Help us make anti-ignorance tracts

It strikes me that the Chick comic is a good way to disseminate information. Not only does it have a good size and shape, but let’s face it- little comics are cool, and people do read them. The only problem is that it’s a tool being wielded by a lunatic.

Would it be feasible to make comics of the same format in order to fight ignorance? On the one hand, Chick draws some of his power from the fact that he’s a punk Christian. He has little talent, and is completely insane, but he’s driven by raw energy and conviction, which is why people read him. (Admittedly, they don’t necessarily listen to him, for precisely the same reasons why they read him.) Lacking insanity, anyone trying to use little comics to make the world a better place would have to substitute a little talent, or at least a sense of humor.

Some obvious targets:

  • contraception/STD information

  • Info on sexuality, particularly for teenage girls. (i.e., how to say no if you want to; it’s natural for girls to want sex too, etc.)

  • Islam 101

  • general religious tolerance

  • basic “gays are people too” education

  • survival info for gay teenagers

  • SOCAS. (Imagine the sci-fi scenarios you can come up with for this, like that Chick comic with the jesuit in the supervillain leotard.)

  • evolution, geology, etc.
    There are a number of ways this could be implemented. The most straightforward would be to simply bite the bullet and pay to have them printed. Alternatively, you could make them online such that people could print them two-sided and fold them into a comic, and then staple and cut the pages apart. Or, you could put them on the web and distribute paper slips bearing an ad with a url and a brief pitch. (Obviously having them printed would be the best route.)

What do people think? (Bear in mind that I’m the kind of guy who transcribes poems onto dollar bills. Speaking of which, does anyone know of a good way to do that? It’s hard to write legibly on a dollar bill.)

You cannot deny (well, you could, but you’d be wrong) that Chick is absolutely and completely batshit insane. And it is that HAW HAW HAW-esque insanity that makes Chick so damned funny. Any attempt to copy it (especially if the message in the Chickian copies actually made sense) would probably fall incredibly flat.

Anyhow, Chick has already told me all I need to know about Islam , Homosexuality , and evolution. What could possibly be left to say?

CHICK FIGHT! WOOOOOOO!!!

Um, truth? Or at least a less warped view?

If your wise enough to know “the truth”, perhaps we should have you canonized?

Instead of booklet form, do strips that can be printed on both sides of a standard 8 1/2 x 11 sheet. This should be room enough to tell a simple story and make your point, and it avoids the hassles and layout problems involved with a booklet. It also drasticly lowers the cost of printing. Then post 'em on a website and publicize the website in atheist/skeptic circles. The leaflets should be aimed specifically at fundamentalism, not religion in general.

Some suggestions:

– a true story of a former fundamentalist talking about all the psychological (and other) problems his fundamentalism caused.

–a true story of an exorcism by fundies that backfired and caused serious injury or death. (There are such incidents.)

–the lowdown on bibilical literalism. (Hint: It’s a relatively recent doctrine and doesn’t have the status of a long-standing Christian tradition.)

–examples of phony faith healing techniques.

–the influence of pagan religion and mythology on Christian doctrine.

–examples of brutal emotional manipulation by fundamentalists.

–examples of gross dishonesty by “scientific” creationists.

Each leaflet should have lists of organizations such as Fundamentalists Anonymous or American Atheists that can be contacted. (Shucks, do you think it might be possible to organize a network of volunteer counselors to work with people who are struggling with fundamentalism?)

I would imagine a dozen or so leaflets detailing the stories of former fundamentalists and their reasons for leaving fundamentalism behind could be very effective all by themselves.

I think the major problem here would be finding artists with the time to do the illustrations.

Forgot to mention another possibility: show examples of gross dishonesty by fundies propagating the “Satanic Underground” myth.

I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of “anti-Chick” tracts for some time now. It would be exciting to see someone actually undertake such a project.

Ben -I think that would be a great idea. Passing out unbiased knowledge via the little comic book. I know I would buy a few and keep them around so that when I have children, I’d be able to give them useful information in “bite” sized packages.

Think about this though, if you could, make little “straightdope” tracts, with Slug (that’s his name, right?) doing the artwork. That would be cool.

I was thinking, you could be really “evil” and just make up a tract for every one of Chick’s tracts. Just make it so that the Christian is the bad guy! Although that would be way more comical than instructive.:smiley:

I think the goal should be a tract targeting Chick himself, to be given to the Chick followers. Chick often says that you should listen to the word of God and not man, and that a prophet that speaks from God will never be wrong. So, go through his tracts and find all the incorrect references, provide cites to the facts, and show people they are listening to the word of man, who has just been proven wrong several times. The last panel could explain that bearing false witness, and misusing the name of God will most likely get you tossed into the flaming pit (Haw Haw).

