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J.T.C. Museum of Fine Art REVIEW WING-5
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"ARE ROMAN CATHOLICS CHRISTIANS?" Guest review by Rev. Richard Lee! (Art by Chick ©1981, 1985.) This is a inflammatory tract on Roman Catholicism that focuses only upon the doctrinal differences between fundamentalist Protestant Christianity and Catholicism. Interestingly, there are no wild-eyed conspiracy theories with cigar-smoking priests in this tract. Initially this tract was a promotional booklet for Chick Publications customers, and not intended to be a general release tract to be distributed to Catholics.
The first promo version was printed in 1981. It has a black and white illustration of the Virgin Mary on the cover. The 1985 general release version has a red cover with rosary on it.
The tract begins with the question "Is there a slight chance that the Roman Catholic 'Church' is really not Christian? Think of the horrifying consequences! If it is not...then today, almost a billion people have been deceived. If it is not...then the ecumenical movement is not of God. If it is not... then the Roman Catholic charismatic movement is not of God. If it is not...then Roman Catholics are heading for a spiritual disaster."
One striking thing here is that Chick is careful to point out that only the Roman Catholic charismatic movement would not be from God, rather than condemn the entire charismatic movement (including Pentecostalism and its practices). Many charismatics (those who believe in speaking in tongues, miracles, and physical healings) are ardent Chick supporters, including myself!
The tract traces the life of Helen, a devout Roman Catholic from her infant baptism to her death. Due to the wordy nature of this tract, there are few drawings and more explanations of Roman Catholic doctrine.
Each page gives some explanation of the Roman Catholic views of each of the Seven Sacraments. After Helen is baptized, we are told that she is a citizen of two countries: Her country of birth and the Vatican. Of course, the same criticism could be applied to American Jews (who become automatic citizens of Israel) but that's noticeably absent in Love The Jewish People.
One of the more interesting variations between both versions of this tract is over the origin of priests, nuns, monks, and popes. The earlier promotional tract is less tactful and very sarcastic in the use of words: "Did you ever wonder about the priests who look so holy? Where did they come from? The term 'priest' was stolen from the Jewish religion..." The later version intended for Catholic viewing reads: ""Did you ever wonder where the priests come from? The term, 'priest,' was taken from the Jewish religion..." The later version is obviously softer and less confrontive on the doctrinal difficulties of Catholicism. "Stolen" vs. "taken" for instance-- is Jack going soft?
The earlier promo version continues with a scathing critique of the origin of nuns, monks, and popes: "The Bible NEVER mentions nuns, monks, or popes...it was all cooked up by the Roman Catholic Institution to razzle-dazzle their followers....only their leaders really understand the religious double talk and psychology used to control their 700,000,000 members." Compare the later version, wherein "cooked up," "razzle-dazzle," and "double talk" have been removed. This blurb is hardly a convincing logical explanation for how the functions of priests, monks, nuns, or popes developed.
On the origin of the Roman Catholic version of the Eucharist, Chick doesn't get any better than this tract. Even The Death Cookie doesn't come close. Case in point is when Helen is about to take communion (the Lord's Supper or Eucharist). Earlier version says, "Helen is about to take Holy Communion. Now doesn't THAT sound Christian? But first, let's rip away Rome's false mask and show what's really behind THEIR communion." This distancing between Catholics and Protestants with the use of "THEIR" is anti-ecumenism at its best. It continues, "Let's watch Helen take her first Holy Communion. See if it's TRULY Christian, ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE." (All capital letters and bold print are in the promo version). The wide distribution version omits the bold and capitalized lettering, to lesson the appearance of shouting. The "rip away Rome's false mask" remark is missing as well. As the tract continues, it concludes "IS THIS SYSTEM CHRISTIAN? NO WAY!" (Promo version). The later version's kinder, gentler approach renders the blurb "Doesn't this information upset you? It should, beloved!" The illustration depicts Helen as a child taking her first communion with the communion paten (a plate to insure the consecrated wafer doesn't drop on the floor) under her chin. The blurb in both versions reads "Note: If God should drop by accident, the communion paten will catch Him." The promo version has a variant here that is greater in its sarcasm. The earlier promo variant reads, "If God should drop by accident, the paddle will catch Him." Interestingly enough, many a theological problem was raised in the Middle Ages when rats would snatch consecrated wafers that fell to the floor and devour them!
As for poor Helen, she is "completely brainwashed." The promo version states "THERE IS NO WAY HELEN COULD BE CALLED A CHRISTIAN-----NOT ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE." This tract even has a variant in the wide release version meant for Catholic reading. This variant states,"Is Helen a Christian? She certainly thinks so!" The later version removes this statement.
Chick further drives home the point that he doesn't consider Catholicism to be a Biblical system in both versions. In the promo version he boldly states,"According to the Bible, there is NO WAY the Roman Catholic Institution was ever a Christian Church. THEY JUST BRAINWASHED US INTO BELIEVING IT WAS." Soapbox, anyone?
Although this tract has very questionable historical data from controversial sources (like Hislop's The Two Babylons), this tract is pretty reliable on basic Roman Catholic practices on the Seven Sacraments. It is very accurate, although most Catholics would dispute the tracts more sarcastic remarks and the Chick charge that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is "magical" and originates with Satan. "Ahh, but Satan had other plans....Satan wants to show Jesus as a continuously "dying" Savior, or a dead Christ," we are told. This conclusion would certainly be denied by Catholics, but really, the conclusion logically follows from the premises that Chick establishes. Whether or not it is true is another issue.
