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Eric: Because I'm in a bad mood... it's ON, Alberto!

I'm in a bad mood. The day job's conspiring to put me in a bad mood and Apple's "Pages" application has proven to be... well, let's just call it a disappointment, because someone would probably be upset if I called it a "misbegotten piece of shit that fails to meet the standard of Appleworks 5.0, much less modern Word Processors of any stripe." No way to change fonts except in a font panel that isn't even a part of the inspector my ASS... Jesus, this thing's better optimized to change the Kerning than the Font size, and who in God's name are they targeting this to? WHY IS THERE A DELAY IN TYPING? IT'S GOD DAMNED TIMES NEW ROMAN 12 POINT! THERE SHOULD BE NO RENDERING DELAY, YOU FUCKTARDS!

But I digress.

Needless to say, I'm in the perfect mood to discuss Alberto.

Let me say up front I'm not going to address the subject matter directly. That's Wednesday's bag, and she holds it well. I'm not going to discuss whether or not Alberto really was an officer of the Inquisition working for the Black Pope within Vatican City sent forth to destroy Protestant churches from within working alongside Catholic girls who use sex as a weapon to get time off in Purgatory. I don't have primary sources to work from, and Hell -- in a world where Kelly Clarkson still has a career, I'm willing to accept almost anything as being possible. If you're curious, go and read the thing. It's free. And it just might make you think.

If, that is, you can get past the execution. See, the execution? That's my bag.

Let's start with the art. I don't normally criticize art, but then I don't normally snark stuff that's been in continuous print as a comic book since 1979 and translated into multiple languages, either, so I feel it's probably acceptable, this time.

Which is more than I can say for this art. I can actually groove on the art in a number of Chick tracts, so it's not the material per se. In fact, Fred Carter (the artist in question) did some excellent work in several. Wed's posts on the subject highlights that. Here, though, Carter goes a bit nuts -- perhaps it's the inclusion of color. I don't know. The faces and poses of the figures range from the stiff to the grotesque, with linework that's heavy and distracting. A tremendous amount of work goes into each panel's background -- attempting to demonstrate a sense of accuracy. "We know what we're talking about." it seems to say. "Look at how carefully we show the costuming and office accouterments of a Catholic Priest." The problem is, it overwhelms the foreground -- especially since the figures look like statues with exaggerated expressions carved into them.

That's relatively minor, however. That's not what gets me staring at Alberto... and truly gets me rereading it again and again and again. No, for that, we need to look at... the text.

Here's the exact text of a caption we find on page 2:

Under the intense (heavy) teaching by *Jesuit Priests Alberto had completely changed.

Now, the asterisk led to a footnote underneath that read "*The sharpest group of Priests in the Roman Catholic Institution," which admittedly is a good description of the Jesuits. But let's look at this more closely.

Chick, in writing that caption, felt a need to define both "Jesuit" and "intense." Now, obviously Chick was hoping children would read this. Especially Catholic children. I mean, this is testimony. That's the actual point. And obviously he wanted to make it clear to younger readers what certain words mean.

But... he felt the need to define "Intense?"

Further, and I admit this is the English Major in me rearing its ugly, tweed-festooned head, but he mixed styleguides to do it. I was trained in MLA style, which means I typically put parenthetical comments and notes in parentheses as a part of the paragraph, be those supplemental notes or citation references. The Chicago Manual of Style Guide, on the other hand, advocates the use of footnotes for supplemental notes and citations (at least, for Humanities articles. Scientific articles or Internet-published works get other treatment).

Chick, in one caption, has used both styles of annotation at once. It's a madhouse. A MADHOUSE! I'm almost positive Jesus didn't tell him to do that!

The definition thing is what leaps out at you, though. Chick defines words like he's desperately afraid the reader is about to suffer a stroke, peppering the text with parenthetical asides and asterisks throughout. Some of them make sense -- Seminary, for example. A kid might not know what a Seminary is. However, far more difficult words and concepts don't get defined at all, and some astoundingly simple concepts do.

