Science Fiction Sunday School Comics From The 1970s Were Trippy As Balls

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In the 1970s, Archie and Marvel Comics artist Al Hartley — who became a born-again Christian the previous decade — began writing and illustrating religious comics. Some of these evangelical funny books starred Jughead discovering Jesus, whereas others were space operas about Space Satan and his tricked-out UFO.

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Illustration for article titled Science Fiction Sunday School Comics From The 1970s Were Trippy As Balls

Throughout the Seventies, Spire Christian Comics published a few dozen one-offs by Hartley, many of which can be read in full here. Perhaps the most outlandish Spire title was an adaptation of Hal Lindsey's millenarian text There's A New World Coming.

With Hartley at the helm, Bible lessons became psychedelic freak-outs. Just check out the panel at left — the Book of Revelation is now a nitrous oxide leak at the Crayola factory.

Illustration for article titled Science Fiction Sunday School Comics From The 1970s Were Trippy As Balls

Throughout the comic, the three young narrators witness the apocalypse from a variegated dimension that almost certainly tastes of fragrant sherbet.

The children are absolutely giddy from this universe of flavor, so every single one of their observations are punctuated with screaming and rainbows. We learn some valuable lessons along the way, such as...

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Illustration for article titled Science Fiction Sunday School Comics From The 1970s Were Trippy As Balls

...atheists might be at the risk of subatomic combustion.

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...the Anti-Christ wears heels (remember, he also has a catchy theme song).

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...the whore of Babylon possibly has her own game-show announcer.

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...and that Armageddon shall be heralded by a large sign à la "HOLLYWOODLAND."

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Sure, There's A New World Coming's candy-colored apocalypse is weird, but what if you want something truly out there?

Look no further than Alpha and Omega, a borderline incomprehensible retelling of the Garden of Eden story starring Satan as Ming the Merciless. (Seriously, he goads science heroes "Alpha" and "Omega" into exploring the forbidden black hole.)

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Illustration for article titled Science Fiction Sunday School Comics From The 1970s Were Trippy As Balls

Space Satan's ride is pretty hype, though.

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And his black hole? Completely boss. Godzilla-on-Godzilla cannibalism! You can't deny this!

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More awesome from the Satan-Hole.

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Sadly, Alpha and Omega is saddled with most anticlimactic battle to grace any spacefaring epic. Imagine if Battlestar Galactica ended like this. Oh wait, it sort of did.

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Let's turn to some assorted panels from Hartley's evangelical Archie comics. They're basically the same as fusty 1970s tales about Riverdale's boy lothario but with one key difference — they're metal as shit. Need proof? Here's Archie and Satan bed-rassling...

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...Archie and Betty waxing existential on free will...

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...Jughead and an elephant getting intimate, in a variation of the "popcorn bucket" method...

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...Canadian Tuxedo Jesus demonstrating his Liberace-summoning powers...

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...Archie propositioning readers (I call dibs on Moose!)...

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...this body-horror sequence of Ethel evolving into a bratwurst...

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...Ethel being sold for cattle in India (?!?) only to shut down her new overzealous husband...

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...Beelzebub offering Archie a phalanx of call girls...

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...and finally, BETTY SUMMONING A FUCK-YES LIGHTNING BOLT USING THE POWER OF PRAYER. YOU ARE MY DREAM GIRL, BETTY COOPER. LET US MAKE THUNDER BABIES.

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Again, you can read a bunch of Hartley's zany Spire comics right here. There are some, uh, idiosyncratic, ones.

DISCUSSION

jenna-w
JennaW

OMG, I had HANSI (I may still have it somewhere... *shudder*). It's about a girl who was in the Hitler Youth and was all gung-ho about the Fatherland and Hitler and everything, but then she starts to have a crisis of faith when the men coming back from the Russian Front are not all happy about the Glorious Reich. First she berates them for being bad Nazis, though.

Eventually, she ends up in a Russian prisoner of war (or refugee or something) camp where all the women are raped *but her* because she is *too skinny* (ergo the name Hansi — meaning she looked like a boy) which... uh, okay... and then the camp is eventually liberated by the Americans who aren't gang-rapists apparently and chew gum and give out Red Cross packets and stuff. I think she eventually gets married to a GI but I can't remember how it ends. Except she loves God instead of Hitler by the end, OF COURSE.

PS: Based on a TRUE STORY. I believe my mom even met Hansi at some point.