When quoting the Council of Trent's anathema for Protestants, this should still shock modern Protestants because the Vatican hasn't renounced the famous Council of Trent's condemnatory pronouncements. Indeed, Chick is right in saying that an inquisition could happen again because history has an uncanny way of repeating itself. Furthermore, Chick is very accurate again in citing to the Catholic position that if one has assurance of eternal salvation, they are "anathema," or cursed for committing the sin of presumption. No matter if one dismisses Chick's sensational conspiracy theories surrounding the Vatican, this isn't a misstatement of Catholic theology at all. Unfortunately, the later version leaves out all of the hard-hitting comments on various popes' claims to being in the place of God. The promo version drives the point that many today think of the Pope as God. In rebuttal to this, the original promo stated "Helen doesn't realize that the Pope is only a man dressed up in a religious costume." This remark isn't sarcastic; in fact, it's true to an unbiased observer and the force of Chick's point is totally lost in the later version.
This tract doesn't contain an entertaining story, and it's short on illustrations. However, it is a summary of basic Roman Catholic theology filtered through a fundamentalist Protestant perspective, albeit insensitive. If one wanted a pop level study of Catholic theology from a fundamentalist vantage point, this would be the tract to read. The story of how Helen is deceived by religious ritual and tradition has emotional impact that can shake up even devout Catholics. However, the burden of proof on the information in this tract lies with the Catholics who affirm Catholic theology on the sacraments, not with Chick in challenging the sacramental theology. This is simply laymen's version of Catholic theology for fundamentalist Christians, and it doesn't disappoint with its BOLD AND CAPITALIZED SHOUTING CAPTIONS! It's especially accurate in depicting Catholic sacraments as observed around the world. Chick even went to the trouble of printing a kinder, gentler version to lesson the offense that most Catholics would feel when their religion was challenged. As an editorial aside, the Roman Catholic church in centuries past challenged entire cultures as well as their religions to the point of death if they wouldn't convert to Catholicism. A little comic tract that challenges those same Roman Catholic beliefs seems the the least they could tolerate "in penance" for their past transgressions. When Catholics or their leaders call this tract "hateful", what does that say about their history?
Although we are spared from seeing poor Helen tossed into the Lake of Fire, we do get treated to an artist's rendition of Purgatory (we assume). Best panel award goes to the page 19, a portrait of Purgatory with the caption "Based on II Maccabees 12:43-46 (found in Catholic and other perverted Bible translations)." Heck, even the parentheses are inflammatory!
Interesting aside: When I gave a copy of the promo version of this tract to a devout Roman Catholic, she wrote on the inside "Bulls**t." Chick tracts DO get read! Grade "A" for "Absolution." Return to Tract Index.
"THE CRISIS" Guest review by Rev. Rich Lee! (Art by Chick ©1985.) This is the only tract for Jehovah's Witnesses that Chick Publications has published to date. It was based on information provided by Paul Blizard, an ex-Jehovah's Witness who also gave an interview to Battle Cry in conjunction with the release of this tract. Blizard, now an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has assisted with an anti-Jehovah's Witness video from Jeremiah Films. He later did an independent article which claimed to discredit Dr. Rebecca Brown and Elaine. (His article is listed in our links area.) Ironically, Blizard assisted Chick Publications in the writing of this tract long before attacking Chick's biggest contributor since Alberto.
The tract, ostensibly based upon Blizard's own story, features a little girl on a gurney who needs a blood transfusion. Naturally, her parents Doug and Donna are both Jehovah's Witnesses (aka the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Brooklyn, NY) and do not believe in blood transfusions. The chaplain at the hospital, Chaplain Barnes, initiates a conversation with the parents. The doctor, faced with the little girl's life threatening prospects, remarks that if Chaplain Barnes "can't convince them in the next 30 minutes, were going to have a little corpse on our hands." Of course, in 24 page tract fashion, it won't take this long.
Chaplain Barnes explains to the parents that he's studied the Watchtower Society and has several disagreements with their beliefs. He launches into the discussion of why the Witnesses are wrong with "I believe there are verses in the Bible to show Jesus is God Almighty. Can we look at them?" The girl's father Doug says nonchalantly, "Sure." (Why not? Beats fretting over his dying daughter.)
If this were a real situation, it seems unlikely that such an event is plausible, but were looking at the Chick tract version of life toughest problems, all of which have an easy solution by story's end. Even the doctor, who seemingly WANTS the chaplain to persuade the JW parents to change their minds on the transfusion, says "This is one @!*!! of a time for a theological discussion. And there isn't time to get a court order." Naw, we don't want a court order. We WANT to see Chaplain Barnes convince the JWs that their beliefs are WRONG!
The tract overlooks the ethical dilemma real hospital chaplains face. Hospital chaplains are FORBIDDEN to debate the merits of a patient's or patient's family's religious beliefs. In fact, if the patient is a Jehovah's Witness and carries a card indicating that they are not to have a blood transfusion, then the patient's wishes are to be honored. It is true that hospitals can obtain court orders overriding a JWs parents wishes for their children, since the children don't have to be bound by religious practices not in the best interests of the child. But that's boring. This is a comic tract with a story that has to move forward.
