One of the problems with recent Chick tracts has been the artwork. As I've said before, Jack Chick's stroke and Fred Carter's prolonged absence have had a horrible knockon effect -- Chick's recovery, both as writer and artist, has been slow, while Carter's post-Light of the World output has been slapdash. Chick's experimentation with continuity bore out what Gabe and Tycho constantly joke about: some people just shouldn't play with that particular lighter. The few standalone tracts to come out of the Bob years and beyond had been pale shadows of the scintillatingly trashy past. Efforts at dense plotting fell flat. I began to worry.
I stopped worrying once I saw The Wall. This month's Chick/Carter collaboration, while still no Soul Story, finally gets back to what made the older tracts work: B-movie plotting, dialogue so painfully wrought that the prosletysing doesn't feel the least bit out of place, and an artfully understated Hell Toss that could have gone either way.
I want to believe that Chick stayed up late one night watching nothing but reruns of Speed Racer and The Dukes of Hazzard. It's not quite right somehow -- Carter can't decide whether he wants Mach GoGoGo or Hazzardish kineticism, so panels which should drip motion end up feeling a bit static. But the Nifty Cars rerun vibe is very, very strong indeed. I wish I still had my notes to hand as regards the cars themselves, though (it was pointed out to me by a Formula One fan that the cars, especially when crashing, simply don't work).
Fred Carter is clearly getting back into his element, incidentally, even if he's not doing much reference work for the actual racing elements. He's clearly been puzzling out digital shading, and it seems to be finally clicking for him. The earlier Kidnapped!, which tries desperately to hearken back to his early, lush tone style, falls over in a fit of blur and smear. Here, he's finally managing a compromise between spare line and subtle greys; he's got a ways to go before we start thinking Soul Story again, but the confidence is back. Now, if we can just get past the mouths again, we're set.
I'm not 100% certain Chick's confidence is back as regards antagonists, though. Kim Lee is a serviceably stereotypical sexpot, but she's not much of a motivation. She's very much defanged. One would be hard pressed to find evidence that Chick reacts to negative feedback, but Kim is very much the antithesis of other recent non-Christian devouts; we never find out just what it is she practices, she's not particularly vicious, and her ultimatum may well be more complex and considered than it appears at first glance. (Yes, at second glance, it's pretty hypocritical and ridiculous -- it's fair enough not to want an intolerant husband, but the Jesus/boingyboingy thing doesn't really work as phrased.) I can't decide if she's a subtle thorn or a minimally considered device. Either way, she works well as eye candy, and I do like that we're not getting OMG FOREIGN RELIGION IS EVIL in the usual forceful way.
Even so. Dude. Racecars, hot chicks and moonshine probably mean we're back on track.
They can give us Ms. Henn's Night Out now. Have I mentioned that I'd held out, expecting a new Li'l Susy this month? Rar.