Ms. Henn is a Troll. Either she's deliberately tormenting Li'l Susy by bringing up topics she knows will be a Berserk Button for Susy, or she's secretly a fundamentalist Christian who's using Poe's Law to indoctrinate her students by making progressive secularists look like Jerkasses, and Susy is her shill who promotes the message she really wants the kids to get.
Susy has been interpreted as a impressionable orphan who's being warped by her grandfather's extreme religious views.
Chick does this for other people's work. In "Humbug", he portrays Bob Cratchit as an Evangelical Christian.
Audience-Alienating Premise: Chick Tracts are about a world where the devil literally controls everything and anything, people are almost always amoral idiots, monsters roam the night, and the only path to salvation is a tiny, fringe religious denomination that is entirely fine with over 99% of the rest of the world population going to hell if they don't decide to convert. Anybody who doesn't share these beliefs will most likely either be offended by tracts, uninterested, or only read them to make fun of them, and anybody who agrees with Jack's beliefs doesn't need the tracts to change their mind.
Awesome Art: Certainly not from Chick himself, but Fred Carter's Bible story tracts look amazing.
Canon Defilement: Humbug! is Jack Chick's adaption of A Christmas Carol. It is completely stripped of the original message of the Dickens version, in favor of simply being another story about a jerkass who converts to Christianity. Even the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are Adapted Out in favor of just having Marley convert Scrooge.
Confirmation Bias: The tracts have been particularly criticized in how while they're intended to convert people to their version of Christianity (more often than not believing that the type of Easy Evangelism seen in the tracts actually works), most of the time they're used to preach to the choir. As if that wasn't enough, most of the non-Bible sources cited come from books also published by Chick Publications.
Critical Research Failure: Pretty much everything. Like many religious fanatics, Chick has no interest in such boring things as "facts" or "reality" if they get in the way of a good tirade:
"Dark Dungeons" is similar to the film Mazes and Monsters in that it bears little resemblance to how Role-Playing Games are actually played. For example, Marcie is instantly declared dead and does not even get to make a saving throw to see if she survives or even make a new character to continue playing. Generally, instant deaths in role-playing are reserved for important non-player characters or players who have angered the GM. She is also treated as though she "no longer exists"; it's not like she could take her character and go to another gaming group, or even have someone here pay for a resurrection! Or, y'know, roll up a new character instead of getting booted from the gaming group.
One example, in the movie proper, is that in order to spare an enemy a player would be forced to give up all their character's wealth and items. Anybody who's played the game knows A. That's not in the rules anywhere, and in fact there are rules that cover sparing an enemy B. you can actually play a character with more Christian morals that include sparing the enemy, or that there was one setup for a monk that prevented them from doing anything but sparing enemies.
In-game death is treated as so permanent that the girl hangs herself over her supposed inability to play the game anymore.
Full campaigns with large groups take quite a bit of setup, and overly large groups with over a dozen players would be incredibly complicated to balance, yet this drunken party of random teenagers set up and play a game in a matter of seconds with no confusion or difficulty.
Essentially everything that he writes about other sects or religions, especially Catholicism's supposed worldwide conspiracy.
In "Big Daddy", Jack tries to debunk evolution. His main source for that tract, Kent Hovind, is an expert on the Biblenote and even his exegesis leaves much to be desired, not on science, which shows throughout the tract. He also uses Hovind's outlandish Dinosaurs Are Dragons theory as the basis for "There Go The Dinosaurs".
In one of the tracts about the Catholic Church, Chick claims that Martin Luther read the Bible and discovered that the bread and wine of communion are only symbols, not the actual thing. While it is true that Martin Luther rejected the Catholic belief that bread and wine are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus, he also made it quite clear that they were not mere symbols, instead urging followers to believe the body and blood are present and embrace it as a mystery beyond human understanding.
The "Boo" tract depicts the ancient Druids of the British Isles using pumpkin jack o'lanterns. Pumpkins are native to North America and so they would have been unknown to the ancient Druids (The Celtic precursor to the modern jack o'lantern is a carved turnip).
