It was 2007. I was behind the counter at the movie theater, watching the minutes tick by until people would come in for the next showing and there’d be something to do. The counters were wiped down, drinks and candy restocked, new batches of popcorn whirring in the machines, the lobby vacuumed – everything was taken care of. There was nothing to do and nothing to talk about.
That is, until Amy came back from cleaning up trash in the parking lot. She’d found two little comic books, three inches high and five inches wide, twenty pages each. One bore a yellow cover and the title The Little Bride, the other, a purple cover reading Kidnapped!. She’d glanced at them briefly outside and decided they had to be brought in. And boy, was she right. We spent so much time staring at them that our boss had to give us a lecture on focusing on our jobs.
Here are some of the many lessons I learned just from those two comics:
If the police catch you beating your husband with household items, you won’t be charged or even have an official warning so long as you promise to go back to church. However, the same police officer will pull you over for driving over the double yellow line on the road just once. Children walking home alone will be immediately kidnapped, but children walking to a stranger’s house without their parents in the morning to talk about religion will be just fine.
The prophet Muhammad was a pedophile, and living in a different time period is no excuse. There are “magic words” that will make you a Muslim forever if you say them even once. When you pray, God speaks directly to you through a ray of light and provides advice that you should have had the common sense to figure out already. Metaphors do not exist. And most importantly, shouting “GOD’S GOING TO GET YOU FOR THIS!” at your kidnapper will drive him into a panic.
I wouldn’t learn until a few days later, when we had free time in English class and I did some Googling, that I’d been introduced to Chick tracts: little comics containing evangelical messages put out by fundamentalist writer/artist Jack T. Chick. They are anti-evolution, anti-rock and roll, anti-ecumenical movement, anti-homosexuality, anti-Santa, anti-everything.
Chick, who is reclusive and mostly a figure of mystery, published his first tract, Why No Revival?, in 1961. Since that time, Chick Publications – classified as an active hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – has produced over 230 comic tracts in addition to other books and films, and printed over 800 million tracts. Jack Chick is the most published comic author in the world.
He’s also completely batshit.
Chick tracts have developed a cult following among non-fundamentalists for their ludicrous plotlines, terrible art, stilted dialogue, contradictions, and their poorly researched, often offensive themes. The tracts are meant to be passed on indefinitely, with a person reading one, accepting Christ as their savior, and handing it off to another. However, many people collect them for their entertainment value, and it’s easy to see why.
There are a number of hilarious websites dedicated to dissecting Chick tracts panel by panel, such as Enter the Jabberwock, Holeee Cow, and Boolean Union. I’ve enjoyed both their dissections and the ridiculous tracts themselves for years, and want to throw my hat in the ring of mockery, beginning with one of the oldest, most well-known tracts, Somebody Goofed.
As a disclaimer, I don’t care what anyone’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are, so long as they’re not trying to force those beliefs (or lack thereof) on others, trying to make their views on theology into law, or using their views as an excuse for discrimination and hatred. The point of these dissections will not be to mock or attempt to disprove Christianity. The point of these dissections is to laugh at the absurdity and point out the flawed logic.
So sit back, grab the popcorn, and enter the nightmare world of Jack T. Chick.