Jack Chick‘s Chick Tracts seriously piss me off. They are also totally fascinating — in part because they piss me off.
Growing up in a small town in Mississippi, you might assume I’d had bible-thumping parents, but in fact, they were pretty mild on the god front. Dad always wanted us to accompany him to church, but if he didn’t go, we certainly didn’t have to walk over by ourselves. Mom was agoraphobic and almost never attended services, insisting that you don’t have to go in order to be a good Christian. Pretty lax, no?
The peer pressure was another story–the “holier than thou” race between me and my classmates. In church we’d all promise to be Upstanding Young Citizens, but obviously the world doesn’t work like that, especially when you’re a teenager with raging hormones. Much less raging gay hormones. When I got to college, I finally stopped caring what my peers thought and quit going to church altogether. I haven’t looked back.
That said, I’m still uncomfortable with religious zeal. All the Jeebus freeks who descend on the Quarter for Decadence and Mardi Gras–I know they’re totally laughable, but at the same time, something about them really pushes my buttons. Maybe it’s all the shouting they do. (My list of fetishes, though long, doesn’t include being yelled at.) Or perhaps it’s the fact that they’ve gone all Stepford for god, quoting scripture instead of engaging in intelligent debate. Or maybe it’s the simple fact that they’ve come into my neighborhood to judge me and my friends.
Worst (or maybe best) of all, every one of them is passing out Chick Tracts, pocket-sized comics that insist the reader is going to hell and then explain why. The message is awful, but the way it’s told is so outrageous, so over the top, so queeny…well, you can’t help but read the damn things. I used to go up to the freeks and ask for extra copies so I could make sure I had them all.
Understandably, today’s BoingBoing feature on Syd Garron and Rodney Ascher’s film Somebody Goofed is of special interest to me. Somehow, I’d never managed to see the film, even though it’s over 10 years old. Whether or not it was truly “groundbreaking” (I remember seeing similar work on MTV’s Liquid Television several years earlier), it definitely captures–and maybe enhances–Chick’s peculiar style:
FYI, there’s a cleaner version on YouTube (i.e. no BMW ads interrupting the god stuff), but it doesn’t look quite as crisp as Xeni’s. Take your pick.