One blog has pointed out a big flaw in Chick's story that Druids went from house-to-house on Samhain and chose a victim to sacrifice: at the rate of one member per household per year, the Druids would've run out of sacrifice victims in a few short years.
Chick seems to have no clue as to the actual contents of the Harry Potter books (or is simply comfortable making shit up to support his agenda).
Neither does he seem to have even rudimentary knowledge of Egyptian mythology.
"The Little Bride" has Christian children who "almost became Muslims" when a Muslim classmate tried to get them to recite the shahada in a "repeat after me" fashion. Reciting the shahada in front of witnesses is the formal way to become a Muslim, but you can't just say it, you have to mean it. And you're expected to read the Quran, study the religion, and consult with an imam before you do it. In other words, even if Li'l Susy hadn't arrived in the nick of time to shout "STOP! Don't ever say those words!", Becky and Tashana wouldn't have been considered legitimate converts.
One so bad, even Chick acknowledged the mistake. Earlier editions of "Poor Little Witch" asserted that "40,000 to 60,000 ritual homicides per year occur in the U.S." According the the FBI, in 1986 (the year of the "homicide investigation seminar" that Chick cited as his source), the total number of homicides in the US, regardless of motivation, was 20,613. For the "40,000 to 60,000" to be correct, it would mean that in one year, Satanists would have to cause almost as many deaths as the US military suffered in 11 years of combat in The Vietnam War (57,799). Obviously, someone notified Chick that his numbers were extremely impossible, and he quietly removed the offending claim. Luckily, it was in a panel of black-robed cultists gathered for a sacrifice, so he could just fill out the robes.
Crosses the Line Twice: The tracts often end up doing this unintentionally. For example the Grim Reaper's hilariously inappropriate "Hi there!".
The "Dark Dungeons" movie is doing this quite intentionally. The theatrical trailer ends with the reveal that tabletop games aren't the product of Satan as Chick claims. No they're the product of Cthulhu.
Designated Hero: The way God is portrayed in the tracts does not come across as unimpeachably benevolent to all readers, though that is certainly what the author intends. Some even think that God Is Evil in the tracts.
Designated Villain: Numerous antagonists. Chick seems to believe that not being Christian automatically makes you a Jerkass, at least in private (which, when you think about it, kind of flies in the face of the "faith not works" message). A good example is Dr. Westhall in "Reverend Wonderful," whose only "crime" is preaching that all religions should live in peace and who immediately does an about-face to a "HAW HAW HAW"-ing douche when the protagonist of the comic tries to convert him.
The Pope is depicted in more than one chick tract as a very unappealing man who is claimed to be creating mass deceit in the world.
Don't Shoot the Message: A lot of Christians are embarrassed by Chick, even those he doesn't consider "false Christians" by default (e.g. Catholics).
On a broader sense, there are times when Chick has a point, but through his use of straw men, it's hard to swallow. For example, some of his tracts can be seen as saying that you shouldn't let peer pressure influence your beliefs. There is an entire chick tract regarding an alcoholic father who uses his money for alcohol and has essentially lost respect with his daughter, who is drug to church and renounces his alcoholism. This lesson itself isn't entirely wrong as religion can help one recover from a bad habit, but like everything else one has to read several pages regarding Jesus and salvation that targets far more than just drunks.
Chick spreads a lot of ideas that many evangelicals would sincerely question (KJV-Onlyism, the idea that rock music is evil, numerous conspiracy theories, etc.) which such evangelicals would criticise in addition to the actual shoddy presentation of and storytelling in the comics. So there is more to it than just this trope.
The notorious "Dark Dungeons" made roleplaying out to be an exciting life-or-death scenario that introduced real occultism and gave players fabulous supernatural powers that they can use to brainwash their parents into buying them stuff. More than a few roleplayers love the tract and it has been parodied and affectionately referred to in innumerable ways among the subculture.
