Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jack T. Chick and His Comic-Book Ministry

Covers of some Jack T. Chick comics

It’s a rare American who hasn’t encountered the ministry of Rancho Cucamonga’s Jack T. Chick.

His ministry is contained in no church building, carried on no airwaves, and isn’t even incorporated as a religious organization. There is no head-count for his flock, although his message has reached millions of people across the globe over the last five decades. 

Rather, Jack T. Chick is the artist, writer and publisher behind Chick Publications, home of the so-called “Chick comics” or “Chick tracts.” These are miniature evangelical comic books that feature both an ultra-Fundamentalist Christian message, and some of the most lurid themes and over-the-top graphics ever created in the name of Christ.

Since 1962, over 800 million of these little tracts have been produced and distributed. They’re usually handed out by amateur evangelists, placed on auto windshields, or left in public places like bus stations and Laundromats, to be picked up and read by the curious or the bored. In terms of sheer numbers, Chick is the most widely-read living author in history, and his tracts’ influence in the Christian world is second only to the Holy Bible itself.

The nature of that influence, however, has also made Chick and his works one of the most controversial topics in Christian evangelism and apologetics. Are his tracts, as he and his supporters claim, simple and cost-efficient, yet hugely effective ways to bring the Good News to total strangers? Or do they misrepresent the Christian message with scare tactics, cheap propaganda and outright falsehoods, and ultimately alienate more people from the Gospel than they attract?

The rarely-photographed Jack T. Chick (left), in 2007

The origins of the modern world’s most-read evangelist were disarmingly modest. Jack Thomas Chick was born in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights district on April 13, 1924, the son of commercial artist Thomas Chick and his wife Pauline. A talented thespian in high school, the young Jack T. Chick won a scholarship to the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse School of Theater, and studied acting there until February 1943, when he was drafted into the Army. Chick served a three-year hitch in the Pacific Theater, and then returned to the Pasadena Playhouse, where he met and fell in love with a fellow acting student, Canadian-born Lola Lynn Priddle.

Although Chick believed “he was the last guy on earth who would ever accept Jesus Christ,” Lola Lynn and her devoutly religious parents worked on the young actor, introducing him to evangelist Charles E. Fuller’s Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio program. During one broadcast, Chick fell to his knees, prayed, and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior – an act that would have monumental consequences for the world of Christian evangelism.

Chick married Lola Lynn in 1948, and found work as a technical illustrator at Astro Science Corporation, an aerospace firm in El Monte. Still on fire for the Lord, he dreamed of being a missionary, but was dissuaded from field work by his wife. Too, the young illustrator saw himself as too shy and retiring to be a proper witness for the Gospel. How, he thought, could he win souls for Christ?

The answer came in the 1950s, when he heard a radio missionary discussing Chinese communist propaganda. According to the missionary, the Red Chinese noted how popular comic books were in the United States, and so they created their own versions: mass-produced and –distributed illustrated tracts that simply and forcefully taught Maoist doctrine to children and marginally-literate peasants. The tracts eliminated the time-consuming process of personal instruction, and could be passed from hand to hand and read by countless people until they were in tatters.

Chick, who had drawn cartoons since childhood, wondered if this tactic could be applied to Christian evangelism. If he shared the fervor of traditional evangelists, but lacked their extroverted ways, could he still witness for the Lord via simple illustrations and the printed word? Curious, Chick started to create comics based on Evangelical Protestant themes, and designed for small booklets that could be printed and distributed en masse, anonymously, if need be.

(Although the man has never admitted it, another inspiration for Chick’s tracts might have been the so-called “Tijuana Bibles.” These were small comic books, popular from the 1920s to the 1960s, that featured popular cartoon characters or period movie stars in explicitly pornographic stories. The “Bibles” were palm-sized, crudely-drawn, wholly without subtlety, reveled in stereotypes and caricatures, and were distributed largely to children, adolescents, and the unlettered – all characteristics that Chick’s tracts would later share.)

Chick’s first tract appeared in 1960. Titled Why No Revival? it was self-published using money the illustrator borrowed from his credit union. The comic got enough attention to prompt a second tract, A Demon’s Nightmare, shortly thereafter.

