Hey there and welcome to the community. I have a lot I want to say in the upcoming year about so many artists and there are so many that I want to hear from. There are a lot of things that happened in 2016 that made it feel like the end of an era. The very last VHS recorder was manufactured. The Cubs won the world series, which is earth shattering and I believe to be a sign of the apocalypse. Jack Chick died. This is probably less monumental to a lot of people who are too young to remember who he was or too old to have grown up with him.
Once upon a time, there was a thing called the Satanic Panic and Jack Chick was it’s daddy (sort of- he was at the very least a weird uncle). I was in high school, taking a class they called Freshman Orientation. We were informed about the PMRC who made sure our parents knew when we were listening to songs about naughty bits. We watched Mazes and Monsters, that lost Tom Hanks classic that was a true story but not really that told us all about how Dungeons and Dragons would make us kill ourselves for Satan (and led to my first game sessions of D&D because no one tells me I can’t kill myself for the devil) and how if we ever had sex we would get pregnant. AND get AIDS. AND die. AND have 8 more kids.
Back in those bad old days, pre-internet, you couldn’t post your opinions to random people on Facebook. You had to put some real legwork into letting people know you LOL or sadface, and that’s where Jack Chick came in. As a reclusive man born in the 40s, not a lot is known about him. Later life pictures don’t exist. Some people thought he was probably a pen name. But the Chick Tracts were all you needed to know about this man or the movement he represented.
Those of you of a certain age remember these, I’m sure. They’d be tucked under windshields of cars. Into mailboxes and phone booths (phone booths were once a thing where people could call other people when they were outside their homes or superheroes could undertake transformational necessities) or you’d get them shoved in your face if you went to That Kid’s house to play after school. The artwork wasn’t bad and since they were designed for hooking kids into Jesus young, they did their work decently enough. What kid doesn’t love a comic book?
I was fortunate enough to grow up with real comic books because I didn’t live with Ned Flanders. I had Jim Starlin and Stan Lee, so I didn’t need Jack Chick. Let’s leave the theological implications of Warlock and the Silver Surfer out of things and just say there was no religion in my comics, for ease of use m’kay? Having been raised by readers meant that in the third grade I knew a hustle when I saw one. But still… free pictures to look at.
This was from the most popular Chick Tract “This Was Your Life”, one of the many ways in which the theocratic establishment was trying to scare the hell out of us from birth onward. Don’t get me wrong. Jack Chick didn’t get a whole lot of love from mainstream religions. Or fringe religions. Or televised religions.
That’s some nice clean lines there. Solid inking. Strong composition. There have been about a half a billion of these in circulation since Chick started publishing. You can still buy Chick tracts to this day. I’m not sure where they are anymore. They’re certainly not as ubiquitous as they once were. I haven’t seen one in this century. I know in the smallish town where I grew up it was the only contemporary art some of the people I grew up with saw.
I just wanted to share a slice of life from when America was great with everyone. In my parents day they were taught to duck and cover. My generation was told not to bother because God was on our side anyways. Someone might tell you something awful about yourself in the upcoming year.
They might even say it with as much talent and/or insight as Jack Chick. But we can recognize the talent without embracing the message. Maybe incorporate those tactics for ourselves. In the meantime, good luck to all in the Satanic Panic Pt. 2.
P.S. Anyone else remember the Chick Tracts? Have a good story? Sound off and lay it on me. Testify!