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J.T.C. Museum of Fine Art REVIEW WING-8 1/2C


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[rev 9.6.12]



“The Awful Truth” (Guest review by Chrissy Spallone)

"The Awful Truth" is a vague title, and the sweating, bald, ageless cover character offers no clues to the story's content. Surprise! It's an anti-Catholicism tract!

Opening the tract, I was disappointed to see that sparse cartoony style that Chick has been favoring lately in an attempt to appeal to the kiddies, with dull, "Dick and Jane" dialogue to match. If you've seen the '90s cartoon series Pinky and the Brain, you'll recognize the first panel's familiar dialogue: "What are we gonna do today?" asks a lab assistant. "We're gonna take over the world? [sic]" the stout mad scientist answers condescendingly. Chick narrates that the pair should forget their evil plans, because Satan already beat them to it: "He's mean and nasty and a big, fat liar!" The next panel depicts an insipid, flat line drawing of an angel kicking the most boring illustration of Satan you've ever seen. Be patient with this tract – Chick must have changed his mind shortly after drawing the first two panels, for the art and writing become progressively more gruesome, detailed and controversial with each new page.

The first half of "The Awful Truth" should ring a bell for most Christians and/or Chick fans: It's the "Genesis/fall of mankind" recap usually tagged onto the end of shorter tracts as a gap-fill. Adam and Eve eat pinecone-shaped fruit in this one. The tract wasn't printed backwards, however; it seems Chick planned to suck readers in and have them commit to the storyline before easing in the anti-Catholic rhetoric. In panel 12, a communion wafer called "wafer god" is pictured amongst the other "idols" worshipped by doomed sinners prior to Jesus' sacrifice -- the timeline seems a little off here, but I think the wafer's presence in this illustration is supposed to be a preparatory subliminal message. If you've already heard the story of Jesus' sacrifice and how to get saved, you can safely skip ahead to panel 19, where the real plot begins.

Chick introduces the Catholic Church and their Bible as "phony." They claim to be Christian, he argues, but their beliefs (too much attention to Mary, indulgences, purgatory, etc.) are not found in the Bible and appear contradictory to the Bible's doctrines. These are valid criticisms that Protestants often bring up, and Catholics should expect to defend such beliefs.

Chick then sets up what we'll call the "Bad Apple Argument." Many use this line of reasoning to distance themselves from certain religious groups and/or to allege that these groups are evil/stupid, with some of the most common examples being, "Islam is evil because some Muslims flew an airplane into the World Trade Center," or that old chestnut, "Catholicism is corrupt because some priests molested little boys." Chick's argument is similar; he discusses a few specific, ancient popes running harems, committing incest, dragging a naked wife through Rome, etc. "Would you trust these people?" No, but what does that have to do with trusting Catholicism, which does not promote these behaviors in its doctrines? Surely abusive and sadistic fundamentalist pastors have existed as well. Yes, plenty of compelling arguments exist for and against all religions and atheism, but the "Bad Apple Argument" is pretty weak if you really think about it. Having said that, Chick's factoids are interesting and no-so-subtly undermine the otherwise holy reputation that the Vatican has tried to cultivate. The accompanying illustrations are great: one tiny drawing depicts Church leaders impaling a monk on a fiery spike. If only it (the drawing, not the spike) were larger -- these panels are way too text-heavy, with up to five separate narration block "tiers" stacked in a single panel, squashing the small thumbnail drawing within.

The conspiracy theory really gets fascinating as Chick transitions into broader, more consistent and methodical examples of Church corruption: "The Great Whore, Satan's prostitute church.* launched the bloody Inquisition with over 60 million victims," Chick narrates alongside an image of a gruesome torture chamber. One victim is forced to hang upside-down, his feet restrained in stocks. Another unfortunate soul is awkwardly fastened to the outer edge of a wheel, with one cloaked minion spinning it around while the other pumps an air bellows to provide more oxygen for the fire and roast the victim even more. "He's mean and nasty and a big, fat liar!"

Why, the Church even orchestrated the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy! We see a drawing of John Wilkes Booth's hand holding a gun pointed toward an oblivious Lincoln's head, then two side-by-side portraits of Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald. These panels would have been even funnier with added "HAW HAW HAW" word balloons for the killers, but there's so much text already I guess Chick couldn't fit them in. These wild assassination theories seem to come out of nowhere, but asterisked citations for Alberto Rivera's comic books and other Chick Publications abound for those who wish to research these issues further. (Highly recommended reading!)

If you've already read Chick Publications' other criticisms of the Catholic Church, this tract won't tell you anything new, but it does provide a few amusing illustrations. Otherwise, it's a decent, if loquacious primer for Chick's views on Catholicism.

Grade: B- for Bloody Inquisition. Return to Tracts Page.

* The Roman Catholic Church

There Go The Dinosaurs

"There Go The Dinosaurs!" (Guest review by Chrissy Spallone)

When I first glimpsed the cover of There Go The Dinosaurs! with its crude drawing of an eyelashed, sweating brontosaurus spitting out three daisies and a fern frond, I assumed the tract would be evolution-related. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was Chick’s curious hypothesis on dinosaur extinction.

The tract begins in medias res, with some stout, diminutive Flintstones throwbacks chasing and hunting an unfortunate herbivorous dinosaur. “I’ve got to hide,” thinks the brontosaurus, sweating with fear at the hunters’ spears, axes and sickles. The hunters appear rather dim-witted, but fortunately for them, the dinosaur isn’t so smart herself - I say “herself” due to the long, curly, feminine lashes drawn around the dino’s eyes and the fact that this isn’t an anti-homosexuality tract. This story’s art isn’t so bad in general, but the brontosaurus looks rather dopey looking and alligator-like in her close-ups. Check out that overbite!

