Monday, October 5, 2015

Chick Tract # 1053: The Devil’s Night – Just For the Hell of It Mondays

Produced by: Chick Publications
Price: Free
Release Date: 2004

*Spoilers ahead, score at the bottom*


Jack T. Chick is an American illustrator whose company, Chick Publications, has published a variety of materials in nearly every form of media evangelizing for Christian fundamentalism since 1970. The most well-known of Chick’s products are small, twenty-four page black and white comics known as “Chick Tracts,” which are commonly given away by like-minded Christians, then received and giggled over by deplorable sacrilegious monsters like myself. Of course, Chick doesn’t support the secular celebration of Halloween and has published several tracts explaining its evil. For the month of October, I’ll be looking at four such tracts and reviewing them for art, story, and general spookiness! How does The Devil’s Night fare? Read on!

We open the story in the grade-school classroom of teacher Ms. Henn, who is preparing the class Halloween festivities planned for the next day. Everyone seems very enthusiastic about the celebration, except for that no-good buzzkill Li’l Susy!

Li’l Susy is a recurring character in Chick Tracts who is just the cutest, most precocious little judgmental bitch in the world. Susy doesn’t want to wear a costume because it goes against the will of Jesus Christ, but her Grandpa says she must respect authority, and figures out a workaround Ms. Henn’s cruel whim.

The next day Susy shows up in an oversized Santa Claus costume, which pisses off Ms. Henn to no end. I figure there’s another story here about Ms. Henn’s obsessive-compulsive disorder and the cruel irony of her being a teacher despite hating cute little children, but instead we catch up with Susy and her classmate Buffy at the Halloween party. Buffy confesses that she is scared of Halloween and its trappings, and then Susy drops quite a bombshell on her.

Halloween is the work of the devil! Come on, you had to know. Of course what is arguably the most fun holiday of the year would have to come at the price of your immortal soul. Susy continues with a little history lesson about the origin of Halloween, that it involved godless heathens and human sacrifice.

I have always found this sort of thinking spurious. Sure, Halloween may have begun as a night of irredeemable evil about bathing in the blood of innocents and calling forth unholy demons, but now it’s more about not getting a tummy ache from eating too much candy corn. Christmas used to be a day of austerity and piety and now it’s about presents and lining your trachea with eggnog. There are a ton of traditions steeped in fucked-up historical events, that doesn’t mean we should stop getting loaded on St. Patrick’s Day or flogging armadillos on Labor Day. Susy and Buffy’s conversation continues over some ice cream, where Susy implies that the human and animal sacrifices practiced by pagans before the birth of Christ still go on today!

I wish I could say that Susy went on to talk more about those satanic priests in the next panel, but they drop the issue. I guess in whatever town Susy and Buffy live, there were a bunch of satanic priests sacrificing people. I suppose Satan created a media blackout surrounding that particular event. Susy then gives Buffy the full dope: we’re all born sinners because Lucifer duped the original human couple, and none of us can get into Heaven anymore because of it. Buffy despairs at this, unwilling to suffer eternal tortures and torments just because some asshole couldn’t stop snacking between meals. But Susy has an inside angle for worming your way into sitting at God’s lunchroom table!

I love the idea that Buffy is so removed from Christianity that she thinks “Jesus Christ” is just an epithet you yell out of frustration. I can only imagine if she hadn’t met Susy, she might have embarrassed herself later in life when struggling to open a jar of capers and muttering, “Stupid Jesus Christin’ jar,” or screaming “Go Jesus Christ yourself!” to someone that cut her off in traffic. Once Buffy hears that Jesus Christ is scalping tickets to the hottest arena concert in the afterlife, she gets down and prays and everyone lives happily ever after. Except for Ms. Henn, who I assume dies a curmudgeonly spinster when one of her thirty-six cats topples a pile of old newspapers onto her and no one hears her diminishing, anguished cries that last for days on end.

Bits and Pieces:

The artwork is about as good as you could expect in a flashlight operator’s manual and the pacing is okay, but story-wise this one is sort of a dud. You’d like to see Ms. Henn get her comeuppance for thinking evil thoughts about Li’l Susy, but apparently we have to wait for Judgment Day like all the other rubes. Otherwise, this is just a conversation between two little girls, even if one of the little girls is talking about some of the most fucked-up shit imaginable. As far as turning me from Halloween, it seems to me that I could enjoy the candy and ice cream without the long-winded history lesson, so I’m not quite convinced.

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