Eric Millikin

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Eric Millikin
Eric Millikin.jpg
Nationality American
Education Michigan State University Honors College
Known for Painting, mixed media, comics, webcomics

Eric Millikin, also known as Eric Monster Millikin, is an American artist, humorist, and blogger. He is known for his pioneering work in Internet art, Postinternet art, and webcomics.[1] His artwork is often controversial and semi-autobiographical, with political, romantic and horror themes.

Millikin's artwork has also been published in books, serialized in newspapers, and displayed in art museums. The themes of Millikin's art often involve the occult, romantic relationships, and self-portraits as well as portraits of celebrities and political figures. The artwork is mixed media, often combining expressionist paintings and optical illusions with found objects. Millikin's works often have political themes, and the text is sometimes written in free verse or ambigrams.

Millikin often collaborates with artist Casey Sorrow.

Notable artworks[edit]

  • Totally Sweet, a series of pop art, large-scale portraits of monsters, each created from thousands of packages of Halloween candy and a single spider.[2][3][4] Millikin uses over 40 different kinds of candy, and a single portrait can take between 5,000 and 10,000 candies.[5][6] Included in the series are portraits of such monsters as Freddy Krueger, Lily Munster, Gort, Godzilla and the Bride of Frankenstein.[7][8][9] Millikin compares his artistic technique of building large monsters from many smaller parts to the similar techniques Victor Frankenstein used to create his monster.[10]
  • Hollywood Witch Trials, a series of painted portraits of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan based on their crime mug shots, stylized to look like witches, and combined with excerpts from transcripts of the Salem Witch Trials.[11]
  • American Mayhem, a series that uses optical illusions to transform the flag of the United States into cityscapes filled with monsters, and incorporates ambigram calligraphy that reads when the paintings are hung upside down.[12][13] Inverting a national flag in such a way is a commonly used distress signal.[14]
  • Witches and Stitches, a series of early digital comics, from the 1980s, which were the first webcomics ever published.[15] This unauthorized Wizard of Oz parody comic was published by Millikin on CompuServe as early as 1985 when he was in elementary school.[16] Publishing on Compuserve allowed Millikin to self-publish, avoiding censorship.[17][18] Witches and Stitches was popular with audiences around the world and Millikin's success inspired many artists to create their own webcomics.[19] Copies of Witches and Stitches are now often difficult to find because Millikin was threatened with a lawsuit over the comic.[20] Millikin's outspoken autobiographical style paved the way for other artists to express their thoughts and opinions on the web.[21]
  • Literally Impossible, a series of Op art paintings created as answers to questions from a literacy test used to deny voting rights to African-Americans in the American south before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[22] The paintings feature illusionary impossible objects, ambigrams and palindromes.
  • Fetus-X, a series of alternative comics created in collaboration with Casey Sorrow. Fetus-X featured a psychic zombie fetus floating in a jar of formaldehyde who may or may not be Millikin's missing conjoined twin or his clone from an alternate timeline or dimension.[23] The comic was run for a short time in Michigan State University's The State News in 2000. After the Catholic League protested the comic and then MSU president M. Peter McPherson declared he wanted it banned, the comic strip was removed for being too controversial.[24][25] During the controversy over the comic, many people protested on both sides of the issue.[26][27][28][29] The comic was also published in other student newspapers like the University Reporter.[30]

Artistic style[edit]

Eric Monster Millikin's comics often explore themes of the occult and romance.

Millikin's artwork is characterized by brilliantly colored paint brushed and smeared into swirls and spirals.[31][32][33] His work often incorporates found objects, such as packages of candy and spiders.[2] His large-scale artwork takes full advantage of the internet's formal possibilities, and has incorporated animation and winding "infinite canvas" designs,[34] going beyond the limited sizes and shapes of conventional printed pages.[35] The American Library Association's Booklist describes how Millikin's expressionistic visual style "crosses Edvard Munch with an incipient victim of high-school suicide" [36] and The Hindu describes his paintings as "haunting images."[31] Millikin's works range from those made almost completely of calligraphy, typography or text (for example "My Little Brother," a first-person tale from the perspective of one conjoined twin in a love triangle)[37] to those that are completely abstract. Millikin's artwork is given by Scott McCloud as an example of using the web to create "an explosion of diverse genres and styles"[38] and is described as "mind-blowing" by Comic Book Resources.[39]

Recurring themes[edit]

Major recurring themes of Eric Millikin's art are portrait paintings, the supernatural, and optical illusions. He often creates self-portraits showing him falling prey to tragic death or engaging in star-crossed love affairs. For example, he is depicted engaged in activities such as being killed by vampire hunters, being eaten by a dinosaur, and sawing off his own arm then replacing it with a zombie's.

