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J.T.C. Museum of Fine Art REVIEW WING-4
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"THE BIG DEAL" Review! (Art by Chick ©2001.) This is tract #5 in the new Bible series of 25, featuring the recurring character of "Bob". In fact, we also get to see Janet again. You remember Janet?-- The shrill wife who was converted in the It's Coming! tract. (She's been a quite and polite Christian woman ever since.) It turns out that she has a brother named Ronnie who is a dead ringer for Jack Nicholson. The story begins with her bailing him out of jail. (Notice the wanted posters in the background of page 2 featuring Frankenstein and Dracula.) Besides looking like Nicholson, Ronnie also acts like Nicholson. As Janet introduces him to Bob at a restaurant, she says, "I told him all about your sleazy deals, lies, and all the people you cheated." (Sounds more like an introduction given by an ex-wife, not a sister.) Bob uses the opportunity to sig-way into a sermon about another slime-ball, an ancient Jew named Jacob (son of Isaac). It's the same tale told in The Scoundrel tract by Chick in 1991. How Jacob screwed his brother out of his birthright and also deceived his father into giving him the blessing. Bob appeals to Ronnie's greed (and, presumably, the reader's) to tempt us into making a "big deal" with God. Bob says, "How would you like riches unspeakable... Own a mansion and become a ruler of nations?" I'm not sure if souls in heaven actually get to own the mansion they reside in. I always heard it was God's mansion and supporters only get to stay there. And why rule a nation if you're dead? Of course, these finer points are lost on Ronnie. He quickly converts. He falls on all fours next to the dinner table and repents (page 22). Bob remains seated but places his hand on Ron's back. It must look pretty suggestive to other patrons in the restaurant who can't see under the table! Ron emerges a changed man. His eyes are suddenly wide (instead of shifty), his shave is closer, and his wise-ass smirk is replaced with a gentle Sunday school smile.
Some especially interesting panels include an image of two men fighting. The caption reads, "That night God appeared as a man and Jacob knew who he was. They wrestled all night. [One says 'Let me go!' The other says, 'Not until you Bless me!'] He then blessed him, changing his name to Israel (prince with God). Jacob never forgot it." This is one of the more perplexing scenes in the Bible. How is it that God can beat Satan but can't win a wrestling match against Jacob? (Heaven forbid he got tossed in the ring with Jessy "The Body" or Sting.) Favorite Panel Award goes to page 14, where Jacob wakes up shocked to discover he's sleeping with the sister of his fiancee. (Don't you hate when that happens?) The expression on Jacob's face is priceless. A reader could have a lot of fun replacing the dialog in that panel with humorous captions... Grade B+ for Big Bad Brothers. Return to Main Page.
"THE BULL" Review! (Art by Chick ©1986.) This is one of those conversion stories that is so outlandish, it's especially entertaining. The story is about a bad-ass prisoner named "The Bull," and how he turns a hellish prison into a heavenly one after finding Christ. Sure, anything is possible, but there comes a point when credibility and probability split company. In this story, they run opposite directions screaming! That division occurs soon after The Bull finds a copy of Somebody Loves Me while rotting in solitary confinement. He instantly converts and demands a Chaplain with a Bible. Did I say instantly? According to the narration, it took 2 hours of reading the tract to finish it, even though he started crying the moment he saw it. (See top of page 11.) Granted, public schools are not known for the speed in which their graduates read, but 21 two-panel pages of cartoons shouldn't take more than 5 minutes max. Especially Somebody Loves Me, which contains a total of EIGHT different words of dialog (excluding the title and obligatory hic-up balloons of the drunkard father). So lets see, 2 hours divided by 8 words... that's 15 minutes per word. The teacher's unions should be proud. Anyway, The Bull calls a meeting of the prisoners once he's out of solitary. He delivers quite a speech. "I'm madder than I've ever been in my life! I hate sin and I won't put up with it any more! As of right now, all the killing stops! There will be no more raping, because I just found out that God hates sodomy!" A black guy in the audience looks especially shocked and exclaims, "What?" while a Mexican prisoner thinks, "Gasp!" The two probably had a date and some really big plans (although the Bull didn't really forbid sodomizing, he just said no more raping. But enough of the Jail House Lawyer.) The next panel says "Six Months Later", and The Bull still has the prisoners gathered in the meeting hall, only now he's reading them scripture. We can only hope he let them leave the room sometime in the last half year, at least for bathroom breaks. Then again, he does sound a lot like a Amway representative determined to make the sell. Check out his smooth closing technique: "Now, shut up or I'll break your legs. Listen good... [insert Bible passages here.]" It must have worked wonders because the warden soon wins the coveted "Warden of the Year" award. (Oooh! Ahhhh!)
