June 29, 2012 2 Comments
I first heard about these things called “Chick tracts” about ten years ago. I thought they were amusing. Comically bad little fundamentalist comics to proselytise with! Isn’t America quaint? Then one day I was sitting at a bus stop and I noticed someone was trying to convince a young woman to read some little comic he had. “It is about Jesus” was the summary of the contents. I glanced at the booklet from my safe position. Or more to the point, I stared in shock. Chick tracts being used in New Zealand!
I know what they look like because I made a point of reading a few online when I heard about Dark Dungeons, the notoriously ridiculous little booklet about the evils of Dungeons & Dragons. They’re all pretty bad: Poor writing, bad characterisation, and the art is a little shaky. But that particular one is easy to laugh at since the satanic panic died out long ago and can no longer impact my ability to pretend to be a level 12 Warlock sacrificing people to her dark mistress (no, really, it was a laugh for everyone).
I always felt that Chick tracts are ridiculous, but New Zealand is pretty much safe from them. New Zealand is a largely religion-free society. That’s not to say it is the atheist paradise some people overseas believe, it’s just that people keep their religion to themselves. It’s quite nice, really. So I always thought these fundie comics were a non-issue because they are an American phenomenon and the only people who might try to utilise them are really just trying to find a crazy fundie excuse to chat up women.
Yesterday I found one in my letter box.
I’m amused, but also a little annoyed. I live in low-income housing, which is pretty much target one for religions. If a particular group swings by on Easter and gives people hot cross buns, that’s on some level okay – they’re giving food to poor people (and they never actually bring up their zombie celebration when they do this so it’s pretty much a non-issue to me). But mail dropping Chick tracts is not all right. There’s no benefit to anyone. This is why.
The title says In The Beginning and to the left is a picture. It is of dinosaurs! In the fine tradition of lumping together all our extinct reptilian friends with little regard to history or whether a picture is sensible, there’s a Stegosaurus, and a Brachiosaurus munching on a tree, and a two-legged carnivore which is probably a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and in the sky is a poorly-drawn Pterosaur. Also, poking its head into the frame from the side is a giraffe.
One of these things is not like the others.
Not only is it patent nonsense that giraffes would naturally be in a scene with dinosaurs, what with the whole not existing back then thing, it’s also entirely ridiculous because if giraffes were able to stumble on a portal to the past they would all be eaten within a day by carnivorous dinosaurs. I have seen Jurassic Park: Humans, top of the food chain, do not stand a chance. Giraffes have trouble just drinking from a pond (fundamentalist Christians call this intelligent design).
1 – 2
“Hey computer man…” – Who the hell talks like this? Well in this case it is some guy with a dinosaur toy. It is a Brachiosaurus, which explains why the rest of the comic will go the way it will – no-one fucks with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not even a toy version. You can just shove it in someone’s face and say “RAAAAAAAAR” every time they try and spout nonsense and they run away in fear.
“Evolution is the religion of scientists who laugh at god.” – They got the laughing at god part right. The fundamentalists in these things are so damn smug no-one would take them seriously in reality. This one thinks that dating the particular dinosaur in question to 145 million years is a guess, and apparently knows better – down to the exact day!
Spoiler: It will be a Saturday.
3 – 4
Apparently “so many scientists contradict each other” so the only reliable source is a book with no title on the cover. That book could be any book! It hasn’t even got some kind of universally recognised symbol on it. I find this to be entirely unrealistic, since I’ve never seen a copy of the Big Book of God is a Bastard without one or both.
I wonder if any other editions of that book contradict each other? That would be a problem considering the previous implication that any contradiction is bad. No, that couldn’t be right. There would never be any hypocrisy here.
“There was no Big Bang” – How did we get on to this? I am just here for fucking dinosaurs. I mean, emphasis dinosaurs. Dinosaur sex is not really that interesting. Well… okay I do wonder why we never see any of that in dinosaur media. It’s always dinosaurs stomping around, calling out, attacking each other, and eating each other. Why is there no dinosaur sex?
Besides, everyone knows “Big Bang” is a simplification… For the jettisoned Terminus fuel pod exploding. See? Doctor Who would make much cooler tiny comics to leave in people’s letter boxes.
5 – 6
So apparently God built a Dyson sphere out of water. This is probably not a very efficient Dyson sphere. The diagram of this is a welcome break from the increasingly poor drawings of the main characters. It is like the artist was getting excited by something. It’s almost like… Oh… Oh no… It’s evangelical slash fiction.
“The waters brought forth fish in abundance and every winged foul after its kind” – Foul what, exactly? I am also reminded that some people consider squid, turtles, and whales to be fish. There is a suspicious lack of immortal jellyfish in this picture. Maybe that wouldn’t go well with the whole Faith In Jesus Is Your Path To Eternal Life thing. Like many people, I’d prefer to put my faith in a jellyfish.
7 – 8
Important things to learn: Elephants are smaller than gorillas.
Look, I get that they’re so used to people just blindly accepting what they’re told without checking – see: every single time a fundie says the bible condemns something there was not even a word for back then – but you’d think they’d be more careful about this sort of thing. I can just go to the zoo and verify this one.
9 – 10
“…there are photos of men’s footprints walking next to dinosaur footprints.” – No there aren’t, since footprints do not walk. I’m fairly certain anyone reading this will understand that the presence of one footprint next to another doesn’t mean there were two creatures present at the same time. This wouldn’t pass for a difficult piece of obfuscation in an Agatha Christie novel. But the reason they like to make up this sort of thing is that it is hard for most people to catch the trick. Which is why dumping these in letterboxes is problematic.
