Jack Chick Tracts
|Original review author:||The Luigiian|
|Start Date:||1972 (or thereabouts)|
|Defining Flaw:||Fundamentalist Christian viewpoints seemingly taken right out of Westboro Baptist Church.|
|Things that are fucking terrible about this webcomic:||The messages, the racist, offensive stereotypes, especially of atheists, Pagans, Jews, and Catholics.|
|Things that aren't terrible but could use improvement:||The art looks amateurish, but it generally fits the subject matter like a glove even when it's not quite so clean and tidy.|
There are two types of religious people, the liberal and the fundamentalist. Jack Chick is of the latter. He actually started out as an enormous asshole in school that even Christians wouldn't witness to. He was obnoxious, he cursed like a sailor, and he sinned in great measure. Today, he still does terrible things, only now he does them to his chosen faith, acting like an obnoxious asshole, cursing through his Tracts at every non-Christian group on Earth, and acting like such a pompous prick that even most Christians ignore him.
Oh yeah, and his comic is bad.
Story and Plot
By far the absolute best Chick Tract is This Was Your Life! It's simple, to the point, hits all the right (meaning "not completely ridiculous") points about morality, and it's got acceptable, if not great, drawings and message. Hell, even the most fair-weather Christians can't really argue with most of the points in this Tract. Go to church, love the Lord, give to the poor, don't get comfy with all your material pleasures, a lot of people, even most atheists, are OK with these things.
Unfortunately, This Was Your Life! was Chick's high point: A singular needle in a haystack of overwrought tirades on homosexuality, Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, and the like.
It would have been great had Chick worked on writing about God's love, maybe a few epics detailing the most important parts of Christianity. Instead, he threw out all that bullshit (apparently, love's for fags) and focused on a few vague quotes from Bible books like Deuteronomy and Leviticus that are used to encourage treating women like shit and stoning those faggots in San Fagsisco (HELL FUCKIN' YES AMIRITE?!) Really, as a Christian who sometimes tries to witness to my Pagan and atheist friends, thanks a fucking lot you obnoxious asshole for making my religion look like outright lunacy.
This art is acceptable for what it's trying to do. If you take a tract involving a mature theme like, uh, homosexuality, it's done in an art style that looks like it's intended for adults. When he's making one for the kiddies, it's more cartoony.
There are plenty of downright bad bits to both of those cartoons. The words on the picket signs in the anti-gay Tract look terrible, and they're way too darkened for the gray background. This one should have been done either inked or in color.
Of the panels, by far the worst is on the ninth page.
Every Chick tract error you'll ever find, save one, is encapsulated in this single panel. We have a meaningless Biblical verse at the top (more on that in the Writing review), and of course the grayscale drawing with overly-dark text. But by far the worst part is the gays: This is propaganda at its absolute worst. Good Lord, the creepiness is overdone. I mean, the levels Chick goes to to make his villains appear gross and disturbing is completely unreal.
But of course, there's even worse: the demonic-looking idol in the back, the overtones of pedophilia, and really, sure Sodom was bad, but this is ridiculously overwrought. I mean seriously, the caveman-looking guy with the hairy back in the next panel, come the fuck on. The theatrics are ridiculous.
And in case caveman-pedo weren't enough, you can check out Chick's Tracts for Blacks. Yes, he seriously draws cartoons intended specifically for those of the Negroid persuasion. These comics are unbelievably racist.
It's interesting to note that the only difference between "whites-only" Tracts and Tracts for Blacks is that... there are black people in the latter Tracts, while there are white people in the former.
You could almost forgive Chick for being a racist bigoted asshole if he were actually a decent writer. OK, I'm lyin' through my fucking teeth, you really can't forgive the fucker. Chick sucks at writing, seriously. Not one of his hundreds of tracts is even remotely persuasive, save for his first simple sendup of This Is Your Life. The science in the, er, science-oriented Tracts is mindbogglingly ignorant, testament to the fact that Chick either doesn't know a single damn thing about evolution or deliberately distorts the facts to make them seem dumber than they really are. I'll leave you to decide.
