Just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving

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[From Jack Chick's 'The Missing Day'.]
(From this season's Jack Chick tract, "The Missing Day". Click for dysfunctional family gathering.)

In recent years, Chick has relied entirely too heavily upon the lone voice of ostensible reason in a crowd of nonsensical sin. This is not to say that both of these haven't been devices from the get-go, but these days it's really getting phoned in. Maybe Bob Williams ate all the distinguishing characteristics, only to lose them when he went to convert Sparklypoo House away from witchcraft.

Uncle Mort's a bit of a confusing choice for the hero-preacher, though. He's supposedly rich, not a quality generally associated with Chickverse Christians who are still alive at the end of the tract. Worse, the family forgets all about this the second he starts telling the Thanksgiving story with a strongly evangelistic bent. It only gets brought up as a way to point out the matriarch's desire for his cash -- there's no way we can actually have Beloved Uncle Mort just be Beloved Uncle Mort here -- but it's an odd message. Even Scrooge went batshit charitable in the Chickverse. This guy's just, as they say, loaded. That's all. Which begs the question of why he's hanging around with these degenerates to begin with.

(This is the second tract in a row where we've gotten pointless extra detail, too. In the disjointed, otherwise unremarkable "What's Wrong With This?", a prankster kid and a grumpy old man clash to no useful end whatsoever. What? Was that supposed to be emblematic of the fundamental corruption of man? Bring back Little Bobby. Seriously.)

Chick's usually been quite good at comedy sin, too, but his heart just isn't in this hilarious family tableau. "My blood sugar's low" just doesn't rate with rallying the one-world heathen witch drunkard troops to chase down a passing Christian and "give him the business!" It's a nice touch to have all the parties cancelled "on account of fire," and it's good to have the jolly fat demons back again, but it's all been done. He's floundering. Even the drug references and homosexual demon are half-arsed. Maybe he really does need to stick to writing behind the scenes at this stage; he just doesn't seem happy anymore.

The most alarming thing about this Thanksgiving Chick tract: does this mean we're not going to get a Halloween tract this year? I guess there really is no following up to delightful Li'l Susy's tales of human sacrifice, which is something of a shame.

We haven't really heard from Li'l Susy this year at all, come to think of it. Pity. Maybe Ms. Henn killed and ate her. That wouldn't be so bad.

45 Comments

Ah, good ol' Jack Chick. I keep meaning to do a parody of one of these things, but it's stuck somewhere in the middle of mile-long To Do list.

I like how Chick conveniently doesn't mention how even though all the heathen Indians were sent by God to save the good Christians, they're going to burn in Hell because they didn't accept Jesus. Seeing an Indian tossed into the lake of fire with the classic HAW HAW HAW would've been a nice finish.

That's some gratitude for ya, aeh?

And as a for-practical-purposes atheist, I've never thought of Thanksgiving as a Christian holiday and have never heard of someone not being allowed to say it (or Christmas even) in school. WTF? We used to dress up like Pilgrims and Indians in elementary school.

My favorite bit has to be the kid dealing PCP and crack the moment he walks in the door, in front of all the adults. I wonder, is Chick exaggerating on purpose for humorous effect, or does he really believe that sort of thing goes on in "unsaved" households?

Oh man, I loved that Li'l Susy tract. Especially since it used the classic device from my personal favorite, "The Bull" - salvation via Chick tract.

As for this one... yeah, it doesn't really seem like Chick's heart is in it anymore. Like he's run out of juice. It's like he can't even be bothered to make a token effort to disguise the caricatures anymore as such.

ALL PARTIES CANCELLED DUE TO FIRE

You know, I'm actually a bit surprised that when Chick made note of the Puritans he didn't take the time to fire a shot at the Catholic church.

This is a bit off-topic, but this summer I performed with a community theater group with a guy whose mother once dated Jack Chick. They split when God spoke to Jack and told him to move to California to draw comics and he left her behind. She was actually at the performance... I guess I should have talked to her.

Any one remember this?

God told Jack to draw comics in California? He'd have to be pretty darn sure God wanted him to draw comics instead of standing out in front of wandering college students on campus proclaiming God, I suppose.

I'm pretty sure the whole "Squanto speaking perfect English" is a myth. The way I understand it, the Pilgrims and Indians took several years to develop a relationship that allowed the Pilgrims to be better equipped to handle New England's weather. And yeah, Jin, you'd think Chick would have said something about how either some of them did convert to God or not?

