Last week Jack T. Chick, creator of over two hundred and sixty infamous, evangelical little pamphlets, died at age 92.
You've no doubt seen his work, dubbed "Chick Tracts," before. His tiny comics popped up all over the place— at bus stops, on grocery shelves and in the back of cabs. His followers and acolytes loved to scatter them everywhere they thought the sinful public needed to read the Gospel of Chick.
But don't let Jack Chick's kindly old grandfather image fool you. He was a bitter, ultraconservative Fundamentalist who hated just about everything and everybody. His Chick tracks gravely warned readers of the dangers of homosexuality, feminism, people of color, rock & roll, heavy metal, evolution, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons and any form of sex not intended for procreation. According to Chick, if you've so much as drawn a breath, your soul's already condemned to spend eternity in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.
Chick didn't just hate sinners— he hated any and all practitioners of other religions as well. Jews, Muslims, and especially Catholics— any religion that wasn't Chick's own particular brand would earn its worshippers a one way ticket to eternal damnation.
Heck, Chick even had problems with the Bible itself! Well, certain versions of it anyway. According to him, any Bible written after 1611 was filled with "heresy and immorality." Now that's a hardcore Fundamentalist!
Would you be surprised to find out that I'm a fan of Chick's tracts? Welp, I am. Don't get the wrong idea though— I don't agree with a single syllable of his extreme beliefs or insane philosophy. At all. I just appreciate the batsh*t insanity of his work on an artistic and ironic level. I marvel at his tracts when I see them, as I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that they actually exist, and someone was nuts enough to create them. Any time I see a Chick Tract in public, I grab it and add it to my collection.
Chick is responsible for most of the art in his pamphlets, but he sometimes employed the talents of another illustrator named Fred Carter. The style of the artwork varied from tract to tract— some almost resembled Disney cartoons, while others looked like something R. Crumb would have drawn.
I'm not the only one who's become a fan of Chick's work. In the past few years his tracts have become fashionable among the hipster crowd and aficionados of flea market culture. They're collected for their sheer entertainment value, as a fascinating example of "outsider art," like Tijuana Bibles and tiki mugs.
It does my heart good to know that, instead of being taken seriously, Jack Chick's odious and vicious little tracts have become kitschy artifacts. Something to be mocked and ridiculed rather than feared. All his years of spiteful work went right down the crapper, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
I like to think that right about now, Jack Chick is easing himself into a burning Lake Of Fire, somewhere deep in the bowels of Hell. A cartoon Devil, much like the ones he used to draw, looks on in amusement and throws his head back in laughter. "Haw Haw Haw!"
Thats how it works, isn't it? Doesn't the Christian Instruction Manual say we're supposed to love and forgive everyone? "Judge not, lest ye be judged," and all that? Presuming to know the mind of God is a sin, and thanks to Jack Chick, we know where sinners end up, don't we?
And now, presented for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of Chick's more notorious and insane tracts.
"If man evolved from apes, then why are there still monkeys in the jungle?" Sigh...
Apparently Chick wasn't a fan of Steve Martin's early comedy.
Actually this one's about a young girl who loses her virginity to a smooth talking' ladies' man, and of course is immediately infected with AIDS as punishment by her vengeful (but loving!) God.
This one would be unintentionally hilarious if not for the fact that Chick spends half a dozen pages spouting extremely dangerous misinformation about condom use and AIDS prevention.
As you might expect, an ultraconservative religious type like Chick was not a fan of Halloween. He really, reeeeeeally hated it though, and went on and on about it throughout his career. Because Halloween's not about kids dressing up and begging for candy, laws no. It's the Devil's Night, when people worship the Antichrist and sacrifice house pets (really!).
Never mind that Halloween started out as a pagan celebration, and as such predated Christianity. It began as a simple harvest festival called Samhain (pronounced saa-ween), and had about as much to do with the Devil as Valentine's Day.
But Chick never let facts get in the way of his righteousness, and as far as he's concerned if you wear a costume and receive so much as a fun-size Snickers from your next door neighbor, you're worshiping Satan.
This is an extremely vile and disturbing tract, and feels like something penned by Special Guest Writer Eli Roth. In it, a small child is constantly beaten by his drunken, money-grubbing father, who is unfortunately drawn like a caricature of a stereotypical Jew from 1940s Germany. After the kid's daily beating, Dad forces him to panhandle on the street corner. When the kid brings back only a single coin, Dad throws him out of the house.
The kid then crawls through the streets and finds shelter in a cardboard box. A church leaflet, probably not unlike a Chick Tract, falls from the sky and lands next to him. The leaflet reads, "Jesus Loves You!" The kid, tearful with joy, clutches it to his chest and promptly dies of exposure. In the final panel we see an angel carrying him up to heaven.
So what the hell was the message in this particularly heinous and depressing little tale, Jack? "Don't worry if your Earthly life is so miserable that you literally starve to death, because you'll get to live forever at the foot of the Lord?" That's some pretty cold comfort, especially when you're living inside a goddamned cardboard box. Maybe God could have, oh, I don't know, helped the kid out a bit while he was still alive.
This is one of my favorite tracts, as it perfectly illustrates Chick's absolute intolerance of any religion other than his own.
