As promised, this time around we're coming back to the comic that caused Tommy the Elder to find God. What tract could possibly be so powerful that even a glance at the first page caused a hard rockin' hard rocker to hang up his guitar? Let us find out together as we read...
wurwolf: According to the cover, Satan will accept a big red X as a signature on his contracts.
wurwolf: This makes me uneasy, since that sort of thing is easy to forge. He would just need to write my name at the top and mark it with a red sharpie, and boom! Just that quick I'm destined for hell.
Lita: That guy sure has hairy arms.
wurwolf: He's a gorilla.
Lita: Maybe he's signing over his soul in return for the fame and love humans will give him when the evil school system tells them he's their daddy.
Lita: So. First row! Just one look at this page made Tommy the Elder realize that rock and roll is evil and give himself over to Jesus.
wurwolf: Frankly, I'm not sure what brought him to his knees. The bright light? The hail storm? The nightgowns?
wurwolf: Good gravy, just what kind of wattage does that kid's lamp have? The thing is going super-nova.
Lita: It's biblical. God lives in lights and that's why you aren't allowed to hide them under bushels.
wurwolf: So the light is symbolic, then. The kid is bringing the Light of the World to his father.
Lita: It's not an analogy. Every verse of the bible must be taken completely literally.
Lita: Bob taught me that.
wurwolf: Then you have been taught the infallible and unerring truth.
Lita: I think that second panel might make me seek God.
Lita: Look at those people.
wurwolf: I have to say, I like the artwork in this tract. Chick Publications isn't very good about letting us know who the illustrator is. I'm assuming the writer is always Jack Chick, though.
Lita: According to the Chick website he's really elderly now and doesn't do as much of the writing as he used to. He mostly putters around his kitchen and occasionally sends them something. But this tract is even older than the last one we did, which was from the 80's. So he might have had more direct input then.
wurwolf: I find it sad that they don't give any credit to the artists, though. At least none that I've seen.
wurwolf: But, in spite of the halfway-decent artwork, I'm confused about something. Is that dust rising from the ground or clouds come to earth?
Lita: That kid looks kind of bored. He must have been through all this before.
Lita: It's like in the Little House on the Prairie show. Every time Pa plants a crop it gets destroyed and then he has to borrow money or take some super dangerous job out of town.
wurwolf: Well, drama sells.
wurwolf: Love the crazy cross-hatching on the back of Dad's head, though.
Lita: Dad's head is plaid
wurwolf: Maybe it's a hunting cap?
wurwolf: Which would make sense, now that his crop has been destroyed. He's got to feed his kid somehow.
Lita: Nah. It's pretty hairy to be a hat.
wurwolf: So I guess it's just the father and son. Is this Courtship of Eddie's Father or something? Where's the Japanese housekeeper?
Lita: He's trying to get money from the BA. Because people who borrow from banks are a bunch of SHEEP!
Lita: Again with the haws!
wurwolf: The "HAW HAW HAW" is all in a jaunty, jocular font.
wurwolf: Do we know if the haws signify an evil person?
Lita: I've always felt so.
wurwolf: I have to agree. Anyone who would haw must be unrepentantly evil.
Lita: It's only ever pulled out when somebody is experiencing a misfortune.
wurwolf: And used with extreme scorn and ridicule.
Lita: "My cat ran away and I haven't seen her for days--" "HAW!"
Lita: And then the punching begins.
wurwolf: "Is it my fault the hail ruined your crop?" So, by contrast, does that mean that the bank will only loan out money in cases where they claim responsibility?
Lita: "You're right! Our interest rates are excessively high! Here's some money!"
wurwolf: Farmer: My son drowned in the pond. Bank: Oh wow, we totally screwed up there. Here's a hundred bucks.
wurwolf: We're coming dangerously close to a buffalo shot of the farmer here.