“If I can get into the clouds, I’ll be safe,” thinks the asthmatic dino as she puffs up a hill. At last, she makes her way into the cloud. With a gassy smile, she thinks, “Nobody can see me now!” Two panels later comes the big reveal - the cloud only hides the brontosaurus’ head; her posterior is fully exposed! “HAW!” laughs a hunter. Chick spares us the grim spectacle of the dino’s fatal axing and dismemberment, skipping ahead to the five hunters lugging giant packets of dino meat down the hill. “This will take us 36 trips [emphasis Chick’s],” a hunter laments. Sounds like a lot of work; why not cook dinner on the hill? Fang and a hungry child look on as the hunters descend. Fang’s smallish breed probably wasn’t established in this primitive era, but I can safely suspend my disbelief here - it’s always good to see him. At the dinner table, an elder tells a youth that he may be eating the very last dinosaur. Guess those t-rexes didn’t put up much of a fight. I’d have picked the velociraptor as last man standing.

Moving forward to present time, a presumably gay college professor (look for the earring in his right ear) is pointing to some well-drawn, realistic dinosaur pictures as he loudly explains how a comet killed them. He needs to upgrade to PowerPoint. I checked Big Daddy, another favorite evolution tract, to make sure the professors depicted in each tract were different men. Both professors have a moustache, comb-over and circular glasses frames, but their physiques and facial features are distinct enough. I had worried that the Big Daddy professor had crossed back to the “dark side.” Chick asks, “Is that [the comet theory] how the dinosaurs died?” and gives the reader the chance to reflect for a while before turning the page for the solution:

No! It’s all a story told by people who don’t trust God.” The next couple panels display a variety of animals - including giant dinosaurs and breeds much smaller than lions (this will be important later) - sharing the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Chick then transitions into the general corruption and wickedness of mankind brought on by Eve’s disobedient snacking. One awesome panel depicts a smiling man offering a tiny, crying baby to an idol’s fiery altar as many cheering derelicts look on.

All this segues into the familiar story of Noah’s ark, in which Noah builds an ark big enough to support two of each kind of animal, including each breed of DRAGON if we are to take the timetable outlined in the creation story literally. Chick narrates, “God put dragons* and other animals in the ark…because the mother of storms was about to hit.” As the accompanying asterisk explains, “In 1841 they [dragons] were renamed ‘dinosaurs’!” While Big Daddy’s annotations reference outside materials available from Chick Publications and “Dr. Dino,” this short etymology of the word “dinosaur” does not.

Incidentally, I’ve always wondered what happened to aquatic life here. I guess the flood “water” must have been poisonous or too salty for even saltwater fish to endure - otherwise, their survival would be unfair for the other unfortunate, perishing fauna. Maybe the ark accommodated pairs of them in humungous Sea World-esque tanks. I’d love to have been one of the two flys on the wall of Noah’s ark; it must have been quite a spectacle (not to mention, a feast of feces).

When the dinosaurs emerge from the ark, they encounter a “big problem…THE AIR HAD CHANGED!” The accompanying panels depict a heartwarming scene of a hatching baby brontosaurus juxtaposed against an amusing drawing of a gasping, bug-eyed stegosaurus. According to the tract, the flood destroyed many plants, causing an oxygen deficiency. “In the thinner air it was harder to breathe,” Chick eloquently explains, “they got slower and easier to catch.”

So there you have it, beloved. The dinosaurs died out because the thin air made them slower, enabling man to hunt them to extinction. Noah spent a lot of energy making the ark big enough for each type of dinosaur so that everyone could eat and enjoy their delicious meat for a brief period of time following the flood. (Mmm, lizard meat.) I wonder where Chick learned of this hypothesis…is it his own? I couldn’t find any references.  Hopefully he will include more explanatory asterisks in future versions of this tract to buttress his statements.

The remaining 10 pages of the tract outline Jesus’ sacrifice and how to get saved, along with an advertisement for “The Next Step,” a Chick Publications title aimed toward growing Christians. Most of this is the expected, “stock” Chick ending, but don’t miss the funny drawing of a triceratops caught in a tidal wave!

Grade: B+ for breathless. Return to Tracts Page.

Here Comes The Judge!

"Here Comes the Judge!" Guest review by Rowan.

This is the first new tract released in 2012. The title has a kind of double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to the title character. But it's also alluding to the Judge of all mankind, Jesus Christ. Interestingly, on the Chick site itself, the subject of this tract is said to be Judgment Day. Even though most of Jack Chick's tracts make reference to people facing judgment after death, this is the first tract that actually has Judgment Day as its main subject matter on the Chick Publications site.

The first panel introduces us to the main character - the Honorable Shelton Barnstead. He is distinguished and proud-looking, albeit rather ugly. He lives in "a certain city" and to begin with, his character reference seems glowing - he's highly respected with a spotless reputation and is being considered for the state supreme court (this, I guess, would be the "certain state" in which the "certain city" is located). However, the next panel reveals that he's not such a great guy after all. We read that "Shelton had a dark side that very few knew about", which sets things up for the rest of plot. This second panel also has the tract's first Scripture reference. I must say that one of the things I enjoy about Chick tracts is the way Scriptures are tied in with certain events or situations, as well as the way they're used to present the main Gospel message itself. In this case, the Scripture is Luke 16:15 - "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts". So in just two panels, we have a pretty good idea about the character of Judge Barnstead. He might seem like a good guy, but in reality, on the inside, he's as rotten as last month's leftovers.

