|If the answer is yes, chances are your sorry-assed soul has
been saved by Jack Chick, comic book evangelist.
Although he spews fire 'n' brimstone with the best of them, Jack Chick stands alone in the rhetorical ghetto of frothing fundamentalists. His innovative method of spreading the Gospel through comics, his spiraling conspiracy theories, and his recurrent cast of characters make him the Walt Disney of fundamentalism. Like Disneyworld in reverse, Chick's universe is one of hermetic paranoia-the tendrils of Satan's influence on humanity reach from the highest seats of power to the most mundane suburban activities, describing a tightly knit web of evil design percolating just below the surface of everything. Chick's brand of Christianity is anti-sectarian, born again, New Testament literalism. His mail-order congregation consists of what he calls "true Bible-believing Christians", to whom he preaches DIY salvation and soul-winning. Since his own Damascus in 1948 (while listening to Charles Fuller's Old Fashioned Revival Hour on the radio), Chick claims to have won hundreds of thousands of souls for Christ worldwide through the dissemination of his mini-comics, known as "Chick Tracts". His distinctly modern, technologically mediated conversion-alone, outside of church, through radio-is significant, illustrating his present contempt for organized religions and his choice of alternative media to flog the Gospel. More significant, however, is Chick's proud admission that he appropriated the concept of spreading the Gospel through comics from Mao Tse Tung's use of propaganda comics in Communist China. While placing Chick in an ideological double bind (he maintains that Communism was a creation of the super-evil Vatican), this revelation is remarkably resonant, considering Chick's zealous ideological imperative, and his savvy propagandist tactics.
Chick's themes and strategies vary little from tract to tract, but, as a master propagandist, he tailors many of the tracts for soul-winning target markets, particularly intransigent meanies like bikers, criminals, and rockers. Consider these blurbs from the Chick Publications catalog, advertising specific tracts: Duke thought Jesus was a sissy. But he learned that Jesus had more guts than anyone who ever lived. Great for truckers and bikers! ("The Sissy"); Bob was mean and rotten. He didn't need God, until a fire in the jail nearly killed him. Great for bikers! ("Bad Bob"); They started as a Christian rock group, and soon became slaves to rock. But Tom found that Jesus could change all that... and set him free! ("Angels?").
Chick writes the majority of the tracts himself, and he draws the most visually amusing of the lot in his primitive, sub-Peanuts style. The bulk of them, however, feature competent, anatomically correct, if boring, ghost artists. Chick designs the tracts to instill fear and guilt in the unsaved reader. To this end, he menaces us with detailed descriptions of hell, Satan himself (or a few silly, Stooge-like demons), and outrageous, deviant behavior. Witchcraft is magically revealed behind hopelessly banal activities, in an effort to win casual paranoiacs to the fold. Chick also far outrushes Limbaugh in his violation of PC tolerance-homosexuals ("Doom Town: The Story of Sodom"), women (demons use a pretty women as "tactic #28" to distract a teenage boy from being "saved" in "A Demon's Nightmare"), civil rights activists, liberals, and other races (and their religions) all get pilloried as tools of Satan.