Lita: John Freeman. Think that name is supposed to symbolize something?
wurwolf: I'm just surprised the tract didn't call this guy Tom or Tim.
wurwolf: The banker is cross-eyed with rage.
Lita: The kid is crippled? I guess that explains his face. But he's still pretty good at swinging God Lamps around for a cripple.
wurwolf: Stupid crippled kid. Way to be a burden to your dad.
Lita: The whole reason people had kids back then was so you could get an extra pair of hands to work your farm. Way to ruin your dad's life, you ungrateful brat.
wurwolf: I hope that kid apologizes to his poor long-suffering dad every day for being crippled.
wurwolf: You know, I notice that a lot of the words in this tract are underlined. I wonder, if you took all of the underlined words, would they spell out a secret message?
Lita: So far we have "deep do money my our." Other than the first two words, I'm saying no.
wurwolf: I don't know.... I'm holding out hope for a secret message.
wurwolf: "I hate the ground you walk on... ELMER BOGGS!" Why the pause?
wurwolf: I suppose it was for dramatic effect.
Lita: That line. His reference to the ground Elmer walks on is only meant to focus our attention to his name, Boggs, which would be difficult to walk on.
wurwolf: Ooo, good point. This tract is chock full of subtext.
Lita: The part of Pa is being played today by Stacy Keach.
wurwolf: You know who gets paid for being loved, Elmer Boggs? Trixie, the town whore.
wurwolf: Or your wife.
wurwolf: If you take the underlined words in that second frame, Elmer Boggs is saying "Don't don't come back!" Which is a roundabout way of saying he wants John Freeman to come back.
Lita: Oh, @!!**!. You're like an old friend to me.
wurwolf: I like that every tract, no matter who the illustrator is, has to use the same exact cursing.
Lita: Oh dear. Did they make the Devil a black man?
wurwolf: It sure looks like it.
Lita: And they underlined soul because the black guy wants it. Black people like soul food.
wurwolf: The clouds on the horizon have been so distracting to me in this tract. Did some kind of nuclear fallout just happen?
Lita: I don't know why Pa would sell his soul for that farm. It's a really horrible farm.
wurwolf: No wonder he's broke. He's been growing weeds and wagon wheels.
Lita: The wagon wheels would be useful, except they ate the horse last week.
wurwolf: That, and they only have two wheels.
Lita: Maybe it's time for him and his cripple to move on.
wurwolf: Move to the city and put that kid out to beg on the streets. Can you imagine the bucks he'd rake in? Little crippled blonde white kid? Pfft. Crazy money.
wurwolf: Two panels in one frame. Arty.
wurwolf hopes Mr. B. Fox is knocking on the house door and not the outhouse door.
wurwolf: Especially since he's offering to shake John Freeman's hand.
Lita: So who's this guy? What happened to that nice black fellow?
Lita: He was so jaunty and not prone to mistake abject poverty for bountiful wealth.
wurwolf: That nice black fellow saw how sad John Freeman's farm was and knew he'd get no good soul food there, so he moved on.
Lita: Poor guy. He was my favorite character in this tract.
wurwolf: He's better than Malcolm, anyway.
wurwolf: Poor John. He's just one of a long line of poor white trash who are suckers for a get-rich-quick scheme. You know if they had Publisher's Clearinghouse back then he'd be right in on that.
Lita: I actually like the art in this first frame. The bottles in the window, the wheel, the axe in the stump. If you ignore the dialogue it's nice.
wurwolf: It is. Very bucolic.
wurwolf: Why would John go halvesies with B. Fox? It's his property. At least negotiate yourself a better deal, you dummy.
Lita: Totally. I'd take a good look at that map and then send Fox on his way. He's holding it open right there for all to see.
wurwolf: Never trust a man with a pinky ring.
Lita: Not if they hold their pinky out like that to make it shine at you.
Lita: Do you hold your pinky out if you're like holding a glass or something?
wurwolf: No, I don't. Do you?
