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© 2020 Monsterwax
Chaplain Dann: The Human Tract Dispenser
Many people have passed out many tracts, but few can compare with the millions of tracts dispersed by one man: Chaplain Dann. If you read a lot of Chick tracts, you've seen Chaplain Dann at work. He's the fellow who gave Dr. Westhall a tract in the Reverend Wonderful. He does the same to a woman in The Letter tract. In both instances, he's scorned for his efforts. Politically Correct Christians are embarrassed and outraged that he would DARE pass out such "hate lit." But that doesn't stop Chaplain Dann from passing out more. He figures the more outraged they become, the more it proves they need the Gospel.
Chaplain Dann looks exactly the way he does in the tracts. His name is really Chaplain Dann as well. Even his truck if faithfully represented in the tract, complete with the actual license tag, "1hope-4U". Chaplain Dann owns a landscaping business, and also ministers to prisoners. You could call him a modern Johnny Apple Seed, only he plants tracts, as well as actual trees!
Chaplain Dann met Jack Chick back in 1975 and remained friends with him until Chick's death. The two had a lot in common. Both were born in 1924. both served in the Pacific during WW2 (Dann as a Marine), and both feel the word of God has been watered down with modern translations and political correctness. In fact, it was Chaplain Dann who told Chick about the modern theologians bad-mouthing the King James Bible in Seminaries, and that story became the central plot of Chick's comic book, Sabotage. The image of the central character pictured on the the inside back cover is that of Chaplain Dann (from his wedding picture). The main character is also called "Slator", which is Dann's real last name.
In 2010, Chaplain Dann was immortalized in his very own Crusaders comic, called Unwanted. It features Dann's real life story. Although it skips many chapters in Dann's life and a few details are off, it tells the colorful but rough life Dan lived on his way to Christ. How he survived numerous close calls during and after WW2, yet scorned God until finding Jesus after watching an artist give an illustrated flip chart presentation about Heaven and Hell. Who was that artist? The comic doesn't say. But Chaplain Dann would tell anyone who asks... It was Jack Chick! So art imitates life in this comic.
He was also known as Cowboy Chaplain Dann, because he used to rope cattle before the war and clings to his Western roots. Dann had actually drawn and written several of his own tracts. Although they can't compare to the professional art of Jack Chick or especially Fred Carter, they are fun to read for Chick fans. One reason is because he cuts out and pastes his image from Chick's tracts into his own tracts. So you'll be reading a rather crudely drawn tract with hand drawn lettering when suddenly, the beautiful line art of Fred Carter jumps out at you and Dann appears in character, then suddenly, it returns to the primative artwork.
Even after his failing health forced Dann to retire, and the passing of his long time wife has left him a widower, he continued to evangelize using various Chick tracts and comics. For the last quarter of a century, he routinely journeyed to Chick Publications to stock up on materials which he sent at his own expense to prisons and other needy missionary outlets.
Chaplain Dann dies December 2019, but sees his book published in 2017: Chaplain Dann died in December 8th, 2019 at the age of 95. However, he did live to see the publishing of his Autobiography, From Cowboy Trails to Soldier Tales. "Cowboy" Chaplain Dann is the same fellow featured in The Letter & Reverend Wonderful tract, as well as the Unwanted Crusaders comic book. He's passed out over a 1,000,000 Chick tracts, plus he drew at least a dozen different of his own self published tracts (which are also reproduced in the book). It's a very fun read with lots of photos and illustrations. You can order his book here for just $7. (Measures 8.5 x 11" with 126 pages, including 12 original Dann tracts fully reprinted.)
Older Nov. 2014 Update: Chaplain Dann was also featured on the Unshackled radio series. Unshackled is the longest running radio drama series still on the air, and it tells stories about how Christianity changes lives. Check out the Dann Slator episodes (parts 1 & 2) on their archive page for broadcast dates 11-16-14 and 11-23-14. You may recognize a lot of the story if you read Chick's Crusader comic, Unwanted. Congratulations Chaplain Dann!
Dann's hand drawn tracts from the 1980s are rare, so ChickComics.com is proud to put as many of them on-line as possible (see below).
See Chaplain Dann's Traveling Tract case, and notes for his presentation... only here at ChickComics.com!
The Party Time tract cover features a photo of Dann (far right) having a drink with a young Marlon Brando (center) and his buds.