A panel from This Was Your Life

His third tract, This Was Your Life! appeared in 1964. The comic book follows the post-life judgment of a Corvette-driving, Scotch-drinking, Sixties swinger straight out of the pages of Playboy. Felled by a heart attack, the man is carried by an angel to the Great White Throne of Heaven, where a faceless God confronts him, and replays the lowlights of his sin-filled life on a heavenly cinema-screen. When the man protests, claiming that he wasn’t warned he would be judged for his every earthly action, God promptly screens a clip of the man’s life in church, wherein he responds to a pastor’s come-to-Jesus pleas with the thought-bubbles, “I couldn’t care less!” and “I don’t need Christ!”

The comic’s first story ends with the man being tossed into the Lake of Fire, but there’s a second story showing how he might have lived had he dedicated himself to Christ. Naturally, it features him in a montage of wholesome activities, and after the coronary, he ends up in – you guessed it – Heaven. To date, this is easily Chick’s most popular comic, and an astonishing 65 million copies are reported to have been printed in the last 50 years.

In the ensuing years, Chick hasn’t altered or developed his style one bit. His drawings still ape the pop-eyed, sweaty-browed, wildly-gesticulating characters of Forties-era Sunday-funnies, and his conniving demons and villains inevitably rub their hands together and cackle “Haw! Haw!” in Saturday-matinee bad-guy style. Dialogue- and thought-balloons carry the often-minimalistic dialogue, and obscenities are blipped out with jumbles of punctuation marks. And “hip” characters are still depicted with granny-glasses and Jerry-Garcia-esque coiffures, or polyester-bell-bottoms and mutton-chop sideburns.

Too, there’s little thematic variation in the over 200 tracts that have been published. Many of the comic books present a story about a protagonist given the choice between accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior before death, and either being flown on an angel’s wing to a cartoon Heaven of fluffy clouds and angels, or missing the chance, and being tossed into a sort of dime-store-Dante Hell of flame-belching caverns and leering demons. Others set up confrontations between bearers of False Doctrines and exponents of King-James-Bible-only Fundamentalist Christianity, with the latter inevitably winning the debates, and sometimes the souls of their antagonists.

Subtlety and nuance are nowhere to be found in the twenty-odd-page mini-comics. The Bad Guys, ranging from liberal Christians, to Evolutionists, to unrepentant sinners, are always depicted as ugly brutes, angry fanatics, or clueless stooges, and are inevitably motivated by stupidity, greed, perversity, sheer evil, or some combination thereof. The Good Guys are, without exception, clear-featured, calm and altruistic Every(wo)men who want only to save souls from the eternal torment guaranteed to any human not personally accepting Jesus as their savior.

In Chick’s universe, nothing is as it seems. Seemingly affable friends or neighbors are unconscious (or conscious) agents of Satan, scheming to fill the ranks of Hell with unsaved souls. Ostensibly harmless, everyday activities are the work of the Adversary himself, and lead straight to eternal damnation. And there are always cartoon demons lurking around the action, whispering temptations into the ears of the innocent, and sometimes even wholly possessing the bodies of Freemasons, Mormons, drug addicts, or other unsaved sinners.'

The Bull con-bosses a prison in the name of the Lord

Like the God he serves, Jack T. Chick is no respecter of persons, and his tracts reflect that fact. In his comic yarns, often the most depraved, degenerate characters end up redeemed, while the most seemingly righteous ones are condemned. In the prison setting of The Bull, a murderous, behemoth psychopath finds a Chick tract in the solitary hole, repents of his sins, and then strong-arms both fellow prisoners and guards into fellowship with Christ. In Bad Bob, a brutal, drug-dealing outlaw-biker violently rejects an evangelist, only to later beg his spiritual help when a jail fire nearly kills him. And in the withdrawn comic Lisa, a dad molests his little daughter, infects her with an STD, and is blackmailed by his friend (who wants a share of the incestuous action) until he’s brought to Christ by the girl’s examining doctor.

On the other hand, the souls of the elderly missionary couple who perish on Flight 144 are gleefully thrown into the Lake of Fire despite their fifty years’ of building schools and hospitals, and serving the Third World poor. In Chick’s world, good works and a kind heart count for nothing, if one hasn’t turned oneself over to the Lord using his formulaic prayer, conveniently printed on the back page of all the tracts:

  1. Admit you are a sinner. See Romans 3:10 
  2. Be willing to turn from sin (repent). See Acts 17:30
  3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you, was buried and rose from the dead. See Rom. 10:9-10
  4. Through prayer, invite Jesus into your life to become your personal Saviour. See Rom. 10:13

WHAT TO PRAY Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Saviour.