Lita: Yeah. I don't even think about it. I just do.
Lita: I'm so snooty.
wurwolf: Snooty? Or lame?
Lita: Maybe both? I started doing it when I was a little girl and thought it was classy, and now it's just automatic.
wurwolf: I'm leaning more towards lame.
wurwolf: And here we get our first good look at B. Fox's face. I have to say, I'm disappointed.
Lita: He looks so piggy with those little eyes and the tiny nose.
wurwolf: I like how the hat is tilted to a rakish angle, though.
wurwolf: I think he looks a little like Gary Burghoff:
wurwolf: The "haw" rears its ugly head yet again.
Lita: I mostly want to slap people when I hear them say "Haw"
wurwolf: Oh, me too.
Lita: It just goes right around the brain and into the spine and pulls on the slapping nerves.
wurwolf: B. Fox waited until John got out the inkwell and pen before stopping him?
Lita: Asking for my soul is weird enough, but asking me to sign anything in blood would just put me over. I'd be like, "Oh, ok, you're a loony. You can either leave now or wait here while I get my gun."
Lita: Also, Freeman already told him he'd get half the treasure. Why would he throw his soul in as well? No wonder he's in so much debt if he's this bad at identifying a terrible deal.
wurwolf: Exactly. It's a wonder he's managed to hold on to the farm this long.
Lita: If I'm giving up my soul I want ALL that stupid treasure that's on my property anyway.
wurwolf: Not only that, but (peeking ahead) John is going to be doing all the hard labor to get this treasure.
Lita: And there had better be a LOT of treasure. If we start digging and only find a couple of silver dollars than I will be pissed.
wurwolf: If John was more shrewd he would have dug the treasure up first and then signed the contract. Some guy shows up on your doorstep with a crudely-drawn map, claiming that there's treasure on your property, and you totally fall for it? I'm surprised John didn't lose his soul before he hit puberty.
Lita: I hope he at least checked to make sure there was a clause that let him off if they don't find treasure or if the treasure is lame.
wurwolf: I'm sure he didn't.
wurwolf: Wow. Good thing John didn't rent that stump grinder last year like he was thinking about doing.
wurwolf: John became shirtless between the time they reached the stump and when he was digging.
Lita: "Don't you have a promise to keep?" Geez, Fox, he said "we." You're taking his soul, let him have a minute to jump around and be happy.
wurwolf: What's that on the ground next to B. Fox? Did Chluthu wander into this tract?
wurwolf: Maybe that's the artist's response to this tract.
Lita: John never promised Fox to fix Boggs.
wurwolf: Fox must've been hanging around and overheard him. I can totally see the devil wanting to hang out in a bank.
Lita: He really is dumb if he didn't pick up on Fox knowing about that.
wurwolf: John has never looked more like Stacy Keach than he does there.
wurwolf: You know, John, that's where the real money is. Stacy Keach impersonations. Just something to think about.
Lita: "There's nothing like revenge." And that was nothing like revenge. Not interesting revenge anyway. Any objections to skipping those "revenge" panels?
wurwolf: Yes, but you're going to do it anyway, aren't you?
wurwolf: Well, I'm still going to talk about them.
wurwolf: Once again we have a businessman fired for doing his job.
wurwolf: Chick seems to love to reward the boobs and buffoons and castigate the hardworking businessmen.
wurwolf: Honestly, I feel a little sad about this. Poor Boggs.
Lita: Oh, hey! It's Bob!
wurwolf: Bob Goode!
Lita: Must be one of Bob's ancestors. He's even good at shouting about souls at people who were just trying to have a nice conversation.
wurwolf: Bob's head explodes in a flash of light over John's stupidity.
wurwolf: "I believe in the 10 commandments... I do as much good as possible..."
wurwolf: "Why, I even changed my last name to 'Goode'! It used to be Miller!"
Lita: Bob never ever sins. Because the Bible teaches that that's possible.