There are several interesting details in this tract. First, it clearly features Robert Redford as the warden, fresh from his 1980s role as Brubaker. (Except here, they call him Blue Baker. Subtle, huh?) The other unusual thing is that Chick seems to know how ridiculous this plot is, and actually calls attention to the fact with his closing line: "If you find yourself laughing at this story, think about this: Where will you spend eternity? In heaven? Or in the lake of fire?" (Sometimes you get the feeling Chick doesn't want anyone enjoying his cartoons for more than a few seconds without dreading the Lake of Fire.) Although this story won't win any points for realism, it is a fun tract never the less. Give it a Grade: B for Brubaker. Return to Main Page.
"THE GREAT ONE" Review! (Art by Chick ©1999.) At last! A tract with artwork worse than A Love Story. This is probably the worst art of any Chick tract ever. So bad, it deserves a Worst Panel Award for the very first panel! It features a bird's eye view of a city that looks like my 5 year old nephew drew it. (No offense to my nephew.) Even the clouds are bad. We're talking simple lines with lots of blank white backgrounds. If I were cynical, I would theorize that this tract was drawn during Chick's recovery from a stroke. But the copyright date doesn't support that theory. When Chick dies and is recognized centuries later as a genius, scholars will probably speculate that the super basic style of this tract is actually a brilliant artistic statement. The masterpiece visually depicts the simplicity of grace in an abstract manner. While the subject matter deals with a great intellectual who thinks he is too smart to believe in God, his simple minded daughter is smarter than he because she has faith in Jesus. All the Great One's complicated learning and sophisticated thought distract him from the basic truth that Jesus died for his sins. Maybe the artsy fartsy experts would be correct. But to paraphrase a famous judge's view on pornography, "I can't define what bad art is, but I know it when I see it." And this is bad art. The story, however, is compelling-- probably more for adults than kids. Especially pages 11-16. The daughter asks her father if he knows where he will go when he dies. He puffs up and declares he's too educated to believe in God. She gets on her knees and begs him to trust in Jesus. He says that religion is only for the weak. She pleads, "I love you Daddy. Please don't think your smarter than God." Chick tracts often have aggressive witnesses pressuring the unsaved to convert out of fear of the lake of fire. Mocking such fanatics is great sport for many. But who could laugh off their own daughter's pleas when her only motive is wanting to be with her parent for all eternity? (The phase soon passes once they reach their teens and can't wait to get away from either parent.) Just when you think Chick has changed his trademark fear formula into a more politically correct "save yourself for the children" angle, you flip the page and he's back to tossing sinners into the lake of fire. Oddly enough, this is one of the few times the sinner is still wearing his clothes! Imagine a fate worse than suffering hell in long black pants and a thick tweed jacket. That's gotta be extra uncomfortable. So despite the bottom of the barrel artwork, this tract earns some redemption. (Which is more than the main character gets.) Grade: C for Cooked to the Core. Return to Tract Index.
"THE NERVOUS WITCH" Review! (Art by Chick ©2002.) Tract #12 in the Bible series of 25 featuring "Bob". This tract does for Harry Potter what Dark Dungeons did for D&D. It identifies the Potter phenomenon as a tool of Satan and urges burning all the merchandise. This creates an interesting dilemma for Harry Potter fans: They need the tract to complete their collections, but by reading it, they might be convinced to destroy everything else. It's a risk, but well worth it. Nobody--especially Harry Potter freaks--should be without this tract.
