Earlier this week saw the passing of legendary Christian propagandist Jack T. Chick. His 800 million vest-pocket sized cartoon pamphlets illustrating various elements of his King James Version-based spiritual worldview horrified impressionable children all over the world. Chick drew many himself in a simple 50s gag cartoon style, but many tracts feature much more realistic artwork by illustrator Fred Carter. With Fred, Chick also published a line of full-sized, full color comics, pushing the same messages, for a slightly older audience, and using two action heroes to move the longer stories forward. And thus we have The Crusaders!
Our first Crusaders comic opens with a snowy field and some evil Communist officers being evil, and already you can see the loving attention to detail Carter gives to wrinkles, shading, and the jowly, scowling villains.
In contrast our heroes are young, good-looking Americans fully trained in the arts of mayhem. In fact James Carter may be a little TOO trained in the arts of mayhem.
Artist Fred Carter was, yes, a black guy from Chicago, so he may be drawing from real-life observation here. Who's that guy there unafraid of Big Jim Carter, though?
Why, it's the feisty, elderly neighborhood preacher, who isn't afraid of Big Jim Carter, even when Big Jim Carter is wearing his Santa Claus outfit. He straightened Big Jim out by impressing him with just how much more powerful Jesus is. Soon Jim Carter was using his alarming demeanor for Christ!
The Crusaders hear about their latest mission. There's a bible shortage in Romania! It's the 70s, there were shortages of everything.
Their mission: to sneak The Bible (King James version of course) into Romania past the armed forces of the Communist Bloc! Of course by this time the Romanian dictator Ceau?escu was carving his own fairly independent path of murderous repression separately from the rest of the Warsaw Pact, and would be overthrown by his own citizens in the late 80s. To be fair, loudly preaching the Bible in both Russia and Romania at the time would in fact get you tossed in the pokey, though. Rats and weevils sold separately.
Meanwhile, the State Security apparat of the USSR is not unaware of the decadent Western adventurers who seek to penetrate its borders, and it turns out Tim Clark's uncle is also confusingly named Tim Clark and is an ambassador, and so therefore Young Tim is targeted by the 'Embarrass The West' divison of the KGB. Because the entire decade of the 1970s wasn't embarrassing the West enough, apparently.
And while on the train to Bucharest they're met by Sofia, who joined the KGB hoping to meet handsome foreigners and is getting her wish! Times two! THESE handsome foreigners are not violating her sovereignity, however - they're challenging her atheistic Socialist worldview!
One thing about these Crusaders comics is that they are incredibly talky. These comics are filled with long dialogue-heavy scenes where Jack Chick's mouthpieces spout enormous torrents of Bible prophecy, Satanic panic, anti-Catholic propaganda, you name it, they will spend pages and pages talking about it. This particular Crusaders comic is just about over and so far nothing has happened - no microfilm has been delivered and no lonely KGB agents have recieved so much as a chaste kiss from a handsome American.
On the mean streets of Bucharest, Jim Carter makes contact with his drop and delivers the microfilm inside a cigarette. I don't know if Jim Carter was the best man to unobtrusively move about central European capitals, but the Lord knows what he's doing, I guess.
If you ever saw "From Russia With Love" you know that the Russians are always set up to film secret romantic encounters in hotel rooms, partly for the political value, but mostly because good-quality dirty movies are really hard to get in the USSR. But the planned seduction happens in reverse and Sofia is converted into a Bible-believing Christian - as is the cameraman who filmed the whole thing! Our heroes escape in a VW Bug while Sofia winds up in a Soviet prison, still holding fast to her Christian beliefs. Kind of a bummer ending for Sofia, but Jack Chick never shied away from the harsh consequences. Case in point, our next story.
The angry sheriff, the Fu Manchu mustache and giant shades, the glistening, oily highlights that mark Fred Carter's color work - we haven't even cracked this one open and already you can tell it's something you want to leave lying around to really freak out any 10-year olds that might come across it.
NOTE: the occult information used in this story was authenticated by an actual ex-Grand Druid Priest! So you know it's accurate and truthful! But more about John Todd later.
So let's see. It's the mid 1970s and a teenage girl hitchhiker just got picked up by a creepy looking van out in the middle of nowhere. This is going to end well, said the person who never ever watched any TV or saw any movies ever.
Obviously poor Donna here is about to be victimized in a terrifying fashion, but what really creeps me out is how perfectly Fred Carter captured the look of the mid 1970s here. Pretty much everybody looked like this back then, mustache and all.
And before you know it Donna is sacrificed to Lucifer who apparently is a god of peace and love. That's going to come as a surprise to every heavy metal band ever, I think.
Coming across the ditched body crime scene is none other than Tim and Jim, The Crusaders, just in time for Jim to get a little 70s movie racism from the sheriff.
That night the Crusaders are tooling down the highway in their enormous 1970s leisuremobile when they nearly hit a crazy man standing in the middle of Route 101!
And if the creepy van kidnapping and the Satanic sacrifice hadn't yet convinced you that what we're looking at is actually a horror comic, here's some cannibalism to really drive the point home. Don't believe that such things actually happen? Such an incident was reported in the Big Sur area in California in 1973! And that's all the proof Jack Chick needs!
