Monday, June 10, 2013

The Last Generation, 1972

 In my dissection of Somebody Goofed, I mentioned that certain Chick tracts are occasionally updated and reprinted.  In Somebody Goofed, the tract was virtually unchanged, right down to the 1960s pop culture references.  But this isn't always the case.  Sometimes fonts are changed to be more legible, current issues are added in - in the 1980s, the tract That Crazy Guy! was changed from being about immoral sex leading to herpes to cover immoral sex leading to AIDS - and the art is revised.

And sometimes, as in the case of The Last Generation, the entire plot is altered based on what Jack Chick's pet issues are at the time.  While the publication from 1972 is as ludicrous as the version of Chick's site today, the deterioration of his writing and plot are clear to see between the two versions.

I am going by scans of an older tract, so these images will not be as clear as in other posts.

Big Brother's nightmarish world order is just around the corner.  Christ is coming soon for believers.  Will you be left behind?
Somehow, I don't think George Orwell had the imaginary persecution of Christian fundamentalists in mind when he wrote 1984.

This is one of the tracts drawn by Fred Carter, the other artist for the company.  He's far more talented than Chick himself.

It's like he threw every EVIL cliche he could into one cover.  KKK, United Nations, drugs, a peace symbol (which is really the sign of the Antichrist!  Booga booga!) and a doctor's symbol.  Wait, what's evil about doctor's staffs?  Is it that psychiatry generally doesn't advocate taking a rod to your child?  And why is the top of his pointy hat cut off when there's plenty more cover above him?  And why does he appear to be standing in the ocean?

In the future, newscasters will no longer report live, but instead hold retro microphones in front of a wall plastered with their company logo.  Also, seventies fashion will make a major comeback.  Truly, this is our darkest hour.

In continuing with the trend of the background details being more interesting than the story proper, I really want to know what this Genocide Act is.  I assume it's an act put forth in favor of Genocide, because in Chick-Land, all non-Christians are baby-sacrificing Satan worshipers, but I like to imagine that the laws against Christianity in this tract are actually the result of a previous attempt by Chick's brand of fundies trying to kill everyone else.

The definitions of vicarious are actually "experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person" and "acting or done for another."  I know in the case of Jesus, the act was dying for others, but there's never an excuse for poor literacy.  Why couldn't he have said "Any or all persons who openly or in secret refer to Jesus dying for humanity's sins..."?  This paragraph is long and unwieldy anyway.

Wait, and now Ron Burgundy down there is in front of their giant desk?  What did he do, teleport by the power of evil?

There's that world brotherhood thing that was mentioned in Somebody Goofed again.  I take it this is referring to the idea that Jesus was just a prophet and not a divine being, and this tract is giving me far more questions than answers.

1)  Why do these futuristic cultists dress and sit exactly like Justices in the Supreme Court?  I feel it would be more horrifying if America as a whole were obliterated.

2)  Why do the pillars behind them look like a magic eye image?

3)  Why is Jack Chick unable to conceive of a future that is atheistic, or apathetic, or anything besides "We promote Christianity but we changed this one little thing so you're doomed to Hell FOR...E...VER"?  Especially when his imagination is fantastical enough to decide that anyone actually listens to the UN?

4) These people seriously couldn't come up with a better flag for the New World Order besides slapping the UN logo over the stars in Old Glory?

So there's an oppressive government which has just announced that it will inflict capital punishment on anyone who talks about Jesus in secret, and they decide to talk about Jesus right in front of the TV.  Because it's not like televisions have ever been used to monitor people in science fiction.  Certainly not in 1984, one of the most well-known oppressive regime stories of all time.

Was the New World Order around in 1970?  If so, why would Charles be stupid enough to answer yes when he knew it would bring suffering onto not only him, but also his family?  If not, well, an even larger portion of America in the seventies was Christian than in the present day, so most people would have said yes on that survey.  Did this all-powerful government not consider that people can change their minds?

"Do you think I'm on their list of people to potentially kill?"  "Well, you did say Jesus is the Almighty on that survey once..."  "No wonder my job sucks!"  Truly the thing to focus on when this could mean death or torture, Charles.

Grandpa's nose is so tiny that I first mistook it for one of his many wrinkles.

Let's talk about how much this oppressive, bloodthirsty government sucks so loudly we can be heard outside the house!  What could go wrong?

