Are you familiar with Chick Tracts? They are small comic books, about two inches tall by four inches wide, with a fundamentalist Christian message, usually distributed by believers who leave them in toilet stalls and other public spaces. There’s a bit of a Jack Chick mania on the Internet, which is not saying anything. There’s a bit of a mania for anything and everything unusual on the Internet. According to one unofficial fanclub site, Chick has published over 225 of these mini-comics, in 100 different languages: “[Chick] steadfastly exposes The Conspiracy of Catholics, Masons, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Agers, Rock & Rollers, and any other group the devil might use to damn your soul!”
The official site is just as exuberant, though a bit less accurate, when it proclaims, “Everyone loves Chick Tracts!”
I don’t mean to be a dick here, but that statement is just demonstrably false. While you’d expect Catholics, Wiccans, and the usual suspects to be in the anti-Chick-tract camp, there even seems to be a bit of an evangelical/fundamentalist backlash against the man and his message. The only group of people who can reliably be counted on to stand up and cheer when it comes to Chick Tracts? The mocking minions of Irony, the cruelest and coolest of the demons. My own Master.
I found a Chick Tract today in the restroom at Lowe’s.
I haven’t seen one of these “out in the wild” in years, so I snagged it.
You have heard the term “in medias res,” or its contemporary Hollywood counterpart, the Cold Open? Chick has. On page one, panel one, he slams us directly into the heart of the drama: a guy with long hair stands in front of a wall where posters hang displaying the Peace Sign ™ and a Black Power fist. The guy is supposed to look like a hippie, I think (given the symbology behind him), but to my eyes he looks more like Ron Jeremy, or any random mustachio-wearing Bocephus fan. In the foreground are the silhouettes of two heads. Not-hippie is pointing his finger forcefully at them.
“You stupid idiot,” he says, in sans-serif lettering. “You bust into a private cell meeting and then start preaching at us! Even if you are my kid brother, I’m going to give you a lesson you’ll never forget! Hold him!”
The two silhouette heads have the following characteristics: one of them is wearing glasses, and roughly has the same head-shape as Velma from Scooby-Doo. The other has a single, very curly eyelash, and loose, thin bangs.
You can read the whole thing on the official Jack Chick website if you wanna.
Paul and his buddies are following a college professor slash rabbi slash Lenin slash Catholic Priest type of guy (he’s wearing a suit, glasses, a yarmulke, and priest collar), who at some point nearly halfway through the comic broadcasts “the code word,” which happens to be “bedlam,” and sets the revolution in motion. It only takes about six panels for the government to fall, mainly because of gun control laws — “After years of ‘registrations’ most guns had finally been taken away. The people had no means to fight against the onslaught.’
Paul’s Christian brother dies, of course, executed with Paul’s consent. Then the Catholic priest/Marxist/professor/Jew turns on Paul and executes him and his friends, too, using the same logic that streetwise ladies use when evaluating their potential boyfriends, “You betrayed your country once, I can’t trust you to stay loyal to me.”
Oh, wait: not the end. Paul goes to visit Jesus, who sends him to hell. Now the end!
Poorly drawn, crappily told, unthinkably amateurish, and wrong-headed, to boot — but somehow compelling comics all the same. Is that just me being ironic? I hope not. I honestly can’t be sure. The irony of ironies, as they say, is when you can’t tell the difference between liking something, and liking it ironically. When you can’t tell the difference, is there one? Talk about going to hell. I wonder if Chick has a tract on the dangers of Irony?