In it we see millions of people marching down the Road Of Life. Note the jaw-droppingly racist stereotypes representing followers of those other weird, sinful religions. There's an Asian, who's no doubt a Buddhist, an Arab Muslim, and even what appears to be a filthy, evil Catholic at the far left.
Eventually the road ends at a steep cliff. Because all the people on the road practice heathen religions and don't honor the one true God, they tumble over the edge and plunge into the Lake Of Fire far below.
Never mind that the vast majority of these people probably lead peaceful lives according to the tenets of their various faiths. They didn't worship Jack Chick's God, so they'll be tortured for all eternity in a Hell they don't even believe in.
I have a real problem with the attitude that there's only one true religion out there, and all the others are invalid. Says who? The Bible? Hell, even Christians can't agree on what their own book says. That's why there are supposedly an astonishing 30,000 to 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. 30,000! How the hell could Chick, or anyone for that matter, possibly think their particular sect is the right one?
Here are some more select examples of Jack Chick's special brand of crazy.
Really, Jack? Heavy metal music is linked to the occult and turns teens into zombies? Yawn! Way to grab for the low-hanging fruit there.
Here, in one tiny panel, is everything you need to know about what Chick thought of homosexuals.
Jesus, I don't think you'd see fabulous, over the top get-ups like these at the gayest of Gay Pride parades! You know, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say I'm confident that Jack Chick never even saw an actual gay man in his entire life.
Those filthy, immoral gays are at it again! This time they're polluting our blood supply with their AIDS and their HIVS and who knows what other acronyms.
This is the first I've ever heard of so-called "blood terrorism." Apparently around 2000, medical centers worldwide began banning gay men from donating blood, because of all those icky things they do, and they diseases they carry.
Of course it's still perfectly acceptable for undocumented homeless people to donate as many gallons as they want. You might end up with Hep-C, but hey, at least you won't get any blood from teh gays!
Um… wow. I'm betting Chick never met an actual black person either.
As you might expect, dirty, heathen atheists were a frequent target of Chick's.
Naturally, since this kid doesn't believe in God, he immediately extrapolates that there's nothing to keep his innate sinister urges in check, and he's free to indulge his most immoral desires. Because humanity is inherently evil, dontcha know, and the only reason we all don't kill one another is because we know He's watching. I find that philosophy extremely offensive.
Wouldn't this also imply that Christians are only acting virtuous because they fear Heavenly retribution if they don't?
Also, if this kid doesn't believe in any gods, why does he immediately decide to become one?
Not even the most devout Catholic could escape Chick's wrath. He once called the Catholic Church "the great whore."
If Chick loathed Catholics, then he despised Muslims even more.
I love how in the second panel, Suzy's friends are swooning over their new Muslim neighbor Amir, like he's the dreamiest member of their favorite boy band.
The only question I have here is what the hell happened to Grandpa's eye? Was it savagely plucked out by a practicing Muslim, and that's why he hates the Quran so much?
By the way, don't those bottom two panels look exactly like they were drawn by Dave Berg, artist of writer of "The Lighter Side Of…" feature in Mad Magazine?
I already covered Jack Chick's views on Halloween above, but I had to include this page from one of this tracts on the subject. In particular I love the final panel, where a man has been duped by Satan and is condemned to Hell, and the only thing he can think to scream at the Prince Of Lies is, "You rat!" Who is that, James Cagney (ask your grandparents, kids!)?As I said before, Chick had a real problem with Dungeons & Dragons, and continued preaching against it long after it faded from the public's consciousness.
I played D&D a bit back in the day, and I never witnessed anything remotely like any of the behaviors here (especially anyone killing themselves because their character died). The worst thing that ever happened to me was I got a cramp in my leg from playing at the kitchen table for four hours straight.
As you might expect, Chick also was not a fan of the Harry Potter novels, because as we all know, they're "of the Devil" and as such are instruction books and indoctrination tools for witchcraft.
You know, I would be a lot more concerned about a kid developing an interest in the occult if it was actually possible to knock a wand out of someone's hand by waving a stick and shouting "Expelliarmus!" at them.
Like I said before, Chick was a "King James Only" kind of guy, and denounced any Bible written after 1611. Because changes to the language over time and translation errors are a SIN, people!Jack Chick was apparently against TV as well, as seen in this panel where he calls it the "Family Altar."
And of course he detests Family Guy, not because it's riddled with lame and annoying pop culture references, but because it features a cartoon character who's gay.
"50 years ago, this would have been unthinkable!" You said it Jack! Half a century ago I'd have been watching Family Guy on a tiny 19" set, rather than on a 55" screen in glorious 1080p resolution!
By the way, the way he's got it written here makes it seem like Psalm 101:3 actually references the content of Family Guy.
Credit where credit's due: I love the way Jack Chick drew the Devil. He used him a lot in his work, and he always seemed to draw him pretty much the same way— not unlike something a Big Daddy Roth character.
Chick's version of the Devil was also quite a showman. Like some Hellish Alan Funt, he looked like a normal human male, but at the appropriate moment he'd whip off his cheap rubber mask (which somehow concealed his horns inside it), revealing he was really Old Scratch himself, much to the chagrin of the poor sap he'd just bamboozled into spending an eternity in Hell.
So rest in peace, Jack Chick, you bitter, vile, old homophobic racist, you.