Chaplain Barnes, our protagonist, is in a race against the clock. Not only is the child's blood pressure dropping, but the Elders from the local Kingdom Hall are on the way! In true conspiracy fashion, the JW Elders are tracking down Doug and Donna at the hospital. She's the weaker of the two because she read anti-Witness material. The horror!
As Chaplain Barnes lays on the Bible quotations from the JWs own "New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures" (the JWs don't use the words "New Testament" because that's what the mainstream churches use! No kidding!) to prove that Jesus is Jehovah, the doctor orders a guard posted at the door to keep out interlopers from interrupting Barne's witnessing to the Witnesses! I guess that he's anticipating the Kingdom Hall thugs to bust in at any moment.
A classic moment arises in the conversation. Chaplain Barnes demonstrates that JESUITS were behind the translation of the New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses! "Doug," Chaplain Barnes intones, "maybe the Watchtower is tied closer to the Vatican than you've been led to believe." Chaplain Barnes does a knock down, drag out job of showing how the Watchtower falsely prophesied the end of the world and the return of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob back in 1925. Space doesn't permit in the tract to show that the JWs were also wrong about seven other times about the end of the world, the latest being 1975 in great detail, but at least the dates are mentioned. Chaplain Barnes' point is simple, yet very logical. "If they're wrong here, Doug, let's see if they're right on blood transfusions." He summarily shows Doug and Donna that the Bible verses that forbid the eating of blood have to do with consuming animal blood, not modern day transfusions. How is Chaplain Barnes so knowledgeable on this? We learn that he was a former Jehovah's Witness! Small world!
Meanwhile, the burly guard keeps out the Men In Black, aka the Kingdom Hall goons. Chaplain Barnes explains that he worked undercover to follow members who were suspected of not being good JWs, and the reports were sent to Headquarters in Brooklyn. No doubt traitors would end up at the bottom of New York harbor with bundles of "Watchtower" and "Awake!" tied to their ankles.
Chaplain Barnes goes for the Coup de Grace: "You can't earn your salvation by works like selling Watchtower materials." Darn! Doug and Donna were on the verge of winning the gold watch and plaque for selling that 1,000th subscription to Awake! But every dark cloud has a silver lining. In this case, it's Doug and Donna's last minute decision to defy their evil Elders and allow the transfusion. Let's hope that the blood she gets was free of coagulants. Grade B for "Blood transfusion." Return to Tract Index.
"THE CURSE OF BAPHOMET" Review! (Art by Chick ©1991.) This is a perennial favorite among Chick collectors because the basic message is that Shriners are demonic. Anyone who has attended one of those dull afternoon parades and witnessed aging men in red fez hats and vests weaving through the procession in miniature go-carts can certainly sympathize with that view. This tract begins with a knock on the door during a dark storm. Alex and Sally open up to find a rain-soaked cop. He explains that their son is in the hospital after shooting himself. They race to the I.C.U. but the doctor tells them that their son "has no will to live." They wait outside the ward racked with guilt, asking each other what they did wrong and why their boy would do such a thing. Three days later, Ed pops in, claiming he "just heard." The couple seem glad to see him... at first. But then Alex makes the mistake of mentioning that he's a Shriner. Ed exclaims, "A lodge member? Alex, are YOU a Mason?" Alex proudly says yes. Ed drops his bombshell, "I had no idea you were into witchcraft." [Insert explosion here.] Alex and Sally almost go into cardiac arrest (good thing they're in a hospital). "WITCHCRAFT? Are you crazy? Masonry makes us better Christians!" they shout. They read Ed the riot act, explaining how they always sing Christian hymns and keep a Bible open at the lodge. Alex yells, "Ed... you don't know what you're talking about!" But Ed has a snappy comeback. "Oh yes I do! I was a Mason until I found out about BAPHOMET!"
What's that, dear reader? You don't know who Baphomet is? Don't be embarrassed-- neither does Alex or Sally, and they worship the S.O.B. Fortunately, Ed has all the answers. He explains, "this 'Great Architect of the Universe' you pray to is NOT the God of the Bible. It's really Baphomet! And he's ugly, frightening and completely satanic!" The parents deny any knowledge of Baphomet, but Ed is not surprised. Only the highest level Masons are let in on the dirty little secret. He just happens to carry a picture of Baphomet in his car for such occasions as these. Ed runs to retrieve it. Sally puts her hand on her husband's shoulder and opines, "This is scarey! [misspelled] What did you get us into, Alex?" (It's always nice to have a wife who blames you for everything.)
When Ed returns, he shows a drawing of a goat headed demon with wings and women's breasts. They look like 36Ds. (Not bad for a goat.) "Here he is... Baphomet. The old god of Baal worship AND Masonry." The couple are unconvinced. Ed reveals how the Eastern Star symbol of the lodge is really an upside down pentagram, which represents the satanic goat's head A.K.A, Mendez the "God of Lust." Alex disputes Ed's conclusions, but then Ed brings up Albert Pike. You know-- the Albert Pike: Grand Commander Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry! Listen to what he said!