The tract has become so famous that a live-action movie was funded on kickstarter. "Dark Dungeons: The Movie!" seems to have gotten most of its backers from the gaming community.
Depending on the tracts, he'll even make the devils funny or sufficiently clever to provide comic relief, which makes anyone who wins against them seem like a bit of a killjoy. Who wouldn't want to have help from a demon like Bruth from The Poor Little Witch, who can make your enemies look like fools and talks like a schmoozy Hollywood agent?
Bruth: Gotcha, baby!
Halloween is another Satanic thing, so he fully expects children to read tracts about how a holiday that involves dressing up and carving pumpkins and abstain from such a heinous holiday. One tract shows a bunch of "bad" people partaking in a huge Halloween party in a rented cabin, which looks like a ton of fun (barring the cat sacrifice at the end), while the "good" kid sits quietly in his house, praying to God and apparently having the most boring evening ever.
Fang, a bizarre pet that seems to be a cross between a dog, cat, fox and rabbit, and continually makes background appearances. It's the sabre teeth and a saw-tail. And being the only character who never speaks.
The tracts very frequently end with the death of one or several of the protagonists, so that a "judgment after death" scene can occur. This means that sometimes, protagonists die in cruel or painful ways, but due to the fact that they go to heaven, the tract treats it as a happy, even joyful ending (seen in, e.g. "Somebody Loves Me", "Hard Times" and "Bewitched?"). Special mention to "The Little Sneak", where the eponymous bad boy undergoes a HeelFace Turn by 'accepting Jesus' — then is struck by lightning and goes to Heaven; next, without any further explanation, his parents die too — so the family is happily reunited in Heaven. The End.
Even the people who live after their conversion may have lingering emotional scars, and there's often a fair amount of undeserved forgiveness and avoiding punishment in the name of turning the other cheek. And the tracts welcome the end of days, in which the true believers are whisked away to heaven while the majority suffer, die and go to hell.
Additionally, there's an over-arching theme that no government created by man is anything close to acceptable. Rather than do anything to change it, which would be the LOGICAL thing to do if Christians are so upset about it, we should wait for the Second Coming of Christ.
"Gun Slinger": says verbatim, "Going to Heaven is not a matter of good or bad. It's a matter of saved or lost," explaining why Terrible Tom goes to heaven after repenting for his sins, but the non-Christian Marshall goes to hell despite being a law-abiding person.
"Lisa": Viewing pornography and a breakdown in one's marriage leads to molesting children, among other things—or vice-versa.
Also that raping a child, infecting her with an incurable STD, and allowing your neighbor to do the same is perfectly acceptable so long as you become a very certain type of fundamentalist Christian afterwards (hell, you wont even face any real world punishment), wheras not being a very certain type of fundamentalist Christian gets you thrown into hell even if you were a good person in life.
"The Little Bride": "Muslims are pedophiles, and cultural Values Dissonance is no excuse."
Values Dissonance is never an excuse with Chick. Any values he doesn't believe in are Satan's doing, you see.
Also, "Your kids should never befriend people from different religions," and "It's wrong for young children to try to convert classmates to their religion, unless they happen to agree with Jack Chick's ideas and have adorable pigtails."
In "Flight 144," as mentioned above, people are judged not by how much good they've done, but by how many people they converted to Christ. This also gives the message that it's pointless to help people in life.
Heartwarming Moment: Believe it or not, Chick actually managed to produce a rather touching tract, namely "It's Not Your Fault," a story about genuinely overcoming adversity through finding faith, and containing no racism, conspiracy theories, or ranting about how The End Is Nigh of any kind. It remains So Bad, It's Good due to the ridiculous art and sheer glurge factor (seven-year-olds hanging themselves?), however.
The Last Surprise, coming from Chick Tracts, gets more hilarious when eventually the title was used as a catchy battle theme for Persona 5 where the climax battle involves the protagonist summoning their equivalent of Satan to shoot the equivalent of God in the face with a bullet. Jack would never see it coming, seeing that he died shortly after the game was released in Japan and it took the next year until the game was released at his home country.
