Ah, Li’l Susy Barnes. Never was there a more appropriate mouthpiece for Jack Chick’s insanity than this cute little moppet.
There’s no doubt that when Chick first conceived of Li’l Susy, he envisioned her as an innocent child — guileless yet wise beyond her years — who had yet to be corrupted by the wicked liberal world. But it turns out that Chick’s militant messages of intolerance are even more jarring when being delivered by a smiling, rosy-cheeked little girl. So in a way, Li’l Susy is just like a Chick tract — adorable and childlike on the surface, but full of batshit crazy and hate on the inside.
Our story opens with the eponymous Susy talking with her friend Cathy about how she doesn’t have a mom. And two panels in, we get our first jarring reminder of just how fucked up Jack Chick is. Cathy asks if Susy’s mom left home, and Susy replies, “No, she loved me.” So apparently divorce is caused by parents not loving their kids. A great message for children, indeed!
Anyway, we find out that Susy’s mother died during childbirth (so I guess her love was sort of implied) and Susy’s father died of a heart attack last year. So now Susy lives with her grandpa, who is instilling her with good, wholesome Christian™ virtues.
Cathy tries once again to turn the conversation back to her problems. Her dad ran off to marry another lady and now wants nothing to do with her or her mother. “He hates us,” Cathy insists. “That’s why my mom and I cry a lot.”
Eager to comfort her unwashed heathen of a friend, Susy relates how she cried and cried when her daddy died until her grandpa finally had enough of her silly mourning and showed her how to get a new father. Basically, it involved drugging a stranger at a rest stop and chaining him up in the basement.
No, I kid. Susy insists that her new father loves her and watches over her, so I guess you can see where this is going. She also insists that her father is her grandpa’s father as well, which is probably a confusing concept to those folks who don’t live in the red states. Anyway, Susy gets her proselytizing finger wagging as she informs Cathy that her new father lives in heaven, and there is only one way she can meet him.
(By the way, Jack Chick has a habit of bolding and italicizing totally random words in his dialog. At first I thought it might be some kind of secret code, so I went through the tract and tried to piece together his hidden message:
Have loved still anything hates new what new so that’s not fair your so grandpa’s teasing really one way tell me tell me me everything this perfect sin mean he sinned really everything lie Bible trouble that terrible hated loves only way only hate alive never lost wow still sorry believe new wonderful God’s not gone me sisters you never.
Not sure what it means, but I suspect it contains veiled references to the shepherdess, no temptation, and noon blue apples.)
Anyway, Susy relates the story of how God sent his only Son to Earth by putting him inside a virgin. That baby’s name, incidentally, was Jesus. And as Baby Jesus grew into Grown Up Jesus, He never sinned. Cathy is a bit confused by the concept of sin and makes the mistake of asking Susy to explain. And in the midst of her explanation, Li’l Susy Barnes goes apeshit. I don’t know how else to describe it. One second, she’s a cute little girl. The next, she’s a fiery instrument of God’s vengeance.
I can only imagine that’s the look that Mr. Chick gets on his face when he thinks about Catholics or gay people.
Cathy is suddenly afraid that she’s on the outs with God as well because, as she confesses, “I lie a lot!” Which leads me to suspect that her dad never really left and she made the whole thing up just to get sympathy. Susy comforts her by telling her that liars can’t get into heaven. And just as the looming threat of eternal damnation is about to erupt the aneurysm in Cathy’s head, Susy begins relating the story of the Crucifixion in exquisite, CSI-level detail.
Anyway, Jesus died on the cross, but He got better so now we can all get into heaven no matter how vile and despicable we are. So in spite of the lies she’s told, Cathy will get to spend eternity with all the rapists and serial killers that inhabit Jack Chick’s vision of paradise.
So, to recap: Cathy is suffering from abandonment issues because her dad left home, and turns to her friend Li’l Susy to comfort her. The first thing Susy does is imply that her father left because he didn’t love her. Then she pitches the idea of letting God be her “new Daddy,” and sells it by describing how God sent His son away to die horribly. You’d think this would make things worse for Cathy, but she seems totally fine with the idea.
As this heartwarming story wraps up, Susy gleefully informs Cathy that she no longer has to worry about hell because “you’re on the way to heaven with me!” She then plunges a ceremonial dagger into Cathy’s neck, sealing the infernal bargain with the blood of the innocent.
No, again I kid. She and Cathy throw their arms around each other and revel in the fact that now they’re sisters. Chick wraps things up with the quotation of John 3:16, conveniently annotated and interpreted so that even people who get their spiritual guidance from comic books can understand it.
Not one of Mr. Chick’s more interesting efforts, but important because it introduces us to the character of Li’l Susy Barnes, who will crop up again and again in later tracts to pit her precocious wisdom and childlike innocence against the nefarious machinations of Muslims, scientists, gay people, and druids.