Now we jump into a crime scene, and from here on in, the tract reads a bit like a condensed John Grisham novel - a tense little thriller set in the legal world, although the world of politics also comes into it. A mother and two her kids arrive home to find dad lying on the floor and someone called Lance standing over him with some sort of large envelope in his hand. A closer shot in the next panel reveals that the man on the floor has in fact been stabbed through the heart. After exclaiming "Blast it!" (as you do when you've just been caught murdering somebody), Lance, having successfully lanced his victim and having no other weapon to defend himself with, makes his escape through the window, while the son yells "Murderer!" after him. Lance finds enough time to retort "Shut up!" - again, as you do when you're trying to make a speedy getaway. Meanwhile, mom takes the knife out of her deceased husband's chest while begging him to speak to her (his name turns out to be Kyle). Which means, of course, that her fingerprints are now on the murder weapon, not to mention the crime scene has been tampered with. Not the smartest thing to do, really, although I guess she wasn't thinking straight, and in that sort of situation, who would be?

The police arrive, and one of them (without the glasses and hat) is none other than the Chick Museum's Curator, Kurt! (Cool cameo.) We now learn the motive for the murder - Kyle Keefer (nice alliteration) was a private investigator gathering evidence about something so high-level and dangerous that not even his own wife was allowed to see it. So evidently, Lance Clawson, supposedly his best friend (like Brutus was to Julius Caesar), was put up to murdering him by someone. But who?

It's not really too hard to figure out, and sure enough, a couple of cellphone conversations reveal that none other than the supposedly fine and upstanding Judge Barnstead was behind the hit. He frames the widow (whose name is Kim Keefer - there are more K names in this family than the Kardashians!), who gets arrested on phony drug charges. And guess who the presiding judge in her trial is?

Sure enough, poor Kim K. is found guilty by Judge Barnstead, who "mercifully" sentences her to 40 years in prison. He adds another ten years after Kim cries, "You devil! God will get you for this!" Prophetic words, as we will see. Great line too - although the satisfaction of yelling it will probably wear off during the extra decade she rots in jail for it.

A few rather neat twists follow. Firstly, we find out that the corruption in this "certain state" goes right to the very top - the governor himself is involved in some way! He Skypes with a crooked associate (technology in this tract is very up to date), who is obviously a real bad dude, because he has an eye patch and is mighty ugly. Mr. Eyepatch reveals that Judge Barnstead has been a little too loose with his lips, with none other than a TV reporter! The governor orders a hit on him. So now the judge himself is in the firing line. Soon thereafter, there's an explosion at a restaurant where the judge meets the reporter. The reporter dies ... but the judge lives! His appointed time has not yet come - after all, he hasn't heard the Gospel yet! And of course, nor have the readers.

That comes next as we move into the hospital two weeks later. Sometimes in Chick tracts, the core Gospel message is presented straight by the narrator, but many other times, it is presented by a character (either main or supporting). In this tract, a house servant named Conrad, who has worked for Judge Barnstead for 23 years (and been treated like trash from day one - another little insight into the judge's dark side), is given the privilege. All the key points are there - the death and resurrection of Christ, the coming judgement, what you need to do to be saved and so on. Slightly more emphasis is put on the Rapture than usual.

At the end of the presentation, the servant asks whether Judge Barnstead will accept or reject Christ. Wrapped up from head to foot in bandages, the judge can't actually say anything. But he nonetheless manages to go all Donald Trump on the servant and writes "YOU'RE FIRED!" on a piece of paper. Which I guess means "No". Anyway, this is my Favorite Panel.

The good and faithful servant departs, and in comes a doctor - uh-oh, it's not a doctor at all, but Mr. Eyepatch in a white coat, posing as Dr. Eyepatch! How did this guy manage to fool anyone into thinking he was a real doctor? Well, he pulled it off somehow, and he's got "a little present from the governor" for our central character in the form of a lethal injection. Mr. Eyepatch isn't all evil though, he attempts to calm the judge by saying "This won't hurt... much!". After delivering the poison, Dr. Eyepatch promises he'll visit the judge again soon... in hell. The judge dies, and the final panel reveals Eyepatch was right. The judge is naked and burning in Hell - quite a contrast to the proud and dignified judge in his robes that we saw in the first panel.

Chick has certainly kicked off 2012 in fine style. Here Comes the Judge! has an exciting plot with lots of fun little twists and turns. Minor disappointments are that there is no sign of Fang, and no one says "Haw-haw-haw!" Also, we're never actually told what the extremely dangerous material was that Kyle Keefer found. (I like to think it was definitive proof that all Alberto's allegations against the Catholic Church are true, and the governor was a secret Jesuit determined to destroy this evidence at all costs, haw-haw-haw!) But that aside, it's a fine read, and the Gospel is presented in Chick's usual straight-up and uncompromising manner. The last two panels in particular pull no punches in warning readers where they're heading if they are not saved.

For Christians, I would recommend this tract for use in evangelism. The Gospel message is sound and really hits you between the eyes (assuming you don't use an eyepatch). If nothing else, people will enjoy the story. There are none of the controversial elements that some of the tracts can contain (while these elements are entertaining, they can also, IMO, distract from the more important Biblical message).

I give this tract a straight A for Apprentice (as in, Donald Trump's venue for telling people they're fired). Return to Tracts Page.

Global Warming

"Global Warming".

The March 2012 tract “Global Warming” was published in synchrony with the release of “The Lorax,” providing a convenient opportunity for Chick fans to leave the tract in theater seats. The movie tie-in may be a coincidence, but Chick, always on top of trending topics, couldn’t ignore this hot-button issue much longer.

