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Wednesday: Tex Wilson only ever had nice things to say about Benny.

[And does he have VESTMENTS?! From The Chaplain by Jack Chick.]

(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.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at March 1, 2006 8:16 AM

Comments

Comment from: Ray Radlein [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 1:47 AM

Never have noses been so effectively deployed for evangelism-by-comic.

I smell a pull quote here!

Comment from: EsotericWombat [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 3:02 AM

"Does he read Greek? Or have a doctorate in divinity?"

I'm reminded of the Good Doctor Hunter S. Thompson, who did, in fact, have a doctorate in divinity. I think he paid something like 20 bucks for it.

Comment from: YourArbiter [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 4:56 AM

It's "They hit a land mine! Kaboom!" that does it for me. Talk about your Deus Ex Jackchickina.

Comment from: Amanda W [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 5:24 AM

You know what I love? Panel 17, excluding cover.

"My MOM doesn't even love me."

It's so random, but said so sincerely, that it just ends up so damn funny.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 6:07 AM

How about an online quiz? You get a picture of ten Jack Chick characters, and you must guess whether they will be DAMNED TO HELL or not by their looks!

The Chaplain's behaviour is somewhat weird. If he was sent there to comfort the soldiers, why the hell is he bitching about his qualifications? I guess being DAMNED TO HELL can make anyone irritable.

Comment from: kafziel [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 9:41 AM

Chickverse is a fascinating place, really. The rules of it, and the way it operates.

One thing - well, out of many - that I never really understood, though. In Chickverse, Jesus (who is God) HAD to die on the cross in order to save us from eternal damnation. It even says as much in this tract, that "He held back His angels so He could shed His precious blood and die in [our] place."

This implies that Jesus/God is operating within a system of rules, that the only way to redeem humanity is for him to die on the cross. Except. Well. As God, wouldn't he set the rules? As God, wouldn't he just be able to handwave Original Sin away? The God we are shown in Chickland wouldn't be slowly and painfully crucified unless he wanted to.

Comment from: John [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 9:55 AM

I probably shouldn't get into this here, but the idea is that God's priority is his glory and holiness above all. Whether or not he could overlook sin, he's not going to -- because it would diminish his holiness.

And that tract does make me uncomfortable. Perhaps in a good way, perhaps not.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 10:12 AM

This implies that Jesus/God is operating within a system of rules, that the only way to redeem humanity is for him to die on the cross. Except. Well. As God, wouldn't he set the rules? As God, wouldn't he just be able to handwave Original Sin away? The God we are shown in Chickland wouldn't be slowly and painfully crucified unless he wanted to.

Well I don't know about the specifics of metaphysics involved in the Chickverse, but it's based on the understanding of more traditional Christian theology, which has Jesus acting as a kind of symbolic offering for mankind in the mold of a more traditional animal sacrifice that would be performed in the Temple.

I don't know the specifics of how it's handled in Judaism these days, but in either Deuteronomy or Leviticus or one of the "Law books" in what Christians call the Old Testament, pious Jews were supposed to offer up a sacrifice to God once a year as penance for their sins. The animal had to be the best of their flock, and the type of animal was based on your social status (interestingly enough, a Lamb was for commoners, and Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb of God.) It was supposed to be the best you had to offer up -- in other words, something difficult to part with -- because it was supposed to an admission on the part of the sacrificee that the penance was necessary.

So symbolically/metaphysically, Jesus' crucifixion is "the best offering there is," and the conversion process is the recognition that, like in the old-school animal sacrifices, the penance is necessary.

Mind you, that's just a Christian interpretation of it. I'm sure modern-day Jews would find the comparison rather distasteful.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 10:59 AM

You know, this snark finally crystallizes a truth for me - to Jack Chick, the nose is the window to the soul.

That alone, to me, sums up the hilarious absurdity of Chick tracts.

Comment from: Snowspinner [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 11:42 AM

I really like God's "Well done, Benny!" It adds a nice British schoolmatron gloss to the weirdly faceless and glowy God of Jack Chick.

Comment from: PatMan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 11:56 AM

How do you folks even read that stuff? In my Firefox browser, it loads multiple images at the same time, scanning one line at a time from each image. It takes forever just to load the first few panels, and there are bajillions of panels! Once, I loaded the entire page, and noticed the entire story is given on a single page, despite being a full length comic book. Perhaps this is to test our patience in the Lord?

And what's with the panel layout? Two panels per row, and he does that for every single comic. It's like he just draws panels until he finishes the story, and then lines them up in a 2x6000 grid. Surely, the Glory of God can be revealed in more creative layouts. The Battle Hymn of the Republic wasn't done in an ABAB meter, Jack.


Nice art on the noses though.

Comment from: Matt Buchwald [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 12:06 PM

I belive the actual chick tracts on paper are folded up like that. with two panels per section. Kinda like how you find small hockey/baseball schedules.

Christopher has it basically correct as I always understood it. God is offerring himself as Jesus (whom is true God and true man) as a passover sacrifice for all his people's sins.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 12:08 PM

And what's with the panel layout?