You’ll never convince anyone to change their religious beliefs, but you could shake them up if you could change their belief in Jack Chick. You might get a few to realize they’re helping spread deceit.

Some good areas are his “facts” about Halloween, Islam, witchcraft/RPG…and the Catholic ones are over the top!

Can any Dopers draw like Jack?

Personally, the only real thing that’s stopped me thus far is that I can’t draw well enough yet. (I’ve actually been studying cartooning, though, mainly for its own sake but with the knowledge that I could make an anti-Chick tract someday.) If someone (preferably more than one!) were willing to handle the drawing, we could brainstorm a script here.

Maybe this is premature, but let’s say that if we get a lot of interest in this thread, we’ll vote on a topic for the first tract, and then we can work out a story for it. I actually like the direct anti-Chick idea of cataloguing his lies, lost4life.

Another idea for formatting is to print it on an 8x11 sheet, and fold into quarters. Low price, easy availability via web, but enticing size, too. (Part of the advantage of Chick tracts is that someone will see it lying around and scoop it into their pocket to look at later.)

Lonesome Polecat, you have so many good ideas for this that it’s making me fisslig. It’s just too much for me to handle.

Meatros, I get an evil glee from your tract-for-a-tract idea…

How about the REAL Truth about the Catholic Church, or Alfonso Riberto-EXPOSED!!!

Just a quick question; IIRC Chick is sue happy, I remeber a website that had Chick’s tracts on it, but with different dialogue. I know this situation wouldn’t use his actual drawings, but could he sue?

:smiley: , you know I think, if this is possible, that it’s a GREAT idea. I’m getting visions of the witches in the D&D tract sending crazy Chickists down to hell (via their “magic” spells), all laughing “Haw, Haw”. Or of the Muslim converting post 9-11 to Chickism and then being beaten by fellow Chickists.

Or the “creationist” pointing out an “error” in evolution, only to be laughed at, proven wrong, and flunked out of school. The last scene could be the creationist mopping up a porn theater’s floors…

The parodies would be great! Damn, I wish I could draw!!

Maybe I’ve got a “dark” mind, but I’m smiling:D

Or perhaps, parody the Bad Bob tract-
http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0021/0021_01.asp

Bad Bob could live through the fire, listen to the church guy, seem to convert…and then rob the preacher blind.

Sounds like a good idea. I’ve made and distributed flyers for various causes, but I’ve never tried the cartoon approach.

I doubt he could sue if you don’t use his drawings. Parody is protected speech, I believe.

It’s a great idea, Ben, but it is already being done on a number of subjects. Just put “educational comics” into google and see what you get. Here’s a sampling:
science: http://comicbooks.about.com/cs/educationalcomics/
safety: http://www.comicartistsdirect.com/roy4.html
AIDS: http://www.acorn2oak.com/p3.html
Race: http://www.studylab.com/race.html
Shoot, even Army Procedures: http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/units/lml/comics/pages/army-equip.html

Most of the ones cited are geared toward children. I’m at work right now and I am NOT going to put “adult” and “comics” into a search engine on this computer. :wink:

The question becomes: Why aren’t these things as popular as the Chick Tracts?

I have two theories as to this:
1.)Chick Tracts aren’t really all that popular. Circulation is incredibly inflated by people like us who read them because they’re just too damn unintentionally funny. HAW HAW!
2.)The subject matter is just not as gripping. Seeing little Timmy thrown into the pits of Hell for reading Harry Potter is far more entertaining and dramatic than Jimmy:The Plucky Electron

I’ve said this before in other places, but I think it bears repeating. You have to remember that the real audience for this stuff is not potential converts like you or me, but the people who buy and distribute his tracts. That’s where he gets his money. And for the most part, the folks who buy and hand out the tracts are oblivious to the fact that 99.9% of the people who receive them just read 'em, laugh, and throw 'em away–or throw them away without bothering to read them.

You are, of course, completely correct, Lonesome Polecat. However, it is still artificially inflated circulation because each individual who buys these things buys hundreds of copies. This doesn’t seem to happen with the comics that provide the opposing view, as they are usually confined to classrooms and the like. If Ben wants to employ the same tactics, all he has to do is buy a whole bunch of the “AIDS” or “race” comics I linked to before and start handing them to everyone in the local Waffle House or wherever.

I guess what I am saying is that the circulation of Chick tracts is inflated beyond the circulation of educational comics because no one does the mass pamphleting with the educational comics. It probably would be a good idea for some organization to start distrubuting educational comics indiscriminately instead of targeting certain groups - though I’d imagine guerilla pamphleting would end up being pretty expensive.

Or Ben could make his own, of course. When I say there are already tracts out there I don’t mean to imply that new ones shouldn’t be produced.

