Guest appearance helps Fetus-X move forward
The fetus in a jar that brought controversy to MSU a few years ago now is taking it all in stride.
Fetus-X, the comic created by Eric Millikin and Casey Sorrow that once ran in The State News, has picked up momentum and expanded beyond being a college comic.
Despite the inherent controversy involved with having the main character as a human fetus in a jar, Fetus-X was chosen by online comic Goats to be a featured guest during its Goats Guest Week on July 24. The week allowed other cartoonists to create a Goats strip and to depict the Goats characters in their own original style. The Fetus-X vs. Goats comic can be read at the Goats Web site, www.goats.com.
We were aware of (Goats) and they were aware of us, said Millikin, a 1998 graduate. Goats is a fairly well-known comic and for them to come to us was great - a real opportunity to show Fetus-X to new audiences.
The comic started three years ago when Millikin and Sorrow met at MSU. After doing individual comics, the two decided to collaborate on a strip. The idea for a fetus character came to Millikin thanks to some cops.
Fetus-X came about from the MSU police coming and searching my home, Millikin said. They thought I had stolen human fetuses and used them in an art show.
After the incident, Millikin decided that, If fetuses are what people want, fetuses are what they will get, and the comic was born. After two months of running underground, The State News, where Millikin once worked as an artist, picked up the comic for daily publication in spring 2000.
Problems immediately arose.
Basically, there was a lot of stuff happening, Millikin said. For a month, I was in and out of meetings and there were questions of censorship and cancellation.
The comic hung on for six months, until State News management decided to drop the strip despite support from some readers.
We had 22 letters about it, said Millikin. Eleven were negative, 10 were positive, and one said that it didnt offend the writer enough. So it was really 50-50.
Millikin even went on to see for himself how readers of The State News viewed Fetus-X.
I started a Web poll and found out that we were, at the highest, the second most-read article in The State News and, at the lowest, the fourth, he said.
One of the greatest objectors to the comic was the Catholic League, which Millikin attributes the cancellation to.
The Catholic League used their people to write to the MSU president and The State News, he said. The league is really just a one-man operation, one man in New York who tells college papers what to run and tells people what to read.
The group still feels the comic was an attack on its religion.
This particular comic is offensive to Catholics and Christians, Catholic League spokesman Patrick Scully said. It completely ridicules the Catholic faith and is not funny.
The Catholic League maintains it did not ask for the comic to be dropped from The State News.
We did not ask for the comic to be removed, Scully said. The fact that the paper had a legal right to run the comic is not in question. We just appealed to their sense of fairness.
Millikin doesnt see the comic as an attack on the Catholic faith.
We never really did anything Catholic, Millikin said. No pope or anything. There is a Jesus figure, but that is a response to the What Would Jesus Do? thing.
But cancellation and Catholic League protests couldnt stop Fetus-X for long. The creators developed a Web site, which averages 15,000 hits a day. The comic currently runs in more than 20 college newspapers and is even studied in graduate-level classes at various universities, including Yale University.
It was a slow buildup, but it did take off, Millikin said. We now have people in Kansas and even Los Angeles running our comic.
Millikin attributes some of the success to online readers and he has hopes for the future.
The Internet has been great for us, he said. The longer we are out there, the more people will see it and pick it up.
The comic still has its fans among the MSU community.
I really like the comic - it was unfortunate that it was canceled, 2002 graduate Jill Graeber said. It really wasnt anything worse then whats already out there.