Many church leaders seem to ignore environmental issues, focusing instead on hair, clothing and bedroom practices. Christians who think about the environment typically fall into one of two camps: those who advocate stewardship of the Earth as part of respecting creation, and those who believe that "it's all gonna burn" anyway, so why worry about it? Chick falls into the latter category.

The tract begins with a caricature of Al Gore on a TV screen playing 1984’s big brother. The fat faced Gore informs viewers that the end of the world is coming because they ignored his global warming movie. In the next panel, scientists tool around in a Gothic mad-lab, reminiscent of Mel Brook's horror/comedy classic, "Young Frankenstein".  A hunchback claims that they have created global warming, satirizing the environmentalist's notion that humans “create” climate change. This segues into a deep discussion of incorrect end-times predictions throughout history.

Chick begins with a critique of the Roman Catholic Church of course. “Back in the Dark Ages, when the Catholic Church ruled the known world,” Church leaders predicted that the world would end before the year 1,000. Their followers were terrified, just like the misinformed sheep who believe everything the brilliant scientists say about the environment today. Like the suckers who buy Carbon Credits from Al Gore today, the gullible from a thousand years earlier also wasted millions. They gave their property and possessions to the Church since they thought the world was going to end and it might help buy their way into heaven. But then the deadline came and went and the world did not end as predicted. The Church (and Gore's company) made millions-- while everyone else was ripped off.

Chick goes on to discount Nostradamus, the prophesier who predicted the world would end in 1999, and Bernt Balchen, the famous arctic specialist whose predictions about polar cap melting were published in a 1972 issue of “Christian Science Monitor.” In 2000, Dr. David Viner proposed that snow would soon become a thing of the past. “What a snow job!” Chick quips.

As a nod to the non-environment related yet trendy Occupy Wall Street movement, Chick displays a band of sourpuss, angry activists protesting about economic justice, animal rights, and environmental issues. A 1970s hippy-type chick shouts, “We’re one step closer to climate Armageddon!" (For environmentalists complaining about too much C02, they sure blow a lot of hot air.)

Following the tract’s logic, these predictions were wrong, and therefore anything scientists say about humans harming the earth must also be incorrect. There will be an Armageddon, it points out, but there is nothing humans can do to change or fix the climate; only Jesus can do that. But arrogant scientists and bossy politicians (like Hillary Clinton and overweight Al Gore, both pictured in the next panel) don’t believe in that “Jesus junk.” Instead, they pray to Ixchel, the moon Goddess, and Mother Nature, or “Gaia.” Chick presents images of both goddesses for reader reference, pixelating Gaia's voluptuous lady parts -- this isn't a Tijuana Bible, after all.

Chick does not discuss the many Protestants who predicted end times before their due date, nor does he acknowledge Bible passages such as Rev. 11:18, which warns against human destruction of the Earth.  The tract focuses exclusively on the questionable theory of global warming, and does not consider industry’s more tangible, immediate effects on creation, such as oil spills and the wide spread fish kills resulting from it, or bulldozing the forests and destroying the habitat for God's other creatures.

The Chick.com preamble to this tract (found at http://www.chick.com/articles/global_warming.asp) claims that “Satan’s lie” of environmental sustainability is an attempt to limit man’s ability to promote the good news. Chick does not differentiate between using technology sparingly to accomplish things of value (traveling overseas or creating a website to spread the gospel, for example) vs. excessive, unnecessary use of technology (e.g. letting the TV run all day long, even if no one’s watching it). But the pro-environment side gets plenty of airtime on TV and in public schools anyway, so it only seems fair that a few hundred trees get cut down to make tracts and present the other side. And besides, it's all gonna burn anyway.

Rated A- for Armageddon. Return to Tracts Page.

Fatal Decision

"Fatal Decision" Guest Review by Rowan.

This tract is essentially a parable. Every person and situation in it represents a Biblical person or doctrine. The central character (a young man named John) represents your average unsaved sinner. His terminal disease represents sin. The nasty janitor (as anyone who has ever watched Scrubs will know, janitors are evil) represents the Devil. Dr Bowers, who gives up everything to try and save John and loses his only son in the process, represents God. Dr Bowers' antidote for John's disease represents the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, because it is the only salvation from sin. These representations are not too hard for Christians to recognise, but non-Christians reading them probably wouldn't pick up on them quite so readily.

The tract opens with John deep in a jungle with snakes, spiders and who knows what else. He cries out "Yaaah!" in classic Chick style and then complains that something has bitten him. The next panel shows a couple of guys examining a nasty-looking wound in his leg. (Are they fellow jungle explorers? A couple of doctors who just happened to be conveniently on hand? Probably the former.) He's flown back to the USA for treatment. By the time they get him to hospital, he's in critical condition and it's revealed he has a rare and fatal disease that will kill him in a week unless he gets an antidote. Enter the good Dr Bowers, who takes it upon himself to get the only antidote available - a new vaccine that has been developed in Switzerland. John's mother gives Dr Bowers her life savings. Meanwhile, an ominous caption in white lettering against a black background warns, "Dr. Bowers, you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into!

The next two panels show Dr Bowers in Switzerland talking to a rather scary-looking dude (the way this guy's eyes in particular are drawn makes him look like something out of a horror movie!). We get a clear idea of just how much of a personal cost Dr Bowers is going to have to face to obtain the vaccine.