"The MASONIC RELIGION should be, by all of us initiates of the high degrees, maintained in the purity of LUCIFERIAN doctrine. If Lucifer were not god, would Adonay (Jesus) calumniate (spread lies about) him? YES, LUCIFER IS GOD." Baphomet gets busted BIG time! Ed pulls out more lodge symbols. "This is the symbol of Baphomet. It was worn by Aleister Crowley, this century's most notorious satanist. Let me show you another picture. The Sovereign Grand Commander Henry C. Clausen, 33 degree Mason. Look whose sign is on his hat... Baphomet!" Ed provides more proof, including how the all-seeing-eye on the back of $1 bills is from the Egyptian god, Osiris (so you may want to play it safe and burn your money). Moreover, the obelisk is a Masonic symbol of a male sex organ right out of Baal worship (so destroying the Washington monument might be smart as well). But wait, there's more! The fez comes from the 8th century when Muslims invaded the Moroccan city of Fez and butchered 50,000 Christians and dipped their caps in their blood to honor Allah. When Shriners are initiated, they swear a Moslem oath with their hand on the Koran, praying to Allah and calling that demon "the god of our fathers." What dupes!
Perhaps the greatest crime of Masons is their performance of so-called "good works." You know, helping crippled kids walk and that kind of thing. As Ed puts it, "The Word of God teaches that salvation comes by faith in Christ. But Masonry says good works will get you to that 'big lodge' in the sky. Unfortunately, that lodge is controlled by Satan!... God will never bless a church led by Masons, whether they be pastors or deacons." Then Ed puts the finishing touches on his presentation. "Another witchcraft item is your cursed Masonic apron. Aprons worn by the high level Mason are packed with occult symbols... Renounce Masonry, burn these objects and repent before God. So He can remove this curse you have brought on your family."
The couple runs home and burns all their Lodge paraphernalia in an open barrel, begging God to forgive them since they had no idea Masonry was witchcraft. The results are instantaneous. Alex feels suddenly different, and Sally remarks, "even the house feels clean and light." (So Chick tracts can also help clean your house.) The phone rings and Sally answers. She exclaims (with the obligatory tear drop), "It's the hospital. Tommy's awake and wants to see us. His depression is gone and he's hungry as a bear!" Another happy ending. "PRAISE GOD!" shouts Alex.
Praise God indeed, for this is a wonderful tract. Favorite Panel Award goes to page 18b. It's a drawing of a Shriner fez under a clear cake cover. Chick successfully transforms an otherwise dorky looking icon of geekdom into a sinister idol to Satan. As Ed puts it, "Your red fez under that glass dome is one example. It is actually a shrine to Allah." Scary! (Or should I say, "scarey"?) Grade: A for Allah's alter. Return to Tract Index. For the Mason's response to Chick's claims, go here.
"THE EXECUTION" Review! (Art by Chick ©1992.) This tract sports one of Chick's more provocative covers: A dangling noose! The contents however, are far less serious. It's a rather cartoony tale about a bully who grows up to be a thug. The criminal kills a man in a robbery and is sentenced to death row. His mother visits him and brings cookies, which he feeds to his pet rat. He tells his mother he hates her but she keeps delivering the cookies despite his hostility. (He's probably going though a phase...) The execution date arrives, but he's lead to the front door and set free. He argues with the jailer that he's supposed to die for his crime. The jailer realizes the mix-up and hauls the criminal back into prison where he's properly executed. No, wait, that's Life of Brian. Yet this story is almost as surreal: What criminal would argue with the jailer not to be let free? The jailer explains that someone else was already executed in the thug's place-- his mother! Gasp! But don't worry, she volunteered, so no one can be sued. (This must have occurred in one of those tough states where parents are legally responsible for the crimes of their children.) The tract then explains that this story is really about what Jesus did for his children. The last panel is the classic image of the Faceless God shouting Matthew 25:41 at a sinner to go jump in the lake (of fire). The very last sentence looks as ominous as it sounds. A black bar across the bottom declares in bold white type, "Receive Jesus while you still can."
Favorite Panel Award goes to page 6B. The judge is sentencing the killer to hang by the neck until dead. To lighten the otherwise downbeat mood (receiving a death sentence is usually a downer for most folks), Chick adds several upbeat details to cheer up the audience. The judge slams his gavel on a wayward ant, who's small corpse becomes stuck to the wood. If that's not funny enough, the judge's drinking water contains a fish in it. If all that fails to crack a smile, the smirking bailiff should do he trick. (He obviously loves it when people get sentenced to death.) Grade B for Bail...Not! Return to Tracts Index.
"FRAMED" Review! Tract #6 in the series of 25 Bible tracts. (Art by Chick ©2001.) This one chronicles the exploits of Joey Harris, a "law and order" man who gets framed by gang members for turning them into police. (They plant a gun in his pocket as he enters a metal detector on his way to jury duty.) Joey is thrown in the pokey and his mom goes running to Bob for help. Bob bails him out. Because of this big favor, Joey has to listen to Bob witness to him. He tells the Biblical yarn about Joseph being sold into slavery and being framed by his slave master's wife. Then Bob makes comparisons to how Jesus was also framed. As usual, the story goes on and on and on... by page 10b, Joey looks pretty tired of it. He gets home and Bob is still narrating. Joey politely insists that he's still listening. (Married Couple rule #456: Whenever your partner says, "I'm listening", they're not.) Ten pages later and Bob's still preaching. (Give him a break, Bob! Joey still needs to take a shower to wash off the jail stench!) Joey either honestly converts or pretends to in order to get rid of Bob. He falls to the floor and prays, "Oh, Lord Jesus, forgive me! And banish blabber-mouth Bob from my home for all eternity!" (Okay, so he didn't say the last part, but he probably thought it.) 30 minutes later, the cops call to inform Joey that they've dropped the charges. Joey pumps his arm in the Home Alone movie gesture of "YES!" and all is right with the world. (Assuming of course, that Bob has finally left him home alone.) Favorite Panel Award goes to the front cover. Joey is penned against the jail bars as a big butch convict stands behind him with his arm around Joey's chest. Joey's cross-eyed expression looks like he just got goosed. (Do you think..? Nah!) Grade: B for Busted. Return to Tracts index.
