Not Another Relgious Tract Dissection by Andrew Bean and Jessica Blum

Today's Candidate:

© 2009 Jack Chick

Uploaded Oct 27th, 2009

Money, women, fame... it was all his. What a deal! But then it came time to pay up.

Page Index

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

Warning!!! Click HERE!!!

"It's A Deal" is one of Chick's "adapted for Black audiences" tracts. In this tract, Denzel is a loser who yearns to get out from his successful brother's shadow. However, after selling his soul to the devil, Denzel is granted whatever he wants for 13 years. He becomes a basketball phenomenon and a superstar, but then time runs out and he begins to die of unknown causes. After a deathbed conversion, however, Denzel's soul is saved and he dies in peace.


As already pointed out, this is an "Adapted for Black Audiences" tract. However, unlike many other such luminaries as Black It's Your Life, Black Oops!, Black Who is Allah?, Soul Sisters, and Black Who Loves You?, which are ridiculous "palette swaps" or "head swaps" of earlier works, this one seems to be somewhat original. Still, its plot wanders rather close to that of The Contract.



Follow along as we learn not to sell our souls... or not to wish evil on others, or... something.






Cover Andrew:

We're already not doing so hot, and it's just the cover. Our lead protagonist already looks like a bad racist stereotype of the kind that appears on 4chan. You almost expect him to be accompanied by watermelon and fried chicken.



Seriously, this guy is practically the embodiment of every negative stereotype assigned to African Americans. Chick couldn't have been more offensive if he had given this guy a speech bubble that said "I'd be amazed by 'dis here piece 'o paper... but I's never learned how's 'ta read!"

Corn rows and a basketball jersey. Jesus Christ. I don't care if it is relevant to the plot, that's just wrong.






Page 1 Andrew:

So what is it, in Chick's universe, that keeps Denzel from succeeding? Does God hate him already? He's only a kid.



Judging from the direction of this tract, if his brother wasn't doing so well, I'd say it was his skin color. Or perhaps it is the fact the kid is fug ugly as hell, while the brother on the other hand looks like a darker version of most of the white "heroes" Chick draws for his other comics.

Also, "Denzel"? His brother is named James, and he is named "Denzel". It's like he wanted the character to scream "Avatar of lower economic urban blight."

By the way, there are a grand total of five white people in this whole tract. One is here, standing behind the father, three others are fawning over future Denzel in Page 15a and the last asks him about his booty calls in Page 16a. It's kind of like "Where's Waldo."



Also note that while James and the father speak normal English, Denzel speaks in dialect. Jeez, is he adopted or something?




Page 2

"I wanna be like you, Dad. You know I'm gonna be like you..."

Denzel seems to have a lot of undirected ire at his brother.

This is a very sinewy family. Even Denzel is ripped.



Why does “Father” address James as “Son”? It sounds awfully stilted. Actually, all of their lines are pretty stilted, in the manner of black comedians making fun of how white people talk. I’m still holding out hope that Chick is secretly in on the whole joke of how ridiculous this stuff is.






Page 3 Jessica:

This fellow's face looks like it's trying to implode in on itself. Either he's 80 years old or he's spent WAAAAYYY too much time in the sun.

Also, J.J. Walker is eyeing up his 'ho. DY-NO-MIIIITE!!!!



Well, he’s ugly, like all bad characters in Chick-land.






Page 4 Jessica:

The woman in the black shirt is so grossed out by the chiseled canyons on Ice Man's face she's about to lose her cookies there.

This seems like a bit of an overreaction on Ice Man's part. I'm sure no one likes their arm candy scoping out other guys, but he just flies off the deep end here. I mean, Phylicia Rashâd told him they were just teasin'. Besides, Ice Man's girl looks like she's all of 15 years old.



Which one of these girls is his fiancé anyway? Is he jealous because ANY woman is looking at ANY other man? If he’s so violent, its amazing he’s not already in jail.






Page 5 Jessica:

License plate number has been censored to protect the innocent.