We now return to the hospital and a tattooed janitor called Brutus, who gets a warning (his fifth, no less) for being rude to patients. Enraged, he vows to get even with Dr Bowers (whose secretary gives Brutus his warning). The next two panels switch back to Dr Bowers as he receives his vaccine and gets on a plane back to the USA. Now we switch again back to Brutus the evil janitor. He has a little chat with John, who is now conscious. Somehow, just by looking scared at the mention of Dr Bowers' name, Brutus manages to sow some doubt in John's mind about him. It's a bit subtle, but sometimes, evil works best that way.

Meanwhile, Dr Bowers is picked up by his son at the airport, but they have a terrible car accident on the way to the hospital, and his son is killed (this represents God sacrificing His Son and more specifically the great cost to Him to redeem us from our sins). But Dr Bowers himself survives and is able to bring the vaccine to the hospital (thankfully, that survived the crash too). John, meanwhile, is experiencing euphoria (which in itself is symbolic of the temporary pleasure that sin can provide). Like many sinners who think they're just fine and don't need God, he's convinced that he doesn't need the vaccine that is his only cure. Nasty Brutus has done his work and John is convinced that neither Dr Bowers nor his vaccine can be trusted. So he smashes the vaccine against the wall. All Dr Bowers' efforts have come to naught. But the last laugh is on John, because three days later he breaks out in the most grotesque-looking boils (they're even on his tongue!) and dies an agonising death two days after that. As his body is taken away, Dr Bowers sobs, "John threw away the gift of life - and it cost me my son!" The symbolism of God giving up Jesus is readily apparent to a believer here, but probably not so to an unbeliever (unless they've been raised in a Christian environment). However, even non-believers would probably be pretty disgusted at John being so foolish as to not trust the doctor's cure. And if that is the case, then they're in just the right frame of mind for the next part of the tract.

That portion begins with the words "And what about you?" in a panel where Dr Bowers is mourning for John. Now the parable is over and some of its meaning is revealed. The next panel explains how we're all infected with sin and headed for the Lake of Fire as a result. The Gospel message is not presented by any characters here, but by the third-person narrator. It is somewhat more compact than usual - very much a "bare bones" sort of message without any embellishment or graphic imagery of the Crucifixion. Also, most elements of the parable aren't really explained or made clear. However, the Gospel message is still plain enough. The final panel shows a typical scene of a lost sinner being ordered to depart from the presence of Christ, although somewhat unusually, an angel is dragging him away as he shouts "Noooo!" Most of the time, you see the sinner cowering or being physically tossed into Hell, not being led away almost like a little kid by its parent as he is here. This last panel also reminds us of the tract title as it warns (again in white on a black background), "Don't make this fatal decision!" Indeed. Good advice.

I really liked the parable concept of this tract, but was a bit disappointed by the somewhat rushed Gospel presentation. While I do think this is a good tract to use for evangelism, I don't think it's as clear in its presentation of the core Gospel message as some of Chick's other tracts. Still, it definitely provides a lot of food for thought, although I would also have liked to see the parable explained a bit better. After all, when Jesus told parables in the Bible, he often explained the full meaning of them and what everything represented... although he wasn't limited to just 24 tract pages.

My favourite (albeit most painful to look at) panel is the one with John all broken out in boils. It's very graphic and quite gross, but nicely done.

Grade: B for Boils. Return to Tracts Page.

Camel In the Tent

"Camel in the Tent" Guest Review by Scot Carr!

The tract begins with a retelling of an old Arab tale about a camel who gradually takes over the tent of a sheikh. What's this, I though? Is Jack taking a softer approach in converting Muslims? Nah! He jumps right back into the idolatrous "beginnings" of Islam. Actually, he succeeds in cramming more of his themes - Islam's attempts to undermine western civilization, the brutality of Mohammed's "conversion by the sword," as well as his hypocrisy by getting the Almighty to grant special "perks" to him alone, & the End Times - in record-breaking density. The only one he misses out on is Catholicism's hand in the whole thing! You gotta love Mr. Chick, he hasn't seen a conspiracy he couldn't draw into his world view. I'll give him mad props for going slightly more culturally sensitive in trying to bring the Muslims back to the great Faceless One! However, using terrorist imagery & anti-Western slogans on the signs of protesting Muslim women tends to bend everything back into traditional "us vs. them" territory. This tract deserves a solid "B" for brevity, for packing in so many themes into ONE tiny little tract! Return to Tracts Page.

Mama's Girls

"Mama's Girls" Guest Review by Scot Carr!

I get the impression that Chick either wants to get back to his highs of the '70s and '80s or he feels that the celestial time clock is running out, so he has to pack more conspiracy tales per tract into his current output. Either way, it can sometimes be too much material for the reader to follow easily. Other times, it can be both clear and downright charming to see him pick off a bunch of his targets with rapid sniper fire. This new tract does it quite well indeed.

In a nutshell, Chick goes gunning for not only the Roman Catholic Church, but every single spin-off of the "old Whore" of Babylon. I thought he may be taking a softer line on the Pope's business, but with each mention of the "Whore," Chick delivers more venom than he has in recent offerings. Nothing's ignored - the first part of the story is a recap of Christ's death and its place in overall spiritual warfare, then he jumps right into Alberto's theories of how the Church created Islam, Communism (which he links to the others as a "religion". It's a bit of a stretch, but given the militancy of today's Atheists and seeing how the Commies spent so much time, energy, and money trying to debunk religion, he has a point), Nazism, and Masonry. The theories are rehashed in detail, but surprisingly, the story breezes right along, so you don't really mind. The framework of the conspiracy tales are an analogy of a mother giving birth to daughters, and Chick's snarky depiction of them as brats and hags is a hoot.