I somehow doubt this shack of a house's filtration systems could keep out all that smog when the government can't even provide electricity.

Charles there looks really concerned about the end of the world.  And by really concerned, I mean "more occupied with trying to crack his neck."

Cannibalism, famines, and crime have happened pretty much all throughout history.  I guess that's the point and a tactic to scare people into believing they better convert because the end is coming, maybe wait for the sun and moon to darken and the stars to fall from the sky before you start declaring the last generation.

A generation is 40 years, so the Second Coming happened in 1988?  I guess the eighties were a time of Great Tribulation.  And damn, missed the return of Jesus by one year.  I would have been below the age of accountability and everything.

I love how Chick points out in his footnote there that Jesus said only God knows when the Second Coming will occur, but goes ahead and gives a pretty definitive timeline in this story.  "Only God knows - now let me tell you when it's going to happen."  I wonder if he sees the irony and just doesn't care, or if he's honestly oblivious.

Maybe the government would have more resources if they'd forced people to relocate into pre-existing houses in an area instead of destroying all the previous buildings and making new shacks with the addresses painted on the roof in large print.

"Here comes Bobby!"  Nobody ever expects Bobby Sherman!

Divorce will end all civilization!

Wait, doesn't that mean the Catholic Church has the right idea?  But the Catholics in Chick-land are pure fact, in the reprint of this story Catholics will be behind it all...ugh, my head.  That's what I get for bringing logic into this.

I think Bobby's the sick one, yelling at his dad while staring over his grandpa's shoulder in the opposite direction.  That or the New World Order doesn't let anyone wear glasses because glasses were the invention of Jesus, I guess?

"Today at school we learned modeling poses for our Hitler Youth uniforms and we also learned how we should shake hands with family members and linger in doorways letting toxic smog inside.  Sieg heil!"

So this is a kid who will curse at his parents, but the best his classmates can think of as an insult is trash?

Building shacks and printing photos of kitties for every schoolchild - no wasteful spending on the government's part whatsoever.

When I was a kid and we learned about extinct animals, I always put the most sinister expression possible on my face when I told my parents about it over dinner.  "Mankind ended this species - now I shall end mankind!"

Dressed like a Hitler youth, cursing at his parents, calling them by their first names, hating animals, looking like the spawn of need to be so subtle, Chick.  Is this supposed to be a bad kid or something?

"Due to budget cuts, the walls and features of your shack will now be replaced by artist's shading sheets.  This will not affect your government-controlled television sets."

Anything exciting?  He got a picture of a kitten with yarn, Gramps, what could possibly be more exciting than that?

When your child has been turned into a pint-sized bottle of hatred by teachers and/or the New World Pseudo-Theocracy, do not shower them with love or tell them stories about how much you loved your dog so they might understand.  Just stand around with disapproving looks on your face.  No point in trying to save your own child's soul.

Well, apparently they did reuse some building materials - that carpet is pretty 60s.

Oh NO!  A brotherhood of religions!  Curse you, ecumenical movement!  See what you led to?  Clearly we should all hate different sects of Christianity, just as Chick God intended!

That asterisk in Bobby's speech bubble doesn't lead to a footnote.  Did the Church of the World Brotherhood censor this tract?

So what if he said "Lord help us"?  The law was against saying Jesus died for humanity's sins or that Jesus was the Son of God (which, come to think of it, doesn't prohibit people from saying that Jesus was God, really), not against mentioning God.  And God was referred to as the Lord long before Jesus showed up in the Bible.

What fine Christians these adults are, letting people get stabbed right outside their door.  Then again, maybe the police would stop them from helping.  Because governments want all their citizens to die.

Go to bed and do your homework!  I can see how such clear parenting raised such an upstanding child.

How come Bobby refers to his parents by their first name, but refers to his grandfather by title?

It's all the fault of the damn godless state!  Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

Children being disobedient to their parents is a sign of the end.  So the world has been ending since forever, I guess.  God's taking his time with our destruction.

"He's asleep!  So let's talk loudly enough that our voices can be heard outside the house again!  Sure won't wake him up.  Dad, tell me about this event that began when I was a college student in the seventies!  This event that I should already be aware of!"