"IT'S THE LAW" Guest Review by UK Dave! Tract #7 in the series of 25 Bible tracts. (Art by Chick ©2001.) This is an interesting tract for those of us readers on the other side of the pond where the issue of religion in state schools doesn't really occur. (I went to a Church of England state school after all.) Here we see young Tim Johnson flunking (or failing in Britspeak) his examination for making mention of the 10 Commandments. Miss Crawford (note her unmarried status) in her dinosaur decorated class room is most upset about this and informs Tim that she will be calling on his parents that same evening. Suspension looks imminent. Now Tim is a resourceful lad and the nephew of none other than our old friend Bob. Bachelor Bob's singleness so worries Tim that he sets up his lonesome uncle on a blind date of sorts with Miss Crawford. When she turns up, Tim's parents are no-where to be seen (at the 'hospital' apparently). Only Tim is home (making himself scarce) with a tray of tea and cookies (that's biscuits fellow Limeys), and of course Bob, in a rather fetching open shirt. Bob and Miss Crawford's eyes meet over the steaming cups and they fall into a passionate embrace. No, no, I'm loosing the plot-- what we actually learn here is possibly why Bob hasn't been such a great hit with the ladies. Instead of a few sweet nothings and perhaps an invitation to dinner, Bob produces a large leather bound Bible (KJV of course) and we're straight into the heavy theology neatly dovetailed with a whistle stop tour of Egyptian cultural history. At this stage Miss Crawford begins to wonder how she got herself into such a mess. (Perhaps that rather odd bachelor friend of her mothers, the one who's into train spotting, wasn't such a bad proposition after all!)
Meanwhile, we're treated to an explanation of how the plagues of Egypt demonstrated the powerlessness of the various Egyptian gods. My eyes usually begin to glaze over at this point in a Chick tract-- I much prefer the end-of-the-world stuff, but this was actually quite interesting: Darkness discredited Horus the sun god, boils discredited Imhotep and so on. Whether it's correct or not I don't know (this is always a slightly infuriating thing with Chick tracts because the references are either from his own books or non existent).
But I digress. This quick trip through the book of Exodus seems to be enough to convince Miss Crawford. (Where do the years of University education and logical debate go with these people?) Before you know it, we're into the, 'have you ever stolen a paper clip from the office?' debate. Why are vicars so obsessed with paper clips? I have heard so many sermons on this. (Chick uses the same example in The Next Step.) Is it projection? Is there a paper clip fetish among the clergy? It would appear that breaking the slightest law is enough to send our representative of the teaching profession to a much hotter class-room for all eternity. Good works will not be enough to spare anyone, because Martin Luther said so. (Although Jesus didn't address the issue, but why sweat the details?) So sheriff Bob fires the gospel message from the hip, Tim holds his head in his hands outside the door (presumably praying) and it's high noon for Miss Crawford's scientific logical positivism as she does the usual all fours position on the carpet (though this may be out of frustration with having had to listen to Bob). What we tantalizingly don't see in this tract is Miss Crawford going back to school and explaining to the governors why she is teaching fundamentalist Creationist theology in the classroom. She better do a lot of praying before that meeting...
All in all, this is a great tract. Favorite panel goes to (page 8) Moses' cool Ju-Jitsu strangle hold on the Egyptian slave master (a touch of Special Forces action there). Grade B for "still a bachelor" Bob. Return to Tracts index.
"LITTLE GHOST" Review! (Art by Chick ©2001.) I had high hopes for a tract with "Ghost" in the title. Unfortunately, it turns out this is one of the dreaded kiddie tracts, drawn in the same simplistic style as Best Friend, but with even less detail in the background. In fact, I can think of only one other tract that leaves as much blank space, and that would be The Great One. (Which was anything but!) This tract's plot involves a couple of boys who try to scare a girl by wearing a devil and ghost Halloween costume. She gives them an earful about how nothing scares her because Jesus loves her. At one point, she breaks out in spontaneous song, singing Jesus Loves The Little Children. It's painful enough to watch, I can only imagine what it must sound like. I don't think kids like primitive art and plots devoid of detail. (I know I didn't when I was that age.) But since most adults think kids are stupid, Chick is probably wise to make a few tracts like this, because let's face it: The adults are the ones buying the tracts for the kids. The other marketing motive behind this tract is that parents can pass it out during Halloween instead of candy-- not a bad idea at all. (It's certainly cheaper than a Snickers chocolate bar.) And who knows? Maybe kids like the blank white areas to color with their crayons. All the characters have big wide eyes, which --big surprise-- are crying tears of joy once they realize how much Jesus loves them. My eyes were crying too-- but only when I considered all the talent and trees that were wasted creating this tract. Still, like Clinton would say with his trembling lower lip, this was "for the children." So let's be generous since Chick's motives were good. Grade: C for Cutesy. (Follow up trivia: This tract sold 300,000 copies in the first couple months of release. Once again Chick's shrewd market sense hits pay dirt!) Return to Tracts index.
