Jack Chick, the cartoonist behind the sin and salvation Christian Chick Tracts, died Sunday (Oct. 23) at age 92.

Jack Chick, cartoonist behind sin and salvation 'Chick Tracts,' dies

(RNS) Jack Chick, the cartoonist behind the sin and salvation Christian Chick Tracts, died Sunday (Oct. 23) at age 92.

In a post on the Chick Publication's Facebook page, author David W. Daniels confirmed Chick died "peacefully in his sleep."

The post was accompanied by a faceless cartoon image of God, seated on a heavenly throne with Scripture appearing in a speech bubble above his head -- the same image that appeared for so many years in the illustrated gospel tracts Chick pioneered that now have become synonymous with his name.


RELATED: Jack Chick dressed hatred in theology


Chick printed and distributed 800 million copies of more than 250 different tracts, according to ComicsAlliance. Each illustrated fundamentalist Christian beliefs about the way to heaven, as well as what he believed were stumbling blocks: Harry Potter books, homosexuality, even Catholicism.

With titles such as "The Death Cookie," depicting Catholicism as a plan of the devil, and "Dark Dungeons," about Dungeons and Dragons, they're campy and controversial – and widely known, distributed on street corners, at churches, sometimes even in place of Halloween candy.

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The idea for those tracts came to Chick in the early 1960s after he read the book "Power From On High" by 19th-century revivalist Charles Finney, according to the Chick Publications website.

"That book pushed my button," he said. "I went to church and saw all the deadness and hypocrisy, and I thought, 'that's why there's no revival.' So I started making these little sketches. My burden was so heavy to wake Christians up to pray for revival."

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Chick, then working for AstroScience Corp. in El Monte, Calif., borrowed $800 to print his first tract, "Why No Revival?"

Chick had become a Christian shortly after marrying Lynn Priddle, according to the website. He turned to faith after his mother-in-law insisted he listen to Charles E. Fuller's "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" radio program while the young couple was visiting her parents in Canada on their honeymoon.

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He was born April 13, 1924, in Los Angeles and always had loved to draw, the website said. He met his wife while studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse after he spent three years in the U.S. Army.

Both the tracts and their creator received mixed reviews from both inside and outside Protestant Christianity: In response to Chick's death, Christian author Matthew Paul Turner called the cartoonist "one of God's most infamous trolls," and the feminist website Jezebel called his tracts "bigoted yet weirdly enjoyable."

But the tracts' impact on pop culture is undeniable.

"To some, Chick tracts are American folk art, or even a form of religious pornography, titillating and somewhat dangerous," according to media watchdog Brill's Content.

"Chick is the ultimate underground artist: single-minded and self-published, passionately committed to his message without regard for external social forces."

Comments

  1. The one bright spot about Jack Chick’s work was that it exposed most of sane America to just how truly bats–t insane and delusional many Fundamentalist Christian beliefs are.

  2. Your article says that he attacked “even Catholicism.” That should probably read “especially Catholicism.” There was nothing tolerant about his publications. They were vehemently anti-Catholic. Chick stood in a direct line with the 19th century Know Nothings who burned Catholic churches. Within the last few years, in Pennsylvania, children of bigots passed these publications out to Catholic grade schoolers on public school buses. I discovered that their youth “pastor” was supplying these pamphlets, and giving the kids points for every one they put in a Catholic child’s hands. The pamphlets are still sometimes inserted in our church’s book and pamphlet racks or inserted in hymnals for our parishioners to find. We must pray for his soul, but his work – and the work of the bigots who distributed it – must be condemned.

  3. It’s understandable that you hate Jack Chick so much, Spuddie. Chick was very clear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what it meant, and also about people’s final destinies in light of their decisions to accept or reject that same Gospel.

    The Gospel that you personally **reject**, of course…

  4. I found him amusing and disturbing. Much like how film critics look at Leni Riefenstal or Sergei Eistenstein’s work for dictators.

    I found the beliefs espoused by the tracts to be crazy beyond belief and was surprised when I met people who actually treated his stuff unironically.

    Bear in mind, Bible thumpers are not particularly common in the neck of the woods I grew up in. So it didn’t dawn on me that Chick was being serious until at least college.

  5. I have never read his tracts to my knowledge, Just read “The death cookie.” Talk about misunderstanding and spreading intolerant and blasphemous lies. How hateful and ignorant that tract was.

  6. The love of Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ shines brighter and more clearer with this deluded and insane individual removed from it. May God have mercy on this sad soul.

  7. Why? Those were his sincere religious beliefs–Why would you question them? Why is it wrong to justify hatred, bigotry, and ill treatment of others when, and as long as, it is attributed to sincere religious belief? Especially when that sincere religious belief is about who qualifies as a true Christian?

  8. Umm, it’s better to pray for people’s souls while they are alive. Just sayin’.

    Anyway, Jack Chick actually did a lot of good work, and was a genuine innovator in terms of keep-it-simple, make-it-interesting Christian communication. But nobody’s saying Chick was perfect.

    The big weakness of his interesting, intense and cut-to-the-chase Evangelistic Comic Books, was in fact his comic books against Catholicism. That was the poor-quality stuff, a blight on his record, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    He still stuck with the Gospel, but his inaccuracies, problems, and his blanket “anti” attitudes concerning Catholicism, honestly didn’t help. So I’ll give you that much, Sebastian. But that’s all.

    By the way, if you want to know SPECIFICALLY how Chick messed up, go to this link:

    http://www.equip.org/perspectives/chick-publications-and-roman-catholicism/

  9. As a non-believer in my teens, Jack Chick’s work certainly raised questions for me that I was able to address later when I came to faith in Christ. No doubt his anti-Catholicism was quite disturbing, even though historically that Church, as many churches do, have some things to answer for with respect to the dissemination of the Gospel and how they went about it. I found his basic premises sound, though I wish he had couched them in more compassionate and friendly terms. I am quite sure his tone drove at least as many people away from the Gospel as drew them to it, at least initially. What later conclusions those folks may have come to, only God knows. While I expect God will admonish him, He at the same time will welcome him Home. I too expect to be admonished when I stand before God, but trusting in the promises of the Gospel, it is my hope to be welcomed Home as well.

  10. It is my opinion that religion is like a Rorschach Test. The books are vague and ambiguous and filled with good, bad and ugly ideas. People filter what appeals to them based on their personality and other traits. Like-minded individuals gravitate to these sects or individual churches.

  11. Oh, your sword is sharp and swift Ben. Point made. Game, set and match .

  12. I tries me hardest and does me best, alrighty. ???

    I am a little disappointed, though. I was hoping for an answer.

  13. “He turned to faith after his mother-in-law insisted he listen to Charles E. Fuller’s “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” radio program while the young couple was visiting her parents in Canada on their honeymoon.”

    You don’t have to be a Freudian to raise your eyebrow at this.

  14. Umm, it’s better to pray for people’s souls while they are alive. Just sayin’.

    In fairness, it’s exactly as effective either way.

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