Here's a partial list of terms specifically defined in Alberto, along with their definition:

  • Seminary
  • Intense
  • Sacraments
  • Protestantism
  • Intelligencia
  • Vatican
  • Rector
  • Celibacy (a reverse definition, as they explain that Priests can't marry in the body of the text, and then footnote the single word 'celibacy'
  • Celibacy (they actually footnote a definition of the word again on the next page, though this time at least the word is being defined, rather than the definition being footnoted with the term)
  • Authority
  • Canon (another reverse definition)
  • Stone (which apparently means a 'small pebble')
  • Dominicans (defined as "monks in an order founded by a man named Dominic. Um... 'kay)
  • Tribunal
  • Deny
  • Recant
  • Repent
  • Espionage (again)
  • Infiltrate
  • Sentiments (defined as 'feelings')
  • One World Superchurch
  • Deacons
  • Isolate
  • Controversial
  • Persecution
  • Corruption
  • Unpardonable (defined as "one who can't be pardoned or forgiven")
  • Documents (defined as 'papers and forms')
  • Lake of Fire. (That's right. He felt the reader wouldn't recognize the Lake of Fire as Hell by the context. To his defense, I have been through New Jersey a number of times.)

And here's a partial list of terms that were not defined in Alberto.

  • Indulgence
  • Baptism
  • Eucharist
  • Confirmation
  • Extreme Unction
  • Theocracy
  • Apostle
  • Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur
  • Inquisition
  • Pentacostal
  • Evangelical
  • Fundamentalist
  • Denomination
  • Ecumenical
  • Charismatic Movement
  • Baal
  • Concordat
  • Apostacy

So... Chick... felt he had to define "Protestant" but not "Evangelical" or "Pentacostal." He was willing to accept that the reader knew "Ecumenical," "Extreme Unction" and "Apostacy," but thought they might have trouble with "Intense," "Infiltrate" and "Stone."


The story is told as a retelling of Alberto Rivera's life and his duties as a destroyer of Protestant churches -- a simple recitation of events to a couple of Christians who are helping hide him from the Catholics who are trolling America, trying to kill him. Said Christian punctuate the story with phrases like "Heavy." ("That is heavy stuff, man!") Absent the definitions, it would just be a somewhat suspect story punctuated by oddly stiff and lifeless art from an artist who could clearly do better. With those definitions, however, it becomes something more. Drinking games could be founded around the way Jack Chick helpfully lets the reader know what documents are. By the time you get to the conversion checklist at the back (every Chick publication ends with the checklist for how to be saved. If you're not familiar with the process, you can find it here -- don't let it be said I was unwilling to let you hear the basic message) you've had a plethora of new ideas (concepts) to mull over (think about).

Is that on enough? Is it? Huh? Ball's in your court, Wednesday!

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 29, 2005 3:15 PM


Comment from: Brandon E. posted at March 29, 2005 5:06 PM

Hilarious. It is nice to see chick criticized for something other then his insane religious views.

Comment from: Lyndon W posted at March 29, 2005 5:09 PM

A few of the characters look like they forgot to put some sunscreen on last time they went to the beach.

Comment from: quiller posted at March 29, 2005 5:40 PM

That really is rich, a definition for deny but none for apostasy! Could anyone parody Jack Chick as well as Jack Chick is a parody of himself?

Comment from: Lyndon W posted at March 29, 2005 6:05 PM

Scott Kurtz did an OK job. Just scroll to the bottom of http://www.pvponline.com/rants_jesus.php3

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 29, 2005 7:01 PM

*gives the nice Mr. Burns an oatcake and backs away slowly.*

Comment from: Minivet posted at March 29, 2005 7:21 PM

Actually, I think he did define ecumenical, on page 23.

I liked the careful use of "blasphemy." "That's total b- b- blasphemy, man!"

And he misspells "apostasy"...

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at March 29, 2005 9:33 PM

"Chick, in one caption, has used both styles of annotation at once. It's a madhouse. A MADHOUSE! I'm almost positive Jesus didn't tell him to do that!

Eric, I positively lol'd right there. That was amazing.

Is that on enough? Is it? Huh? Ball's in your court, Wednesday!

Uh oh, Weds. I think... I think you just got SERVED!

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at March 29, 2005 9:38 PM

There's something very funny about the 'One World Superchurch'. Superchurch is great name for a band too!

Comment from: Johnny Assay posted at March 29, 2005 10:44 PM

Hehe... I didn't realize this was a Crusaders comic. Nice.

Comment from: gwalla posted at March 29, 2005 11:36 PM

Reading about Jack Chick is like spelunking in American society. I guess I've been sheltered, living out in California. I need to have these weird, inexplicable undercurrents pointed out to me.