The name of the dark-haired teenage heroine who saved the world from the vampire Antichrist in the "First Bite" tract is Faith.
Ho Yay: Jim and Tim, "The Crusaders," from Chick's full-length comics are a pair of beefyPlatonic Life-Partners with a fondness for tight t-shirts and calling each other things like "bright-eyes." In discussions over whether or not Chick is a Poe, these two tend to be brought up.
Female example: There is some chemistry between Holly and Samantha, the attractive young witches in "The Nervous Witch". Sam tells her mother that she hates surprises (apparently because they interrupt their secret magic sessions together), and even appears jealous when Holly flirts with Mr. Williams.
Holly: Get that robe off, Samantha.
Idiot Plot: Pretty much every Tract operates under the assumption that Christianity is smaller than it is, as usually you have one person having to explain what they believe and why, despite pretty much every one of them taking place in the modern day USA, a largely Christian country. Yeah, good going, Jack.
Even within the plots themselves there tend to be people who seem to be unnecessarily rude and dismissive of other people for often no real reason, and come around nearly instantly after being told of God or the salvation Jesus can give, renouncing their evil ways instantly. Apparently they weren't even that bad if they just changed their attitude within seconds after they start praying.
Informed Wrongness: Esau's disregard for his birthright is treated as reason enough for God to hate him, but it's never adequately explained as to why it's so bad compared to many characters who did worse and were not hated, or why it excuses Jacob conning him out of it.
Magnificent Bastard: Jack Chicks version of Satan. A large number of Christians who otherwise would go straight to Heaven are doomed to hell because they are members of the Catholic Church. A religion created by no one else other than the devil himself.
A lot of religious skeptics (y'know, some of Chick's favorite targets of criticism) enjoy these tracts just for the sheer hilarious Narm.
"Dark Dungeons" is also popular among tabletop gamers for the same reason.
Some conservative Christians have a Stop Being Stereotypical view of Chick, and real problems with points of his theology, but also find the tracts entertaining because of the Narm.
Misaimed Fandom: Chick tracts are intended to be passed on indefinitely, but most people who pick them up (and don't throw them away) keep them. Many people actually collect them. Then there are the people who think they are parodies.
The "Dark Dungeons" tract is very popular among role-playing gamers, and on gaming message boards it's not uncommon for people to make jokes about Black Leaf and "real magic."
The tracts in general have a surprising and almost definitely unintended fandom among atheists and religious skeptics because of their hilarious campiness and bizarre theology.
Moral Event Horizon: Averted in Chick's eyes, as utterly terrible people can convert and go to heaven. Whether the readers or the characters can forgive those people is another question, though.
Seasonal Rot: As Hugo and Jake from The Bible Reloaded pointed out in their reading of "I See You," one of the first tracts written and published after Jack Chick's passing, if you can believe it, the tracts are actually going down in quality. If you look at that tract for what it is, it's exactly what the Chick Tracts are, boiled down to their base elements; a message that you should be worried about being judged by God, to the point of being paranoid about not being in His good graces, images to reinforce the words, and narration that spells it all out to the readers. It's not even entertainingly bad like a lot of the ones that came before it, it's just what you expect instead of a story using Insane Troll Logic to try to convince you to follow Christianity and its god. It's just so forced with the Nightmare Fuel that it ceases to be entertaining in its insanity at the very least.
Spiritual Adaptation: Given it's Western setting, wonky art (like most tracts.), and skewed morality (again, like most tracts.), "Gunslinger" is probably the closest thing to a comic adaptation of The Town With No Name. "Terrible Tom" even sounds like the name the outlaws you'd fight.
So Bad, It's Good: All of them. Every last one. Cheesy writing, worse art, Double Standards and cringeworthy stereotypes abound, and yet it's impossible to look away. The number of blogs dedicated to ripping these things apart is literally in the double digits, and general consensus among them is that "Dark Dungeons" is the "best" of the lot.
