Not Another Relgious Tract Dissection by Andrew Bean and Jessica Blum


Today's Candidate:


Soul Story
© 1977 Jack Chick

Uploaded March 1st, 2011



When Leroy got out of prison, the turf war began. But all the time, he kept remembering Grandma and her faith in Jesus. An inner city story.

Page Index

Introduction
Cover | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21
Conclusion



"Soul Story" comes straight out of the blaxploitation era. Published in 1977, "Soul Story" tells about an ex-con named Leroy Brown who is brought to Christ through the love of a good woman, and then dies in a gang shootout.


Introduction
Andrew:

As critical as Jack Chick is of "The World", he takes a lot of his cues from American popular culture. It's possible this is to make tracts people are more interested in reading, but it's just as likely that he is so isolated he know longer realizes the difference between life as depicted in the media and the way people actually live. In the case of "Soul Story", we have a tract designed to reach black audiences. Now, I'm not an expert, but I doubt many people's lives resembled this, even back in 1977. Instead, it draws its ideas from blaxploitation films. Of course, it's hard to imagine Chick actually watching a movie like Shaft, or Sweet Sweetback's Baadaasssss Song, but somehow or other he got the basic idea. Maybe someone described it to him.

 

Jessica:

While I am entriely unfamiliar with Shaft, I was given the pleasure of watching "Sweet Sweetback's Baadaasssss Song" in an independant film course in college. And I can say with some degree of certainty that even a "G" Rated retelling of that film (if such a thing were possible) would send Chick into apoplexy. One of the first scenes is an underaged Sweetback losing his virginity to a prostitute in a brothel with gratutitous shots of his bare naked ass. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) we don't get any of that here. So please feel free to mentally insert the drug use, gratuitious nudity and anabashed violence against police officers yourselves.

 

 

 

 

 


Cover Andrew:

1977. Could it be any other year? If one made a parody tract from the blaxploitation era, it would look just like this.

 

Jessica:

It's the SOOOOOOUUUULLLLL Mass Transit System!

 

 

 

 

 


Page 1 Jessica:

"I SAID CODE BLUE DAMMIT!!! This is an emergency! We're fresh out of doughnuts!"

 

Andrew:

Are these guards trained to distinguish phony riots from non-phony riots? This is a specialized skill.

 

Jessica:

What does a fake riot look like? Do the prisoners stand around weakly batting at each other while muttering under their breath?

 

 

 


Page 2
Andrew:

The cuts from scene to scene are moving so fast it's hard to tell what the hell is happening. So the guy on the left panel holding the, uh, I guess that's a club, though it could just be a stick of beef jerky- he killed Jackson? Then in the right panel, I guess they sent in a doctor with who uses a stethoscope(?) to find out if Jackson is really dead. Doesn't anybody know how to check a pulse?

 

Jessica:

The visual style of this comic is weird. It's sometimes difficult to tell what the hell is going on. Like, moreso than usual. At first glance I thought someone had cut that guys throat in the second panel with a disposable razor or something. I had no idea that was a stethoscope. And why bother? The guys bleeding our all over the floor. Shouldn't you look into that before checking his pulse?

 

 

 

 

 


Page 3 Andrew:

What plan? "Fake a riot, then kill some guy in the confusion." I'm pretty sure that's happened in a bunch of movies with prison scenes, which is no doubt where Chick got the idea.

 

Jessica:

She's got what they call cancer. And she'll die on a Tuesday.

"Grandma, don't talk like that!" Talk like this...

"Htrae neerg doog siht nopu sraey ym fo lla ni nees reve evah I part-palc deveicnoc lli fo eceip tsicar tsom eht si cimoc siht."

 

 

 

 

 


Page 4 Andrew:

"Grandma, as much as I dislike being in prison, I'd rather rot in my cell than listen to you proseletize. Gotta go!"

Do you ever look at these bleeped out curse words and try to figure out what they are supposed to be? Of course, most curses in English have four letters. I just can't figure out what "@*!!!" is supposed to be.

 

Jessica:

That cop off in the distance is doing some weird sort of hurky-jerky humpty dance. It seems really unnatural. But then again, they say white people can't dance. Or jump for that matter.

 

 

 

 

 


Page 5 Andrew:

Leroy Brown, huh?