In my opinion, his art seems to be sharper this time. Even his eye for detail seems to be better. His depiction of St. Peter's Basilica is a worthy effort. I felt that some of his more recent work wasn't quite up to his usual high standards, but he's back in top form in this one. It even has a Fang sighting, although you have to squint to find it (and no, I'm not gonna say where it is, since part of the fun for me is to search ol' Fang out), but he is in it. The only thing I'm puzzled by is that there's no mention of Alberto by name, even though the tract is a bang-on summary of the dirty laundry he passed on to Chick. You'd think he'd squeeze Alberto in with all the other copious references here. Heck, even the dated "Mohammed" by Lind is there! I wonder if Chick's going to slowly usher Alberto's name out the door, like he did John Todd and Rebecca Brown. I hope not. Alberto's damn fun! The cooler college kids probably chug a beer every time he's mentioned in The Crusaders comic books. He's also the only one of Chick's gurus who sought out criticism.

Overall, I was pleased with this one. Not that he's been gone, but I get the feeling that Fight'n Jack's back! Maybe he's saving up for his grand finale before retiring. The best may yet be to come! I give this one an "A" for "Awesome". Return to Tracts Page.

Satans Comes to Salem

"Satan Comes To Salem" Guest Review by Chris Ringgold.

The story starts off in modern times (2012) at U. Mass (presumably the University of Massachusetts) with a Guy asking a young lady about Salem. The woman complains it was "the beginning of religious intolerance against our civil rights as witches!" Chick calls her answer "baloney" and tells us his version of what happened in 1690s America. I gotta say, those are some big old horns Satan sports on the cover and on pages 2 & 3. (He's one horny devil!) Chick also claims that Satan is the "Second most powerful person / being". Really? I thought Satan didn't have any powers, except to deceive and lie to others and (as Lies usually spread around faster than the Truth) maybe that's the point Chick is trying to make.

On page 4, there's a portrait of a Gang of Five "powerful girls" who were responsible for twenty deaths in Salem. One question though: Did The Girls (and Satan) fill Salem Village with misery and hatred or was it already full of misery and hatred before they came on the scene? Anyway, Mr. & Mrs. Putnam, along with "Reverend" Samuel Parris (you know he's not a "real" man of God when Chick places quotes around his title) are three bad seeds who also spread bad influence in Salem. The Girls go to a slave named Tituba, who apparently teaches them all they need to know about Black Magic. The Girls get more people (including animalistic demons) to do their dirty work. Things literally get outta hand on page 7, as Satan's giant claw hovers above various demons, like an evil puppet master. We then learn the names of two "Gang Members" (Abigail and another girl known only as "Old John Proctor's Handmaid"). One gets the impression that Chick is either anti-Semitic or referencing "Pinocchio" when he depicts the demon on page 8 as having a really BIG schnoz.

The poor victims who were declared "witches" really had it bad as they were sentenced to death and damnation using only the "Old Testament" part of the Bible, and never benefitted from the Grace that Jesus taught in the New Testament. (This is something Chick rightly emphasizes in this tract, but has ignored in numerous others.) Chick then proceeds with his main Gospel Message, of how Jesus Christ came to earth as a mortal and died on the cross for all of humanity (including liars, murderers, and real witches). Back in Salem, The Girls (and Salem's other already-mentioned "powerful beings") continue their witchcraft accusations against various people, including pretty women, a homeless mother, plus little old Christian Grandmothers. Some are stripped naked and searched "every inch" for marks of the devil. Not only are they humiliated, but their families are forced to pay for their upkeep in jail. (At least the families of those quickly executed don't have to pay as much. Score!) One accused man named Giles Cory refused to confess to witchcraft. He was crushed to death with huge rocks rather than confess anything because he didn't want to stand trial for something he didn't do. He was the only one not hanged. (That sure showed 'em!)

In a strange twist of fate, the Putnams and Rev. Parris eventually beat Tituba (who only heard stories about witchcraft) into confessing that she was also a witch. Page 17 shows another demon smiling in the midst of a crowd that's shocked and horrified at The Girls' "performances" of calling certain people (including "Godly" ones) out for being practicing witches. Then there's an angle pictured on page 17 recording The Girl's false accusations-- with a hand held tape recorder (instead of the usual video camera Chick's angels use). The Girls became instant celebrities when other villages start wanting them to point out the people among them who are also witches. The Girls kept the act up until they finally went too far and accused the Governor's' Wife of also being a witch. The Governor became furious and outlawed all "special evidence" used by The Girls to condemn their victims. As a result, the Witch hunts stopped and Satan abandoned Salem, returning to Europe to supervise... wait for it... the Roman Catholic Inquisition (until it finally (Saint) Petered out in 1808). The trials made Puritan a dirty word which is forever associated with the infamous Witch Hunts. Chick doesn't really distinguish between fantasy witches and real-life ones, since he believes in both (see Satan's Master, for example). Page 19 seems rather ironic because it disparages modern witches by saying "witches today use this story every Halloween to get attention"-- even though he just did the same thing and acknowledges that the story is true. The next panel shows a stone-faced Pope denying The Inquisition by saying, "You can't prove it! There is no evidence... anymore." Then Chick warns his readers about the coming Judgment Day, which is referred to as "doomsday" (for everyone except good Christians). It includes an all-too-familiar fiery scene of what will happen to those who don't accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

This tract is much creepier than most because it's based on a real-life historical incident of mass hysteria and mob rule that took place here in our own back yard. It's certainly a noteworthy tract since it contradicts earlier assertions that real Christians don't instigate religious persecution like the Catholics (which Chick considers "false" Christians) did. Although 20 dead is nowhere near the victim tally compared to the Catholic competition, the Salem Witch Hunts remain the epitome of what can happen when religious fear overcomes all other forms of reason. Grade B- for Bad Girls. Return to Tracts Page.

