Gein is one of the most infamous murderers in the history of the United States, his story has been the influence for numerous works of fiction, perhaps most notable Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence Of The Lambs. As is quite often the case with real life influences though, I think it’s arguable that the works of fiction based around Ed Gein are far more well known than his true story.
I still remember the day I Googled Ed Gein after his name popped up while I was reading American Psycho and I realised that he’s served as the inspiration for so many horror stories. It’s a shocking revelation, and once you know the horrendous truth behind the stories inspired by these events it’s impossible to disconnect it from the stories it inspired. While I learnt some things I perhaps wish I didn’t back then, Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? is something else entirely. There’s something about giving visuals to the gruesome findings within Ed’s home that makes it all the harder to stomach.
It’s not easy to know what to say about the narrative of this book, so I’ll try to keep it brief. In 1957 Ed Gein was arrested after a local shop owner went missing, her body was found in his home along with a museum’s worth of nightmare fuel. While that’s perhaps what is best known about ‘The Butcher Of Plainfield’, Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? begins much earlier in the life of the man, covering everything from how his parents met to how the death of his mother would cause him to spiral out of control.
The two interviews included as appendices and the notes in the book’s backmatter give a glimpse into how much time and research has gone into Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?, helping to clear up exactly how much of this story is based on true events. You’ll perhaps be pleased and/or horrified to know it’s most of it. Harold Schechter and Eric Powell’s joint work on the writing is a great combination and makes for a compelling read, I just couldn’t read this book fast enough.
Eric Powell’s artwork is fantastic throughout this book, and whilst illustrating a horrific tale, the monochromatic colouring prevents it from ever becoming about the gore. There are pages that look to be entirely pencils and others that are done in ink, both of which sit perfectly side by side, creating a melancholic vision of the past. Though as much as we see pages of mid 1900s Wisconsin in all it’s mundanity, there’s plenty of panels and pages here that will stick with you long after reading.
It’s not a comfortable read and this definitely won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve got an interest in true crime, or if you just want to know more about the man that inspired a wealth of horror stories be sure to check this out.