I don't think guns have made a "RAT TAT TAT" sound since the 1930's. I also like to imagine that most inner city drive by shooters loudly scream "Gotcha!" while plying their trade.



I admire Chick’s restraint in not making the license plate something like “666-HELL.” Though I’m sure someone in Virginia’s got it, given the prevalence of vanity plates in the state.

Well, you know, other than the awkwardly placed and sized AK-47 (I think) this scene could easily be from some old gangster film. And speaking of the gun, that thing would do a little more damage to poor James’s melon than is shown here.

“Gotcha” makes me think of Jax from any incarnation of Mortal Kombat after 2. “Gotcha!” “B’oh! B’oh! B’oh! B’oh!”






Page 6 Andrew:

The left panel seems to be abject chaos.



Upon first seeing this panel I missed the subtle "3 days later" in the corner there and thought this was the inside of the hospital or morgue where James was taken. Which led me to ask "What the hell is going on here?!?!" There's this fat dude falling out of his pants in the foreground, and some random lady having a shit-fit in the back. Now that I know it's supposed to be a police station... it still doesn't make any sense.



Is this what Chick assumes black life is like?



Also, screw "Denzel." That kid should have been named "Damien." Look at that face!


Page 7 Jessica:

Something I once wanted actually happened!!! Wow! It's like I've got some kind of power! Is this to mean that Satan killed James? Can he do that?

Also, is it really responsible for a teacher/principal to suggest to a student that he drop out?



I guess Denzel is supposed to be wearing the “droopy-drawers” style, but it just makes it look like the artist screwed up his proportions.






Page 8 Jessica:

If a pimp sitting next to you in the park freely admits he "buys souls" you need to friggin' run! It doesn't take a upperclass seminary student to know that all is not well in the state of Denmark.

Maybe he's an undercover cop. He is wearing a sheriff's star badge on his lapel.



Maybe Denzel isn’t a successful basketball player because he’s packed about forty pounds onto HIS FACE.

Yeah, I like the star too. Ooh, is that an allusion to the Morning Star, Lucifer? That would be a surprising level of visual sophistication for a Chick strip. LOL. “Sophistication” and “Chick” should never occur together.

(Yeah, I know this is one of the Fred Carter illustrated ones.)

So wait, he doesn’t believe what his father preaches, and yet he still accepts that this disarming fellow can buy a soul, which he doesn’t believe in? Then again, that was the plot of the famous “Bart sells his soul” episode of The Simpsons, which handles these issues with greater aplomb than Chick ever could.






Page 9 Andrew:

Boy, Denzel sure seems to trust that random stranger. If I were him, I’d want to make sure it worked before betting it all on one shot. I guess I just don’t have enough faith.








Page 10 Jessica:

Denzel Franklin. It's actually rather obvious his parents loved "James" more.








Page 11 Andrew:

Doesn’t Chick know that the standard “basket” sound is a whoosh? “Plunk” is the sound of a turd dropping into a toilet, which isn’t far from how this comic came into the world.








Page 12 Andrew:

So he’s a miserable person with no discipline, who is such a jackass that nobody likes him, but the coach changes his tune after one fluke shot? I realize Denzel could probably do it over and over. But right now, it’s just one lucky shot.








Page 13 Jessica:

A man playing a sport he is getting paid an obscene amount of money to play well is scary indeed.



We’re just going to handwave how this idiot is suddenly pulling out A’s in academic subjects. Does the devil grant smarts as well? Will he take the SAT for Denzel?






Page 14 Jessica:

"We are the champions. We are the champions. No time for losers, 'cause we are the champions..."

"...of the world."



“Denzel is unstoppable” without a period. I imagine the narrator just mumbling the line and wandering away.

There has never been anybody like this before? Gee, you know, if the devil is just out there buying souls and making people into instant stars, you’d see this sort of thing a lot.



The King Sharks, indeed. These basketball teams must have been named by a five year old.



