Friday, October 12, 2018

Chick Tract # 004: A Demon’s Nightmare Review

Produced by: Chick Publications
Price: Free
Release Date: 2005

*Spoilers ahead, score at the bottom*


We learned last week that Hell is sort of a crummy corporate situation, where demons have to give regular performance reports seated around a conference table as an overhead projector displays charts and graphs to the Lord of Lies and probably lawyers. But what, wondered no one, is the average workday of a rank-and-file demon like? How do the demons that punch in and out perform their jobs? What do they do? And is there a lunch break? Well Jack Chick has revealed all of that and more in this very early tract, A Demon’s Nightmare, which you’ll learn more about if you read on!

This thing is copyrighted 2005 but I think it was created many years earlier, possibly among the very early Chick Tracts from the 1970s. My basis for that belief is partly the fact that it’s listed as number four in what we know are hundreds if not thousands of tracts, but also because the art style is a little more tentstive and rudimentary than we know Jack Chick’s work to be these days. Okay, so the conceit of this entire issue is that there are demons in nearly every panel exhorting people to do evil things and turn away from God, but only we can see them and read their suggestions. So think of it like the Devil’s minions being imaginary best friends that only you can see or hear, okay? So some demons catch sight of an upstanding Christian on his way to confront a striped shirt and sunglasses-wearing ne’er-do-well, slouching on a park bench and smoking a cigarette. He’s got a couple of demons hanging around that make him skeptical of Johnny Proselytizer, but is intrigued when asked if he knows the story about the time God was murdered by man.

I mean, this is literally something a serial killer would ask you before everything goes black and you wake up in a fetid dungeon chained to a hobby horse. This fellow is the reason rape whistles were invented. The amateur preacher has the bestriped layabout intrigued, which really pisses off the demons because they totally had dibs on this guy and now they’re being cockblocked. One of the demons implies that his team, the Hellions, made a big mistake “inciting that mob to crucify” Jesus, and that had they known Jesus would rise from His grave, they might have thought differently about it. This is sort of a big revelation—it says that Lucifer was unaware that Jesus Christ was the son of God, which I suppose might be true enough, but it further suggests that demons feel remorse. Sure, it’s remorse for not being more evil, but it is remorse nonetheless. I’d say this is a pretty big chink in their armor. Next time you or someone you know has been possessed by a demon, try reminding them of all the good they’ve inadvertently done in the world, maybe you can confuse them away.

The park lurker and his creepy storytelling friend pray together and the striped shirt-wearing fellow is saved. Hell’s middle management catches wind of this and chastises the two demons who, when confronted with a bible thumper, did essentially fuck off and complain about how ineffectual they are. The demons have a few tricks up their hypothetical sleeves, which include infecting this guy’s parents with anti-Christian sentiment and making his friends turn against him for being uncool. To their credit, this poor kid’s dad really overreacts—I really want to know his story. Were his ancestors murdered during the Crusades?

After being dissed by his homies, our new Christian fellow is starting to feel a little disaffected by this whole bag, but determines to go to church that Sunday and receive the Good Word and probably some coffee cake. There, the demons are quick to point out that church is lame, which is literally like telling someone that fire will burn you. I mean, maybe those Southern Baptist churches with all the singing are a laugh, and the snake-handlers seem like a fun group, but at most churches if you get sixty uninterrupted minutes of sleep you can consider it a smashing success. I love that, in the church panel, a demon is suggesting to the mother of a crying baby that she not do anything about it—like ignoring a crying baby is somehow a Hellborne suggestion, and that if we could resist our demon hecklers, our babies would somehow stop crying or we would miraculously know what to do about them. Which, strictly speaking, we do. But I believe baby muzzles are still illegal in most states.

Our Christian newbie is feeling pretty disillusioned by Christianity, and considers bagging bible study in favor of the Billion Dollar Movie that Wednesday, which appears to be one of the Pink Panther series based on in-panel evidence. The one-time sinner decides to go to bible study anyway, and his attending demons actually stay behind and watch the Wednesday night movie! What the fuck is happening here? Did this guy just leave the television on for a couple of invisible evil sprites, or did they turn the television on because there is no cable television in Hell? It makes sense, I suppose, I figure Hell has some weird hotel package with like six channels on it at best. And one of the channels just shows the hotel’s services. And another of the channels is the same thing except in Spanish. Anyway, at bible study our protagonist meets again with the same creepy guy from the park bench that sold him on this hogwash in the first place, and I guess they make out or whatever because Satan or his traveling secretary is really pissed at the two demons and sends them twenty-eight flights down into deeper Hell, which looks just like regular Hell except that the torturing demons wear fire-resistant asbestos suits—it really must be fucking hot if demons have to wear protective gear.

This is definitely the most enjoyable Chick Tract I’ve read all month. Though the art isn’t as polished as in some other tracts, it serves its purpose well enough and is still pretty skilled and clear cut. The entire concept of Hell being some corporation that treats demons like salaried employees is so great to me, I just want to learn more and more about it. I’m not saying I would fill out an application but…you say you happen to have an application here? Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to take a look…you’re offering how much? And all I do is sign over my soul, huh? Well, I guess I have been looking to make a change. Honey, how high is the SPF on our sun tan lotion?

Bits and Pieces:

This is the best Chick Tract I’ve reviewed all month, which is to say it’s still pretty much a piece of silly junk and the story is moronic. We learn about what the day-to-day duties of a demon are, which looks to be a lot of field work making rude suggestions to human beings. I wonder if they get a per diem or get reimbursed by the Demon Resources Department? Do you think there are satellite offices or does everyone report to Hell Central? Why didn’t they make a The Office-style sitcom about Hades instead of applying it to the ever-lovin’ Muppets?


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