Saturday, October 31, 2015
Chick Tract #032: Happy Halloween – Just For the Hell of It Mondays Review
Produced by: Chick Publications
Release Date: 1996
*Spoilers ahead, score at the bottom*
AND BY “HAPPY HALLOWEEN” I MEAN “FEEL LIKE SHIT ABOUT YOURSELF”
I have received the millions and even billions of messages from my loyal readers, clamoring for my head and threatening to drink the blood of my children because I sort of pulled your legs for the last two weeks of Chick Tract reviews. See, this was purported to be a special Halloween Just For the Hell of It Mondays Reviews event, but the last two tracts didn’t have anything specific to do with Halloween at all—they were about Hell’s corporate policies and what it’s like to join team Satan as a demonic employee. So for this, the last Chick Tract of my all-Chick Tract month of reviews, I present to you a pamphlet that is so Halloween, it’s practically covered in toilet paper and shaving cream. How Halloween is it? Well, it’s titled Happy Halloween! And considering Jack Chick’s established thoughts on the holiday, I’m sure it will be a gas. Read on if you want to confirm that the previous sentence was sarcastic!
From reviewing this month’s worth of Chick Tracts, I’ve noticed a common thread that I might not have noticed without reading a bunch of them consecutively: usually only the sinners get names. Due to the economy of space, I can understand that the author might not want to give a full page over to dramatis personae, but considering most of these tracts boil down to a person-to-person conversation, you would think names could be easily slipped into the narrative. I can only use the information I am given; if a character is named by a nickname or jeer and I do not learn their given name, I must proceed with what I know. So it is we find three friends, Timmy, Bobby, and Chicken about to enter a haunted house amusement on Halloween. I mean, I assume it’s Halloween, they don’t explicitly say it, but the tract is titled Happy Halloween and it seems like the best time to have a haunted house attraction.
The three lads are thoroughly spooked by the haunted house and come upon a witch stirring a cauldron, who rather rudely drops them through a trap door into a room of menacing, hellish monsters who want them to stay for eternity. Which, I must say, is a bad business plan for a haunted house that is taking paid admission. What you really want is to provide an experience that is entertaining but short enough to entice the customer to go around again. The haunted house in this comic must be doing terribly, since the three kids dash out of the attraction and Timmy runs right into traffic, where he discovers he has super-strength and can crumple the front end of an oncoming car like so much aluminum foil.
Whoops! I mean he is struck by a car and killed. This saddens Bobby and Chicken, who go to Chicken’s mom, Mrs. Baxter, for condolences. Get that? We know the “good” kid’s last name but we don’t know his first name. And his mom is just Mrs. Baxter, and his name I suppose is Chicken Baxter. Am I making too big a thing of this? Do you think perhaps I’ve read too many Chick Tracts consecutively? Well who the hell asked you, anyway?!
If Mrs. Baxter had any friends, one thing they would probably appreciate about her is her blunt honesty, which is evidenced by her telling Bobby that his dead friend is being tortured and tormented in hell. Bobby pulls that old “but he was a good person” jazz, but we know that doesn’t pass the Jack Chick muster. Mrs. Baxter further explains that everyone is a default sinner and goes to hell, unless they get down with Jesus Christ because he’s got the whitest teeth or whatever. The television was on while I read this tract so I might have gotten my signals crossed.
You know the drill after this: Bobby repents and prays to Jesus and is filled with the spirit of the Lord, and Chicken Baxter fucks off to who-knows-where all dejected because his mom is always saving his friends but never has time for him, her own son, the one who does everything she asks. Perhaps she would pay more attention to him if he acted out, if he gave her a reason to take notice, if he stopped killing muskrats and chipmunks in the woods in secret and brought his bloodlust to light. Perhaps if Chicken Baxter took a human life, then his mother would respect him. (This Chicken Baxter sequence happens off-panel.)
Like most Chick Tracts, it starts with a story and switches halfway through to an illustrated conversation about Christianity, which is pretty lame writing. I would have much rather, for instance, seen a haunted house attraction that turned into an actual place haunted by demonic entities, who would then tell the tale of the crucifixion as part of the narrative. I did appreciate that it wasn’t just another rehash of the hoary pagan origins of Halloween, indeed there is really no Halloween content in this tract at all except for the haunted house at the very beginning. I don’t take away points for that, but I do take away points for Mrs. Baxter being such a tactless parent. I mean that boy was wearing a jacket when none of his friends had to, and you still treat him like a pariah. Only the pure illuminating flicker of flames can purify your blackened soul, Mrs. Baxter! Happy Halloween!
Bits and Pieces:
There are two kinds of Chick Tracts: ones that are so ridiculous they’re great, and ones that are so ridiculous they’re lame. This one falls into the latter category, beginning with a story that is barely interesting and devolving into the usual chat about Christ. I mean, this is ostensibly illustrated bible stories and it’s still boring as fuck. You know what Moses needed? Nunchucks. I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore, but I hope you enjoyed this special month-long Halloween event for Just For the Hell of It Mondays!