Obviously Jack Chick has never seen Jesus Christ Superstar, as any music with a beat is of the devil.  If he had, he would know that Jesus is never portrayed as having sex with Mary Magdalene or any other woman -   her song is about if He wanted and loved her back.  Furthermore, Jesus isn't made to look like a fool.  He's mocked by the crowd, but Jesus is portrayed throughout the musical as doing exactly what He did in the Bible, healing lepers, breaking bread at the Last Supper, praying in the garden of Gethsemane, and dying for our sins.  Herod is made to look like a fop, the apostles are portrayed as naive and foolish, but Jesus is treated with respect.  Furthermore, He doesn't speak or sing all that much in the play anyway.  The story is from Judas's point of view, and most of it is his reaction to Jesus via his unreliable narrative.

The "accursed church" referred to here is the Whore of Babylon, according to the footnote.  In Chick's anti-logic world, the Whore of Babylon refers to the Roman Catholic Church.  I will discuss all the ways that is stupid in a later, more Catholic-focused tract, but I wanted to point that out because this is the only dig at the Church in this comic, which is a big difference from his later years when everything is a swipe at the Catholics all the time.  At one point, he was capable of restraint.

Brainwashed?  I didn't know Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals had the power to brainwash.  Here I thought they just got catchy songs stuck in my head.  Little did I know those songs were really beating years of religious education out of my brain.

It's "interesting" how the Superchurch destroyed the scriptures?  In your view, billions are going to Hell because of this false religion and it's "interesting"?  Aren't you full of Christian love and compassion.

I'm glad he clarified they were hide-away Bibles.  Because I thought he meant the Bibles they leave on full display in this government that kills sola fide believers.

"You two had better go to bed and stop this kind of talk!"  My only purpose is to nag and look tearful and have no interest in this Bible talk because I am but a simple-minded woman!

Look at that teacher.  It's almost like Jack Chick hates hippies or something.

Whether they clap or flail about while cheering, the children of the future are just a big creepy grotto of hands.  I almost expect the Healer to start singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls."

Oh yeah, I'm real intimidated by the guy holding up the peace sign with a "durrrrrrrr" expression on his face.

Wait, so this Church of the World Brotherhood is the Whore of Babylon, according to that earlier panel.  But Chick is adamant about calling the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon in any tract he can shove it into.  And he also claims that Catholics put Mary and her perpetual virginity over Jesus.  But this church doesn't believe in the virgin birth...I...what?  Did Jack Chick used to call something else the Whore of Babylon?  What's going on?

Well, Joseph was one of Jesus's fathers.  He had His Father in Heaven and and Joseph on Earth.  Joseph raised Jesus along with Mary.

What is going on with Bobby's shoulder?  I don't know what perspective we're viewing him from, but arms should not look that way when raised.

So...what if the children want to report their teacher as a violator?  What then?

And now his hat looks less KKK and more "Dopey."  This isn't doing much for the guy in the "striking fear" department.

Yet again I'd rather be reading about the kid reporting the neighbor.

"Grandpa, I've got you in my Vulcan nerve pinch!  Now I will ask you a question with Shatner-esque senseless pausing."

Man, Bobby's awful at entrapment.  It's like when your dad tells you that you're not allowed to do something as a kid - you don't go up to Mom and say "Dad said I can't go jump off Johnny's roof with an umbrella as a parachute - can I go?"  You say "Dad said I could go to Johnny's," walk away, and when Dad comes to yell at you in the hospital, say Mom said yes.  He should start with "Grandpa, tell me about Jesus" or something less painfully obvious.

"Bobby, I could just not answer your question or go on one of those big long conversion speeches that always work in these tracts, but instead I think I'll take the most nonsensical option available."

Gee, who could have seen this coming?

I guess preventing the kid from leaving the house and dragging him up to the cabin with them so they could all hide out and not abandon their child isn't an option, because plot.

"Connie, I need to remind you of your own brother's name!  At least, I think his name is Paul.  Maybe it's Peter.  You were always my favorite, you know."

If Connie has time to get Paul and then come back so Charles can take them to the cabin before the healers arrive, why can't they just take Grandpa with them?

What's the KKK guy doing up on that balcony?  Is he about to jump?  I can't say I blame him - I would too if I were in a Chick tract.

This all-powerful Superchurch which took over the world and destroyed the true Bible can't even brainwash one weak, tortured old man?

Mmm, old man pie served up by twin Lex Luthors.  Sounds delicious.

Once again, these people demonstrate how shouting loudly while trying to conceal themselves is a great idea.