Among all the various demon-driven bogeymen that appear in Chick’s tracts, from Rock Music to Homosexuality to Islam, one entity not only dominates and controls all the others, but is the very Antichrist that ties together all forms of Satanic evil, and will bring about the Apocalypse through its depredations. In Jack T. Chick’s universe, The Roman Catholic Church is Spiritual Enemy #1 to true Bible-believing Christians, and the comic-books bash the Papacy and its works with a righteous, relentless fury.

The Death Cookie -- Chick's take on the Catholic Eucharist

In the tract The Death Cookie, Chick maintains that the Eucharist was invented by scheming Satanist infiltrators looking to set themselves and their pagan rituals between Christians and Christ, and even depicts tiny demons living in Communion Hosts. In Is There Another Christ? he charges that not only the Eucharist, but the Pope and the Catholic priesthood themselves, are blasphemous usurpers of Jesus Christ’s role as Savior. And in Why is Mary Crying?, he claims that Marian devotions sadden the Mother of God since they’re actually rooted in Babylonian pagan practices, and lead Christians away from true worship of her Son.

Chick’s anti-Catholic crusade kicked into high gear in the early 1970s, when he met one Alberto Magno Romero Rivera. A Canary Islands native, Rivera claimed to be a former Jesuit priest who’d pursued a mission to infiltrate and destroy Protestant churches and institutions, and had been secretly rewarded with a Bishopric for his work. But sometime between 1965 and 1967, he had seen the evil of his doings, converted to Fundamentalist Christianity and was now dedicated to exposing Rome’s machinations.

Alberto Rivera -- alleged former Jesuit priest and Chick associate
Chick thought well enough of Rivera to publish a series of full-sized “graphic novels” that illustrated his life and testimony. In 1972 he also hired a professionally-trained illustrator – Chicago Academy of Art alumnus Fred Carter – to provide graphics for them. (Carter has illustrated many other Chick graphic-novels and mini-comics since then; his rich, realistic style is easily distinguishable from Chick’s own primitive cartooning.)

In the novels, as well as in other materials Chick later published, Rivera charged that the Roman Catholic Church created Islam, Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Age spirituality, and the Christian ecumenical movement as false-faith fronts designed to lure the unsuspecting away from Biblical Christianity. He also alleged that the Papacy is behind the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia, Nazism, and Communism, and uses these disparate movements to enforce its edicts and sow discord among believers. Most alarmingly, he said that the Vatican had inspired the Holocaust, and currently maintains a computer database containing the names of every Protestant Christian on Earth, so that it can organize and stage a far bigger genocide in the End Times.

One of the anti-Catholic Alberto graphic novels

Even by the standards of historical anti-Papist rhetoric, Rivera and Chick’s charges were outrageous, self-contradictory, and easily refuted by both Catholic and non-Catholic scholars. But his readers believed them, and the Alberto series and other anti-Catholic materials circulated in the millions, and appeared in Evangelical Christian bookstores. Alarmed, some Christian journalists began to cast critical looks at Rivera and Chick.

What they found punched gaping holes in the credibility of both the ostensible ex-Jesuit priest, and the Californian cartoon-evangelist. Christianity Today’s Gary Metz discovered that while working for Tennessee’s Church of God of Prophecy, Rivera had swindled a Spanish Evangelical college, and was wanted in Florida for credit-card and auto-rental fraud. He was also a fugitive from justice in New Jersey, where he had passed a number of bad checks between 1963 and 1965. Rivera had claimed to have been a celibate Jesuit priest during that period, but records revealed that he’d been married, had fathered three children, and had been an employee of the ultra-Protestant Christian Reformed Church at that time.

Metz found no conclusive evidence that Rivera had ever been a Roman Catholic priest, much less a “Jesuit bishop”. There were also serious discrepancies in his accounts of when and where he had left the Church of Rome. When the reporter requested an interview with Rivera about the troubling facts and contradictions he’d uncovered, the evangelist threw up too many roadblocks for a dialogue.

The anti-cult Christian Research Institute, itself no friend to the Roman Catholic Church, further eroded Rivera’s image as a courageous, dissident ex-priest. In its journal Forward, a CRI investigation revealed that Rivera was ignorant of Catholic doctrine and ritual, couldn’t speak more than a few words of Latin, and misrepresented Church history (such as when he claimed the Jesuits, founded in 1540, had somehow masterminded the Inquisition three centuries earlier). In response, Rivera called the Evangelical-Protestant CRI “a tool of the Jesuits” and claimed its then-director Walter Martin "was working with the Vatican and that his name was on a secret Jesuit list."