What, pray tell, is a “King Shark” anyway? I’ve heard of King Snakes.


Page 15 Andrew:

“Millions love your commercials.” Not “millions love to watch you play.” No, it’s the commercials they love. Just like the friggin' Superbowl.








Page 16 Jessica:

12 years, 11 months, 29 days, 23 hours, 54 minutes and 16 second have passed. Tick-tock, tick-tock, Denzel!



At least the narrator finally used a period.

“We’ve got nothing but time!” Wouldn’t it be IRONIC if that turned out to be tragically mistaken? Oh noes!






Page 17 Jessica:

We don't know what it is, what's causing it or what it's doing, but it'll be done doing it in a week.



I guess this is one of those “Exorcist” things to tell us that medical science is powerless against the onslaughts of evil spirits. You’d think that, as science has gradually pushed back the boundaries of what can be known, and removed things as diverse as cholera, mental illness, and birth defects from the realm of the spiritual, people would stop trying to pull stuff like this. In Chick’s world, however, it might as well be the Dark Ages.



Al Roker is talking into a thermos. Watch it, Al! You're about to get surprise butt-sex from a jittery gremlin! Oh, wait. That's just another spastic non-character.



Is that dingbat supposed to be funny, I wonder? “Look, Ma, I’m on TV!” Unless that’s supposed to be our soul-purchasing friend from earlier, minus the hat and sunglasses. If that’s the case, the artist can’t draw the same character twice unless they are reduced to a brutal caricature, like Denzel.


Page 18 Jessica:

Holy crap! The preacher man just resurrected the dead! It's a wonder that "Get back here in Jesus' name" thing isn't used in hospitals across the country. Someone call the AMA! They could revolutionize medicine!



Ooh, talking buildings! Even when Chick isn’t drawing, it still happens. So then who is saying “Why doesn’t she just give up?”?

Wasn’t the father “desperately sick” just a few panels ago? “I got better.”






Page 19 Andrew:

"That was a bogus deal"? Wait, so you can get out of one of these deals? That goes against my understanding of how this stuff is supposed to work. Also, if the devil already has your soul, why would he go through the trouble of one of these deals and expend a great deal of energy to get something he already has? I guess he's just the hardest working man in showbiz.








Page 20 Andrew:

And just like that, he's saved. That's a pretty neat trick. I can think of a better one: do the deal, get the rewards, and then do that whole born-again thing before you finally perish. Chick forecloses that here by making Denzel die, but think about it. Sell your soul for, I dunno, a billion dollars, get saved, and then live comfortably for the rest of your life. Does that seem like gaming the system? Of course, that's exactly what it is- but so is what happens in this comic.








Page 21










So what is the point of this tract, anyway? I mean, obviously this is a "Black oriented" tract, focused around what Chick probably imagines African Americans are most concerned about: basketball. (I guess it could be a worse stereotype, but still...) Note that Denzel's brother was also an athletic superstar- because he had the Lord's backing. The subtext suggests that supernatural intervention is the best route to court-side glory.

But beyond that, what's Chick's argument, here, really? Don't sell your soul to the devil? I mean, I understand that, in Chick's world, Satan is a real person that you might actually meet on the street... or at least, Chick says he believes that.

Frankly, I think there's also the possibility that Chick is actually some kind of performance artist so avant-garde as to make Andy Warhol look like Thomas Kinkaid, with the whole charade only to be revealed at his passing. Reactionaries can be difficult to distinguish from parodies. See Poe's Law.

Setting aside whether Chick means it or not, this all seems a little redundant. Chick says over and over, both here and in other comics, that everyone goes to hell if they don't embrace Jesus. If you do nothing, you are just as damned as someone who sells his soul to Satan. So why does this comic, specifically, need to exist? Does Chick honestly think that African Americans are just selling their souls left and right, to the extent that we needed a blackface take on "The Contract"? Only Jack T. Chick knows, and he's not telling.








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Last Modified: February 14, 2023



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