Each two-panel chunk is a page. The physical tracts themselves are too small for very many other layouts to be effective while maintaining that level of detail and textual density, although we have seen some variation over the years.

At one point, tracts were offered online in multipage format; I can only assume that single-page was much more popular in the long run.

Render time varies per individual browser/platform/system/pipe combination, of course.

Comment from: TasteMyHouse [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 12:33 PM

I dont think you have the time or lungs required for last words if you fall on a grenade. modern grenades have all sorts of gross pointy bits of metal in them, designed to kill lots of people on one explosion. if preacher had successfully stifled the explosion, i have a feeling he'd be "gibbed", to borrow a term from Quake

Comment from: PatMan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 12:38 PM

Okay, so there is a good resason for the panel layout. It would still be nice i he broke up the story into chapters. They always seem to drone on and on and on and on and on and...

And a comic that you can stuff into a box of condoms just seems weird.

Comment from: Shelby Reiches [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 1:10 PM

The once a year sacrifice is what occurs on Yom Kippur. We refuse food and drink for 27 hours and pray as a stand-in for a physical sacrifice.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 1:50 PM

Kafziel: Yes, that's how it's viewed in most traditional or even evangelical Christianity. God wanted to do this. So Jack isn't wrong in this stance.
Christopher: Many theologians would disagree with you that this is "symbolic." Of course, that would drag us into a debate on whether Jesus actually existed or not, and that's another Jack Chick strip thread for another time.
Wednesday: What does Jack have against Robert Schuller? (He's the chief pastor at a glass-only church in California and famed for being the host of the Hour of Power.) He's up there with Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, and Pat Robertson on the Evangelical Mount Rushmore.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 1:58 PM

miyaa: "symbolic" is perhaps not the most accurate term. But a brief four-paragraph explanation is not going to heavy on precision or nuance. And I have absolutely no idea why using the term would "drag us into a debate" on the existance of Jesus.

Comment from: Pseudowolf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 2:07 PM

If I lived in the Chickverse, I'd run scared from anyone even mentioning religion. It always seems to be followed shortly by death.

Comment from: ItsWalky [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 3:27 PM

Being confronted with religious dilemmas does seem like the fast track to deadsville. This is why I should move to California, where they don't have God.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 4:00 PM

miyaa -- Jack Chick doesn't like Billy Graham either. Or a lot of mainstream Protestant Evangelical churches.

It comes down to a willingness to castigate the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon and preach Hellfire and Damnation to your flock (lest they be condemned to eternal Hellfire -- there is an reason Chick does this), or a lack of willingness to do so.

In terms of this particular tract? Graham, Schuller et al are the Chaplain, unwilling to make waves or go out of their way to preach the true Gospel.

Comment from: nedlum [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 4:44 PM

This is less of a Chick tract than a caricature of one

You say that as though there's a difference.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 4:56 PM

I often wonder if Jack Chick isn't really one of the last true yippies, laughing his ass off with every track he publishes.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 6:27 PM

I don't think Jack Chick knows how to laugh at all, nor do I think he likes anybody. Even his pious characters are judgemental and generally icky to be around. yuuuuck.

Comment from: Kaychsea [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 3, 2006 7:05 AM

SYNCHRONICITY!! After not seeing one of these in three years someone left two tracts on my seat on the train this morning!

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 3, 2006 7:27 AM

I don't think Jack Chick knows how to laugh at all, nor do I think he likes anybody. Even his pious characters are judgemental and generally icky to be around. yuuuuck.

But don't you see, judgment is what God is all about! Jesus didn't show us the path to redemption and die for our sins for our sake because God loves us or anything. It was done to show us how cool God is. Anyone who can't see how cool God is, after God went to all that trouble, is obviously evil and deserves eternal torture...

On that: In one of the history Channel's holiday-themed programs this year it was said that, in I think the apocryphal Gospel? Revelation? of Peter, Jesus is asked, "If God loves us, how can He consign anyone to eternity in Hell?" Jesus lowers His voice and says, "Can you keep a secret? Eventually everyone gets to Heaven."

Comment from: SeanH [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 3, 2006 9:42 PM

Paul G: Ah, holiday-themed heresy. Nothing like it.

Comment from: MrPerson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 4, 2006 10:32 PM

Brilliant Chick Moments:

"Benny, look what GOD did for us!" And only THEN, he decides to look around for people who might've gotten shot. "Oh, uh, MEDIC!"

"No, Benny. Max died in his sins and Jesus will reject him." Yeah, way to boost morale, Preacher. We don't mind fightin' this here war, y'know, but iffin' we dies, we goes to hell, yeah.

Also note that the people who are saved in Chick tracts are brainless people. They're so easily played by the mind games of the average Chick preacher. "TEX WILSON!!! And I HATE his lousy guts! I want him DEAD!" Tex Wilson, be warned: Whether or not Benny has been saved, the mere mention of something that starts a thought process that leads to him thinking of you, fills him with INCURABLE RAGE!