Comment from: AndrewWade posted at March 30, 2005 12:15 AM

Any chance of getting an update on Annie anytime soon?

While we're on the topic of Satan-worshippers and all...

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at March 30, 2005 12:40 AM

Excellent article. I especially enjoy (like) your satrical usage (application) of parenthetical definitions (meanings) near the end. If only you had added (put in) a footnote*. Then I would have been happy (overjoyed).

*A piece of additional (supplemental) information named for its placement at the "foot" (bottom) of a paper.

Comment from: Phalanx posted at March 30, 2005 9:12 AM

Me, I just love the recursive definitions. I mean, the guy explains "unpardonable" using the word "pardonable".

It reminds me of a prank my sister once pulled on a teacher where she defined "Opposite" as "The opposite of the meaning of the Same."

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 30, 2005 10:05 AM

Uh oh, Weds. I think... I think you just got SERVED!

No, see, I served him, and then he served me back, and it's on. We're in the post-serve.

Comment from: hitch posted at March 30, 2005 10:34 AM

so...we're past the single servings, into the second course?

Comment from: Black Dove posted at March 30, 2005 11:11 AM

I can post!

It must be a miracle of Christ after reading that pamplet; now the gates of communication are indeed open unto me. All things are possible with the Lord, even Typekey access. How could I ever have doubted Mr. Chick?


Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 30, 2005 12:03 PM

You see, the way I see it, Eric really did pull a Piro on us. Wednesday called him out on it, which he eventually responded to, without touching upon the topic Wednesday *actually* brought up. (Which Eric himself touched upon in relation to another topic.)

And she got served? Served what, a watercress sandwich or some camomille tea?

Man, when you promise it's on, Eric, actually bring something on which it can actually be.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 30, 2005 1:43 PM

Calm down, 32. This is only the initial round of retroservice.

We have to build the degree to which on is.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at March 30, 2005 2:13 PM

I don't even care who gets served what, or even if there's any serving going on. I'm here for the articles and if I enjoy the articles, I'm happy.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 30, 2005 2:35 PM

Bah, silly comes across less than I had hoped. I mean, seriously, watercress sandwiches? Who eats those?

Besides me, I mean.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 30, 2005 9:47 PM

I'm sure someone does.

Sandwiches are the scariest food ever invented by man that wasn't pie.

Comment from: the_iron_troll posted at March 30, 2005 9:57 PM

G'buh? But, but, it's pie! It's not scary - it's delicious! It calls to me, with it's siren song!

I mean, I guess if you're on a diet, pie is kinda scary...

And I like sammiches...

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 30, 2005 10:50 PM

Wait... you called pie and sandwiches... scary?

Oh, say what you want about Piro, but when you take on pie and sandwiches... now it's *really* on!

Get Kitchen Stadium ready... I want this to go down Iron Chef-style. I'll beat you with my mom's apple pie recipe and my yogurt-watercress sandwich combo.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 31, 2005 9:10 AM

How can this possibly go down Iron Chef stylee when I fear both the sandwich and the pie? What to make?


No standing on the cutting board, either. Because. Dude.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 31, 2005 9:28 AM

Pie is a finished product... I think the battle would have to be Battle of Flaky Crust. Or perhaps Battle of All-Purpose Flour.

And you have to admit, if you did pull off Pie With No Pie, you'd have just won the entire thing.

And please, do I look like Todd English? I'm way too furry, fat, and ugly. Plus, even *I* have some level of self-respect.

Comment from: larksilver posted at March 31, 2005 11:28 AM

I am constantly amazed at how a post about one thing can completely morph into something else so quickly. This phenomenon should be studied by the top psychological and sociological anthropologists of current culture, as I think it bears greatly on the functionality of the modern mind.

It seems to be a natural progression, usually.. and suddenly you look up and find you're nowhere NEAR where you started... sometimes you're not even in the same zip code (or on the same continent, depending on the severity of the case).

Alas, poor Alberto, not only has he been "immortalized" in Chick tracts, but now even that has been shunted aside for watercress sandwiches and the Fear Of Being Pie. Wow. hehe

Did I miss the bit where the fellows from Monty Python jumped in with an odd graphic and a voiceover that said "And now for something completely different?" Again, wow. ehehe

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