The thing about Jack Chick's work that always fasincates me is that yes, he does have a valid point in most of his comics, but then he clutters it with stereo archtypes and either misinformation or just plain false stuff that either you believe it dispite the clutter, or you can't. Take this case, his point is Thanksgiving should be a day to worship God for what He has done. But the misinformation and the blatant stereotypical sinners he has protrayed around the kid and Uncle Mortimer makes it really hard to be convinced that you should take the next step towards conversion.

But then, that's the problem with most televangelists works, and even some protestant and catholic material. How do you deal with the over-the-top messages of the Bible without sounding like you're a loon? My music teacher had a Bible commentary that was really heavy into end-times stuff, trying to read every single verse of the Bible as to have something involving the then current end-times of communism and the like. I can't remember exactly where was it, it had something to do with the beginning of Revelations, the mother of all apcalyptic text. In it, I believe he was comparing Jesus's role as victor as "Abraham Lincoln, the Father of our Country." Excuse me, but that was George Washington, I believe!

And to think I thought God was really good in History.

Annnd... as always, I went and read the darn Chick Tract cause Madame W pointed to it (I'm such a lemming). And now.. I'm all creeped out. ewwwwwww! I say, and again, EWWWWWW!

Owie.

Lark: *that* one freaked you out? "The Missing Day"? o_O

Better not read "Somebody Loves Me."

It's worth noting that "Somebody Loves Me" is the Chick tract that caused The Bull (linked to above) to convert to Christianity. I like how some drawings of a poor boy somehow compelled a guy to give up sodomy and violence.

Tisquantum (Squanto) certainly did speak English. He learned in after being kidnapped in 1605 by George Weymouth and taken to England.

He got back to America in 1613; was kidnapped again, sold as a slave to Spaniards; managed to get to England in 1618; and managed to get back to America again in 1619.

Back home, he discovered his tribe had been decimated by smallpox when he was away. So he wandered a bit, found the Pilgrims, and hooked up with them as an interpreter.

Ah, Chick, you're the perfect thing to read when I start to feel that people are too intelligent.

I am disappointed you're just phoning it in, it's like the Dungeons and Dragons tract was his peak and he's never been able to recapture the magic of commiting suicide because your character died.

That's true, he never did beat that D&D tract. It has been my alltime favourite ever since. It's just perfect in so many ways that *all* of my roleplaying friends who never heared of Chick before went wide-eyed at the final page, where he asks you to accept Jesus as his saviour, and go: "Wow. He really meant this? Gosh, that's funny."

He lost his magic. It's not fun anymore.

Dark Dungeons is certainly among his finest, but it's a little worn out by this point. (Soul Story has it beat by a mile for sheer cheese value, let alone wardrobe.) Some of his other occultic pieces, like The Trick and The Poor Little Witch, are sadly underrated. The Last Generation was brilliant, even if the underlying concepts are right in line with earlier dispensationalist fiction and cinema. (Fred Carter's got the demoniac child just *down pat* there.) Even stuff like No Fear doesn't get the attention that it deserves. Beyond that, you can't really go wrong with That Crazy Guy!. (I wish the original text of this was more widely available; I've never seen it.)

Hell, the Li'l Susy series still has a lot of potential in it; it's breaking my heart to see Ms. Henn go to waste like that (and that's why I haven't finished up the God Shot series, for the two people who cared about that; I keep thinking there's going to be more. But not yet).

*that* one freaked you out? "The Missing Day"? o_O

Better not read "Somebody Loves Me."

What makes that one even better to me is having read somewhere that, in the initial versions of that tract, the speech bubble saying "I'll go for help" wasn't there at all.

nononono.. not that tract... ALL of them. They... disturb me with their vile, twisted viewpoint. The existence of that kind of thinking in the world disturbs me, horribly. The fact that other people read this stuff and buy into it disturbs me even more.

Not to mention, of course, that so much of what he spouts is completely untrue.

I get the same kind of feeling when I read a Chick Tract that I get when I see a cockroach crawl across my kitchen wall: my instinct is to smack it, and then to have the heebie-jeebies for hours, hoping that somehow there aren't more, even though I know there has to be.

I understand your reaction, Lark. Here's the thing: if he freaks you out to that extent, he's won. The viewpoint you find disturbing has won, and the fear has won.

One of the reasons I try not to deal too seriously with the theology behind Chick tracts (aside from the fact that it's been much more deftly handled in publications like The Imp and, with a narrow focus, articles by Kerr Cuhulain) is that it is so patently over the top. A certain amount of remove and amusement helps to defuse its power; if a couple of steps back make it clearer that what we're dealing with is a lens of distorted religious belief, then it moves into the realm of the ludicrous. A potentially vulnerable person who already recognizes that material like this is intended to exploit a weakness (and induce a screwed-up worldview and self-definition through that weakness) stands a much better chance of raising a defense against it.