For his part, publisher Chick stood by Rivera’s tales. He asserted that the alleged ex-priest was a victim of an ongoing smear-/framing-campaign by the Vatican, and refused to retract any of the charges made in Alberto or the other Chick Publications that featured Rivera’s revelations. Rivera himself spent the rest of his life retelling his stories, and heading up his Hispanic Baptist Church of Oxnard, California, until his death in 1997.

 The controversy over Rivera and his anti-Catholic testimony cost Chick his membership in the Christian Booksellers Association – the largest religious retailer’s group in America. In 1981 the CBA informed him that the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, along with various individuals, were complaining about his publications. Before they could decide whether to expel him, Chick quit the organization, and used the episode as further evidence that the Vatican was out to suppress his message.

Still, Chick pressed on with his mission to get as many of his graphic-novels and mini-comics as possible distributed across the earth. He expanded his line to include The Crusaders, a full-color, full-sized action-comic starring born-again ex-Green Beret Tim Clark and Black drug-lord-turned-evangelist James Carter. Many Evangelicals objected to the series’ graphic violence, as well as its sexy depictions of Biblical seductresses like Eve and Delilah, calling it “spiritual porn.”

Dr. Rebecca Brown's bestselling expose of
Satanic conspiracy, published by Chick

Even more controversial were the full-length books that Chick Publications published, as well as the authors behind them. In the mid-1980s, Chick produced two books by Rebecca Brown, He Came to Set the Captives Free, and Prepare for War. A former doctor, Brown told the story of Elaine, a patient of hers who claimed she had not only been initiated into a large, powerful Satanic coven, but had become a “Regional Bride of Satan”, and had accompanied the Adversary on international missions to sell arms, network with allies like the Pope and the Freemasons, and generally spread demonic discord across the Earth.

On one assignment, Elaine attempted to destroy Rebecca Brown, a doctor who was fighting a Satanist infiltration of her hospital. When she failed, Satan made her ill, and sent her to the hospital as a patient, where Dr. Brown spent eight weeks exorcising her many demons, and ultimately turning her to Christ. Elaine joined the good Doctor in her crusade against Satan’s minions, and after a series of violent retaliations from the forces of darkness put them on the run, the two took their story to Jack T. Chick.

Brown’s two books were loaded with anecdotes that rivaled Alberto Rivera’s for their sheer improbability. Elaine claimed to have "been to Mecca, Israel, Egypt, also the Vatican in Rome to meet with the Pope... for the purpose of coordinating Satan's programs with Satanists in other lands," and met "many of the well-known Rock music stars" who "all signed contracts with Satan in return for fame and fortune.” When she and Dr. Brown tried to expose diabolical doings at the hospital and in surrounding towns, they were harassed mercilessly by Satanists, whose ranks included local town mayors and police chiefs. And their home was the scene of regular visits by Satan and his demons, as well as a heavenly angel who once threatened to kill Elaine for disobeying the Lord.

Dr. Rebecca Brown

Once again, Evangelical-Christian and anti-cult journalists smelled a rat, and got busy investigating the stories. One investigation, titled “Drugs, Demons and Delusions: The ‘Amazing’ Saga of Rebecca Brown, M.D. and Elaine”, revealed that Dr. Brown was the former Ruth Irene Bailey, M.D. of Indiana. As Dr. Bailey, she had been kicked out of a hospital residency for staging candlelit “exorcisms” in patients’ rooms, and for repeatedly claiming that many of her fellow physicians were “demons, devils and other evil spirits themselves."

After she opened up a practice in Lapel, Indiana, she wrote over 100 prescriptions for Demerol – a powerful narcotic. This triggered a State Board investigation, which revealed that Dr. Bailey and Elaine, who had moved in together, were junkies, sharing a bed in a squalid house filled with drugs, hypodermic needles, animal feces, trash, and “demonology books.”  Investigators also determined that “Elaine”’s real name was Edna Elaine Moses, and that she was a former Licensed Practical Nurse with a long history of mental instability and Munchausen-esque mendacity. Under Dr. Bailey’s “home care” between 1982 and 1984, she was regularly injected with huge quantities of narcotics and barbiturates, and was once admitted to an emergency ward, her entire body “covered with lesions” and near death from an overdose.