It begins in a car with Maggie blabbing on her cell phone when she should be concentrating on driving. She's alerting her teenage daughter that she's bringing Bible Bob Williams home. Samantha is bummed when she hears the news. She complains to Holly (a fellow witch), "He makes me nervous because he reminds me of Jesus." Holly smirks and exclaims, "He's an enemy! I'll take him down with a powerful love spell!" A ghost demon behind her smiles in approval, but Samantha rejects the idea. "Don't even try," she warns, "You have no idea what we're up against." The two retire to Holly's room to conjure some spirits to help them deal with Bob. Witch icons adorn the walls, including a poster of Harry Potter. Holly is confident and brags, "Witches rule! God is dead and the churches are powerless. Old 'Bible Boy' won't stand a chance against our black arts!" But an hour later, she's whistling a different tune: "Something really powerful is blocking my spell." The doorbell rings and they scurry to blow out candles and unroll the rug over the pentagram on the floor.
Mom introduces Bob to the witches and announces she's just become saved. Samantha freaks and Holly nearly vomits. Mom exits to make a phone call, leaving Bob alone with the girls. He dares them to listen to a Bible story, and since teenagers always accept a dare, they listen. He tells how Moses punished witchcraft with death. Then he tells how King Saul was made the first king of Israel. God would only speak with Saul's prophet, a man called Samuel. Saul panicked when Samuel died on the eve of a battle with the Philistines. He went to a witch to conjure up Samuel so he could find out who would win the battle. Some neat seance panels feature demons and the ghost of Samuel returning to confront Saul. The ghost tells Saul both the king and his sons will become dead meat during the battle. Brave King Saul faints. Bob attempts to bring the story home with a happy ending: "The next day, Saul died in combat. Later the witch died and went to hell."
The two girls are unimpressed. Holly hollers, "I hate your @!!!**! Gospel!" Bob responds, "That's your spirit guide talking. Let me cast him out!" Holly turns into an ugly, grotesque version of her former self. "Never!" She snarls, "I'd die without him! I curse you Bob Williams. May you suffer a horrible death!" Bob takes it all in stride. "Careful Holly. Take back your curse. It can't hurt me but it'll come back on you with a vengeance." Holly and her demon leave in a huff. Bob then turns around and orders the demons to leave Samantha. A goblin flies out and Samantha feels stunned. "What happened Uncle Bob?" She wonders, "Everything has changed. I feel different." She falls to the floor and recites the sinners prayer. She later reveals to Bob that Harry Potter books lead her to witchcraft. "We wanted his powers, so we called for spirit guides. They came into us." She admits, "They led us into stuff we found in the Harry Potter books--tarot cards, Ouija boards, crystal balls." Bob credits the Potter books with leading millions of kids to hell. Samantha asks if Bob thinks she should destroy all the occult junk in her room. Three guesses what he decides...
One bonfire later, the two watch demons flee in a dark plum of smoke. Samantha points at one and says, "The spirits are leaving. Do we really have power over them?" Bob reassures her, "As long as we walk with Jesus." Bob warns his niece that she needs to read her King James Bible every day, because all the other versions have been perverted by Satan. She agrees and they live happily ever after.
Rebecca Brown may have left Chick Publications, but her spiritual guidance lives on in this tract. There's more witches and spiritual warfare references than you can shake a wand at. Don't be surprised if fundamentalists start planting this title in Harry Potter video rentals. They make good book markers, too. The have better pictures than anything in the novels. There are so many cool images in this tract, it's hard to select a Favorite Panel Award. But action, dialog and imagery all reach a wonderful climax on page 18 when Bob rebukes Samantha's spirit guide and casts it out of her. The demon, by the way, looks just like the banker Goblin from the movie. Grade A for Alchemy. Return to Tracts index.
"THE ONLY HOPE" Guest Review by Alan! (Art by Carter ©1985.) This is a primer in eschatology, promising that God destroyed the earth once with water, and next time it will be with fire! (Maybe God did such a great job creating the earth that He needs to destroy it twice.)
The tract opens with a group of men during the time of Noah engaged in horrific conversation: "I love drugs. Do you?" "No, incest and murder are my thing." "Let's kill someone just for fun..." "Can I torture them?" A guy yells at two men who are fondling each other, "Take your hands off him. @!!!**! He's my wife!" Another fellow leans back, drink in hand, and unleashes Chick's trademark "HAW HAW" at the proceedings. All this on just the FIRST panel!