This is why I read LaHaye/Jenkins books, among other things.

(Related: it alarms me that Chick's runaway success as an underground, independent minicomics publisher with such a widespread grassroots distribution network frequently gets overlooked because of such reactions. I'd like to see more people able to disengage from his theology and politics enough on a visceral level to recognize, cover, and analyze that in fora broader than the occasional article in TCJ. Thus, part of the strategy: we can't do that if we're scared of his content. But I'm sure I've said this before.)

I've never understood the 'fear and loathing' reaction to Jack Chick in here or anywhere else. As Wednesday said, he's way over the top and he knows it. It's supposed to freak you out, and I say it's damned interesting to see him try.

(And this why I kind of enjoyed Dave Sim's Reads, including the infamous misogyny issue. It was actually milder than what I expected).

Christianity is a tough religion to understand, because it is not misinterpreted along just one axis (mild-flexible/strict-'fundamentalist'). But this is not the place to discuss this. What's important to understand is that Jack Chick is not your average right-wing Islam-fearing Christian-American; No matter how exaggerated the situations he portrays are, they will rarely, if ever, deviate from the basic character division that is well established in the New Testament itself: reborn & not. While there are decent guys that by all accounts weren't saved in the stories, there is no convenient middle ground in there. Go ahead and check.

It's just that, according to Jack Chick, a non-reborn family gathering looks like an ASU house party, et cetera.

I beg to disagree with Weds on one point; this tract was laugh out loud funny:

"We've got it made - Mom, beer and apple pie."

The *HIC* thought balloon.

"Kiss me!"

"I'm too mad to eat." (while munching on turkey leg)

And, as previously mentioned, "ALL PARTIES CANCELLED DUE TO FIRE."

The funny part is, Alexis, two months ago, I would have thought your "ASU house party" comment to be merely a low blow, but now that I'm actually there (Say what you like about ASU, they're damn generous with their scholarships), it's just true enough to strike me as far, far funnier than the tract itself.

Zaq - Welcome aboard, bucket's to your left. We can totally hang out! I mostly (not completely) stay out of the party scene, but do drop me an email.

BTW: Weds - That list of 'best of' tracts you posted above? That's my childhood, and frankly one of the more interesting parts of my Sunday mornings. Published in the monthly Church magazine, translated in Greek.

Bah, discussions about Susy have just gotten peculiar.

It's not fear, it's .. revulsion, perhaps, although that's also too strong. Extreme distate? That might cover it. I know he's trying to freak people out, in order to "save" them. It's not Chick himself, or the tracts, which kinda give me the heebie-jeebies.. it's what they represent.

They're ludicrous, they're over-the-top, and totally insane in their finger-pointing, holier-than-everyone, you're-going-to-hell behavior. They by themselves are simply an anomaly, a quirky thing this self-publishing comics guy does. The fact that they're successful is what scares me. The fact that enough people resonate on that level, and don't think these things are ludicrous, that's what scares me. The tracts (and other works like them) are forever linked, to me, with those who, when I was a girl, would leave these hate-filled little gems in my locker at school, because I read the Tarot cards (which I learned at a seminar at a Christian church). Or later, when I was fairly vocal about my belief that God could care less whether you like boys or girls, or.. or....

Chick tracts represent hatred and intolerance to me, not just because of their subject matter, but because I've seen them used with intent to harm, in my own personal history. Not that those stupid little books were what hurt my feelings... it's the intent behind them that caused the pain.

It occurs to me that I may be coming off as complaining at you, Weds, for your snarking of these things. I am not! I knew when I followed the link that these things creep me out. But it's sort of like a scab... you poke at it, and think "nope, still not all the way healed," although in this case it's more like "nope, still not wiped off the planet along with all the other nasties using Religion as a weapon." ah, well.

Personally, Chick tracts are loathsome because I don't think Chick views what he does as exaggeration. Honestly, I fear that he and the people who distribute these honestly believe that all of this is true.

Seriously, there are people who think that atheism is the same as Satanism, that our schools are teaching children to be homosexual, and that you can learn black magic through role-playing games. It just bothers me that people can be so ignorant (and cruel by acting on this ignorance) when there's so much proof to the contrary out there.

