Tract Dissections by Boolean Union Studios

Today's Candidate:

Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic

© 2007 Archdiocese of New York

Uploaded December 11th, 2009

In case the link above has died, download the .PDF file here.

Articles on this tract can be found here and here.

This one's a doozy. We've strayed away from Chick-Land for a brief vacation to pick on the Catholics for a change. While it is a well known fact that Chick himself regards the Catholic Church as everything from the Whore of Babylon to just a bunch of idolatrous mackerel snappers, they've clearly decided to throw their hat into the ring with this tract aimed at grade school children. It seems as though this comic was released to combat the bad press they have received over the last few years over their various sex scandals. And they have truly created a work of art with this one. Let's get to it!

Panel Index
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22

Click on the individual pages to see higher resolution versions of each

Panel 1

Those poor kids are about to get assaulted by that radioactive crown of thorns while the angel looks on creepily.

I also like the multi-ethnic "We Are the World" halo gallery over there. Trying to shove in multiple minorities always does wonders for one's credibility.



I think the illustrator took his or her cues from the Marvel Comics “floating head cover,” see here for an example), even though that’s been out of fashion for well over a decade.

Actually, with those halos, I wonder if those ethnic kids are supposed to be dead/angels.



The cover is so bright and cheerful. It's actually a shame the rest of the comic isn't like this.




Panel 2 Jessica:

"We can talk to God whenever we want." It's easy, just talk to yourself!




This makes God out to be like an always-available, free psychiatrist.



"It's so super to see you!!! Would you like fries with that?"



Is it blasphemous to say the angel is kinda hot? (If it is, do I care? No.) If I have a guardian angel, I want her to look like that.






Panel 3 Jessica:

I'm starting to think this crown of thorns follows these kids around like a friggin' Sword of Damocles.



I like to imagine that it’s a ragged tear through the thin fabric of reality that’s going to suck these innocent Catholics into a world they never made!



"You are made in God's image..." but not for long!



You know, if I were God, I would have made myself look a whole lot cooler than human beings, who resemble nothing so much as hairless chimpanzees with flat faces. Oh, did I say that? No, image of God, image of God… that’s the ticket!




Panel 4 Jessica:

"Only humans have bodies." Ummm... I don't think that one is quite right there...



I guess they mean as opposed to angels, because obviously animals have bodies. I don’t remember if animals have souls or not according to Catholicism… but of course this is a comic book, not a theology text.

And what a busy comic it is! This has the most crowded layout of any page so far. I can figure out what the circles in the 12:00, 3:00, and 6:00 positions represent, but I have no idea what’s supposed to be happening at 9:00. “Here we have Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes, then making water into wine, and then dying on the cross. And over on the left, we have Jesus giving directions to a couple of lost wine merchants.”






Panel 5


Oh dear, the great morass that is free will. I have to admit; one of the things I admire about Catholicism is that the theologians have long since worked all the details out of how all of their various concepts are supposed to work. Most other denominations just kind of put their fingers in their ears and go “lalalalalala!” about the mechanics of it all.

Nevertheless, I’ll reiterate: what’s the point of giving man free will if you are going to punish him for acting in ways you don’t like. It’s just like when parents give little children choices such as giving them a ten dollar bill to spend on “whatever they want” but secretly hoping he’ll buy something responsible, like a box of pencils, and then getting mad when they buy 7 Snickers bars. “When I said whatever you want, I didn’t mean THAT!”

“You get to choose.” However, the police may also have something to say about it.





Panel 6 Jessica:

This bully is beating the ever-loving crap out of this kid while Stephen Colbert and Dame Edna back there just look on in disgust, but they don't actually come to help him.


I guess they are supposed to be running to help. V.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. Hey, shouldn’t the guardian angel do something? I mean, if there are guardian angels and they don’t do anything, then what good are they?

Being a bully makes you less God-like? Funny, I always thought God came across like somebody’s drunken, abusive stepfather, particularly in the Old Testament. “Dammit Job, why do you make me hit you? Why do you make me so angry!”



Also, note how the angel's flowing, heavenly robe has been traded in for a sleazy pair of Huck Finn jeans and sneaker ensemble. Everyone knows chicks aren't supposed to wear pants.