When you criticise Christianity (or anything), at the very least read the texts you criticise and know what youre talking about. The Sissy? Exemplifies this fairly well, turning the idea that Jesus was a wimp (which was actually a common insult used by Norse pagans against Christians, calling Jesus White Christ to imply his cowardice as opposed to the virile "Red Þórr"), pointing out that he was obviously holding back and deliberately walked into tremendous danger and suffered horrifically for a greater cause.
Even small transgressions you commit against others (e.g. stealing some office supplies or telling some lies) are still hurtful and should be acknowledged as such and avoided.
Perhaps unusually for such conservative Christian works, several tracts have very strong anti-authoritarian overtones (as long as the authority figure in question isn't God); cops, lawyers, judges, politicians, soldiers, clerics, teachers, and even parents are often portrayed as at least as sinful as anyone else, while prisoners, the poor, and ethnic minorities are often treated sympathetically, assuming they're sufficiently faithful or convert at some point.
Space Whale Aesop: "Fairy Tales?" don't teach your children about stuff like the Easter Bunny or else they'll grow up to become a terrorist when they find out they're not real.
"Wounded Children", showing pornography to children will not only scar them for life, but make them gay...even Jack realized down the road that this Aesop was kind of insane.
Speaking of which: "Lisa", pornography (again) and women working outside the home will lead to incest...which you can be forgiven for if you accept Jesus even if you have your daughter a deadly STD.
Strawman Has a Point: In "Somebody Goofed" as well as the "edited for black audiences" version "Oops!", a man named Bobby overdoses on speed and as his friends and family are gathered around, a Christian shows up to tell them all about how Bobby is burning in Hell right now. When another man shows up to stop him we're supposed to side with the Christian. Of course, whether the Christian is right or not, moments after the death of a loved one is usually not the best time to preach to people (let alone say he's suffering eternal damnation for his choices), making the other man totally justified in trying to shut him up. Less justified, but still understandable is when he physically assaults the Christian. However, given that the former is actually Satan himself in a human guise — trying to exploit the funeral to embitter more people against God, no less — the Christian can likewise come as across as Properly Paranoid in retrospect.
Stop Being Stereotypical: A likely reaction from some Christian critics- sure he may be trying to present the gospel, but in doing so invokes every bad fundamentalist cliche in the book.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: Most of Chick's "villains" and jerkasses are a lot more understandable than Chick probably meant them to be, since they tend to speak out against things like bigotry, insensitivity, and raging fundamentalism. This leads the heroes to have the opposite problem.
Esau. The tracts involving the story of him and Jacob seem to imply that he deserves God's hatred for not valuing his birthright enough, and trading it for food when he was (possibly literally) starving. The fact that Jacob tricked their father into giving him a blessing and later reconciled with him when he was older don't seem to deter Chick from using them as parallels to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It's weird how well Satan comes off in the banned 'Wounded Children' Tract, considering he's The Devil. Instead of being evil to the degree you'd expect, he comes off as a guy who fully accepts the main character of the Tract, David, as being gay when even his family wouldn't and encourages him to embrace who he is, even being his wingman when he goes to a gay bar. Then he gives David actually useful advice to take it slowly with understanding himself and his journey to accept his being gay. Sure, it's apparently Satan who put him on the track to being gay, but afterwards he actually legitimately tries to help David be gay in a time when that wasn't socially accepted. The tract, instead of being entirely about blaming homosexuality on Satan, comes off more like it's saying to hate gays just because they're gay and influenced by Satan rather than any legitimate reasons. David himself comes off as a Woobie because he's not a bad person, he's just a guy trying to understand who he is and why. The tract even, most likely unintentionally, says being gay isn't a person's choice when it shows David struggling to be happy with himself before he accepts his homosexuality. Sure, he's influenced by Satan at most, but it's not a choice he would've made on his own.