Here we see another example of Jack Chick's bizarre misunderstanding of the U.S. justice system. So, because of a supreme court decision (made by those nasty, bleeding heart secularists, no doubt) the warden must release 16 inmates. Like, what, 16 at random? "Oh yeah, this one seems like a good choice."

I mean, even if this is specifically related to Leroy Brown, that doesn't make sense. If a conviction is invalidated on account of something like prosecutorial misconduct or whatever, it doesn't really mean you're off scott free, it means you get a new trial.

 

Jessica:

Yes. "A" doesn't seem to nessecarily follow "B" here. I know a Supreme Court decision in the mid-70's temporarily suspended capital punishment. But Leroy says he's a lifer. So who knows what's going on here.

Meanwhile, Martin Van Buren, the warden's right hand man, is over there with an idiot grin on his face. Hyuk-Hyuk.

 

Andrew:

Actually I think he looks a bit like Wallace Shawn circa The Princess Bride. "Inconcievable!"

 

 

 


Page 6 Jessica:

But is R.D. a bad enough dude to keep Gloria?

 

Andrew:

I like how the jail sends him back out into the world wearing this awesome pimp suit.

 

 

 

 

 


Page 7 Jessica:

This tract really needs some atmospheric jazz music to give it the proper ambiance. This should just about do it.

 

Andrew:

I'll say it again: that is an awesome suit, especially the feather in his hat.

"You stupid jive turkey!" David Mamet only wishes he could write dialog like this.

 

Jessica:

Gloria looks like she couldn't be a day over fourteen years old. Why do all of these things have to have implied underage sex in them?

 

 

 


Page 8 Jessica:

KRAK! WHAM! SOCKO! BIFF!

 

Andrew:

An act of violence so horrific it had to happen offscreen. So is he dead? "Dump him" seems to imply that...

 

Jessica:

Once again, weird, subtle visuals. It's taken me forever to realize that he's spitting out a few teeth there.

 

Andrew:

Oh, you're right. I guess he's not dead then.

 


Page 9 Andrew:

Is anybody really surprised that R.D. switched sides, having been beaten almost to the point of being unrecognizeable? C'mon, Leroy, don't leave your enemies alive! That's a cardinal rule of these sorts of movies comics.

 

 

Jessica:

Leroy's channeling some straight up Tony Montana in that shot. Or is that Tommy Vercetti? Meh, is there a difference?

 

Andrew:

"I could use some of that bread." I'll take "Clunky Uses of Slang" for 600, Alex!

 

 

 


Page 10 Andrew:

And here we have one of our few white characters that doesn't work in a prison.

 

Jessica:

You would suspect someone not expected to "last the night" would be just a tad less... umm... coherent? Perhaps?

 

 

 

 

 


Page 11 Jessica:

I'm glad Leroy had the common decency to change out of his super pimp outfit and into a decent suit before coming to visit his dying grandmother in the hospital.

 

Andrew:

You know, other than Leroy and the women in his life, most of the black characters aren't characterized in any way, and they are all drawn similarly. Change the dialog bubble and that could be Leroy Brown standing in that phone booth.

 

 

 

 

 


Page 12 Andrew:

"Don't miss!" sounds like the kind of stupid psych-out you'd hear at a kids baseball game. "Hey batterbatterbatterbatter".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page 13 Jessica:

They have a machine gun, but they still have lousy aim. WTF?

 

Andrew:

I think our gunman failed to heed the sage advice of his driver. When will assassins learn to take seriously that basic rule, "don't miss."

Oh well, I guess when it comes to machine gun related onomotopeoa, "BUDDA BUDDA BUDDA" is better than "RAT TAT TAT TAT TAT".

 

 

 

 

 


Page 14 Andrew:

Leroy doesn't miss a trick. Here he is hitting on his dead girlfriend's sister while they are in the morgue identifying the body. All while wearing an awesome pimp-suit.

 

Jessica:

Gloria's body isn't even cold yet and he's trying to mac on her sister. This guy's a keeper.

 

 

 

 

 


Page 15 Andrew:

Does Leroy really want to date a woman who reminds him of his grandmother? That's major-league ick.

