Jack Chick: ‘God’s Cartoonist’

00chick tractGod’s Cartoonist, A recently-published documentary  I found through weirduniverse.net, details the content and controversy of “Chick tracts,” the widely promulgated 3×5″ evangelical comics that use simple pen and ink illustrations and easily understood stories to promote creator Jack Chick’s fire-and-brimstone brand of evangelical Christianity.

Chick publications claims to have sold 750 million of the tracts since the first ones were released over 50 years ago. If true, this would make Chick the world’s bestselling author: a distinction that can likely be credited to missionaries, churches, and faithful buying them in bulk.

Chick, now aged 90, has only agreed to on interview during the 50-plus years he has been manufacturing his tracts and other related items, and did not sit for an interview with the producers of God’s Cartoonist. He’s probably too busy, anyway: He’s got more tracts to draw – a job he did by himself until 1975 when he brought in another artist to help.

While Chick declined a chance to speak on camera, some of his writers were happy to do so. They share Chick’s vision of Christianity and its enemies, of which there are many: Homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex, alcohol, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons, liberalism, occultism, paganism, communism (Ironically, it propaganda produced by the Chinese Communist Party that gave him the idea for his tracts), Roman Catholicism, Anti-Zionism (Chick is a committed Zionist) Islam, the Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, Rock & Roll music of any sort (even Christian rock), and pretty much the bulk of popular culture as a whole. In another irony, The Smithsonian Institute displayed several of the tracts in an exhibit on American popular culture.)

Chick’s publications have earned him many enemies, but they have also won him fans in unexpected places: Among them the Church of the Subgenius, whose members see the tracts as ripe for parody. They aren’t the only ones who value Chick Tracts: Some people collect them for their kitsch value, or to appreciate as pieces of outsider art. Chick probably approves: Even if they’re bought as a joke, he’s still getting the Good Word into the hands of scoffers, idolaters, and others who haven’t found their way to Jesus.

 

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  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I remember those horrid little scraps of fetid ramblings and crazed diatribes. They, as much as any televangelist, drove me away from organized faith as I realized that, while not all evangelists share the same views, they are tolerant or encouraging of Chick’s notions. They welcome them, spread the tracts, encourage the sharing of those ideas…and that was all the evidence I needed to realize i was dealing with nutcases and just walk away.

  • VaudeVillain

    For a couple of years when I was a much smaller child my mother went through a phase of trying to go to church. We had some shit going on in our lives, so maybe it seemed like that would be a nice, moderating influence on what was otherwise a pretty insane situation. Or maybe she thought that I was an age where going to church was just something I should do. There may have been some pressure from people upon whom we were depending as well. Probably some combination. Since we never found one that actually fit, we tried a lot of them, rarely more than 4 or 5 times.

    I remember once, only once, we went to a church that was actually handing these out. As an 8 year old, I remember feeling very uncomfortable with the idea that the people around me, apparently, seriously believed in those messages. When I asked to not go back to that church, it could not be said quickly enough that we wouldn’t. Their Sunday School was creepy and off-putting, I can only imagine what the sermon was like.

  • Ted Heistman

    If Chick tracks make you angry you are engaged in some type of debate with Jack Chick and fundamentalist Christianity. So in a sense you are taking the point of view presented in the tracts, very seriously. Which, being these are cartoons, I find pretty funny.

    The older I get, the less outraged I am that people believe things I don’t agree with. It pretty much goes without saying that everyone has a different viewpoint and that cultures often clash.

    Its mostly conservative cultural issues he presents in these tracts. The tee totaling, non-’R’ rated movie watching,, non smoking, non-drinking, non-abortion-having, non-woman pants wearing, non-premarital sex having, three day a week service attending, Sunday Sabbath keeping, Rapture-Ready, anti-Catholic, Fundamentalist set.

    These people may as well be Amish, or Moonies, or Hare Krishnas. From an anthropological perspective its a minority culture. These aren’t the people who go to Mega-Churches or Preach on television.

    These are people going to little white Churches next to a corn-field, way out in the middle of nowhere, or renting a shop or a garage in some city. People keeping candles burning and standing firm against mass, multi cultural society.

    So in that sense I see these as curiosities. Once I did take them seriously though, when I was walking with these types of people.

  • Anarchy Pony

    They’re just so crazy and rambling that it’s hilarious. The panel they use as an example on rationalwiki is so bonkers.

    • kowalityjesus

      I think the art in Chick tracts is remarkably similar to the art in Mad magazine. If not simply an influence or a confluence, I wonder if there was ever a cartoonist who did both gigs, lol!

      • Anarchy Pony

        I suppose it’s not impossible.

      • PrimateZero

        I would hope not, but a cartoonist has got to eat too.

      • Matt Staggs

        I’ve never considered that, but you’re right: There’s an obvious influence.

    • Matt Staggs

      I love them. Finding them “in the wild” is like finding an Easter Egg.

      • Anarchy Pony

        I think the only time I ever saw one for real was once at school when a kid found one at recess. We were all like “WTF?”

        • Matt Staggs

          Down South is a different kind of place. To be fair, it’s a hell of a lot more tolerant and focused on the present than it was when I was growing up. The internet has done a lot to move things forward.

      • PrimateZero

        Back in the day of “book stores”, I used to go right to the New Age section to see if any fundies left a Chick Tract. Just about a year ago I found one stuff in between the handle of a gas pump….. the joy!!!
        My favorite parody “Chick Tract” was one that came with the Jello Biafra spoken word cd Beyond the Valley of the Gift Police. The “tract” was called Devil Doll and it was almost believable as an authentic Chick Tract, except a line that said something like ” aaaaaggghhh* (John 2:23)”. That was 20 years ago and I still chuckle.

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        • Matt Staggs

          I gotta hunt that down. When I was in college there was some person who would leave index cards with phrases like “Sweet Pie Jesus” or “Call Jesus” scrawled in magic marker all over town. I worked at a kind of place once known as a “music store” (where “CDs” and “tapes”were sold) and found them all over the place. Never did find them at the bookstore I worked at, though, although that place was in a dying shopping mall. Maybe Mr. Sweet Pie Jesus figured that if we were working there then we might as well already be in hell.

  • BuzzCoastin

    cartoonish philosophy at it’s finist
    only Bazooka Joe was a better philospher
    butt for the Easter bunny & Santa crowd
    Chick can’t be beat

  • Number1Framer

    I’ve been collecting these for about 10 years now and have a stack of 11 -all found in the wild- firmly pressed between 2 bigger books on my shelf (the Satanic Bible and Simonomicon of course) to keep em flat. I had no idea until now that anyone else collected them the way I do. Thanks for sharing this. My favorite is called “The Sissy?”

  • DonovanCagliero

    When I got these, I’d rip them up right in front of customers but only after a few seconds of soul-crushing sarcasm followed by laughter.

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