"The Nervous Witch" attempts to portray Holly as a hardened, demonic occultist, but she just comes off, as one blogger put it, as "The lamest Satanist ever." More likely, she's just a confused (and perhaps closeted) Emo Teen who's a bit of a Drama Queen. Chick liked her enough to bring her back in "Gladys" (not that things ended well for her, though).
The recurring Easy EvangelistCreator's Pet characters, Bob Williams and Li'l Susy, both come off as smug, patronizing know-it-alls, even though we're supposed to view them as pure, uncorrupted truth-tellers. Chick makes it even worse by putting them up against a Straw Character.
Values Dissonance: The extreme fundamentalist rhetoric clashes with many people harder than a fly clashes with the windshield of a car on a highway. Including the vast majority of Christians, as they typically don't hate everyone. Even those who do hate the tracts.
In The Traitor, an in-universe example comes up when the Hindu priest Ramu asks the Christian protagonist about how powerful Jesus is, asking about traits such as how many heads he has, what weapon he uses and the sacrifices he demands. It also falls into Unfortunate Implications by making Ramu (and Hindus as a whole, by extension) seem barbaric. (Also, the whole tract is an incredibly transparent ripoff of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)
Chick's feeling the need to have special "black editions" of tracts. The implication being that black people are so different they need their own special versions of tracts already made. Bonus for Chick in-that he doesn't have to come up with any new material, he just makes the good artists make new drawings for them. Even more bizarre, he doesn't usually even change the context of what's happening to be more culturally relevant to said audiences, which would at least make some sense; merely changing characters' skin colors instead.
Adapted for black audiences.
Even worse if you consider how it sets white people as the default.
Your Big Moment "is drawn specifically for black women" and You Have a Date is "tailored for women." They're both adaptations of This Was Your Life which already had a "black adaptation" in It's Your Life.
What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Obviously, Chick was a straight shooter who railed against alcohol and drugs, which makes concepts like a pumpkin-headed, chainsaw-wielding Satan seem all the more whacked-out.
The Woobie: Quite a few of them, in fact. The protagonists of "Unloved", "Somebody Loves Me", "Hard Times", "Lisa", and "The Poor Little Witch" — to name a few. Also, the various characters who end up being tossed into hell could be considered unintentional examples of this trope.note That said, it may not be completely unintentional— the readers may well be supposed to feel sorry for the damned because they gave up their chance at salvation.
The couple from "Flight 144" who spent 50 years of their lives improving those of thousands of people in Africa, who get tossed into hell because they don't believe in Chick's particular section of Christianity. God Is Evil indeed.
Juan from "Fat Cats". A Wide-Eyed Idealist in a Latin American dictatorship, he joins a Communist revolutionary, believing the man will help him and his people, ignoring his father-in-laws warnings that the revolutionary is a snake. Then, after the dictator is toppled, Juan learns that revolutionary's adviser murdered his family, and then the same adviser manipulates the revolutionary into murdering Juan. Once he dies, he is told by God he will rot in hell, rather then rejoin his family in heaven.Sheesh...
Jerkass Woobie: Bruce in "Fallen." Granted, he's abrasive to others and displays indications of being an Ungrateful Bastard at times, but since the tract focuses on him getting his comeuppance rather than what he did to deserve it, his suffering can seem unfair. He also decides to wait to consider accepting Jesus, instead of rejecting Him outright, and ends up going to Hell merely for waiting.
Ashley in "Baby Talk". Her family doesn't give a rat's ass about her and make her sleep on the couch, her boyfriend dumps her after learning she's pregnant, and ends up nearly forced to get an abortion by her family when she's unsure what to do. It does end happy for her, since her boyfriend does come back and they make up.
Iron Woobie: The woman in the hijab from "Faithful". She converted to Christianity, and even converts her friend April. Unfortunately, at the end of the track, she is beaten by some Muslims that want to "teach her another lesson". She forgives them, of course, it's still disturbing that this happened at least once before.