Kitty in the Window

"Kitty in the Window" Guest Review by Chris Ringgold.

Aw, such a cute looking kitten on the cover... Surely, this is a Chick tract with a happy ending (or not). The story begins with an angry Mark complaining about the snowy weather outside. Mark looks very sick, and both his mother and sister (Claire) warn him to see a doctor (and to cover his mouth when he coughs-- get a clue, kid). It's painfully obvious that Mark doesn't like his younger sister passing out tracts, citing reasons ranging from "This isn't the African Congo" to it's "the pastor's job, not yours". Mark admits that he just "acts religious" because their mom begs him to go to church. He even thinks church service itself is really just a show. Claire warns Mark that God can see right through him. When Claire tells Mark that she'll be praying for him, Mark yells at her to shut up and doesn't care about what happens to her (or the lost souls that she's passing out tracts to). Claire leaves but prays for Mark and asks God to do His will. She then gets busy passing out tracts to people, including a gentleman in the snow blizzard. Page 5 shows one of several confusing images of Clair from behind. You can't really tell which direction you're seeing her from, and with her thick winter parka on, all we see is a dark, fur-lined void where we expect to see a face. She looks like some sort of Lovecraftian Anemone monster, or the faceless snowbound man from the poster of John Carpenter's The Thing!

Chick then cuts to a 83-year-old woman named Lizzy, who does a monologue about her current situation. She tells the reader how her beauty faded away, her deceased husband was a "devil", and for her birthday (which happens to be today), she plans to hang herself. (What, no cake first?) The tract then switches between scenes of Lizzy's suicide preparation and Claire, who has only one tract left and is asking God whether or not to ring the doorbell. God says "Yes". Claire then rings the doorbell of what's revealed to be Lizzy's house. Lizzy gets very annoyed by the constant ringing and knocking on her door. (Don't you hate it when you can't even kill yourself without interruptions?) It's at this point that Claire sees the cute Kitten in the window that is featured on the cover of the tract. With typical cat detachment, the animal acts completely unconcerned with its owner's suicide attempt. (It probably wouldn't notice unless Lizzy tried to cut off her own head with a can opener.) Claire rings and knocks on the door one more time "for the Kitten". A moment later, Lizzy angrily yanks the door open brandishing an ax. (No wait, that was Lizzy Borden.) Actually, Lizzy opens the door and asks what the girl wants. Claire presents Lizzy a Gospel tract with her contact information on it. Lizzy accepts it (much to the dismay of Satan). Chick then jumps back and forth between three events: 1. Mark sweating and getting sicker with his mother looking very concerned, 2. Lizzy reading the Chick tract that Claire gave her. (It's Chick's "Who Is He?" tract.) 3. Claire walking home when her mother frantically calls with news about Mark "throwing up blood". Claire tells mom to call 911 immediately. The ambulance shows up at the house and tells the worried mother that they're taking her son to Westmont Hospital. After admitting Mark and stabilizing him, an older doctor reminds mom and Claire that, while Mark is fine now, the hospital will be keeping him for a two-day observation.

The next day, a visibly upset Claire asks Mark if he was joking about the church comments he made earlier in the tract. He says that he only "pretended to get saved to make Mom happy" and that "it's all baloney" and he's "too mean to die". (Oh yeah? We'll see about that!) Meanwhile, Lizzy it still at home and realizes how she would've been "in hell screaming" if it wasn't for Claire giving her that Chick tract. It's kind of hard to believe that a woman who has lived for over eight decades has never heard about Jesus, but Lizzy is clearly horrified when she realizes that all her family members and colleagues who've already died didn't make it to Heaven and are roasting below. Lizzy then calls Claire, and asks "Why is there a hell?". Claire cites man's rejection of God as the primary reason and talks about the all-too-familiar story of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection and the rewards for those who believe in Him. Lizzy asks Claire to come pray with her. Claire agrees and the two women pray together, with Lizzy getting saved and already prepared to spread more Chick tracts with Claire.

Back at the hospital room, a frightening scene ensues when Mark screams at the nurse to get those black-lizard demons away from him. The confused nurse claims she can't see any demons. (But you know how those nurses lie. (See Dr. Rebecca Brown's books for details.)) The horrified nurse then talks to the doctor on the phone, stating that while Mark is physically okay, he's "screaming terrible things" about Hell. Suddenly the screaming stops, and the doctor tells her to check on the patient. The nurse then discovers that Mark is already dead and has a look of terror frozen on his face. While Mark is supposed to be deceased, he looks like he's still alive and screaming directly at the nurse. Speaking of "God's Terrible Wrath", God must've been pretty mad at Mark for playing with Him, as He doesn't show Himself in the next scene and didn't delay dragging Mark to hell long enough to shout his customary "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire" mantra. Chick depicts that old dragon of a devil serpent (pitchfork and all) lecturing Mark while blasphemously quoting scripture and telling his henchmen to "set him on fire". Chick provides a gratuitous "Lake of Fire" scene where Mark not only has fire and black smoke burning off his back, but has mysteriously gotten older and much bigger. (Maybe he continues to grow and age during eternity.) There are also much smaller people (including Lizzy's family and colleagues mentioned earlier) burning up along side him there. Chick ends this uplifting tract with an image of another person repenting to Christ and the often-reused illustrations of both Christ and Satan. I felt that Chick should've had God scare the black demons away for a while, so He could judge Mark and properly condemn him to the Lake of Fire. We've come to expect that ritual, and to be denied it is a bit like receiving your ice cream sundae with no cherry on top. Other than that, this tract is a good cautionary tale about why people shouldn't play with God and His church. Grade B for "Burning badly below the basement". Return to Tracts Page.