Dann's home-made but mass produced Tracts:
Most these tracts were printed 500 or 1,000 at a time with a regular off set printer (using metal sheets). Then Dann would cut them up and staple them together. A few were not cut into tracts and passed out in sheets (in prisons where staples were not allowed, since prisoners used them to make tattoos). Most were drawn by Dann, but a few were drawn by a gay artist that Dann helped become straight. His name was Rod, but sometimes he lists it as "Rob" on the cover. There were two other tracts that were never published by different artists (a variation of Biker's Weekend and a Spanish tract). To say these tracts are truely rare is an understatement indeed!
Bikers Weekend (drawn by Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA) Crude artwork (dated 1983), but originally, this tract was being completely redrawn by a talented artist in prison named Anderson. But the artist was then released, and the redrawn version was never finished. The existing tract is Dann's art, depicting a tale of two young women who are kidnapped by Bikers and pray for help. They get it, but the Bikers don't fare too well. There are three versions. The first two were drawn by Dann, and they are presented side by side for comparison. The top one is the final published version, and below that, the storyboard (the original rough draft). The third version was professionally drawn but never finished or published. Notice that the dialog was updated from the rough draft to the final version, with words like "gals" and "dames" changed to "broads" and "chicks". It is unclear who modernized the lingo, but it may have been Anderson while he was redrawing the tract, suggesting Dann's finished version was based on his rewrite. However, Dann recalls that he gave Anderson a finished tract to draw from, rather than the rough draft. (So we may never know for sure-- unless Anderson himself resurfaces and comments!)
The Burdens (drawn by Cowboy Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA-- dated 2010) A cowboy with heavy burdens rides out to ask Cowboy Dann why he always seems happy. Dann tells how he met a dying train enginner who explained the Peace of Jesus Christ. This was just the rough draft which Dann intended on redrawing, but people liked the rough draft, so he never did the redrawn version and used the rough instead.
Choice of Execution (drawn by Chaplain Dann, circa 1999) A science fiction story of sorts, about what happens when prisoners are allowed to chose the way they are executed.
Cowboy's Last Round-up (drawn by Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA) Crude artwork (dated 1981) from Chaplain Dann. It tells the story of how a friend rode Dann's horse, falls, is injured, but eventually gets saved. Dann also made this tract in Spanish with all redrawn art by another unnamed artist. That tract is called Ultimao Huntedo De Los Vagueros.
From Carl to Carla to Christ (story by Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA) Crude artwork (dated 1983) from a gay artist named Rod whom Dann saved (but changed his name for the tract to Carl). Whenever Dann appears in the tract, the artist pastes in Dann's image from Chick's tract. The way homosexuals are presented may seem stereotyped and outrageous, but the story is autobiographical. The artist was busted for gay prostitution, then saved in prison by Dann. He drew the tract for Dann in appreciation for Dann's spiritual guidance. His initials are RSL, but in another tract (Golden Years), his first name is listed as "Rob" (though sometimes he's credited in other tracts as "Rob"). So in reality, it went from Carl, to Carla, to Rod, and sometimes Rob! (We never do find out what his other initials stood for.) Dann recalls that this was printed in two printings of 500 each.
Get Thee Behind Me Satan (by Chaplain Dann, La Verne, Ca.) A lost tract, only the cover remains (see bottom of page). If you find a copy of this-- or any other unlisted Dann tract-- please alert us.
Golden Years (by Chaplain Dann, La Verne, Ca.) Crude artwork dated 1986 "by Dann and Rob" (but the art and lettering show it is actually Rod of RSL fame.) Bill is a prison guard who retires and plans the good life. A co-worker stores some stolen coins in Bill's safe. The co-worker dies and robbers break into the safe. The cops catch the intruders and spot the hot coins. Bill is arrested and is sent to the same jail where he worked. He finds some of Chaplain Dann's tracts and becomes saved. Dann prays for him to be exonerated and Bill is soon released. This tract had the "Banks" character's name redacted after prison officials got mad the guard featured was actual staff. (The guard told Dann he could use his name, but changed his story when officials got angry about it.)
Golden Years (by Chaplain Dann, La Verne, Ca.) This is the original "rough draft" storyboard that Dann drew and Rod used for the panel by panel blueprint of the story. Bill is a prison guard who retires and plans the good life. A co-worker stores some stolen coins in Bill's safe. The co-worker dies and robbers break into the safe. The cops catch the intruders and spot the hot coins. Bill is arrested and is sent to the same jail where he worked. He finds some of Chaplain Dann's tracts and becomes saved. Dann prays for him to be exonerated and Bill is soon released.