I guess they thought the robe would crowd the scene. But high-water pants?


Panel 7 Jessica:

I know a lot of people find comfort in the concept of Guardian Angels (just ask those Oklahoma City people), but isn't it something of a bad idea to suggest to kids there is a whole cadre of invisible people who follow them around and keep them from harm if they just pray enough. "I know i'm not supposed to play in the street, but I said my 'Hail Marys' this morning, so i'll be fine."

Also, the angel is back in her robe again.



And gigantic! Either that or we have a problem with perspective. Actually, in some panels (like the one above) the angel is “in the scene”, in others (like this one), she’s “in front”






Panel 8 Andrew:

Our angel looks a little bit… I dunno… possessed, here.












Panel 9 Jessica:

... and back to jeans. And this time she's traded the Nikes for some sensible flip-flops. Is this a religious tract or a Sears catalog?


I guess maybe when she’s “in the scene” she wears pants. Why? I do not know.


Child molesters are really out of touch these days. Looks like he's tempting the kid with a cell phone and a pack of stamps.



Hey, a pack of stamps! That’s something that all eight-year-olds want!
Could this guy be any more of a parody of a child molester?



Panel 10 Jessica:

"Take the damn chocolates, kid! TAKE THE GODDAMN CHOCOLATES!!! Put 'em in YOUR MOUTH!!! Don't chew, just SWALLOW!!!"


So wait, is that supposed to be the same guy, or is this “two versions” of how gift giving might play out. “In scene one, the friendly man gives your parents a savings bond, which you will never see again. In the second scene, the man instead gives you chocolate, but you wake up (if you wake up) trussed to the bottom of a windowless conversion van somewhere near Dubuque! Choose your own adventure!”



"Your mission and your life end here."






Panel 11 Jessica:

Leisure Suit Larry says "No Adults Allowed!"

Though you know, it already looks like he's got a full load in his party van there.

"I'm collecting stupid little boys... and I takes 'em to PLEASURE ISLAND!!!"


You know, one way this is a bit like Chick is how the “bad” characters are stereotypes. They all resemble greasy caricatures of Italian/Hispanic men, while our heroes are white. Interesting when you consider how many Italians and Hispanics are Catholic.

I like the angel’s “get a load of this guy!” expression.






Panel 12 Jessica:

"...and a '#&@@!!!' to you too, Buddy!"

Angel chick is going to pop that kid's head like a pimple... or... well...


Ow, my freakin’ ears!












Panel 13 Andrew:

Remember up above where I asked, “Could this guy be any more of a parody of a child molester?” Yeah, well he could look like this guy.


Where is his neck?!?! God in Heaven WHERE IS HIS NECK!!!

"Nothing moves the Blob!!!"

"Will you be my friend..." Follow the white rabbit, Neo.








Panel 14 Jessica:

The door should be open or have an enormous cross shaped window in it!

The kid is climbing into his own body bag so Dr. Niles Caulder over there can beat him to death with that snow shovel behind the door with greater ease.


When I see the guy’s posture and hand gesture, all I can think is *snap* “Ok, now bend over and spread wide.”

Is that another guardian angel back there? Why haven’t we seen her before? Or maybe she’s the priest’s angel, there to protect him from unjust accusations of child abuse.



I think it would be awesome if the two angels got together and had an epic battle with flaming swords and the like over whether the kid's accusations are actually heeded, or whether the priest just gets "reassigned."




Panel 15 Jessica:

Only parent and doctors are cool enough to see your "bathing suit zone." Because everyone knows neither parents nor doctors would ever take inappropriate advantage of your body.


That’s a problem with stuff like this. “Tell your parents.” What if your parents are the bad people? “Tell your doctor.” Ditto. Etc. etc.



Nice one piece on the angel, though.



She seems to fluctuate in age. Now she’s a kid, instead of a helpful adult. Also, there’s another angel rocking what looks like a tankini in the background, with a male angel behind her. Wait, I didn’t think angels had genders.



I suppose it is better than some of the more medieval depictions of angels. You know, flaming wheels within wheels with eight wings and a hundred mouths and what not. I think it would take more than a tankini to pretty that up.