A feature of this comic is that as the story continues, the poor dinosaur fan being harassed becomes more and more deformed, as though he is melting under the withering onslaught of creationism. Or maybe the artist was too excited by the hot, hot evangelism.
“Adam was our first relative and you’re going to hate what he did to you.” – What could that mean?
11 – 12
I’m assuming the last line in the previous spread was in reference to Adam making every single human being on the planet be the descendant of a goatfucker.
So here’s this little condensed flashback sequence where Adam is dropped in Eden, and told to leave that magical tree alone. Then, Adam stands there and appears aroused by a gazelle. I’m not kidding, he’s running his hand over that poor creature with an expression of lust on his face. This is disgusting. Maybe the idiotic deity should have said “Hey punk, don’t fuck my ungulates,” instead of getting all worked up about the tree of knowledge.
“…God saw that he was lonely.” – A euphemism for “God was tired of seeing his creations abused.” Naturally, he’s going to create a person to be abused instead.
“So God created Eve to help him… And now the drama begins“
Well, isn’t that a positive message about women?
Also, there is a rabbit the size of a wallaby.
13 – 14
“Eve was beautiful…” – But because the artist is not that good, she’s just average looking. But with an expression of “What the fuck is this shit?” when she meets the zoophile she’s expected to spend the rest of eternity with.
The serpent has hands, which is taking literalism a bit far. I’m guessing it is going to turn out to be a dinosaur. It also speaks in fakey medieval English.
In this version of the tale of how women ruin everything, Eve doesn’t just want to know stuff. No, in this one she wants to be a god. Paranoid, much?
15 – 16
The tiny silhouette of the serpent as God rages is definitely a dinosaur. So, there you have it: This comic is about implying that dinosaurs were evil. I think that sending the message that dinosaurs are tools of the devil is pretty much a lost cause. Is there a person alive who isn’t captivated by dinosaurs? Or at the least, cheers them on whenever they turn up in a film and start eating people.
…a new creature called Death.” – I’m starting to think there’s a degree of literal thinking going on here that would make small children look askance. But Death does look cool in his first appearance.
17 – 18
So, flashback over, the fundie informs the dinosaur fan that everyone alive is a sinner. Apparently because some hypothetical person ate some hypothetical magic fruit that there is absolutely no evidence of. But for some reason the dinosaur fan accepts this and is convinced he’s going to hell. Because all you have to do is Absolutely nothing.
To which I say: COMPLETE LACK OF AMBITION. Some of us are working damn hard to go to hell, and will be sure to work harder. Because I don’t want to go to loser hell, where people who sat on their arses being boring go. I want to go to the hell where the people who know how to have a good time are.
19 – 20
Naturally there’s a get out of eternal damnation free card, and that card is called Jesus. Because as we all know, it’s perfectly appropriate to claim that some alleged guy being allegedly nailed to an alleged bit of wood absolves everyone else who will ever live of all the bad things they do.
As many have noted, this means that there’s no incentive to be good, since you always get out of hell if you just believe it’s possible for someone to come back to life after being stabbed with a spear and going three days without water.
21 – 22
The fundie is now up close. It is too late, no escape for the dinosaur fan. The crazy look in the fundie’s eyes suggests he’s going to flay the poor guy who just wanted to show off a new dinosaur model and dance around wearing his skin. It’s okay if the fundie does that, because he believes in Jesus and is going to heaven.
The last page provides four handy steps to be saved from the pits of hell. The fourth involves praying and they conveniently tell people what to pray. I am not sure if this is all right. I was sent to a Catholic school for a couple of years before my aura of hideous, perverted evil caused an almighty earthquake to rend the ground and the buildings to be swallowed up by the earth. But they never actually told anyone what to pray.
Then they want people to buy a book, conveniently published by the same company that produces this propaganda comic.
Shocking twist ending! Religion is about making money.
So, how does it measure up as a comic?
Plot: The plot was a bit weak. The crazier Chick tracts have children selling out their parents to a satanic global government to be tortured for being Christians (“I used microchips to make it more painful!” – like the metric system, computers are the tool of the devil). Compared to that, a creationist lecture is just plain boring.
Characterisation: Not much, since they’re all just mouthpieces for the author. There’s no motivation for anyone, apart from the fundamentalist Computer Man who is clearly out to skin as many people as possible. Oh and maybe Eve, who is clearly wanting to find a way to get out of the Garden of Bestiality.
Art: There’s a philosophical question: What is art? I’m not here to answer that, only to point out that the only well-conveyed expression in the whole thing was Adam wanting to give it to a gazelle. The other important point about the art is that there’s so many lopsided, poorly proportioned faces it’s not funny.
Writing: The best written parts of this are the quotes from a (not the since there’s multiple different versions) bible, which thus do not count since anyone can quote things and also biblical text is actually rather poor. Only three people get lines, and one is Serpentosaurus. I suppose that was funny, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Overall: Why the hell was this in my letterbox? Sadly there’s no way to find out where these are coming from. There’s a space on the back headed with “compliments of” but naturally fundies are never going to fill that out when they’re mail dropping. Especially not if they use some of the more problematic ones – at which point I’d be asking the police to go have a chat to the fuckers, like they do whenever people drop hate speech in letterboxes. But like so many fundamentalists, they’re cowards.