Early life[edit]

Millikin began drawing horror comics by age one-and-a-half, when he made crayon drawings of ghosts terrorizing him during toilet-training.[40] By second grade, he was making teachers profane birthday cards showing his school burning down.[40] As a youth, he was influenced by 1980s X-Men and Far Side comics and the video game Gorf.[41]

Millikin attended art school at Michigan State University in their Honors College.[41] He paid his way through school by working in MSU's human anatomy lab as an embalmer and dissectionist of human cadavers.[42][34]


Millikin began posting comics and art on the internet using CompuServe in the 1980s, and began publishing on the World Wide Web as early as the fall of 1995.[43][44] In his book Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists, syndicated newspaper editorial cartoonist Ted Rall describes Millikin's work as "one of the most interesting webcomics around."[45] The Webcomics Examiner named Millikin's comics one of the best webcomics,[46] the webcomics blog ComixTalk named it one of the 100 Greatest Webcomics of all time,[47] and The Washington Post's readers named it one of the top 10 finalists for Best Webcomic of the Past Decade in 2010.[48] Millikin's work has also been nominated for multiple Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards, including their top honor of "Outstanding Comic". Millikin has been a panelist and guest at webcomic conventions, including the inaugural New England Webcomics Weekend, the first convention organized by and focusing on webcomic creators.[49][50]

Millikin was an editor (along with Tom Hart) and contributing artist of the online alternative comics anthology Serializer.[51][52][53] The Sunday Times described their work on serializer as "high-art", and the Sydney Morning Herald considers them to be the avant-garde.[54][55] Serializer's contributing artists also included Renée French, James Kochalka, Chris Onstad, Ryan North, Jen Sorensen, Matt Bors, Joey Comeau and Emily Horne.[56]

Millikin has also been published by the webcomics sites Modern Tales and Webcomics Nation.[57] His comics are one of the all-time most popular on Webcomics Nation.[58]

Millikin is one of the few, and first, webcomic creators successful enough to make a living as an artist.[59]

Newspapers and magazines[edit]

Millikin's artwork has been published in many college newspapers, in alternative newspapers such as the Metro Times,[60] and in magazines like Wired.[12] His work is also published in major daily newspapers like The Detroit News,[61] Detroit Free Press,[62] The Courier-Journal,[63] The Des Moines Register,[64] The Tennessean[65] and USA Today.[7] The Comics Journal has written that Millikin's comics "use the newspaper format for far more daring, entertainingly perverse work" than most comics and is "perfectly at home at a good alternative weekly or a great college paper." [66]

Art galleries[edit]

Millikin's artwork is often shown in galleries and museums. He is one of the artists in the "Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics" art exhibition which has travelled to the Krannert Art Museum and The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar,[67] and in the "Monsters of Webcomics Virtual Gallery" at San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum.[68] His artwork was included, along with Marilyn Manson and HR Giger's, in the international horror art collection "DAMNED."[69]


Millikin is known for his political and social activism, with his artwork often tackling controversial issues. He has championed Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as "Obamacare".[70] Millikin has also championed green energy, ridiculing the "Drill, Baby, Drill Brigade" of "oil producers, free-market zealots and global warming deniers." [71] The Webcomics Examiner has called Millikin's work "one of the sharpest political commentaries available."[46]

Millikin has also used his artwork to raise money for causes like helping Hurricane Katrina victims,[72] fighting diseases like muscular dystrophy,[73] and granting wishes to terminally ill children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.[74] He has also created posters campaigning to raise money for programs to improve adult literacy[75] and auctioned artwork to support soup kitchen efforts to feed the hungry.[60]

Critical reaction[edit]

