Jack Chick Leaves a Legacy of Controversy

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Jack Chick October 23 2016

Confession is good for the soul, they say. It's also a religious expression. So this is a little of both.

I was raised in an Apostolic Pentecostal home. If you're unfamiliar with that, put your mental cursor on "snake handlers" and move it just a little to the left and you'll be in the vicinity. Morals were important, and that's a good thing -- but the morals (at that time in the organization's history) were often things that seemed up to the interpretation of those in charge, who knew better because they had divine connections. As such, it was an era of rock-and-roll record purging and exposure of backward masking in music. Pulpits were the fastest method of pushing pre-Internet memes such as KISS being an acronym for "Kings in Satan's Service" accompanied by tales of how the band would hold Satanic prayer rituals over each album's original pressing prior to mass production. Snopes did not exist.

I was the family black sheep because I had a comic book addiction. (The Wertham hysteria had died down by then, but had he been alive I assure you the church would have joined hands with him and my collection would have been burned.) Attempts to reach me using my addiction included being given regular doses of Spire Christian comics of Archie and the gang, and every Jack Chick comic that could be found. Comic books were my heroin, and these things were supposed to be the methadone.

I loved them, but I just incorporated them into my already growing collection as yet another demonstration of the way the medium could be used to tell stories.

But the Jack Chick comics were unique. It wasn't just that they were pocket sized, or that I frequently found them tucked behind a pipe in a public restroom like a hidden cache of pot waiting for the right someone to pick it up at some pre-ordained time. It was the artwork and the scary AF imagery in almost each and every one. In Jack Chick comics, black magic was very real, and covens lurked around every corner looking for kids rolling twelve- and twenty-sided dice. Faces melted in mirrors as addicts had LSD flashbacks. Catholics were heretics and Muslims worshipped a moon god. (Ironically, Jack Chick comics gave no face to God whenever He was represented, reflecting the Islamic tenet toward depictions of Mohammed.)

Jack Chick pissed off more people than there are probably alive today, and he did it unapologetically and with determined confidence. His stance was hardline while preaching an opportunity at mercy and forgiveness, and his use of the sequential art medium, despite what you may think of his message, was genius.

Jack Chick died yesterday, October 23, 2016, at the age of 92. His publications are still being produced, and many of his original Chick Tracts are reprinted with modifications to reflect changing times, and can be ordered from his website.