"They arrested him, framed him, etc.": Note how much Picard enjoys getting Jesus-blood on him. You can pretty much see him go, "Yay! This is fun! We need to do this more, Roman soldier dude!" While the Roman soldier goes, "Ew."

And on the next page, Jesus ROCKS JERUSALEM! with his new "glorified body". Kinda sloppy illustration there, and Jesus looks kinda unenthusiastic. "Uh, hey, guys, I'm back. Got some coffee?"

"And if I DON'T?" Benny, Benny, Benny. Pay attention, man. Preacher's been telling you this like FOUR TIMES already! The look on Preacher's face in the next panel, as he explains the concept of the lake of fire, is not one of fear for his friend, but one of a Borg about to assimilate yet another human.

The Chaplain has an "Arrogant Forced Religious Openmindedness Sense Tingling!" moment near the end. Come on, man... The poor guy's just saying he got saved! Well, maybe the Chaplain's reaction has something to do with how Benny's head is suddenly glowing. You don't want to spend your time on the battlefield next to the guy who's providing a nice and shiny light to aim your grenades towards. "You SICK idiot! Who the hell sticks glowsticks up their nose and ears?!"

"THEY HIT A LAND MINE! There are NO survivors!" This one speaks for itself.

"OR: Will you be stubborn and pretend that you don't believe in God?" Sure, Chick. There's lots of people out there who really believe in God and the lake of fire and all that, but they just don't feel like acting it out right now. "If you're like the Chaplain, you'll be with him to hear his screams." Fine, fine, I'll try not to be a dickhead who's intolerant of other people's religions, and won't do my damnedest to scare people into believing exactly what I believe... Uhm...

Comment from: Eric the .5b [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 4, 2006 11:00 PM

Me, I just want details on this alternate-universe America where most people know next to nothing about Christianity and react to it with hostility.

Comment from: Ray Radlein [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 5, 2006 2:30 AM

Me, I just want details on this alternate-universe America where most people know next to nothing about Christianity and react to it with hostility.

Given the number of people who seem angrily unaware that Jesus did not actually have anything to say about either the vital importance of cutting the Capital Gains Tax Rate or the hideous danger of same-sex marriage, and the number of people who think that clothing the poor and feeding the hungry is some kind of a Communist French plot to undermine our Bold Independent American Bodily Fluids, I'd almost be tempted to suggest that you're already living there.

Comment from: Ray Radlein [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 5, 2006 2:35 AM

WTF? How on Earth did I manage to put a URL anchor tag there instead of a blockquote? Presumably it also has something to do with the reason why I inexplicably forgot to hit "Preview" before hitting "Post" (i.e., sheer numbskullery).

Comment from: Eric the .5b [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 5, 2006 3:46 AM

Hate to defend them, Ray, but 1) there's Old and New Testament condemnation of homosexuality period, much less marriage, and 2) even fundies have been known to engage in charity.

It's nice to just be able to dismiss one's opponents as not real Christians (if one's a Christian), but it's just stooping to their level.

Comment from: Ray Radlein [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 5, 2006 4:20 AM

Not to split too fine a theological hair, but there's nothing at all in the synoptic gospels about homosexuality, which is why I phrased my statement the way I did (and, of course, dragging the Old Testament into it also eliminates lobsters and cotton-poly blends from the universe of acceptability); and while charity and good works are absolutely the hallmarks of many good Christians around the country, it's the ones who spend their time praying loudly on street corners (especially K Street and Pennsylvania Avenue) who attract all of the attention, unfortunately.

Comment from: Dave 'Winter' Crisp [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 5, 2006 8:29 AM

And a comic that you can stuff into a box of condoms just seems weird.

For some reason, the notion of storing Chick tracts in old condom boxes amuses me greatly.

Comment from: Eran of Arcadia [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 29, 2007 10:19 PM

I hate to bump like this. But I owe a lot to Jack Chick, I have to admit.

You see, being a Mormon all my life means (according to [i]The Visitors[/i], a copy of which was left once on my windshield when I was on my mission) that I am going straight to hell. Even worse, I believe in that [i]evil[/i]ution nonsense, so I am screwed.

Well, since I am a goner anyways, I might as well indulge in all the things that would be deadly to someone who isn't already condemned. So I figured, if Jack Chick condemns [i]Harry Potter[/i], it must be worth checking out. That's right - I literally got into Harry Potter because JTC wrote a tract against it. And wouldn't ya know? I like the books. Huh.

Comment from: Eran of Arcadia [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at January 29, 2007 10:19 PM

I hate to bump like this. But I owe a lot to Jack Chick, I have to admit.

You see, being a Mormon all my life means (according to The Visitors, a copy of which was left once on my windshield when I was on my mission) that I am going straight to hell. Even worse, I believe in that evilution nonsense, so I am screwed.

Well, since I am a goner anyways, I might as well indulge in all the things that would be deadly to someone who isn't already condemned. So I figured, if Jack Chick condemns Harry Potter, it must be worth checking out. That's right - I literally got into Harry Potter because JTC wrote a tract against it. And wouldn't ya know? I like the books. Huh.

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