This Was His Life! Christian Tract Cartoonist, Jack Chick, Goes Home to Heaven at 92

Scott Beale / Laughing Squid 2007 Alternative Press Expo
Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
2007 Alternative Press Expo

Jack Chick, the cartoonist who wanted to save your soul from hell, died Sunday at age 92.

The biggest name in tract evangelism, Chick distributed more than 500 million pamphlets, nicknamed “chicklets,” over five decades. His signature black-and-white panel comics warned against the dangers of everything from the occult to Family Guy.

Chick’s messages were controversial—including among evangelicals—but his work enjoyed a global reach. His most popular tract, This Was Your Life!, was translated into more than 60 languages.

Chick came to faith shortly after World War II through Charles E. Fuller’s radio show, “Old Fashioned Revival Hour.” The former technical illustrator began drawing and funding his first comic books and pocket-sized tracks in the early 1960s, according to Christian Comics International. Chick Publications grew to start its own print shop, and took off in the ’70s.

His evangelistic furor was inspired by sermons from revivalist Charles Finney, whose theology continues to underline Chick’s tracks, according to researcher Daniel Sillman. He quotes Chick as saying, “When everything is caving in, and when the world laughs at the church, that’s when we need revival…. Christians are self-satisfied and complacent. God’s got a handful of people out there who really mean business, but the rest are playing games.”

Among comic artists, Chick rose to a level of fascination as one of the bestselling underground publishers in the world. Early news of his death on the site Boing Boing launched Chick’s name as a national trending topic on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

In the late 1990s, a media watchdog site described the secular fascination with Chick: “To some, Chick tracts are American folk art, or even a form of religious pornography, titillating and somewhat dangerous. Chick is the ultimate underground artist: single-minded and self-published, passionately committed to his message without regard for external social forces.”

Chick’s 150-plus tracts center around distinguishing the “saved” from the “lost,” the latter represented by various culture war targets over the years.

“Despite claims to eternal truths, tract subjects are frequently chosen in response to contemporary trends and ideas,” said scholar Martin Lund in the book Comics and Power, “references to communism have vanished from Chick’s post-Cold War output, and eight of the twelve ‘Islam’ tracts were published after 2001.”

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Source: Christianity Today | Kate Shellnutt