"THE LOSER" Review! (Art by Chick ©2002.) Tract #10 of 25 Bible tracts starring Bob. Two kids are terrorizing Tommy. (One of thugs looks like the bully from Toy Story, complete with the trademark skull & crossbones black T-shirt. Tommy resembles the lead in Leave It To Beaver.) Tommy runs away and bumps into Bob, who happens to be raking some leaves. Bob takes the kid inside and starts to evangelize. He tells how the Jews escaped Egyptian slavery but soon turned away from God. They backslide into Baal worship and become terrorized by the Midianites. One of those most afraid of the Midianites was a Jew named Gideon. God sends an angel to tell him to rebel against the Midianites. Gideon tears down a Baal statue. He kills the ox he used to destroy the idol and sacrifices it on the empty alter. (That's gratitude!) When the locals find the idol vandalized, they set out to punish the culprit. It's eerily reminiscent of the outrage felt by the international community after the Taliban destroyed a Buddhist statue--except God didn't help defend the Taliban like he did Gideon's warriors. In fact, God orders Gideon to reduce his army from 32,000 to only 300, to make the victory all the more impressive. Countless Midianites gather to attack. Gideon's 300 troops surround the pagan camp at night and light lanterns to scare them. The scheme works. The Midianites panic and kill each other in the chaos.
What does all this have to do with Tommy? Well, according to Bob, both Gideon and Tommy are LOSERS! (So much for self esteem.) The good news is that God loves losers, providing they accept Christ. Tommy assumes the position and recites the sinners prayer, adding an extra prayer request for strength to face the bullies. The two thugs approach Tommy and notice he looks different. When he says he now has a very powerful friend protecting him, the bullies suddenly want to become his buddy. (Kids, I urge you not to try this tactic at home. Not unless you have a good dental plan.) It's another Leave It To Beaver happy ending!
Favorite Panel Award goes to page 8. A pagan priest plops an infant into a pit of fire before a giant idol of a hooded cobra. Pretty spooky! Grade: B+ for Busted Baal idols. Return to Tract Index.
"NO FEAR" Review! (Art by Chick ©1997.) Teenagers sure come off looking stupid in this tract. But hey, sometimes art imitates life! The defiant teen on the cover has a semi-transparent demon smirking behind him. Similar demons appear throughout the tract egging the teen on to kill himself through subliminal suggestion. They call him brave and say "Amen" when he contemplates suicide, then applaud him when he finally carries it out. Misery loves company, so Lance took the advance precaution of convincing his girlfriend to kill herself during his funeral. When he finally snaps his neck, one of the demons gleefully proclaims, "now for the BIG surprise!" It's BURNING HELL Lancy-pooh, and you're TOAST for ALL ETERNITY!
Meanwhile, back home, everyone pays their respects at Lance's funeral. Everyone except Dolly, who climbs her makeshift gallows and prepares to join her boyfriend in the great beyond. Her sister approaches the preacher after the service and tattles on Dolly's suicide plans. (Ratting on a sibling is a time honored tradition in most families. Although this instance may look altruistic on the surface, the squealer not only waits for the funeral to end before informing on her sister, she just so happens to forget her keys! One has to wonder if she didn't secretly want to be the only child!) Super-Preacher quickly springs into action. He leaps into his salvation-mobile and races to the crime scene. He literally KICKS DOWN the front door and catches Dolly as she jumps to her (near) death. Angry demons flee the holy-roller's arrival, but Dolly stands her ground. She puts her hands on her hips and demands an explanation. Man-O'God vividly describes the SHOCKING TRUTH (Chick's italics, not mine) about Lake-o-Fire Land. Demons shake their fists outside the window, but that doesn't stop Dolly or her sister from assuming the position for Minister-man and praying for their salvation.
Lance, however, continues to bake below. Out of sight, out of mind...
Favorite Panel Award goes to the three-panel sequence starting on page 8b. Lance is in hell asking questions when his leg catches fire. The demons make insincere apologies about how they can't change his fate, and the flames completely CONSUME Lance. He looks like those Hollywood stunt men who douse themselves in gasoline and walk out of burning buildings. The 3rd panel is completely black except for a scream and shout of "I'm burning!" (He must be burning on the INSIDE now, since there are no more flames to give off light.) Grade: B+ for Burning Boyfriends! Return to Tracts Index.
"THE OUTCAST" Review! (Art by Chick ©2001.) Tract #8 in the series of 25 Bible tracts. Jack sure loves to make the stuffed-shirts squirm. This time, he does it by retelling the story of Rahab, the "good" prostitute. The tract begins with a badly beaten Shirley knocking on Janet's door for help. (You remember Janet, the blond that Bob converted in It's Coming!) As she opens the door, Janet's look of wide-eyed SHOCK is worthy of an EC horror comic cover. (Good Lord! (choke!)) Shirley's really roughed up. She looks even worse when she takes off her shades. Who did this to her? Why, her pimp, 'coz Shirley's a whore!