This is the worst stage of Satanism- you turn into a gibbering hobo standing in the rain eating human flesh. That's what happened to Anton LaVey, that's what happened to Aleister Crowley, you think it won't happen to you?! Stay off the Satan, kids!
The Crusaders have a valuable ally down at the Highway Patrol, he'll give them a... excuse the expression... a HAND with their investigation!
Here Fred Carter shows off Jim Carter's muscular shirtless body as these two buff unmarried guys undress in their shared hotel room AND completely miss the point of the film "The Exorcist." Right on, bro!
It's the 1970s, so teenage girls are wandering California cluelessly striking up conversations with strangers at every opportunity. Will The Crusaders be in time to keep Jody from falling into witchcraft and Satanism?
You can see here the power of Tim's message really getting through to Jody, and you can also see the power of Fred Carter's crosshatching really getting too much for the engraver, who at this point just threw up his hands and said 'screw it' and shot everything at the same exposure, blowing out most of the fine linework. Sorry, that's printing industry talk there. Never mind.
The Satanists are hep to Tim and Jim's game, however, and they take the first opportunity to grab Jody and spirit her off in the Death Van. Can our heroes use their Highway Patrol contact to locate their evil lair in time? Will we see Big Jim Carter lay a fistful of beat-down on some guys in pointy robes?
Oh, we were so close to that punch in the face. But Jim invokes the Name of Jesus, the power of which throws our Satanist pals into fits of vomiting. Well, whatever works, I guess.
Turns out the entire town was rife with secret witches and warlocks sacrificing young girls in the name of Satan. But thanks to The Crusaders, their Ouija boards and Luciferian jewelry are up in flames! Return to your firey master, tacky accoutrements!
But those aren't the only adventures for our Crusaders - Chick would continue the comic intermittently over the course of decades, and the Jim & Tim Show would take second place to a parade of "experts" holding forth on various easily debunked conspiracy theories. "Father" Alberto Rivera would spin fantastic yarns about the Catholic Church being the front for a world-spanning conspiracy behind Communism, Nazism, the Islamic faith, Freemasonry, the assassinations of JFK and Abraham Lincoln, both World Wars, the Jonestown Massacre, and that the popes are Antichrists. Another Chick "expert" was John Todd aka Lance Collins, who provided the "evidence" for the Southern California Witchcraftery that we saw in "The Broken Cross", and in our next sample, "Spellbound."
Nothing says "Satan" like Stonehenge made out of 8-track tapes. You kids are too young to remember 8-track tapes, but they were likely the most inconvenient, least pleasureable portable music format the Devil could concieve. That awful "ka-chunk" of a track changing in the middle of a song? Nothing but Satan. Anyway, John Todd showed up in the Christian scene of the early 70s claiming to be a former Grand Druid Priest in charge of, well, let's let Todd tell us.
He managed 65,000 witches! I bet that looks great on a resume. And if you don't think that's impressive, swing by your local Wiccan group and try to get them to agree on ANYTHING for more than five minutes, and you'll see what an accomplishment Todd achieved! Let's let Todd tell us of some of his great witchy work.
You see, witches have their own language. And since this is the 1970s we're going to explain this using truckers and CB radios as an example. And like truckers using their CBs to warn fellow Billy Big Riggers about Smokeys on their Back Doors Good Buddy, the Council Of 13 uses their coded language to place spells and incantations into every rock album ever made, ever!
Yes, even "Christian" rock music has that 'devil beat' as its backbone. How can such music be godly? Stryper, Amy Grant, Petra, DC Talk- all are running with the Devil, like Van Halen! Except Van Halen is selling way more records!
Best sellers, romance novels, astrology books, rock LPs, your Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, Waylon Jennings tapes, your membership card in the Masons - it's all gotta go!
The crazy part about Mr. Todd - well, ONE of the crazy parts - is that while he was preaching against the occult, he was also managing an occult bookstore; that is, when he wasn't dodging statutory rape convictions. His claims of being part of an ancient Druid witch family that inspired the TV show "Dark Shadows" and also being a super Vietnam vet Green Beret who was the Kennedy family's private warlock, and also helping the Grand Druid Council plan WWIII alongside the Antichrist, well, all these fantastic stories wound up being total BS (he served stateside & was discharged with a Section 8), and after he was kicked out of more responsible religious groups, he found himself amongst the paranoid white supremacist fringe bunkering down for the Apocalypse. He later did a 16 year stretch for rape and died in 2004 of natural causes, much to the consternation of the Satanic assassins he claimed were always after him. Anyway, Jack T. Chick never once doubted Todd's stories, which says something about Chick's bullshit detector, or lack thereof.
But enough of this, let's get right to the burning!
And there was much rejoicing as the demonic toys and Satanic rock records were consumed by holy flame, and the bought-and-paid-for Lame Stream Media condemned it with their most powerful condemnation because after all, it's a fallen world. Hey Penny, do you want to hear my new rock record? Huh, Penny?
Hateful, confused, gullible, uncompromising, and probably the most successful independent comic book creator in the United States and perhaps the world, Jack T. Chick's comics may not have made the grade as soul-winning religious propaganda, but they sure worked to creep the holy hell out of two or three generations of easily-impressionable kids and the occasional gullible adult. We will never see his like again, and all things considered, that's probably for the best. So long Jack, see ya in the laughing place!
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