I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Everything I need to know about life I learned from Chick Tracts

Last week I found a new Jack T. Chick comic. I don't know if you've seen these things--for a long time I assumed everyone in the world knew what they were, but more and more I run into people who've never heard of them. I blame the decline of phone booths.

There was once a time when it seemed like any phone booth I went into would have a Chick publication stuffed into some nook or cranny. These are little mini-comic books, black and white, with a single spot color added to the cover usually. They are about two inches tall by four inches wide, and follow a format where each page usually consists of two panels. The artwork in these things ranges from simple and cartoonish to highly detailed--some of the artists could have made a killing drawing mainstream comics. The plot line in these things is always the same--someone scoffs at Jesus and goes to Hell, while another person repents and goes to Heaven. There are variations on this theme--sometimes everyone goes to Hell, sometimes the Christians are already Christians at the start of the book and hold fast to their faith through various temptations. Another subset of comics are more documentary, containing detailed explanations as to how you people can be seduced by false religions such as Catholicism, Masonry, or Islam. Jack T. Chick, the minister who produces these things and, as far as I know, writes most of them, never seems to worry about offending anyone. Gay? You're going to Hell unless you repent. A scientist who believes in Darwin? Hellbound, baby! A good, pious, nun who devotes her life to feeding the poor? YOU'RE GONNA BURN!!

Seriously, this guy is crazy. And I love him. I deeply admire him because he is so fearless in speaking what he considers to be the truth. He's not pussy footing around, trying to spare people's feelings. He's in your face with his fire and brimstone, my God is bigger than yours, nuns eat babies theology and if you don't agree with him, well, quite literally, you can go to Hell. I also admire him because he's one of the most efficient writers of all time. In an age when books are bloating to mamoth proportions, JTC keeps his stories tight and to the point. That teacher at school who wants you to decorate a pumpkin for Halloween? She's a witch, leading you straight to Satan! Run away from her fast, shouting for Jesus! OH! Too bad, you were run over by a car while you were fleeing. But it's okay! See, there you are in Heaven. JTC sets 'em up and knocks 'em down, always staying on message, never fearing tackling the tough questions, such as whether Catholic priests are pedophiles stalking after young boys. Actually, he turned out to be ahead of the curve on that one.

Let me be perfectly clear: I disagree with every single point this guy has ever made. I imagine that if I met him in person, he would quickly hate me and I would quickly hate him. But I'm not picking up his comic books for a laugh. I admire him for trying to change the world, two panels at a time. He's combined two of my greatest loves--comic books and lunatic rants--into one almost perfect art form. If you have never laid hands on his stuff, or just like reading about how Catholics/Masons/etc. are trying to destroy the world, check out his little universe at www.chick.com. They're all pretty good, but I'm especially fond of the anti-evolution message of this one http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1051/1051_01.asp .

One last point--when I'm talking about Chick comics, I suppose I should more accurately be saying Chick tracts. He does, in fact, publish actual full size comic books, although I haven't seen one of these in years.

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