 

Jessica:

These panels have an unusual sort of woodcut feel to them. The shading is highly exaggerated, like these are from an earlier version of this comic and didn't get updated or something.

 

Andrew:

"Are you religious?" "No I'm a Christian! Christianity isn't a religion, it's a cult.... ooops. Let's start that over again."

 

Jessica:

Well, if I didn't know any better I would swear they were holding a séance in that first panel and she was going all Miss Cleo on him. Kind of kinky for a first date.

"Miss Cleo says you need to be puttin' your penis up in my business!"

"Crossing Over" with Leroy Brown.

 

 

 


Page 16 Andrew:

Leroy's really dumb enough to go in for this? They killed his girlfriend, tried to kill him, and R.D. is a mortal enemy. But a little bit of "can't we all just get along" rhetoric and Leroy says "herp-a-derp, okay."

Like I said, Leroy should have killed R.D. when he had the chance. Not very Christian, I know.

 

Jessica:

I'll bet you it's, like, 4:30 in the afternoon and Leroy is just laying in bed with his satin, high thread count sheets buck stark naked like he's got nothing better to do.

 

Andrew:

Grenades? When they're done Leroy is going to be a candidate for the next Robocop.

 

 

 


Page 17 Jessica:

She met Leroy and went out with him once and now she wants him to get saved so she can have his jive talking christ babies? That seems unlikely.

 

Andrew:

True, what makes her think he could be a "great man of God", considering the only reason he's interested in Christianity is because it's the only way to get her legs open.

 

 

 

 

 


Page 18 Jessica:

Leroy was kind of an idiot to buy this whole setup. I think he got what he deserved.

 

Andrew:

More nonstandard onomotopeoa here, with "Kavoom!"

Someone never told them not to use grenades in a confined space.

 

 

 

 

 


Page 19 Andrew:

"Can't stop the bleeding?" You're lucky you have any limbs, idiot!

 

Jessica:

"Must... narrate... death sequence..."

 

 

 

 

 


Page 20 Andrew:

I find it interesting that, with her boyfriend bleeding and dying in her arms, Joyce has the presence of mind to both recall John 3:16 and explicate it with a bunch of parentheticals. I know it wouldn't be the first thing on my mind.

I suspect that the tracts illustrated by someone other than Chick probably have the text written out long before any thought goes into what the panels are going to look like.

 

Jessica:

Likewise, it seems highly unlikely Leroy would be thinking about how to get saved when his life blood is running out all over Joyce's living room carpet.

 

Andrew:

"Must... find... doctor. But first... must... find salation... in a religion... I didn't... believe in... till just now!"

 

 

 


Page 21 Andrew:

And the protagonist is dead, having just barely squeaked under the bar. As I pointed out in "Crazy Wolf", this happens a lot in Chick tracts, too frequently to be a coincidence. While it is true that a lot of Chick's characters, once they are saved, want to meet Jesus Christ right away, and this is certainly a way of accomplishing that, I think it's also just the result of narrative laziness. Chick's interest in the characters only remains until they are saved, at which point he no longer knows or cares what to do with them. This means that most Chick tracts have a serious case of "what happened to the mouse?"

I also should point out that there's no "Great White Throne" panel in this one. We only know bad, bad, Leroy Brown went to heaven because his girlfriend says so.

 

Jessica:

Is Joyce going to be single and celibate for the rest of her life? Otherwise things would be kind of awkward once they eventually met up in Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 


Conclusion
Andrew:

So here we have another wonderful example of Jack Chick's beliefs about the lifestyles of African Americans. It's hopelessly redundant to point out that this isn't a realistic depiction of the lives of black people, because I doubt anybody old enough to differentiate fantasy from reality would honestly believe that. Of course, Jack Chick, despite his advanced, almost proto-Methuselahan age, has never quite learned how to do that. While it's extremely violent, even by Chick tract standards, as my colleague pointed out, it's not nearly as gritty as real blaxploitation.

Still, the overall look and feel of this is clearly in imitation of a style of American cinema that Chick can't have actually seen. So I don't know if it's a crappy bowdlerized take on films like Shaft, or one that actually does surprisingly well for itself, given the massive ignorance of its creator. Then again, who knows about Fred Carter. Maybe that guy really gets around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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Last Modified: December 22, 2013