The Loner (Drawn by Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA). A faux autobiographical story about Dann's early cowboy exploits, when he first started breaking horses at the famous Matador Ranch in Channing Texas. According to the tract, rookie Dann becomes the victim of hazing by the other hands. He's beat up and left bleeding on the side of the road. The daughter of the manager nurses and ministers to him, and Dann turns to Christ. That girl later becomes his wife (though that future is not mentioned in the tract). Her name is Esther, and many of the images have her actual photograph pasted in over the illustration (as does Dann). Although Dann did in fact work as a cowboy at the Matador Ranch before WW2, and cowboys did play cruel jokes on one another, the plot is fictional. Dann didn't meet Esther until after the war when he was discharged from the Marines. The tract is dated 1983.
Long Way To The Son (by Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA) This was apparently drawn by Rod (initials "RSL") but not credited (See the identical style in Party Time and From Carl to Carla to Christ. Dated the same time, circa 1983.) It gives autobiographical details about Dann's early childhood, tidbits that would be flushed out later when Chick published the full color comic on Dann entitled Unwanted. Dann and his younger brother are both shown on the cover photograph. There are two varieties: the usual 24 page version, but also an extended 32 page version (that uses 62 panels instead of 46). (The art is all the same, just fewer panels in the 24 page version.) There was also a spanish translation made with the same art translated by "Nachos Jr.", but it is unclear is the mock-up was ever actually printed.
Party Time (Story by Chaplain Dann, La Verne, Ca.) Tells the story of a clean cut boy who falls in with the wrong crowd and suffers the near fatal consequences. David graduates Christian high school with honors. His father gives him a car. Instead of going to college, he starts to party with porn queens. He doesn't "do it" with them, however, so when the car goes over the cliff, the tart dies but he is spared. He brings other sinners to Christ at the funeral. The art is credited to "Rod", which is the same artist who drew From Carl to Carla to Christ (initials "RSL"). The cover photo is a group with Marlon Brando having drinks, including Chaplain Dann (far right corner). Dann met befriended the actor in Hollywood after Brando finished filming The Wild One, and joined the actor at a nightclub in Mexico for drinks (where the photo was taken). The undated tract was published circa 1984.
Rail Roaded (Drawn by Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA) Crude artwork (date unknown) from the same Dann featured in Chick's tract, Reverend Wonderful. Whenever he appears in the tract, Dann pastes in his image from Chick's tract. This is the story of a fellow who is framed and goes to prison, but prayers are answered when Chaplain Dann visits the framed convict and he is soon released. Circa 1980s.
The Revenge Seekers (Drawn by Chaplain Dann, La Verne, Ca.) In this story, Cowboy Dann is a gunslinger who is shot by outlaws. He is rescued by a couple and nursed back to health. When he leaves, the outlaws arrive to rob the couple and burn down their church. Dann returns and sets out to catch and kill the thieves. The bandits find a Bible in the loot and become saved. Dann catches them but they have changed. They all return to the newly rebuilt church and live happily ever after. Dated 1983. 500 of this story were made and distributed in sheet form, and probably never released as actual tracts.
This Was Your Life (writing by Vol. Cowboy Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA (based on Chick's story)) This was apparently drawn by Rod (dated 1985). The very crude art version of the famous Chick tract story, only featuring a native American cast. Chick knew and approved of this tract using the same story from Chick's most popular tract. Years later, Chick drew his own native American version of One Way which he called, The True Path. Dann made tracts out of this, but he also 11 X 17 sheets (which are permitted in prisons that don't permit staples because inmates use them to make tatoos).
Ultimao Huntedo De Los Vagueros (by Vol. Cowboy Chaplain Dann, La Verne CA). A Spanish version of Cowboy's Last Round Up with all redrawn art by another unnamed artist (a Mexican prisoner, probably "Nachos Jr.," the same person who translated Long Way To The Son). The plot is identical to Cowboy's Last Round Up. This tract was never printed or published before, it's the only known copy. It was circa 1982.
Alternate Dann Art: This is the original artwork or roughs (storyboard) for Party Time. It's by Dann instead of "Rod" (who ended up drawing the final tract.) Here is also what looks like the original storyboard for The Revenge Seekers
There is also a story sheet for a spanish version of Hi There that Dann had drawn by another artist, but we're still looking for that one, plus another version of This Was Your Life called End of the Trail or something like that (which we're still searching for). Another possible (but lost) tract was Get Thee Behind Me. Sadly, those may have been lost to the winds of time! (But if you encounter them, please notify us.)
Above: Original art to cover of a missing tract. Have you seen it?
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