Millikin's artwork has won many awards from organizations including the Associated Press,[76][62] Society of Professional Journalists,[77] Investigative Reporters and Editors,[78] National Association of Black Journalists,[79] and the Society for News Design.[80] In 2008 his illustrations were part of the series "A Mayor in Crisis", wherein the Detroit Free Press covered, or uncovered, secret text messages of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to reveal the mayor's perjury and obstruction of justice in a police whistle-blower trial. The series resulted in Kilpatrick's being sent to jail and in the newspaper's 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting.[78][81][82]

His front-page artwork in the Detroit Free Press advocating for U.S. government loans as a solution to the automotive industry crisis of 2008–2009 was described as a "gutsy move" that "stretch[es] the limits of the medium"[80] and CNN's Kyra Phillips described it as "full front page and in your face".[83] Congressman John D. Dingell displayed it on the House floor urging passage of government loans to automakers and reiterated the central theme of the piece, saying "now is the time for us to 'Invest in America'."[84]

Millikin's October 2011 Wizard of Oz-themed Detroit Free Press front-page "Lions, Tigers and Bears: Oh my!" illustration (about the Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers and Chicago Bears) was praised by ESPN's Mike Tirico during the Monday Night Football half time show.[85]

However, not all criticism of Millikin's artwork has been positive. Since 2000, Millikin has been the target of protest campaigns organized by the Catholic League for what they call his "blasphemous treatment of Jesus".[86] “This particular comic is offensive to Catholics and Christians,” Catholic League spokesman Patrick Scully said in August 2002. “It completely ridicules the Catholic faith and is not funny.” [24] The Hartford Advocate has called Millikin a "borderline sociopath."[87]

Monkey Day[edit]

