God’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.