Being a real Christian, Janet accepts Shirley anyway, despite her sordid past. Bob and Helen soon arrive with medicine, clothes and the Word of the Lord. Is Helen Bob's main squeeze? Stay tuned for future tracts and clarification. Being Chick's main protagonist, it's a safe bet he ain't gay.
Shirley launches into the story of her life. It's rated PG13. We don't get to see her turning tricks or anything, but we do see her buying drugs from a black thug with shades and a nose ring. (Cartoon translation: He's one bad dude.) Shirley claims it all started with her step father "making bacon" with her while mommy was away earning it. When she finally tattles about this incestuous Woody Allen relationship, she gets tossed out on the street and turns to drugs and prostitution. Now she feels "absolutely filthy."
Tactful Helen asks innocently, "I know of a prostitute that God loved. Wanna hear about it?" Shirley takes the bait. Helen then relates "the beautiful story about a prostitute." (I've heard of beautiful prostitutes, but never beautiful stories about prostitutes. This should be good.) Helen tells of Rahab, the prostitute who betrayed Jericho and helped the Jewish invaders kill all her neighbors. (They must not have tipped well.) But since the invaders are God's chosen race, we're supposed to jeer those defending the city and cheer for the ones destroying it. (I'm sure the Old Testament makes a better case for Rahab than that, but in the limited 24 page comic, its hard to give the traitor much of a make-over.)
Back to the tract: The Jews conquer Jericho and kill all the families except Rahab's. They honor her for her treachery (I mean, assistance) and a Jewish man named Salmon falls in love with her. Page 12 says, "But God wasn't finished blessing her. She became the great, great grand mother of King David, and best of all... an ancestor to Jesus Christ Himself."
Oops! I better take back all those cynical things I said about her. Sorry 'bout that chief!
Bob, who had stepped out earlier so the girls could discuss the dirty details of Shirley's sex life without crossing gender lines, returns to bring it all back home to Jesus. Clueless Shirley asks, "Was Jesus Christ a man of God?" Surely, Shirley, you jest! He was God! Bob sets her straight and goes on to tell the tale of the cheating wife who was about to be stoned until Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." One of the funny details in this panel shows the accused up against the wall waiting for the rocks to rain. She lowers her shawl, exposing her back to the would-be killers. (We always added clothing as kids when expecting punishment. Why make it easier for your executioner?) And where's the guy who she was caught sleeping with? The ERA and ACLU would have a heyday.
Bob delivers the main message of this tract on page 18: "Jesus came to this Earth to die for sinners... That includes prostitutes, pimps, Sodomites, religious phonies, liars, thieves, murders... everybody." This convinces Shirley that Jesus really loves her. She drops to the ground for four on the floor and prays. The results are immediate. "I can't believe it!... I'm clean! Oh Jesus, thank you! Thank you!" (Spiritually clean, perhaps-- but you still might want to see a doctor about the itching down there.) They all embrace in a smarmy group hug and it's another happy ending. Favorite Panel Award goes to page 6B with Shirley handing her hard earned (whore) money to the drug dealer for a small packet of pleasure. Grade B+ for Brothel. Return to Tract Index.
"THE SISSY" Review! (Art by Carter ©1978.) Here's a tract that turns up a lot, especially at truck stops. It starts with a big hairy truck driver bragging to a scrawny side-kick while hauling a big load. Duke boasts, "then I knocked the 3rd guy right though a plate glass window into the street... It's a man's world, Billy Joe, Ya gotta be tough to survive." The odd couple pull into the Texxon gas station and Duke sees a "Jesus Saves" bumper sticker. Duke sneers, "Only a gutless idiot would have that up there! Cuz Jesus was a sissy!" When a bigger trucker owns up for the sticker, Duke literally eats his words. (He's invited to lunch by the Christian and accepts.) The big but clean cut Christian says grace for everyone and wastes no time waiting to witness. "Duke, what makes you think Jesus was a sissy?" Duke responds with his mouth full, "In my book, any man that turns the other cheek is a chump!" The Christian offers some bait that Duke can't resist. "Duke, if God almighty could turn himself into a man, like us, with all that power still inside him and some dude asked him to fight, who would win?" Duke exclaims, "Hey! That wouldn't be a fair fight... The God-man would KILL him!" The Christian sets the hook: "Let me shake you up, Duke...Jesus IS the God-man!" Duke is dumbfounded.
Then the Christian uses another clever approach. He asks Duke if his house were on fire with his wife and kids inside asleep, and the Christian drove by without waking anyone because he didn't want to upset anyone, how would Duke feel about that? Duke erupts angrily, "Man, I'd hate you. I'd curse you forever!! I'd NEVER forgive you! You'd be the WORST kind of murderer!" Now the Christian has Duke right where he wants him. He goes in for the kill: "Then listen good, Duke. You're house IS on fire! You're going to hell on a greased pole and Satan is laughing his head off!" Duke offers to stop cheating on his old woman and go to Church, but the Christian says it won't do him any good. He explains how Jesus was cut to ribbons before being nailed to the cross, and that he'll come back again to fight evil armies at the battle of Armageddon. Billy Joe seems impressed. Jesus is beginning to sound like a man's man! But only those who repent will avoid sliding down the greased pole into Satan's lap. All three men decide to bow down and pray at the table, including the waitress, who seems to have forgotten that it's rude to ease drop on other's conversations. The last panel has the odd couple back in their rig driving off into the sunset with a "Jesus Saves" sticker on their bumper too. Duke sighs, "Jesus had more guts than any man that ever lived, and I love him for that." The trucker is a changed man, and so is Billy Joe. (Now if they would just stop speeding and running the rest of us off the road!)