Millikin has been an early and vocal supporter of the holiday Monkey Day (celebrated December 14). Monkey Day was created by Millikin's frequent collaborator Casey Sorrow in 2000 as an opportunity to educate the public about monkeys, as a holiday that supports evolution rather than religious themes, and an excuse to throw monkey-themed costume parties.[88][89] For Monkey Day 2012, USA Weekend published Millikin's The 12 Stars of Monkey Day, a series of paintings that were "in part inspired by the many pioneering space monkeys who rode into the stars on rockets, leading the way for human space flight."[90]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (April15, 2012). "Eric Millikin". Parade Magazine
  2. ^ a b "Eric Millikin, Artist, Creates The Sweetest Halloween Art You'll See All Year". The Huffington Post. October 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ Anthony Domanico (30 September 2014). "Monster portraits so tasty you could eat them". CNET. 
  4. ^ Gregory Burkart (1 November 2013). "Get a Taste of Eric Millikin's Totally Sweet Candy Monster Mosaics". FEARnet. 
  5. ^ "What Else Can You Do with Halloween Candy? Make Amazing Portraits, of Course!". The Good News with The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 30 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Kelly, Clinton; Symon, Michael (30 October 2014). "Halloween in a Hurry". The Chew. Season 4. Episode 39. ABC. 
  7. ^ a b Jolie Lee (10 October 2014). "Sweet or scary? See portraits made of Halloween candy". USA TODAY.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "USA_Today" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  8. ^ Ovation Staff (1 November 2013). "THE SWEET PORTRAITS OF ERIC MILLIKIN". Ovation. 
  9. ^ Leila Roelli (8 October 2014). "Mosaïques sucrées". Couleur 3. 
  10. ^ Mary Beth Quirk (30 October 2013). "We Can’t Decide If These Halloween Candy Monster Portraits Make Us Hungry Or Scared". The Consumerist. 
  11. ^ Millikin, Eric. "Hollywood Witch Trials". Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  12. ^ a b Sjoberg, Lore (March 4, 2011). "Alt Text: Going Undercover at an Unregulated Content Farm", Wired.
  13. ^ Millikin, Eric. "American Mayhem". Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  14. ^ 36 U.S. Code §176(a) provides: “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”
  15. ^ Talita Calitz (March 2012). "11 Webcomics worth bookmarking". Yahoo! Celebrity. 
  16. ^ Smith, K. Alexander. (September 19, 2011) "14 Awesome Webcomics To Distract You From Getting Things Done". Paste (magazine)
  17. ^ Dorchak, Sarah. (September 29, 2011). "Pioneering the page: The decline of print comics, the growth of webcomics and the flexibility, innovation and controversy of both." Gauntlet.
  18. ^ Grace Dobush (24 July 2014). "9 Major Tech Moments in Comics History". Consumer Electronics Association. 
  19. ^ Team Viva. (December 10, 2011). “Comic reliefThe Pioneer.
  20. ^ Garrity, Shaenon K. (April 10, 2011). “History of Webcomics” Comicdom Con, Athens, Greece.
  21. ^ Sreejita Biswas. (August 07, 2013 ). “Stick ’Em Up!Bangalore Mirror.
  22. ^ Eric Millikin (30 January 2014). "Eric Millikin: Black History Month: Can you pass this 'Literally Impossible' impossible literacy test?". Detroit Free Press. 
  23. ^ Simins, Elizabeth (Dec. 10, 2008). "A&E Top 10s: From the Cliché to the Controversial". Columbia Spectator
  24. ^ a b Bennett, Brandon (1 August 2002). "Guest appearance helps ‘Fetus-X’ move forward". State News. 
  25. ^ Castanier, Bill (12 December 2012). "Portrait of the artist as a playful grandfather". City Pulse. 
  26. ^ Birchmeier, Zak (24 August 2000). ""Fetus-X" provides SN with originality". The State News. 
  27. ^ Hoxworth, Kim (30 August 2000). "Strip controversy bothers SN reader". The State News. 
  28. ^ Strank, Jody (24 May 2000). "Concern regarding "Fetus X" cartoon". The State News. 
  29. ^ Lattimore, Latoya (18 May 2000). "Cartoonists need to show respect". The State News. 
  30. ^ Millikin, Eric; Sorrow, Casey (Sep 2001). "The Neglected Opportunity". University Reporter. p. 12. 
  31. ^ a b Vincent, Pheroze L. (September 24, 2009). "Spinning a dark web of fun". The Hindu
  32. ^ Walters, Maria (March 2009). "What's up with Webcomics? Visual and Technological Advances in Comics". Interface: The Journal for Education, Community, and Values
  33. ^ Harvey, R. C. (February 16, 2009). "Rants & Raves On A Mission". GoComics
  34. ^ a b Zabel, Joe (June 14, 2004). "Cutting Up The Dead: An interview with Eric Millikin". The Webcomics Examiner
  35. ^ McCloud, Scott (July 25, 2000). "Reinventing Comics". Harper Paperbacks, Pg. 222
  36. ^ Flagg, Gordon (August 2006). "Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists". Booklist, Pg. 23
  37. ^ Millikin, Eric "My Little Brother"
  38. ^ McCloud, Scott (2006). Making Comics, New York: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-078094-0. Pg. 227
  39. ^ Reed, Bill "Sunday Brunch"
  40. ^ a b Breithaupt, Christy (July 26, 2006). "Dark visions: MSU grad's 'Fetus-X' comic earns national recognition". Lansing State Journal