After several suspensions and public hearings, the State Board pulled Dr. Bailey’s medical license in September 1984. Sixteen months later she turned up in Apple Valley, California, where she had her name legally changed to “Rebecca Brown”, and teamed up with Elaine to tell their stories to Jack T. Chick. Unaware of their backgrounds, and apparently untroubled by the complete dearth of solid evidence they gave to back up their wild assertions, Chick published their testimonies first as cassette tapes, then as full-length books.

It was a profitable move. America was at the height of the 1980s’ “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare, and Brown’s books found a ready audience among Americans willing to believe that devil-worship was widespread, well-organized, and sacrificing innocent people by the truckload. The two women even appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s sensationalist talk-show in 1987 – a publicity coup for Chick Publications that put Brown’s works on evangelical-Christian bestseller lists.

Chick-published "ex-Illuminati" John Todd 

Soon, however, Chick, Brown and other promoters of the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” mythology began to strain credulity past the breaking point. John Todd, another born-again author in Chick’s stable with a documented history of mental illness, drug abuse and criminal activity, claimed that he’d formerly been a member of the “Illuminati” – a powerful Satanic conspiracy to infiltrate and destroy Christianity, whose leading members included Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and other well-known Evangelical figures. When Christian investigative-journalists revealed that Todd was yet another felonious fabulist that Chick used to exploit Evangelical ignorance and fear, the alleged ex-Illuminist lost most of his audience, and he eventually died while on parole for a rape conviction.

Although Chick continued to stand behind the dubious testimonies of Todd, Brown, and others who had inspired his comics and books, he quietly distanced himself from them as the Satanic-panic waned. Chick retired Alberto Rivera’s series in 1988, and let Rebecca Brown’s books go out of print as well. Some of the more outlandish claims were expunged from Chick’s comics; John Todd’s assertion that 40,000 Americans are murdered every year in Witchcraft rites was removed from The Poor Little Witch when readers realized that the entire country’s annual homicide count was less than half that number.

Over the years, Chick altered other tracts to avoid embarrassment, or to keep with the times. In the first version of That Crazy Guy, poor Susan’s one-night stand infected her with herpes; Chick changed the STD to HIV when the grim specter of AIDS began to haunt heterosexual couplings. Chick also commissioned the African-American Fred Carter to create “Black” versions of This Was Your Life, Best Friends, and other classic tracts to broaden his appeal to that demographic. And Big Daddy, a mini-comic that one source called "the most widely distributed anti-evolution booklet in history”, has gone through several revisions to correct its pro-Creationist talking-points. (Big Daddy’s latest incarnation relies on the scholarship of yet another unreliable Chick author: Darwin-bashing, diploma-mill-bearing “Dr.” Ken Hovind, who’s currently serving a ten-year Federal sentence for tax fraud and other financial crimes.)

Still, Chick’s overall message and personal style maintained a solid consistency over the decades, betraying neither any development as a theologian nor as an artist. Celebrated “alternative cartoonist” Daniel Clowes, the creator of Ghost World and other popular graphic novels, told Los Angeles magazine reporter Robert Ito that Chick’s comics, which had once terrified him as a college student, now fascinated him for their static sameness: “He’s not worried by impressing other cartoonists, which is kind of what motivates a lot of other cartoonists to pick up their chops a little bit. There’s something really interesting about seeing a cartoonist not develop at all.” But Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the Holocaust-themed graphic novel Maus, said Chick’s tracts “make me despair of America that there are so many people who read these things.”

By the 21st century, Chick’s readership, and the business that catered to it, had expanded to considerable proportions. His Rancho Cucamonga-based Chick Publications employed over 35 people, and took in over $3 million a year, mostly from sales to churches, youth groups and individuals. The tracts and comic books had been translated into over 100 languages, including such obscure tongues as Blue Hmong, Huichol, Waray-Waray, and even Esperanto. Chick tracts were endlessly distributed, discussed, analyzed, praised, criticized, and parodied by a vast audience of both religious and secular friends and foes alike.

