Derf sold his first cartoon, a nude portrait of his sixth grade teacher, for two dollars to a classmate who used it for unspeakable purposes. Today his comic strip, The City, is one of the most widely-read alternative cartoons, appearing regularly in weekly papers coast to coast.
The cartoonist, who works out of an unheated, attic studio in his Cleveland home, grew up in a rural, small town in Ohio and went to high school with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. A comic book story about his friendship with Dahmer is available in the store on this website.
An art school dropout, Derf worked on a garbage truck before deciding to give cartooning a try. He attended Ohio State University, where he drew political cartoons for the school paper for three years and caused such controversy school officials put a 1-year limit on all future cartoonists. After graduation, he landed a similar position on a paper in Florida but was fired after two years for, as the editor put it, "general tastelessness." He moved to Cleveland and The City debuted in the now-defunct Cleveland Edition in 1990. A year later, he began selling it to other alternative papers.
Derf's images have also graced t-shirts and cd covers. His manic illustrations have appeared in all manner of publications ranging from Guitar Player magazine to the Wall St. Journal.
His work has been displayed in museums and galleries worldwide. he has been nominated for two Eisner Awards (the Oscars of comix), has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, was named the Alternative Press' best cartoonist in 2005 and was the recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2006.