There's some Chick tracts that reliably send my girlfriend into apoplexy. She's a mythology/ancient history geek, and has been more or less since she learned to read. She's a walking library of ancient beliefs, and she can be (as experts often are) somewhat pedantic about them.

When I showed her the Chick tract in which a druid is holding an ankh, I couldn't stop her shouting for about a minute and a half.

Larksilver has a point. I don't think all the Chick tracts are funny. Several I find mildly amusing. Two I find rolling-on-the-floor hilarious: Angels and the usual suspect, Dark Dungeons. But there is much that is deeply offensive to me, not so much within one specific tract as a pattern among related ones. Specifically, Chick says that you should Love the Jewish People, and professes sympathy for victims of the Holocaust, while in The Trial and Where's Rabbi Waxman?, he portrays rabbis in the usual stereotypical manner, with hook noses and sinister frowns. Then there's Allah Had No Son, in which a Muslim Arab (hook-nosed and frowning, of course) threatens to kill a Christian for defaming his faith and then, within minutes, is persuaded to renounce the "moon-god" Allah, accept Christ, and witness to other Muslims.

Nothing funny about that at all. Sadly, Chick is deliberately playing to the stereotypes that many people, even the "unsaved," have about ethnic minorities. (Apparently some tracts in their original form had grossly anti-African American stereotypes, but Chick later revised them. No such luck for stereotypes of the Semitic peoples, I guess.)

I'm no fan of any religion, but the stuff he says about Catholics pisses me off. All that crap about Hitler being Catholic is so mind-numbingly stupid.

Michael -- but Weds is right about a core point, I think: we have to recognize that these are absurd. The racism and sexism we find in them just reinforces that point, to me.

Do I find them revolting? Sure. Of course I do. But I don't let that get in the way of finding the entire affair ludicrous.

In other words, it's a Heinleinic kind of humor. I laugh when I read Allah Had No Son, because it's that or weep for all of humanity.

Archon -- for extra bonus points, read Alberto. I mean, if we're going to discuss paranoid anti-Catholicism, go to the source. ;)

"I laugh when I read Allah Had No Son, because it's that or weep for all of humanity."

Who says the two are mutually exclusive?

My personal start with Chick was with, of course, Dark Dungeons, which a college friend (who was also into role-playing) showed it to me for humor value. I didn't understand until a few years later, when I finally read Alberto, why my Roman Catholic family never tried slipping me the tract.

Reading these tracts, especially many of them at once, makes me wish I tried getting into selling "genuine Christian tin foil - perfect for habadashery." Heck, I'm sure I could come out with a whole line for each and every religion out there.

I read Alberto, and it sickened me. The more I read, the harder it became to keep reading.
On another note, how is a story about someone dying of cancer be considered happy?

A: take average chick tract.
B: take average hitlerj½gend mag.*

compare.

Wonder why A is allowed under freedom of speech, and B get you in serious trouble.

doubt sanity of human race.

"Michael -- but Weds is right about a core point, I think: we have to recognize that these are absurd. The racism and sexism we find in them just reinforces that point, to me.

Do I find them revolting? Sure. Of course I do. But I don't let that get in the way of finding the entire affair ludicrous."

But should we be promoting this and upping his webtraffic, in effect validating him as a cultural phenominon instead of letting him sink into obscurity as an unknown crackpot?

Archon, if you're at all interested in the sort of mindset that underlies Chick's theology, I can't recommend the excellent analyses offered by Fred Clark at Slacktivist enough. Clark really gets into the political, social, and spiritual meat of the dispensationalist/ radical fundamentalist/ Dominionist theologies and why they're not only bad Christianity, but lead to bad writing, class warfare, and the sort of mindset that finds death via cancer to be a Good and Joyous Thing.

But should we be promoting this and upping his webtraffic, in effect validating him as a cultural phenominon instead of letting him sink into obscurity as an unknown crackpot?

How many other artists, across how many different media, across however many centuries would we have to suddenly ignore to be consistent about this?

Studying someone's work doesn't validate their agenda; hell, validating someone as a cultural phenomenon doesn't constitute affirming their agenda as good and right.

Studying someone's work doesn't validate their agenda; hell, validating someone as a cultural phenomenon doesn't constitute affirming their agenda as good and right.

The perennial example of this in filmmaking is Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. It's a Nazi propaganda film, with all of the nationalism-run-insanely-riot horror that should imply. It's also brilliantly edited and shot, perfectly paced, and generally a technical masterpiece, considering that it was filmed in 1934 and released the next year. It's mentioned in film textbooks to this day (my textbook from last semester, Richard Barsam's Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film cites it, and that was a 2003 publication).