Chick Comics parody starring Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft's monstrous evil-deity

In recent years, Chick’s audience has included a fair number of people like Dan Clowes, who reject or ignore his evangelical message, but are fascinated by his comics’ primitive style and crude propagandistic power. For many of them, the Chick tracts are a peek into the mind of Evangelical Christianity at its most dumbed-down, paranoid, and intolerant, and carry the frisson of the forbidden formerly associated with pornography. Others use the little comics as paper straw-men, equating Chick’s hyper-Fundamentalist doctrines and absolutist attitude with Christian teachings in general. And a creative few have produced clever parodies of the tracts, using the mini-comic format and simple cartoon-styles to promote such manifestly un-Chickian ideologies as Evolutionism, Neo-Paganism and psychedelics-based spirituality.

For all his combined fame and notoriety, Chick himself has remained something of an enigma. True to his retiring character, he’s given only one formal interview since 1975, and avoids cameras (only three confirmed photos of the man are known to exist.) His reclusive nature has just added to the mystique of Chick Publications, leading some to speculate that “Jack T. Chick” was a pseudonym for a collective of Evangelical cartoonists.

Diligent researchers dug up documents on Chick’s personal history, and found that his wife Lola Lynn passed on in 1998, followed by their only child three years later. Chick later remarried Susie, a younger Asian woman, and currently lives with her in Glendora, a quiet suburb ten miles’ west of Chick Publications’ Rancho Cucamonga corporate headquarters. Susie, along with Chick’s employees, regularly shoos away curious reporters in search of interviews or photographs with the reclusive cartoonist, now in his 90s and the survivor of a 2005 heart attack and triple-bypass operation.

One journalist who did manage to corner and speak with the elusive Chick was Catholic writer Jimmy Akin. When Akin received an invitation to the world premiere of The Light of the World, a Chick-produced, slideshow-like motion picture featuring 360 oil paintings of Biblical events by Fred Carter, he traveled to the Ontario, California theatre where it was to be screened, hoping to meet the legendary scourge of Roman Catholicism in person.

Spotting an elderly man in the audience who seemed to be attracting attention from well-wishers, Akin introduced himself. Sure enough, the paunchy, bespectacled, white-haired figure was the one and only Jack T. Chick, who chatted amiably with the young writer, and chortled with laughter when Akin revealed that he worked for Catholic Answers, an apologist organization that’s tirelessly critiqued Chick’s Vatican-bashing tracts. Although he’d long wondered if Chick really believed his own rhetoric, or was just in it for the considerable cash and notoriety, Akin noted that when the cartoonist said that he “got death threats every week…from the Muslims,” and Akin replied that his workplace too got such murderous missives, he responded, "I wouldn’t have thought you would” -- to Akin, “a natural assumption for Chick if he believes his own propaganda about the Catholic Church starting and then later manipulating Islam.” The two eventually parted cordially, although Chick added ominously, “We’re in the war. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you in the future."

And no doubt, the world at large will be hearing from Jack T. Chick as long as his earthly mission endures. At 90, Chick continues to steward his small but hugely influential publishing empire, which now sports a sophisticated Web site that offers previews and online-embedding of his tracts, extensive FAQ pages that explain his teachings and opinions, and DVDs and e-Books alongside the hardcopy tracts and tomes. 

Perhaps the most revealing page on the site is Chick’s “Special Message”, where he recounts how his friends never witnessed to him in high school, because they felt he could never receive Christ’s message. When he considered that he might have been killed in World War II and sent straight to Hell, Chick related:
…I was speechless. I felt betrayed. If I had died, my blood would have been on their hands.I wonder how many souls I've overlooked and neglected: neighbors, friends, etc. It's an awesome thought. Ezekiel 3:18 says, "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." That is an awesome verse.May God give us a greater burden to reach the dying world, and to remember we will give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for what we did down here.
At that heavenly Judgment Seat, will God praise Chick for his unprecedented and tireless evangelism? Will He damn him for his unapologetic promotion of false witnesses and questionable doctrines? Or will He view him and his works as so many mortals do – with a mixture of fascination, repulsion and amusement – and in His infinite wisdom consign the cartoonist to some unimaginable fate suitable solely for the man whose 50-year career made Rancho Cucamonga a world center for cartoon-driven Christian evangelism?

Only Heaven knows.


Official Jack T. Chick Comics Web site
Jack T. Chick Museum (massive collection of online Chick tracts, many of them rarities)
Onken, Brian "Alberto: The Truth about His Story," Forward, February 25, 1983.
Akin, Jimmy "The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick" (Roman Catholic critique of Chick's work)

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