  41. ^ a b Beck, Robert. "Webcomic Spotlight: Eric Monster Millikin".
  42. ^ Fingeroth, Danny (August 2008). "The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels". p. 276.
  43. ^ Garrity, Shaenon (July 15, 2011) "The History of Webcomics" The Comics Journal
  44. ^ Xerexes, Xaviar (January, 2009). "Eric Monster Millikin Talks Fetuses, Zombies and Monkeys". Comixtalk
  45. ^ Rall, Ted (2006). Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists, New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine. ISBN 1-56163-465-4.
  46. ^ a b "The Best Webcomics of 2004". The Webcomics Examiner. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  47. ^ Xaviar Xerexes. 100 Greatest Webcomics Thread
  48. ^ Cavna, Michael. "THE BEST WEBCOMIC: It's time to vote on your nominations..."
  49. ^
  50. ^ Marshall, Rick (March 23, 2009). "Webcomics Weekend: Online comics get their own convention -- here's what you missed!". MTV
  51. ^ Hart, Tom and Joey Manley (Oct. 21, 2002). "Modern Tales And Tom Hart Launch Serializer.Net Today"
  52. ^ Xerexes, Xaviar (Dec. 2006). "the Comixpedia End of 2006 Roundtable".
  53. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (Oct. 12, 2006). " returns".
  54. ^ O'Brien, Danny (February 26, 2006). "The tooniverse explodes". Sunday Times (London), p. 27.
  55. ^ Sharwood, Simon. (August 30, 2003) The rebirth of comics: Comics online. Sydney Morning Herald(Australia), Pg. 5.
  56. ^ Bors, Matt (Oct. 24, 2006). "".
  57. ^ The Comics Continuum (February 19, 2003) Longplay Lineup
  58. ^ Popular / New Today "All-Time Top 100 ... 12. Eric Monster Millikin By Eric Monster Millikin" Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  59. ^ Brenner, Lynn (February 27, 2000). "What People Earn: How Did You Do This Year?". Parade Magazine, p. 9.
  60. ^ a b Mazzei, Rebecca. "Paper View" (PDF). Metro Times. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  61. ^ "News is honored by sports editors". (February 28, 2003). The Detroit News, p. 1H.
  62. ^ a b "Freep's fentanyl report is tops". (April 18, 2008). Detroit Free Press, p. 3A.
  63. ^ Millikin, Eric. How apocalypse will affect sports fans (December 18, 2012). The Courier-Journal
  64. ^ Millikin, Eric. How apocalypse will affect sports fans (December 18, 2012). The Des Moines Register
  65. ^ Aftermath of 9/11 (September 10, 2011). The Tennessean "Artist Eric Millikin created this illustration from some of the most powerful photos of people reacting to the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath."
  66. ^ Wood, Mariko (March 2003). "Download: Good Comics and Baud Web Comics". The Comics Journal, No. 251, p. 38.
  67. ^ Out of Sequence:Underrepresented Voices in American Comics
  68. ^ Monsters of Webcomics Virtual Gallery Artists
  69. ^ Ford, Andrew Michael (Oct 17, 2009). "DAMNED II - featuring Marilyn Mason & HR Giger". Juxtapoz
  70. ^ "Uphold affordable health care". Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  71. ^ Millikin, Eric. "Please Ignore The "Drill, Baby, Drill" Brigade". Real Clear Energy. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  72. ^ "The Webcomic Hurricane Relief Telethon". Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  73. ^ "Labor Day 2002 Webcomic Telethon". Retrieved 2009-10-10. [dead link]
  74. ^ "Guest Strip Project benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation". Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  75. ^ Millikin, Eric. "Reading Works Poster Page". Reading Works. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  76. ^ "Winners named in Michigan APME newspaper contest". The Washington Times. 1 June 2014. 
  77. ^ "Free Press wins big with SPJ; Journalists sweep the year's top awards". (April 19, 2009). Detroit Free Press, p. 9A.
  78. ^ a b "Mayoral reporting: Free Press wins top honor". (April 1, 2009). Detroit Free Press, p. 5A.
  79. ^ "2014 Salute to Excellence Newspaper Finalists". National Association of Black Journalists. 
  80. ^ a b "The Best of Newspaper Design". (2009). p. 62.
  81. ^ "Free Press wins its 9th Pulitzer; Reporting led to downfall of mayor". (April 21, 2009). Detroit Free Press, p.1A.
  82. ^ "The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Local Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  83. ^ Phillips, Kyra. "Big Three Push For Bridge Loan". (Dec. 5, 2008). CNN Newsroom, 2:00 PM EST
  84. ^ Dingell, John D. "Dingell Statement on Auto Industry Loan Bill. (Dec. 10, 2008).
  85. ^ Detroit Free Press staff (Oct. 10, 2011) Purchase today's special Tigers, Lions front page
  86. ^ "Michigan State President Acts Presidential". (November 2000). Catalyst Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
  87. ^ "Stand-Up Comics". Hartford Advocate. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  88. ^ McKenzie, Charlie "Holiday monkey business". (December 8, 2005). Hour (Montreal, Quebec)
  89. ^ "A toast to Bubbles". (December 8, 2005). Los Angeles City Beat
  90. ^ Millikin, Eric (December 12, 2012). "The 12 Stars of Monkey Day". USA Weekend

External links[edit]