Sunday, March 12, 2006

Big Daddy?

This weekend, my grandfather-in-law became seriously ill and was moved from his nursing home facility to an actual hospital. Not surprisingly, we've spent a fair amount of time at the hospital this past weekend. While we were sitting in one of the waiting areas for a bit, I glanced down at the coffee table and noticed a small booklet next to the day's newspaper. Bright yellow and with a picture of an ape on the front of it, I was intrigued enough to pick it up.

I was surprised to see it was actually a comic book! And, as I started flipping through it, I quickly realized that it was attempting to prove that evolution was a complete load of bunk and that Jesus Christ was the only thing to believe in. I don't want to get into the evolution argument here, but I found it striking that it was presented in a comic format and left in a hospital.

My first thought was that, since it was by itself, someone else must have picked it up from whatever pile it had been in originally and simply discarded it in the waiting room. My next thought was that we were in a decidedly Christian hospital and I shouldn't be surprised to see Christian literature lying about.

I tried reading through it without passing judgement on the message, and just looking at it from a media-centric point of view. The artwork is passable, but not great. The story situation is a bit forced, but that tends to be the case in most literature aimed at preaching a specific message. Most of the booklet is black and white, but there are two pages (the front cover and the double-page spread in the center of the story) that judiciously use yellow to catch your eye. And the title -- "Big Daddy?" -- with the ape drawing is certainly attention getting as well. (It got me to pick it up, if no one else!) Plus, you can't argue with "free."

All in all, it was a pretty reasonable package. I don't know if it was Jack Chick (the writer/artist) or one of his associates who specifically left the booklet in the hospital, or if it was a hospital worker who felt that it had a good message, but I will give them a great amount of credit for the marketing behind this particular comic. It knows who to target and when, and it does a pretty good job of making itself seen.

I bring all this up because I think it's proof that comics are a great format for providing information, when done appropriately. There is no way I would have even flipped through that booklet if it were just solid text. I wouldn't have read through it if it were just a poster on the wall. I might not have even seen it without that ape staring out at me. So, kudos to Chick for developing a method to getting his message out.

Of course, the content itself is a load of bunk, but that's another debate for another site.

2 comments:

Gregg Allinson said...

Best wishes to your grandfather-in-law!

Sean Kleefeld said...

Thanks. He's actually gotten somewhat better and has been moved back to the nursing home. But at 91 years old, we don't expect him to be around that much longer. Not surprisingly, his health has been deteriorating for years, and the whole family has had time to prepare for the inevitable.