Favorite Panel Award goes to page 21. The chef is looking for his waitress and spots her praying at the table with the other three. "Where's Martha? Am I going bananas or is that a prayer meeting I see?" The answer is both. Grade A for Amazing Martha, I mean, Grace. Return to Tract Index.
"THE TRICK" Guest Review by Ben! (Art by Chick ©1986.) J.T.C is back to debunk the widely held but sadly inaccurate theory that Halloween is a harmless, secular holiday. As in his other Halloween tracts, Mr. Chick is eager to illustrate how secret covens of Satan-Worshiping witches are out to get your kids to inadvertently swallow razors, needles and PCP cookies along with their candy apples.
The tract immediately kicks into high gear with the coven convening at their nondescript mansion complex. We step in at just the time when the leaders are giving the low down on their nefarious plans. Halloween is always the busiest season for satanic cults and this year is no exception as that taskmaster Satan has once again upped his soul quota.
Meanwhile, Johnny, Susie, and Jerry are dressed as a devil, witch, and ghost. They are making the Halloween rounds in search for some sweets. The children end up with some tainted goods (courtesy of the coven) and after biting the candy, Johnny bites the dust. Even though Susie and Jerry survived the ordeal, something has changed in their demeanors as their parents note that they are acting much friskier than before. The parents discuss this new found rebelliousness over a cup of tea and are quite perplexed at what could be the cause. One of the parents is the evil witch Brenda, a member of the coven who poisoned Johnny. (Small world!) Brenda proposes a theory that the children may be going through a phase called "puberty." Fortunately ex-witch (but now serving Jesus) Becky is there to make the save.
Becky quickly strikes down that puberty tomfoolery and uses some deductive logic. She determines that it is the cursed candy that is the source of their problems. Becky then segues into a detailed history lesson about the druidic mayhem that has eventually evolved (?!) into Halloween. Brenda realizes that some potential souls are slipping away so she puts on her best "aw shucks" grin (she also puts on the exact same smile while shedding alligator tears over Johnny) in a final effort to win the mothers over. Needless to say, Becky wins the argument and converts the room shortly after a despondent Brenda flees the scene. Happiness is thus restored back to suburbia as the kids convert and get back to their complacent, non-possessed, old selves.
Pretty standard fare, eh? But what would a J.T.C tract be without a cameo from the faceless man upstairs or the Prince of Darkness mocking an incorrect religious choice? As usual, Jack delivers with the chief witch Charity suffering a heart attack while enjoying a fine glass of vino in self congratulation for her demonic success. Sister Charity is shocked to find herself standing in flames before a big, black, athletic and very naked Satan. (But alas, Charity is too distracted by her skin burning off to get aroused.) She begs the "holy father" why he would treat an ex-disciple in this manner. Satan brutally dashes Charity's hopes for a party hearty after-life by proclaiming: "Haw haw haw!You stupid little fool! You're getting what you deserve! My TRICK was getting you to serve me! Now your TREAT is to burn for eternity." I guess since he is the master of all things evil we should expect him to gloat a little bit but wow, he really lets the hammer fall hard. For anyone concerned about Lucifer getting the last laugh, Chick has a foot note affirming that "Satan shall also be tormented in hell." (Whew! I was beginning to worry!)
This is my personal favorite of the Halloween tracts since it features druidic shenanigans, a fairly attractive witch in Brenda, and talk of "children who are mutilated and murdered every Halloween." (Huh?...well if the information is provided by everyone's favorite ex-vampire William Schnoeblen, it has to be true!) Grade: B+ for Burning Babes! Return to Tract Index.
"TRUST ME" Guest Review By Saint Nate (Art by Chick ©1994) Who but Jack Chick could combine the message of an after-school special with the setting of OZ? This later-era masterpiece features chunky yet detailed cartoonish artwork (complete with snakes and rats surrounding the bad guys) and eight (that's right. I counted 'em) full-page panels. True Chicklet aficionados will note that this is one of the very few where the cover is a raised detail of the first panel, which draws on the same curiosity that can lead to a life of decadence. Like our naive young protagonist, you see a finger making a "come hither" gesture and before you know it, you've picked up a free sample of something mind-altering. Just be glad that's all you have in common with the protagonist. He goes on to get off on happy pills, becomes hooked, steals a TV from someone's house, becomes a drug dealer, gets arrested by an undercover cop with swastika tattoos, is sent to jail, gets raped, contracts the fastest killing case of AIDS in medical history, and is finally saved by a tract entitled "Jesus Loves You." After having tried almost type of drug, he learns the greatest high of all is being carried off by an angel. Favorite panel: Page 14a, where a tattoo-covered behemoth shouts, "This sweet thing is MINE tonight!" and carries off our half-pint hero as a beaten-up prisoner and a smug prison guard look on. Grade A for Addictive - pass out a few of these as free samples, and soon all the kids in the neighborhood will be coming to you for their Chick fix. Return to Tract Index.
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