He shoehorns religion into the agenda of whatever Tract he's making by adding Biblical phrases. Many of these phrases bear little relevance to what the illustrations ... illustrate. In the gay image, it is said that "the men... of Sodom were sinners before the Lord exceedingly." Notably absent are sins like, oh I don't know, murder or gluttony or mistreatment of the poor. Why? Because the image is supposed to condemn homosexuality. But here's the thing: The Bible's account of Sodom doesn't specifically mention homosexuals. Therefore, Jack's gotta pick a passage that doesn't mention the sin but just kind of vaguely supports his argument. And because the foundation of that argument (i.e. gays are sinful) is so shaky, he has to make his villainous gays and scientists and atheists look unattractive to compensate. This isn't even subtle, it's literally Propaganda 101 level stuff here. What's astonishing is that he could easily have picked a bit from Romans or Leviticus and gotten a far stronger message. The message could still work, in terms of being logical and understandable. But he doesn't. He chooses a much more vague passage. That right there is awful, lazy, hack writing.
Most all of the citations I know of that he uses regarding science are from fundamentalist Christian sources.
Over the course of his life, Chick became inspired to "preach the word of God" through listening to Christian radio broadcasts and the like. Interestingly, he got the idea of making his Tracts after having heard that the Communist Chinese were using the exact same method to indoctrinate Chinese peasants into accepting Communism.
Like most ultraconservative fundamentalists, Jack had his fun as a kid and now appears to want to make sure nobody else gets to have any of his unique experiences. Not to be an asshole, but it appears many such fundamentalist Christians, including most of those who have worked with Chick on his Tracts, were made the same way. Among those who helped Chick was Perri Roberts, who assisted Chick in his writing of Wounded Children, a tract so bad Chick himself recalled it. Perri Roberts was once what you'd call "flaming" gay. I mean, For Chrissake he was once a popular gay hairstylist in California. As they put it on his site's "About Perri" page:
As a popular gay hairstylist in 1960s California, young Perri and his friends delighted in storming ladies’ boutiques to find the perfect dress for the next drag party, flamboyantly flaunting their homosexuality and beauty as they sent shock waves through store clerks and stunned passers-by.
Note that, even as a reformed homosexual, Perri still feels the need to remind us of how good he looked in drag. You crazy thing, you. *snaps fingers sassily*
Now that Perri has had his fun and has gotten to fuck countless hot guys in drag and otherwise, he's dedicated his entire life to make sure other budding gays don't get that chance:
his transformation was not without an agonizing odyssey into the dark world of same-sex love with all its pleasures—and the bitter fruit of partaking in them.
Now a single, abstinent minister of the Gospel, he has devoted his life to caring for God’s people, teaching them how a process he calls “imprinting” plants the seeds of homosexuality at a young age, and leading them into deliverance from gay and other addictive lifestyles.
Just to add my two cents, I'd like to point out that most straight people don't think of homosexual relations as a "bitter fruit" that is "pleasurable." In fact, mention screwing a guy to a straight guy and he'd pass on the offer without even considering how totally absolutely hawt the guy was. He does that because he's straight. Whereas gays want to have sex with other people of the same sex.
See? That's the difference.
UPDATE: Jack Chick has just died, and this is what Wikipedia has to say about him. Seems as if The Luiigian failed to research the full story of this author. His background is far more interesting than I had expected.
Chick Tracts are indefensibly bad. They're illogical, incoherent, and not one of them is readable by anybody who knows anything. (Again, sans the first one.) It's not even that they're totally wrong, it's that they're such pure propagandizing bullshit that it's impossible to take them seriously. They're intended for the most ignorant of sheep, the kind who look upon simple things like the age of the Earth or the nature of DNA and disbelieve through the fact that they can't understand it. Chick's pseudo-heavenly rantings always die in the devilish details. Word to the wise: When every single writer on the entire Internet has parodied you, and those parodies make more sense than your serious musings, give it up. You're embarrassing yourself.
- Video by oddguy commemorating his death
- Daniel Raeburn's The Imp, an acclaimed series of essays about underground comics - Issue 2 is all about Jack Chick Tracts
- Big list of Tracts, with a few reviews
- More reviews of ex-gay fundie comics
- A parody of "Dark Dungeons", with all the lines intact, but delivered humorously.
- More mock comics.
- Yet another parody site.
- Top 10 most stupid Jack Chick strips.
- Exploring the truly nutty Christian scare comics of Jack Chick, Joe Blevins @joe_a_blevins (Jul 11, 2016 10:20 AM) The AV Club.
And when you're done with Chick...
- The relevant, Genesis classic song Jesus He Knows Me