The tract states, "It had never rained on earth, but in faith, Noah built the ark." Exactly one panel after the flood begins, somebody asks what's happening. He's told, "It's raining... lets go to the mountains for safety." Boy, people were sure smart in those days. That fellow knew exactly what rain was and advised people to head for high ground. (But then, these ancient people also used "drugs," so maybe their minds were expanded.)
Most of the tract is King James Bible verses that crowd out Carter's excellent line art to almost postage-stamp size. But as a bonus: the narrator reveals himself for the first time! He's a white man with thinning hair, high cheekbones, and a small moustache. He's describing the Rapture with a cold, detached expression common amongst cancer doctors. Two panels later, he's sitting in his leather swivel and looks straight at us, saying "The next question usually asked is: when is all this going to happen?" Has Chick finally made his appearance??? I was told that this is not him, but it does resemble the portrait of a young Chick addressing a group of convicts included in an early issue of Battle Cry!
The unnamed narrator makes a third appearance, leading up to the accusation that the pope is the Antichrist who will unite all denominations together. The wrath of God is fully illustrated over the next few pages, although some scenes look like they were lifted from other Chick works, including The Killer Storm tract and The Ark comic book. The faceless God is shown three times on His throne. The last panel concludes stating "Moral conditions today are the same as they were at the time of Noah." I love drugs, don't you?
Grade B only for the artwork and rare appearance of the narrator. Return to tract index.
"THE POOR LITTLE WITCH" Review! (Art by Chick ©1987.) A delightful tale of witchcraft, conspiracy and teen angst. It begins with the trials and tribulations of Mandy, a teenager who would "give anything to be like the other girls." Unfortunately, she can't play volleyball worth a damn and her teammates despise her. Her tacky wardrobe doesn't help matters much either, especially her hideous hair bow, which resembles a dead fish (see page 4.) Mrs. White, her teacher, sees the vulnerable Mandy as easy-pickens. She invites her for a "sleep over." Mandy's divorced mother doesn't seem to have a problem letting her daughter spend the night with strangers. As Mandy approaches the party pad, Mrs. White urges the other young vixens, "We have a new girl. Mandy. Go easy on her. She doesn't know!" (Know what You ask? Patience dear reader. In the meantime, you have to admit, Chick knows how to set the hook and reel in the audience.)
Mandy arrives and the older girls are already in bath robes and night gowns. One has her leg draped suggestively over a chair and her other leg spread open toward Mandy. She smirks and asks, "Hey Mandy, do you want to learn some really neat things?" Mandy foolishly agrees. Do they rape her? Naw, that's another tract (see Lisa). Instead, they use their broom handles for an equally evil purpose: Witchcraft! They show her a trick or two and she eagerly joins up. Now pause and ask yourself what you would do if you were magic? Whatever it is, it's too clever for Mandy. Obtaining money and power don't even occur to her. She uses her magic to make the other girls drop the Volleyball during practice. (Pretty ambitious, huh?) Unfortunately, even this mild request unleashes demons. Mandy soon discovers she got more than she bargained for. She attends a black mass where witches murder a baby and force everyone to drink the blood. A footnote warns us that police estimate between 40,000 and 60,000 ritual homicides per year occur in the U.S. (and the cops should know. According to Broken Cross and Spellbound, they're in on it!) Mandy resists at first, but then agrees to an itsy-bitsy taste. (Teenagers love to experiment.) During the drive home, Mrs. White warns Mandy not to even THINK about going to the police, because their high priest IS the Chief of Police! Mandy wants out, but where can she run? The witches have infiltrated the Church and bought off the minister with large cash "love offerings." Rev. Chuckwyn gives a special sermon attacking witchcraft as Mrs. White gloats from within the choir. Mandy takes the message personally and feels completely isolated.
