Jack Chick’s The Trick

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Back in 2016 I wrote a long article examining the anti-Halloween tracts of fundamentalist Christian cartoonist Jack Chick. I thought that I’d covered them all, but I’ve recently found out that there was one I missed: The Trick, published back in 1986. So, allow me to fix this omission…

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Like a number of Chick’s other tracts, the story depicts hooded Satanists eagerly celebrating Halloween. The devil-worshippers gloat about putting poison, razor blades and other hazards in trick-or-treat candy. Chick is tapping into a concern that had sparked panic in 1980s America, as Snopes describes:

Halloween of 1982 was the year it all went crazy. That year saw a number of tragic and random non-Halloween poisonings of both foodstuffs and medicines, including the Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people. Although the “crazed madman tampering with kids’ Halloween treats” had been an established bogeyman for at least the previous fifteen years, it was in the aftermath of the Tylenol poisonings that a sudden spate of Halloween tampering reports erupted. It’s as if the murder of those seven unfortunate people opened a forbidden door and now others were free to experiment with playing God, to dispense either life or death as the whim struck them.

The Satanists are also shown placing curses on both the sweets and the hazardous contents, which appears to be Chick’s own addition to the urban legend.

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Meet the three trick-or-treatersL Johnny, Jerry and Susie. Susie has been warned by her mother not to visit strangers’ houses: “Remember what happened to Bobby last year.” The sordid story of bobby is left to the reader’s imagination — perhaps he suffered a similar fate to Timmy, from Happy Halloween.

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But strangers are not the only danger. The kids visit a Brenda, who appears to be a family friend — and is actually a Satanist. Thirty minutes later, the kids tuck into spiked sweeties.

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Johnny dies of a drug overdose, Susie is sent to ICU and Jerry gets surgery for cuts in his mouth. Sister Charity, the head Satanist, has a good chortle to herself — only to die of a heart attack and end up in Hell. “My trick was getting you to serve me,” says Satan. “Now your treat is to burn for eternity.”

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Ten months later, Brenda has evaded justice, while the two surviving children have developed rebellious streaks (“I can’t even get her to go to Sunday school any more without a big fight.”

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Fortunately for the grieving parents, out-of-towner Becky is on hand to explain all. Claiming to be an ex-witch who now serves Jesus, she proceeds to reveal the “truth” about Halloween, with the tract citing Alexander Hislop’s anti-Catholic tract The Two Babylons (1853).

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The “truth” turns out to be the same wildly inaccurate business about trick-or-treat and jack-o-lanterns deriving from Druidic sacrifice seen in Chick’s other tracts. The sources cited for this information are Chick’s own comic Spellbound and Bill Schnoebelen, a man who claims to have previously been a vampire. I’ve covered all of that in my 2016 article, so let us move on…

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Becky claims that children are mutilated and murdered every Halloween as sacrifices to Satan. Inevitably, the tract provides no kind of statistical evidence to back this up.

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The parents — who only a few panels previously were expressing disbelief in the existence of Satan — end up swallowing Becky’s story without reservation. Satanist Brenda sneaks off in a huff, and the curses on the children are broken.

So, that’s The Trick. It’s fairly tame by the standards of Chick’s anti-Halloween ramblings –but since it appears to be his first tract on the subject, it has a certain, er, historical interest. Perhaps.

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