Is Allah Like You?

"Is Allah Like You?" Guest Review by Chris Ringgold.

The action begins when a kid named Ali is being chased by another kid. During the chase, he bumps into a Muslim woman, knocking a full bucket out of her hand and splashing water on a man and his Qur'an. Ali seems to be scared of the shouting man and runs away terrified. On pages 4-5, we get to meet the Muslim family featured on the tract cover (page 1). Ahmed is One Angry Papa as he not only beats his son Hassan (who was "The Other Kid" at the beginning) but also beats his wife Safiya (with fists!) Safiya and Hassan are obviously hurt by this monstrous Ahmed, as Safiya is crying uncontrollably and covering her mouth (to prevent herself from throwing up blood or spitting out teeth?) The only advice Monster Papa gives Hassan is to "be a man" and "milk the goat". Hassan wonders to himself whether Allah is also a monster like his dad.

Ahmed goes to his Uncle Yousef's house, to ask more questions about their "Holy" Quran and its teachings. Ahmed must've asked Uncle Yousef if wife beating is a family tradition, because the Uncle tells his nephew that he also beats his wife as part of his Muslim duties to Allah (apparently Muslim guys never spare the rod). Yousef tells Ahmed to study not only the Quran but also The Hadith (a series of books documenting the "Prophet" Muhammad's statements and actions) and to study those books hard, too. Meanwhile, Hassan is back home telling his mother how afraid he is of his father. The mother tells him to be quiet so they won't both get in even more trouble (aka beaten). They apparently live in either a Middle Eastern and/or Muslim-majority country where women and kids expect abuses from the "man of the house".

Once back home, Ahmed receives a letter that doesn't have any sender information and he immediately assumes a "Christian" sent it. (Somebody must've offered Christ to Ahmed before and he turned them down.) The next few pages show Hassan whispering to Safiya that papa has locked his door and Safiya warns that he is studying and shouldn't be disturbed. Meanwhile, Ahmed gets angry and takes the challenge to play the Christian's "Sura Game". Ahmed then has a nervous breakdown, shouting "This Can't Be", and "That's Not Fair!" after reading that Muslims are to be judged by their actions, even if Allah decides to "mislead" them. Safiya and Hassan are clueless as to what's going on in Ahmed's study. Ahmed gets "The Hadith" book in hopes of clearing up any confusion about The Quran. Ahmed realizes that The Quran isn't a Holy Book "descended from heaven" but a human creation originally written on various objects, including rocks, palm branches, and camel bones. Two nights of study pass by, and Ahmed also realizes that many Arabic words have no real meaning. Not only that, he finds out that "prophet" Muhammad was only a human being who had - wait for it - 23 wives! (That's a lot of women to beat!) Not only that, but many of them were previously married to other husbands whom he forced to get a divorce. (Sloppy seconds, Muhammad, really?) Perhaps a better image of "Satan/Muhammad" is the one Chick uses on the cover of a later tract called "Keep the Secret". Satan is so busy perverting religions, destroying people's morals, and ruining their lives, it's amazing he has any time left for recreational torture of the millions down below.

Back to the tract: Page 12 and 13, Ahmed is shocked to discover that Islam is really a religion of fear, terror, and violence. Safiya and Hassan knock on the door to let Daddy Dearest know that dinner is ready. Ahmed yells at them to get lost, he's still reading. (I guess that "fear, terror, and violence" thingy hasn't quite sunk in yet.) On the safe side of the door, Safiya laments to her son how her life is a "living hell", and how she lives in constant fear (of both Ahmed and Allah). Her son agrees, saying "Me too." Pages 14-16 goes back to Ahmed wondering "what kind of god" would keep changing his mind and contradicting himself, which leads to Ahmed praying to the Real God, who responds by telling him to "Go to the Market". As he leaves, Safiya wonders where Ahmed is going and why. He says, "Do not worry," (which, coming from a habitual wife beater, means she might want to get some bandages ready).

A guy at the market gives Ahmed a book that'll change his life - "The Words of The Prophet Jesus." (Perhaps that guy was the same Christian who anonymously sent Ahmed the "Sura Game" in the mail?) A week passes by and Ahmed starts to read verses to his paranoid wife about the Good News of Jesus Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter to them" and "Give honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel." Safiya knows those words didn't come from Allah. (It's missing the broilerplate fear, terror, or violence.) Safiya is "honored" and "amazed" and wants to learn more. Ahmed goes into full narration mode by telling her The Gospel Message of how Jesus died on the cross for all their sins and rose from the grave three days later. Little Hassan asks the new and improved Ahmed "can I come in" and Ahmed happily agrees, also telling his son about Jesus. Ahmed apologizes to both Safiya and Hassan for treating them like punching bags and promises never to hurt them again. Hassan forgives his father and Safiya wants to surrender her life to Jesusl. The teary eyed boy admits he was wrong and reveals the final answer to this tract's title question...that Allah is "nothing like" his caring father.

Chick ends the tract by repeating the Gospel Message of Christ. It was a little disappointing to see Chick skip a few story points / panels (perhaps to keep the tract at the standard 24 pages), such as Ahmed leaving Uncle Yousef's house and Ahmed getting the "Christian letter" from the mailbox, doorstep, or however they receive their letters (maybe cam-mail?) However, it was fun to see Ahmed discover Allah as the story's "devil in disguise" and Islam as an ancient form of Satanism disguised as a legitimate "Abrahamic / Christian Religion". Grade B-. Return to Tracts Page.


Rev. 9.13.17

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