In desperation, she visits Mrs. Grayson, a true Christian that Mrs. White warned her to avoid. Mrs. Grayson turns out to have all the answers and knows how to send the demons away screaming. Mandy becomes saved and "feels clean," but she's still clueless when it comes to common sense. Her new Christian friends warn her that the Satanists will try to kill her, but she insists she'll be alright. She walks home alone under the full moon and gets abducted and murdered by the Satanists. (Where's Romans 8:31 when you need it?) Not to worry though, she stands firm in Jesus and goes straight to heaven. (So it's really a happy ending.) To make things even more exciting, Rev. Chuckwyn just happens to die the exact same night and gets tossed in the lake of fire. (So it's really a win-win situation, since Jesus and Satan both win a soul.)
Another footnote tells us to learn more about the occult by buying Dr. Rebecca Brown books (published by Chick). Mrs. Grayson is probably modeled after Rebecca Brown, demon fighter extraordinaire. The role of Mandy reflects the personal experiences of Elaine Moses, Brown's ex-witch turned Christian colleague. Even though Elaine claims Satanists kill ex-witches all the time, this dramatic ending was apparently too much of a downer for most readers. The last version of this tract (the rare code "G" variation) has the Christians assure Mandy she needn't worry about Satan any more, since God will protect her. Then it quotes scripture to prove it. ("No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.") It creates a rather uncomfortable paradox. Either the first tracts were wrong, and evil things can happen to good Christians, or the last version of the tract is whistling in the graveyard. Only the faceless one upstairs knows for sure, and he's certainly entitled to change the rules of the game whenever he sees fit. But my advice is to play it safe: If you happen to be a young woman who witnesses a child murder and then decides to leave The Craft, don't tempt fate by walking home alone under a full moon. (The next cup of blood your ex-friends drink could be yours!) Grade: A- as in Type: A Negative. Return to Main Page.
"THE PROMISE" Review! (Art by Chick ©2001.) This is tract #4 in the new Bible series, featuring the recurring character of Bob. This time, he's visiting Israel and gets to watch a bus full of people explode. Let's cut straight to the chase and say up front that the Favorite Panel Award goes to the very first page. It features your stereotypical Arab villain with explosives strapped all over his body. As he squeezes the detonator, he proudly proclaims, "Death to all Jews! This is for Allah and his prophet Muhammad!" Someone screams "NO!" in the background, but to no avail. The bus explodes and everyone runs late. (Late, as in, the "late" such and such.) If you thought Bob looks creepy with his pale albino eyes, you'll love this Arab. How any bus driver would be stupid enough to let a maniac with wild crazy eyes climb aboard is beyond comprehension. Did you know Arab bombers have blue eyes? This one sure does. They "blew" everywhere once the bomb went off. Not much of the bus is left afterwards, either. As the crowd gathers around and looks for free tokens, you would expect some sort of "Oh, the HUMANITY!" speech. Not so. Bob uses the opportunity to preach his latest sermon on God's Chosen People. He tells two tourists that the entire Arab/ Jewish conflict was caused by Abraham fathering Ishmael and Isaac. Of course, he completely ignores the current conflict, which has more to do with the United Nations giving Palestine to Jews who haven't lived there for thousands years. American's would probably be a little peeved too, if the U.N. tried to return Texas to Mexico. But for some reason, Bob thinks Arabs are more angry about a 4,000 year old Biblical injustice to Ishmael, rather than losing their country to the Jews 50 years back. (Maybe in another 3,950 years, they'll get around to resenting what happened in 1948.)
The funniest part of this tract is how it tries to justify what Abraham did to his first born. The story (for those unenlightened heathens in the audience) goes like this: Abraham and Sarah were two elderly Jews wanting children. 90 year old Sarah tells Abraham he should use their Egyptian servant as a sex slave and father a child through her. (Funny how the Jews can own Egyptian slaves, but when the Egyptians enslave Jews, it's suddenly the crime of the century!) The servant has a child but then the unexpected happens: 90 year old Sarah gives birth to Isaac! Sarah gets jealous when the Arab step brother teases her son, so she pressures Abraham to send the servant and his first born into the desert to die. The tract doesn't mention mother and child would have died had not an angel appeared to save them. Instead it states, "Ishmael and his mother were angry and humiliated. They were cut off from God's Chosen people." Okay, so let's pretend you've been sent off to die in the desert with your baby... Are you going to be more upset over losing your sex slave job and the company of God's Chosen people? Or would you be more disturbed about watching your child being eaten by vultures while they wait for you to die? (It's only a rhetorical question.)