Lita: The Bible is always going on and on about how you can get into heaven through good works and that's why we don't need any savior.
wurwolf: Yup, that's what Bob has always told us. And you don't argue with Bob.
wurwolf: Okay. Obviously this tract took place many years ago. So I can only assume that Bob Goode has traveled far into the future and brought back that sweet flat-screen tv there.
Lita: Beelzebub? Really, tract? You're going there?
wurwolf: And John is so dumb. "Beelzebub!", he cheerfully shouts out.
Lita: "Lew Siffer" was one thing, but "Beelzebub Fox" is just too much to handle.
wurwolf: Frankly, I think "Lew Siffer" was worse.
Lita: Next tract we'll see a guy sign his soul over to "Lorda Thefflies." And don't miss the one where some guy signs his soul, in blood, to "Satan McPrinceofdarkness"
wurwolf: Or "Mr. O'Scratch"
wurwolf: Well, John might be on his deathbed and doomed to hell, but what an awesome ride these last ten years have been for him. Look at that mansion! Although I do think the architect went a little overboard on the windows.
wurwolf: It kind of looks like John's mouth was sewn shut while he's dying in bed.
wurwolf: Is that a face on John's headboard?
Lita: It's a frowny face. Because it's sad to die and go to hell.
wurwolf: I thought maybe Beelzebub made him carve it there, to remind him of his impending fate.
Lita: Bob's a big Jesus expert and he didn't mention to John in the last 10 years that there's a way out of that contract?
Lita: He probably figured John deserved what he got. That's our Bob!
wurwolf: Oh, Bob. For fun!
Lita: "blahhdee blah, Jesus, blood, cross, blah blah." Moving on.
wurwolf: Looks like Bob's doing alright for himself, too.
Lita: "You look terrible!" That Bob. Always full of Christian love and kindness.
wurwolf: ONE HOUR LATER "Stop preaching to me, John!" Really. If my decrepit cousin showed up at my door and preached at me for a full hour, non-stop, I think I'd be a little grumpy, too.
Lita: I'm confused about Bob. He was set up as our Christian hero and now he's all, "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR THIS CHRIST STUFF!"
wurwolf: Chick tracts pulled a switcheroo on us!
wurwolf: Did they have baloney when this tract took place?
Lita: Skipping ahead, John dies and Bob thinks he's in hell, blah blah, hey look! Violence!
wurwolf: I love how Bob's legs are all splayed out under the tree branch.
Lita: A massive tentacle appears to rape Bob! Damn you, Japan!
wurwolf: It's Chluthu again!
wurwolf: His legs look like one of those Garfield butts that people hang out of their car window.
Lita: Why does this panel include an advertisement for a book about Satanism? Was that horse playing D&D?
wurwolf: Must have been. I just like that the tree crashed in Cooper Bold.
wurwolf: And Bob's leg says "Ugh".
Lita: He had a mantis in his pantis.
wurwolf: Perhaps you'll get a look at that mantis in his pantis in the next panel, because he's in hell and he's nude.
Lita: He's all sweaty because it's hot as hell in there.
Lita slaps wurwolf
Lita: Sorry! Reflex!
wurwolf: It's okay. I'll just reflexively break your pinky sometime when it's sticking out.
wurwolf: Okay, so finally, Chick tracts gives little kids a pass. They won't wind up in hell.
Lita: Unless they wear dumb sweaters and hang out with bikerhobos.
Lita: Beelzebub Fox's head looks like a massive ham, and it's making me hungry.
wurwolf: A delicious, tasty ham with eyes and a hat.
Lita: No big finish for this tract. I'm disappointed.
wurwolf: "I've got everyone anyway.... except those who accepted Christ as their savior!" And the tract just kind of ends there....
Lita: As does this blog entry.
(All comic images ©1984-2008 Chick Publications, Inc. and are used according to Fair Use laws in the US.)