Friday, October 12, 2018

Chick Tract # 058: Boo! Review

Produced by: Chick Publications
Price: Free
Release Date: 1991

*Spoilers ahead, score at the bottom*


Okay, okay, I’ll admit that last week’s Special Halloween Just For the Hell of It Monday review wasn’t very scary. Sure, it dealt with the secret history of All Hallow’s Eve, but it was really just a creepy conversation between two little girls. This week’s Chick Tract is a true horror story with all the great 1980s slasher film trappings like foolhardy teens, an unstoppable killer in a mask, and ritual animal sacrifice. I knew I was leaving all of those Halloween parties too early! How can you protect yourself from the day known as “Satan’s birthday” by exactly no one? Read on to find out!

Our tale opens on a group of teens arriving at Camp Basil Bub, which obviously had to change its name because of lawsuits brought by Camp Hub Bub, a special retreat for bored husbands. Head douchebag in a ballcap Charlie announces he’s rented the whole camp for fifty bucks! It’s a perfect location for the Salem High class Halloween party, shouts Charlie to essentially anyone standing within a ten-foot radius around him. Another kid pipes up and says he knows why Charlie got it so cheap, despite having an abrasive and unlikable personality: thirteen people were murdered at this camp last Halloween!

After being told that the killer was riddled with bullets but his body never found, the party goes on as planned and the kids from Salem High descend upon the camp. Again, to no one specific, Charlie blurts out, “Carrie will sacrifice a cat at midnight.” Carrie chimes in, “What a way to end a party! (Haw Haw)” and I suppose it is a fairly drastic but effective way to bring a rapid conclusion to any festivities. An ominous figure with a pumpkin head—and I don’t mean his head is large or that he is the creature from the Pumpkinhead movie series, he is wearing a jack o’lantern on his noggin—looks on from behind a tree and is pleased because he’s probably a creep or drug pusher or something. Later, Carrie does go to kill that cat at a ritualistic altar while wearing a druid’s robe, which comes completely out of fucking nowhere because one panel ago, these people were depicted as a bunch of jocks about to tap a keg and listen to House of Pain. Just then, the ominous figure with a pumpkin head runs into the room and starts killing everyone. The cat’s fate remains unknown but it’s suspected dead.
An escapee of the Camp Basil Bub bloodbath gets word to the local cops who opine that if it’s the same rascally killer from last year, they’re going to need an army! Instead, we cut to forty minutes later when cops are just blasting away at the murderer, to no avail. That’s when we learn the secret identity of the killer is…the Devil! Ol’ Scratch himself vanishes into thin air and the cops surmise that he’s making his way into town, because if they accept that they just watched Satan disappear then they’ll probably shit their pants.

The Devil does make his way into what seems to be a poorly-protected town and finds himself outside of a church, where he sees a kid praying. As you might imagine, this seriously pisses him off and Satan decides to go into the church to scare the bejeezus out of the child. This is what The Light-Bringer has been reduced to: a third-rate boogeyman that doesn’t even know to steer clear of houses of worship. Serial killers are supposed to be crafty, not bumbling! The praying kid, named Joey, turns around and tells Satan where he can stick it, and this makes the Devil run off, screaming, because he’s very sensitive to criticism. There’s a bible verse quoted beneath the panel of Joey telling off the Antichrist that totally translates to “and kids shall send Lucifer packing by infecting him with cooties.”

Joey visits the local pastor the next day to ask if Halloween really is the Devil’s birthday. This is something brought up in the tract a few times, even Beezelbub himself makes a comment about it being his birthday. But for all the fucked up stuff I’ve heard attributed to Halloween—and there’s plenty out there—I’ve never heard it referred to as “Satan’s birthday.” If the Father of lies is an angel fallen from Heaven, think about what him having a birthday implies: time passes in Heaven at the exact same rate as it does on Earth, and it is recorded for life events and probably to chart the Lord’s mood swings or whatever. So Heaven is not an ethereal, timeless place of infinite wisdom of peace, but some eternal detention hall where people have periodic birthday parties and self-congratulatory awards ceremonies just to mark the passage of time. It’s basically my corporate office. All that speculation was irrelevant, though, because the pastor sets Joey straight and says Halloween is not Satan’s birthday, after all. He just digs it because it’s all spooky and shit.

It all kind of wraps up with a standard Chick Tract history of Halloween: druids worshipped a pagan god, decided to commit human sacrifice, and the holiday was inextricably linked with blasphemy and horrors which, today, come in the form of plastic My Little Pony costumes and that one lady who gives out bite-sized Charleston Chews to trick-or-treaters. The pastor doesn’t look too freaked out by it, does he? In fact, it sort of looks like he’s wearing a pajama top. Maybe Joey woke him up with his inane questions about Satan’s birthday? The tract concludes with the not-uncommon series of motivational panels, all essentially saying, “You need to drop that zero (allusions to witchcraft and the Devil) and get with a hero (Jesus Christ).” I love how the Devil is depicted in these tracts; almost everywhere else, the artist (I believe it is Jack Chick, in this case) draws people in this kind of bland, flat style, but when it comes to drawing the original horn-head suddenly the nose becomes a sharp beak and he looks like a low-budget Guy Fieri. Maybe that’s where Flavor Town is, in Hades! It would explain Fieri’s penchant for spicy food.

This comic begins looking like slasher film satire, but that is quickly dispensed with and it becomes another history lesson about the diabolical origins of Halloween, from thousands of years ago. Though most of the tract is dedicated to a conversation between Joey and his pastor, I thought it was interesting to see so many characters introduced and involved…though I guess they all get killed by Satan so the point is moot. The art is typical Jack Chick fare, not very inspiring but very neat and easy to understand. I am figuring Camp Basil Bub closed down, not because of the multiple perennial murders but because it fell short of projected revenue by being rented to unruly teenagers for fifty bucks a night.

Bits and Pieces:

Since most of this tract consists of an illustrated conversation between a kid and his local religious authority, it doesn’t follow pre-conceived ideas about comic book storytelling and so can’t be judged on those same merits. We can, however, say that this comic is stupid and insipid, and essentially the same thing as last week’s tract, but with a brief horror movie conceit. I love how Chick draws Satan, as a sort of sniveling Lou Albano with a Middle Eastern nose, but that’s because I am a horrible person that can’t get enough of crap like that. What we learn from this comic is that you shouldn’t throw a party a camp where thirteen murders were committed the year prior, and if you do you definitely shouldn’t sacrifice a cat while at said camp, and if you do you DEFINITELY shouldn’t listen to Charlie’s bullshit because that guy is a blowhard.


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