After reciting Biblical history, Bob gets to the REAL message of the tract: God's promise that "If you refuse God's love gift and reject Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, you will be cast into the lake of fire." The two tourists do the math and decide heaven is definitely better than hell. They fall to the pavement and accept Jesus. (Lucky for them, the Jews in Israel are more considerate drivers than the ones in New York. No one runs them over for blocking traffic.) Well worth the 14 cent price of admission. Grade: B for BOMB! Return to Tracts Page.
"THE SCAM" The Review! (Art by Chick ©2002.) Tract #9 in the Bible series of 25 starring Bob. The tale of Joshua getting tricked by the Gibeonites is told in this tract. It starts with a guy named Frank getting conned by an elderly couple. He gives them $500 cash for their car but then loans it to them and they drive off with it. After overhearing Frank whine to police that he's broke, Bob offers him a free meal. (You would think after being recently conned, Frank would have learned there is no such thing as a free lunch.) Sure enough, Bob starts preaching faster than you can say, "Check please." He tells the Old Testament story of how a Jewish soldier stole some precious metals and clothing from Jericho after the Israelite army invaded it and murdered everyone. God didn't appreciate the soldier's recycling efforts and made the Israelites lose the next attack until they found the thief and killed him. This story is actually Bob's warm up act. The real sermon is about how Joshua was tricked into a treaty with a future target of Israel. The Gibeonites dress poor and approach Joshua claiming to have come from far away. They flatter him and ask for a treaty. He grants it. Later, he realizes they were next on his conquest list but feels obligated to honor the treaty. (It's hard to believe he ruled over 3 million Jews at the time, and there wasn't a single good lawyer who could have wormed out of that treaty.) Bob says that Satan was behind the Gibeonites scheme to stay alive, just as he was behind the thieves who stole Frank's money. (He fails to mention that Frank's greedy desire to buy a car for pennies on the dollar was also a factor in the scam.)
For dessert, Bob offers the Satan sandwich. That's where Bob lifts the outer crust and reveals what the meat of the matter really is. As always, it's Satan. Those who fail to give their life to Jesus will suffer heartburn for all eternity...along with every other burn imaginable. The Satan sandwich is Bob's specialty, but he wraps it in different bread and passes it off as something new in each tract. The listener thinks they are hearing a tale about some ancient folks when it is actually a story about the listener and how they can avoid damnation. This ploy has worked nine times straight and will probably work another 16 times before Bob is through. Frank assumes the praying position and starts the sinners prayer. As if to show approval from above, the cops return in 15 minutes to announce that they've caught the crooks and retrieved the stolen money. Crime may not pay, but reciting that sinners prayer sure does!
Favorite Panel Award goes to page 10, where the thief is getting stoned to death. (If that's what he gets for confessing, one wonders what the punishment would have been for lying.) At least it doesn't appear too painful. It looks like he's the cook getting pelted with a barrage of burnt biscuits! Grade B+ for Butter those Biscuits! Return to Main Index.
"THE SLUGGER" Guest Review by T.Alford! (Art by Chick ©1998.) We see Frank Stone (who resembles Tom Selleck from Mr. Baseball on the cover) winning the World Series in a predictable grand-slam-with-two-outs-in-the-bottom-of-the-ninth-of-game-seven! "But wait! Something's wrong with The Slugger!" Don't panic. It's nothing that a new $ 150 million contract won't cover, and a $ 50 million shoe deal to boot!
In all the excitement, The Slugger doesn't realize how blessed he is to have a "real friend" like his gardener, Oscar Smiley. Oscar is the only one who has the guts to tell him that he is a sinner on the way to hell! (This hits really hard for me because I was 23 before a "real friend" told me how to avoid hell; I had already attempted suicide twice.) When Oscar tries to explain salvation to The Slugger, Frank gets angry and doesn't want to hear about it until... A grim-faced doctor bluntly tells Frank that he has terminal cancer and only a few weeks to live. This results in a conversation that could have been lifted from an ABC After-School Special:
"Oscar, I know you'll tell me the truth. Am I going to hell?" "Yes...but you don't have to." And then, by the grace of God, Frank Stone's name is written in the Book of Life! "I'm not afraid to die anymore!"
