On the 23rd of October in the Year of Our Lord 2016, Jack Chick, the foremost Christian pamphleteer of the twentieth century, was gathered to his fathers.
The body of Mr. Chick’s work was produced between the mid 1950s and late 80s. As a 70s kid myself, and growing up in L.A. county (the base of Chick’s operations), I knew his work well. At the time you were as likely to find his tracts in the corner coffee shop as in a church foyer. The local barber even had stacks of them in amongst his magazines. They were left in piles at the corner liquor store. Chick tracts were everywhere.
Whatever the shortcomings of the man’s theology, I confess no small nostalgia for his work because as a young boy and believer, comic books with a Christian message grabbed my interest as a matter of course. By virtue of their ubiquity and the dearth of any real competition at the time, Mr. Chick’s tracts became an institution unto themselves.
However, though he stood apart in his time, he stood on the shoulders of many like tractators. In fact, Christian pamphleteering and line illustration were wed from the beginning: be it the Book of Kells, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Doré’s renditions of Milton’s Paradise Lost, or the iconic tracts of E. J. Pace. Indeed, pamphleteering was a hallmark of the Reformation on account of its provident coincidence with the creation of the Gutenberg press: the mass accessibility of theological argumentation provided to the people thereby was, alongside preaching, decisive in that middle-class populism which propelled the Reformation itself. Mr. Chick was clearly inheritor of a rich tradition.
If in the twenty-first century blogs, social media, and “memes” seem to have replaced the tangible tracts of the preceding five centuries, I suppose it is fitting that the era of the tract was concluded with the work of this great man, Jack Chick. May he rest in peace and may his work be remembered forever.
The pages here included are an homage by our correspondent cartoonist DB to Mr. Chick’s most popular tract, This Was Your Life. Enjoy.
This can be your life!
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
~ 2 Peter 3:9