Panel 16 Andrew:

Wait; God gave grown-ups a special job? You mean on top of dealing with a dispiriting world that mocks everything we were taught to believe as children? Other than trying to keep body and soul together without the hope of a better life? Other than…

Ahem. Yes. A special job.


Someone's bitter...



Our angel is floating now. Easier than drawing feet. Maybe Rob Liefeld could take some lessons.




Panel 17 Andrew:

You can talk to these floating heads! Your clueless friends! Or this lesbian tennis coach, this dried up prune, Spike Lee, or mean old officer MacGregor!

See, here at least they acknowledge that one of these special people might also be a child molester. I guess you go by law of averages that you won’t know more than one pervert.










Panel 18 Jessica:

Ah... we seem to have temporarily stumbled into the back of a placemat at a Chuck-E-Cheese's.


I guess they figured we needed some activities to round out the comic. I wonder if kids are subjected to this at Sunday school.

Awesome Angel? Is that like, her name?



"AWESOME ANGEL!" "Thanks, Charlie."






Panel 19 Jessica:

March onward children! Conquer all in the name of the One Winged Angel! They're all wearing identical jump suits and sneakers. Heaven's Gate, anyone?


“You will always have true friends in your life!” Except those times when you find yourself broken and alone, trying in vain to piece together what went wrong! At all other times, yeah!








Panel 20 Andrew:

I like the half-assed word-salad title: “Angel’s Selfless Word Scramble Stuff.” That’s a bit too much like “Yahoo Serious Festival.” “Stuff”? Why not “shit we threw together at the last minute to help make the comic an even number of pages!”


"Tresrants..." They're like regular rants... only four-dimensional.

"Roteh Ligeronis!!!" Wingardium Leviosa! Or perhaps "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" Magic is strictly verboten. Shame on all of you!



It also doubles as a generic fantasy name generator. “Massetsalc, son of Meneise, conqueror of Lublesi.”






Panel 21 Jessica:

Ummm... Mary appears to be significantly younger than Jesus there. Continuity Error!



“Jesus, wow” is a little too much like “Catholicism, Wow!” Buddy Christ indeed.



Also, we've got Tiny Tim over there with his cane in a tuxedo. Kid's got some threads!



I suspect that he’s not actually handicapped, but merely struts around with a suit and cane, lording it over the other children while imitating some rich uncle, or the Monopoly man. Surprised he doesn’t have a monocle.



Birds love Jesus.



And he loves them back. He’s paying more attention to the bird than to his hordes of adoring fans. Maybe that’s why so many prayers don’t get answered… Jesus is too busy with his career in ornithology.


Panel 22 Jessica:

One last lovely color panel.


Our angel is a redhead! It’s hard to tell on the cover, but it sure looks like that here!



Well, you know what they say about redheads <wink wink> <nudge nudge> Say no more. Say no more.

Is that the coat of arms for the Vatican or something?



I think it’s the symbol for the Archdiocese of New York, which published the comic. You can see it in the background here. Odd how there’s no identification of that, or of who drew the comic.



Take good note of those phone numbers, kids. Next time you are whacked off your ass and drunk dialing they might just come in handy!



Well, the comic itself doesn’t leave as bad a taste as anything by Chick. Catholics clearly have better artists, for one thing. “Being Catholic” comes across as entirely reasonable and welcoming, unlike Chick’s “everyone different is bad” raving. Of course, this comic assumes the reader is already Catholic, and so it doesn’t try to convert you. Still, compare Chick’s “Why No Revival?” which is similarly aimed at Chick’s fellow believers. The difference in tone is amazing.

The elephant in the room here is the sordid history of child abuse within the Catholic Church that preceded this comic’s publication, and which is the reason for its existence. It’s obvious why the Church would want to do something about the problem, what’s less clear is why they waited so long, to the point where “Catholic priest” is a punch line for the same type of jokes that prominently feature fellow “Jesus juice” enthusiast Michael Jackson.

Still, if the Church (or specifically the Archdiocese of New York) wants to get into the religious tract business, then I say more power to them. There’s already another comic out on roughly the same themes, we might review it at some point.








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Last Modified: December 22, 2013



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