Some powerful scriptures from First Timothy are in the margins... Also, Oscar sings that grand old hymn, "There's Room At The Cross For You." (Remember the same song in Holy Joe?)
Other than the identical note written by Frank's soccer-playing twin in The Superstar, I believe this is the only Chick tract which has a letter from the grave of the deceased! (In The Letter tract, it's only a dream.) A lawyer arrives to read Frank's will to his greedy, drooling heirs. (One of them looks like the drummer from the Gorillaz!) Unfortunately for them, The Slugger has left it all to Oscar..."because he's the only one who will use it wisely." I guess he'll splurge on an electric hedge clipper or something.
If you think the story of The Slugger is a little bit farfetched, you might prefer the American Tract Society's true story of "Mickey Mantle: His Final Inning" (www.gospelcom.net/ats). Both are excellent reminders of the grace of God.
Favorite Panel Award goes to page 19, where an assortment of blood sucking relatives eagerly await to hear the reading of the will. Grade: A for "Astronomical $alaries Still Can't Go With You!" Return to Main Index.
"THE SUPERSTAR" Review! (Art by Chick ©1999.) This is the same story as The Slugger (see above), but the main character is shown playing Soccer instead of Baseball. Only two of the inside panels are changed. Chick realized that South America and Europe identify with Soccer much more than America's favorite pastime. Fundamentalists often pass these sports related tracts out to people as they leave the stadium. They see the cover and assume it has something to do with the game. It's a clever bit of marketing.
"TITANIC" The Review! (Art by Carter ©1983.) You can tell Fred carefully researched the period piece costumes, uniforms, and machinery of the era because the details really go overboard (pardon the pun). This is one topic where everyone knows the tragic ending long before reaching it, so each reader is watching the characters go about their meaningless lives while waiting for the iceberg to hit. The impending doom adds tension throughout the story. This tract revolves around the selfish efforts of upwardly mobile Chester. He takes his wife on the Titanic's maiden voyage so he can network with well-healed Aristocrats. His biggest frustration is finding notes in his baggage from Aunt Sophie urging him to repent to Jesus so his name will be in the Book of Life. These subtle witnessing tactics drive Chester bonkers. He rips up the notes and screams, "THAT OLD HEN! *!%$ She never leaves me alone! I hate her and her Jesus! I wish she were DEAD-DEAD-DEAD!" (Sophie should have used Chick tracts. Depending on the title, she probably could have reduced her curse to just one "DEAD!") Chester's wife tells him to calm down, that it's just "her way of caring about you." Chester responds, "Maybe so, but I NEVER want to see her again!" (A wish God grants.)
Chester woos a rich patron into inviting him to dinner in order to meet an influential business contact and help him "break the ice." (Haw-haw-haw!) While Chester is working his way up the social ladder, the ship's crew is worried about reported icebergs. Meanwhile, the dinner meeting goes well and Chester goes to bed thinking, "In a few months, I'll be rolling in money." (Actually, Chester, you'll be rolling in the surf.) Up top side, a crew member notices that the white mountain approaching their bow is an iceberg. The First Mate orders, "Hard to port! Full speed ahead!" Perhaps he thinks by increasing the speed, he'll also increase the friction and help melt the ice if they scrape against it. BUZZZZ! (Wrong answer.) The hull is ripped "like a tin of nuts" and the captain orders transmission of the C.Q.D. The observant radio operator replies, "C.Q.D., sir? That's full distress!" How the captain resists shouting "DUH!" is unknown.
