"It Is, I Hope, A Good Horror Story": Comic Series Stars Vengeful Fetus

Illustration for article titled "It Is, I Hope, A Good Horror Story": Comic Series Stars Vengeful Fetus

The words of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and New York magazine may seem unlikely authorities on abortion's moral dubiousness, but then, this is a writer explaining to Awl readers why his comic features an undead fetus. Gotta speak their language.

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After acknowledging the profound ambiguities in the abortion debate, Matthew Lickona gets into the substance of his self-published work. That would be pretty far outside of the realm of "safe, legal, and rare," where a fetus is both a monster and something, it is suggested, one should not destroy:

My comic series Alphonse...imagines a fetus whose personhood is so manifest that he has the faculties of a fully developed adult. A fetus who is consumed with rage after suffering betrayal at the most fundamental level, and who vows revenge on those who sought to take his life. Alphonse is literally a monster-"a fetus or an infant that is grotesquely abnormal and usually not viable"-one I hope bears some of the perversely prophetic character of the freaks who populate Flannery O'Connor's short stories. (Think of the Misfit in "A Good Man is Hard to Find," or the club-footed boy in "The Lame Shall Enter First.") He is my attempt at what O'Connor would call a "large and startling figure," whose grotesque character upsets the ordinary way of the world.

There is much that puzzles about his own explanation of his intentions, but I couldn't get past this:

My 12-year-old son was sitting on the living room couch, reading a magazine put out by a pro-life organization....

"Dad," he called to me, "Can you give me some pro-choice literature?"

"Yes, I can," I said. "Why do you ask?"

He held up the magazine. "I want them to read this. And it would be hypocritical of me to ask them to read it if I didn't read their stuff."

I was proud of him.

Who is "them"? Whose stuff is "theirs"? And most importantly, magazines and literature? Who's going to tell this twelve-year-old about Google?

Why I Did It: How I Came To Write A Comic Book About An Aborted Fetus [Awl]

DISCUSSION

mrsbeeton
Montauk Monster

Yeah, he acknowledges some ambiguities, but here's the part that sticks with me: "Why did Alphonse stay with me? Well, the easy answer is because of my parents’ patient and tireless efforts on behalf of the unborn. And while my own involvement does not really compare to theirs, I am still squarely in the camp that holds to the personhood of the fetus from the get-go."

No thanks brah. Though that kind of explains why your 12-year-old found some anti-abortion propaganda in the living room.