"What in blazes am I doing here?  We came out into the middle of the woods to an abandoned cabin that's probably got a collapsing roof due to years of snow and neglect, we have no supplies, and my sister was dumb enough to wear a skirt and heels for a desperate hike through foliage.  Screw this tract, I'm going home."

What is Connie supposed to be doing in that second panel?  It looks like she's holding a candle, but why would you ever hold a candle with your arms like that?

Remember that time the UN gave everybody free drugs?  That was a good time.

That photo behind Lex Luthor is a church with a peace sign in place of a cross on the spire.  How dare anyone want world peace?  Those bastards, wanting everyone to get along and not needlessly slaughter each other!

And now Connie's so loud she's audible even over the roar of a helicopter.  Sheesh, woman, use your indoor voice.

That looks less like the body language of a man breaking down a door and more like the body language of a drunk realizing that he threw himself into a solid object rather than a bouncy castle.

"The Rapture hits."  I think you mean "the deus ex machina hits."

"But they always fold up their clothes so neatly before running the nuuuuuuuude."

Have you tried looking for them under that massive footnote?

The helicopters are speaking!  The helicopters are the winged beasts from Revelation!  Run for your lives!

Or it could mean Russia is entering a separate war while the Arabs and Israelis are fighting.  I mean, this tract has made it sound like the world's miserable all over so far, so why wouldn't there be wars?

"You @*!!* idiot - they escaped into the woods naked!  How bad do you have to be at your job to let that happen?!"

Uh, Mr. Carter?  Your artwork is superior to Chick's in every way, but you know clouds don't actually make the sky look like giant strips of bacon, right?

Isiah 24:6 doesn't say anything about a single day, and Matthew 24:21, Rev. 1:7, and Rev. 19: 11-16 don't say anything about seven years.  It's almost like this Rapture stuff is thrown together piecemeal whether it makes sense or not.

This is the last page of basically every Chick tract.  I usually skip it because it's boring, but I'm including it here because the little "DO YOU ACCEPT CHRIST CHECK YES/NO" amuses me.  Also, note that it tells you to get a Bible but doesn't specify King James version, so this must have been before his "Satan and the Catholics have corrupted all other versions of the Bible" kick.

"...with other Christians in a church where Christ is preached."  As opposed to all those Christian churches that don't teach Christ.

The original The Last Generation, while absurd, at least had a coherent narrative.  The tract was last updated this very year, and just wait to see how much it's devolved in that time.


  1. I'd never heard of these tracts before, but your dissections are very interesting and amusing. I appreciate the Spongebob and Star Trek references. XD

  2. Amazing how they disappear out of their clothing but the BRA winds up right on top of everything. Was this the "rapture" or Jesus watching a stripper?

  3. Amazing how they disappear out of their clothing but the BRA winds up right on top of everything. Was this the "rapture" or Jesus watching a stripper?

  4. Great commentary! I've seen both versions of the tract, and I can't really say which is the sillier version. They give one another incredibly stiff competition!

    This year, 2016, Chick finally left us. But his literary output is with us still, and just as (ahem!) entertaining as it ever was. His work will no doubt provide us with mirth and joy for generations to come. In effect if not by intention, he dedicated his life to demonstrating the validity of Poe's Law once and for all.

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    1. I've been looking for the older version of this one. In 5th grade I got a great X-mas present from my older brother of 15 years: The Chronicles of Narnia, but in 6th grade, it was a load of Chick Tracts. JFC! I could never understand why "The Omen" was considered a scary movie. Like Kramer said, Damien was just a rambunctious child. When you have read "The Beast", and see someone being hauled to a guillotine cycle for not having the "mark", or some poor sap is being sent to eternity in Hell because he didn't get on the Jesus train in one random, special moment, nothing else that is supposed to be scary in this world can match! HAW! HAW!

  6. "A generation is 40 years, so the Second Coming happened in 1988?" In my day, the "generation" was 20 years, so the 7 years of tribulation were going to start in 1968 and the world was definitely going to end in 1975. Now, 1968 really was an awful year and talk of the tribulation time starting didn't seem so out of line, but apocalyptic preachers were already starting to worry in the early 70's that they were going to look silly when 1975 came and went. One of the outs, taken here, was to keep the "fig tree blooming" in 1948 but lengthen the generation. If the max generation of "70 years" is right, the world should be ending right now.