The passengers are awakened and ordered to the deck. Life jackets are passed out but life boats are in short supply. The captain orders that only the women and children be allowed to evacuate. That would probably not happen today. All the feminists would demand equal treatment and give up half the seats to the men. (Yeah, right.) Back then, however, the Gloria Steinem types obediently comply with the patriarchal orders and are lowered away to safety. Chester starts to get a little concerned. He asks his rich friend if it's serious. The response is classic British understatement. "Yes, Chester. I'm afraid we'll be eating sand for breakfast." Chester shouts heavenward how pissed he is while the band plays Nearer My God To Thee. "You can't do this to me. It's not fair! Just when I had it made! I hate You for this, God!" (Helpful hint to atheists out there: If you don't believe in God, cursing him as your ship sinks won't help your situation.)
Sure enough, Chester drowns in the icy waters but gets a very warm reception when he goes before God. The Faceless One shouts, "OPEN THE BOOK OF LIFE!" (Why does God need a Book of Life anyway? Doesn't he have a perfect memory and already know who's in it? He must like watching the accused squirm while the angel flips pages searching for the name.) Big surprise, Chester's name does not appear in The Book. He's sent to dry out in the everlasting fire. (Aunt Sophie gets to say she told him so.) Favorite Panel Award goes to the angry image of Chester ripping up his Aunt's note (page 5). He's so furious that his eyes bulge, his head shakes and sweat pours down his face. In fact, his teeth grind so hard that they appear to melt into one solid calcium plate with no space between any teeth whatsoever. (At least he saves on flossing.) Grade: A- for Abandon Ship! Return to Main Index.
"THE TRIAL" Review! (Art by Chick ©1996.) This tract follows the uproar that occurs when little Anna tells her friend Debbie that Jesus loves her. The mother of Debbie runs to the ACLQ and demands a law suit. (Perhaps Chick was afraid he would also get sued if he used the real name of the ACLU.) A short lawyer with a big nose and diamond earring is happy to file the $10 million dollar case. (He looks a lot like a bald version of Boris from Bullwinkle.) A liberal journalist stokes the flames of controversy with vitriolic hyperbole. She corners little Anna and yells, "You have been charged with a major hate crime! Your hateful words have inflamed the ENTIRE community." When Anna says she only repeated God's words, the glaring blond reporter responds, "Humph! How DARE you speak for God?"
In court, the lawyer presents exhibit A: "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'" The courtroom explodes in anguish. A villainous gang from Central Casting steps forward to testify against Anna. The jewel incrusted Catholic Bishop Danny O'Tool leads the assault. "There is NO salvation outside the Church of Rome," he declares. Then a rabid Islamic cleric claims, "ISLAM IS OUTRAGED! That statement destroys our religion." Rabbi Ginsburg (complete with Orthodox hat, thick beard and ridiculous looking locks of hair) makes similar complaints. An ivory tower academic with an obvious toupee blathers on about how his Biblical research confirms there are many ways to heaven. "This little FANATIC is guilty of insulting all of us!" he snaps. The lynch mob appears heading for success, until the ACLQ calls "the victim" (little Debbie) to the stand. She surprises everyone by announcing that she's been saved. A $10 million dollar bag of loot materializes above her shocked mother and flies away.
But the real fun occurs "many years later (when) the mother and four accusers have passed into eternity. All five rise from their graves. Oooops! They thought the trial was over... but it wasn't!" The culturally diverse crowd stands before the white thrown of judgment and it turns out heaven doesn't operate under affirmative action quotas. The gang gets a stern lecture from the Faceless God before having Matthew 25:41 shouted at them and being tossed into hell (the ultimate melting pot). Favorite Panel Award goes to page 21 which shows Chick's various targets lined up against the wall and ready of rapid-fire lampooning. In the top left, there's Janet Reno, and below her, the Jewish-looking lawyer. A satanic rock & roll punk stands next to the liberal media reporter. The Islamic cleric, the Catholic Bishop, and the Orthodox Jew unite against the Gospel. A bespectacled academic stooge defiantly stands in the front row wearing his silly bow tie. A flaming queer leans in from the side. (It's too bad there wasn't enough room for a witch, mason and Mormon. The reunion could have been complete.) It's tracts like these that make you realize how persecuted many Christians in America feel. (And to be fair, all the frivolous law suits against the mere mention of God in school is ripe for satire.) Chick must have enjoyed doing this tract. If nothing else, it provided the fantasy of evening up the score with his detractors. Grade: B for Bailiff. Return to Main Index.
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