(From Jack Chick's The Chaplain. Click to get it in the throat.)
I'm not sure what to make of this one. Either Jack Chick is subtly returning to form, or he's backed himself so completely into a corner that he's rapid-cycling through his stock tropes more than usual.
I'm half inclined to vote the former, if only because of the art. It's not just the expressive, eloquent schnozzes. (Ignore the remarkably offensive first panel here, and look carefully at the rest; these noses tell you everything you want to know about the American characters.) The Chaplain contains the best digital shading we've seen so far in a Chick tract. Before now, only The Wall had been even remotely passable. The Susyverse-styled Dirty Diamond hit a particular nadir. It's therefore all the more remarkable to me that the good hits with Chick's own lineart instead of Fred Carter's, since Chick stuck with plain old hatching up through the end of 2005. There are still traces of the old in the lineart, too; have a close look at the uniforms.
But I'm less certain about the writing. The characterization's much stronger than Chick's other own-art tracts this year, but also slightly stranger. This is less of a Chick tract than a caricature of one, down to the panel out of This Was Your Life!. Doofy soldier Benny is running through the tough-guy unchurched checklists here. Anger, boredom, Momlessness regret, outré notion of Christ, selective obtuseness... how do you pin it all on Preacher? Benny's been reading up. The titular chaplain is so far into the Corrupt Clergyman role that he has to be pushed into the action halfway through. Preacher's enthusiasm for the gospel is so close to the surface that it gets tapped for entertainment during slow moments. Lethal explosions are practically tied to page count. If Jack Chick isn't poking fun at himself here, he should be -- this falls down as a tract on its own, but it's fine self-parody that doesn't slip needlessly into metahumour.
In fact, The Chaplain is much more effective if you also read Four Angels?, a reworking and reissue of the much older Four Brothers. This one plays with the Corrupt Clergymen model in greater detail, although slightly less coherently than The Chaplain. (Watch for the Schuller vestments, by the way. Nice touch.)
Four Angels has nothing like those noses, though. Those are amazing noses. Never have noses been so effectively deployed for evangelism-by-comic.