Riefenstahl's subject matter is disturbing and repugnant and emblematic of the worst sides of humanity-- but film students still study Triumph of the Will for technique. It's still discussed, along with Riefenstahl's other works, to this day, because it was so effective in its impact and so fluently expressive.

I think Chick falls into this category, although he's by no means a Brilliant Technical Auteur in comics; what he is is a man who's developed a guerrilla marketing engine of high caliber, and for that alone, comics geeks (especially those working on original, independent non-superhero work or self-published titles) would do well to look at the man and his work and take the technical lessons without the theological ones.

Plus, ceasing to put a light on something foul doesn't necessarily inhibit its growth; it just makes it easier for it to operate without scrutiny.

Another example would be D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation. Everyone who's seen it, and who's neither a Klansman nor a neo-Nazi, agrees that this 1915 film is horribly racist. Indeed, even when it opened many Caucasian as well as African Americans condemned its message. Nevertheless, there is no denying that from a technical and historical perspective it's one of the most important films ever made, as it was the first full-length feature film in America with a cohesive narrative, and the first to use many camera and editing techniques filmgoers have since taken for granted. Would I advocate showing the film to young schoolchildren without comment? No way. But it's a piece of film history and therefore we can't pretend it doesn't exist altogether.

We're gonna Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock with the ROCK!

I so want that on a T-shirt.

Just remember, kids... Lyrics don't mean a thing! Electric guitars and drums are tools of the Satan!

We're gonna Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock with the ROCK!

Hee hee, yes. I also liked the mention of one of the bandmates being into "vampirism" as well as the devil giving "some AIDS" as a wedding gift (presumably in contrast to "all of AIDS"). Oh yeah, and let's not forget the penetrating insight into rock: "It all sounds the same!" Sounds like something Abe Simpson would say.

I always figured that "some AIDS" would be like "some ice cream" or "some acne": you could always have, y'know, more AIDS.

Weds: That just reminds me of the "Walker tells me I have AIDS" clip.

I dislike Chick's viewpoint intensely, but frankly, I'd take him over Fred "Westboro Baptist Church" Phelps any day of the week.

One thing I find odd about Chick's viewpoint is the extent to which he seems to believe that every non-Christian is totally ignorant of anything remotely related to Christianity. Over and over in his tracts, someone is told that Jesus died and rose from his grave and responds with something like "Wow! I never knew that!"

Seriously, I think most non-Christians are, you know, vaguely familiar with the story of Christ's ministry and resurrection, right? Sure, they don't believe in it, but it's not like they've never heard of it. But in Chick's world, yeah, apparently it's news to them!

This tract, though, still took me by surprise with its assumption that these sinners had never heard of Thanksgiving either! (Never mind that, as Jin Wicked pointed out above, Thanksgiving isn't generally considered a Christian holiday anyway.) They'd never heard of the Pilgrims? Isn't that something that's common knowledge to every schoolchild? And "Is that the same as Turkey Day?" Does anyone actually call Thanksgiving "Turkey Day" without meaning it jocularly? (Okay, that last line may have been intended as a joke...but sometimes with Jack Chick, it's hard to tell.)

It's hard to believe someone could be so thoroughly convinced as Jack Chick apparently is of everyone else's utter ignorance...

P.S. Why does Uncle Mortimer ask "Anybody home?" when there is very obviously a large crowd of people directly in front of him talking (presumably) loudly? Ol' Mort ain't too bright, is he?

For that matter, while I'm asking questions (last post for now, I promise), why on Earth is there what appears to be a stork in the foreground of the first panel in the Pilgrim story flashback? Is there some connection between storks and Holland that I don't know?

(And, incidentally: The Puritans "wanted to worship God and reach the lost"? Not for the first time, it becomes obvious that Chick really needs to bone up on his history...)

"I always figured that "some AIDS" would be like "some ice cream" or "some acne": you could always have, y'know, more AIDS."

Mmmm, delicious! May I have another bowl of AIDS, please?

Seriously, I started out by clicking the cartoon without reading anything else, including the URL....not realizing it was chick.com until I got to the end.

Man, that was a weird couple of minutes.

Bad Christianity indeed. I feel about this guy pretty much the same way I feel about James Dobson. "Words cannot express..." and that whole bit. (Well they could; I just don't want to, y'know, blow my witness. Heh.)

^_^ Ghastly is generally pretty firmly in the NSFW category, but I thought you might enjoy this one, which is safe. Heh... Chick Doujinishi indeed.

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