If I might offer a few thoughts:

Suppose the comic were produced as two graphics files for 8.5x11 printer paper. People could host the files for various comics on their websites or post them to the appropriate usenet groups. Since it would be more or less a samizdat operation, there would be no central group for Chick to sue (not that he would really be able to, unless we made the mistake of violating his copyright by using his artwork.)

Someone who wanted to distribute a tract could print 10-20 or so copies, put them back in the printer upside-down, and print the backs. In about 10 minutes he could fold them. I did a little experimentation, and a sheet of notebook paper can be folded into a roughly 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch tract very easily, folding accordion style down the long axis and then folding the accordion in half. This is only a little smaller than the official Chick dimensions of 2 3/4 x 5. The folding divides the paper into twenty “panels,” front and back, leaving you one for the front cover, one for a back cover with urls for support groups and further information, and 18 pages of story. A Chick comic has 21 pages of story.

I skimmed over Beeblebrox’s links, and I have two points to make in regard to them. Firstly, those seem to mostly be full-size comics, which are much harder to distribute. Secondly, those comics are square as postage stamps! Like I said, if you have a little talent and a sense of humor, that can go a long way. Nobody wants to read a comic about the evils of racism which depicts a bunch of students just sitting in a class. But people paid money to read the comic of the Twilight Zone movie, with the Vic Morrow segment on racism.

You can draw the same sorts of conclusions from PSA’s. There’s one on currently with Jennifer Anniston saying, “Don’t hate. Hate is bad. Just don’t do it.” I mean, it’s moronic. PSA’s have always been in danger of being square. Meanwhile, although truth.com tends to slide over into shrill self-righteousness, they score some hits, like with the “Project SCUM” commercial. If you tell teenagers, “Don’t smoke because your friends think it’s uncool, and it makes you stinky,” nobody listens, because they know their friends think it’s cool. If you tell teenagers about all the ways in which the tobacco executives are leprous weasels, people start to perk up their ears.

The potential subject matter for the tracts being discussed in this thread lends itself well to comics that can grab people. For example, you could make a comic about Pat Robertson, detailing the ways he diverted charity money from the 700 Club into his blood-diamond operation, and his plans to televise the Second Coming, and so forth.

Or take a direct anti-Chick comic. Jack Chick is lying in bed, with friends and family talking about what a great crusader for the faith he is. He dies, meets Jesus, and says, “Hey- that was a great job I did with those comics, right?” Jesus then tells Chick about all the ways he lied for the faith. You get a sweaty closeup of Chick swallowing hard and tugging his collar- ULP!- with one of those Chick sidebars quoting the verses about how many will say, “Lord, Lord,” but Jesus will respond, “I never knew you.” Then, depending on your inclination, Chick goes to hell or is forgiven by a loving Jesus, and is introduced to a group of Muslims, Catholics, and homosexuals in heaven. (My personal opinion? Leave it up in the air as a cliffhanger, and ask the reader to decide how forgiving Jesus is.)

Or take the exorcism idea. Right off the bat, the cover of the comic has some demonic child with glowing eyes on it, and a title like “THE TRUTH ABOUT EXORCISM.” Inside, Bob meets Frank for some coffee:

Frank: “You look a little peaked, Bob.”

Bob: “I just don’t know what to do. I think my daughter is possessed!”

Frank: “Possessed? But people don’t get demon possessed. People used to think…”

(capsule history of exorcism follies, plus some real-life exorcisms gone bad. Make sure the pictures are spooky. Remember, fundamentalists love the occult.)

Bob: “But… if that’s true, we’ve got to stop the exorcism! My minister is coming to the house this afternoon!”

Frank: “I’ll help you! Let’s take my car!”

meanwhile, back at the house, the minister is starting his exorcism. Bob and Frank bust through the door and stop him. The last frame shows the daughter, now on prozac, feeling much better now.
Or, as I said, take the SOCAS idea and the SF possibilities. If you want to make it be a (possibly preachy) morality play, have a senator vote for prayer in schools or against gay marriage or some such, on the grounds that this should be a Christian country. Then he’s hit by a car, and knocked out. He then has a vision of a future in which America is ruled by Christians- but somehow he’s not counted as one of the real Christians. (The Real Christians can be identified by their cross armbands, and their extreme intolerance towards Catholics, Methodists, etc. Oh, yes, and their cartoonishly evil demeanor.) He finds that he has no religious freedom, because according to the government he follows a false religion with no rights. For that matter, you could even make the Real Christians be JW’s who forbid him to get a blood transfusion after the accident. Then he wakes up, a unit of blood dripping into his arm, and resolves to become a changed man. Hey, it doesn’t have to win a Hugo. It just has to avoid being completely lame.

For that matter, it would be interesting to make a tract about the WAVE. (It was a high-school civics experiment in which a teacher created a student organization modeled on the Hitler Youth, minus its racist aspects, without telling the students that that was what it was modeled on. It went way, way out of control.)