Reflections on the Life of Jack Chick
By Todd Strandberg
Chick Productions announced that their founder, Jack Chick, died peacefully in his sleep last Sunday evening at age 92. He was the creator of a series of tracts which presented his perspective on a variety of theological matters in a comic format. According to a statement on his website, “His burden has always been to get the gospel into the hands of millions of lost people around the world.”
This Was Your Life!” is the most popular Chick tract, which describes what would probably occur if someone dies lost without Christ and what one needs to do to avert that frightening destiny. That very popular tract has been translated into over 100 languages.
Jack Chick has had an enormous impact on the world. His company, Chick Publications, has reported that it has sold over 900 million tracts. It can be argued that he is the most read author on the planet.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History included several Chick tracts in an exhibit on American pop culture. He could easily have been awarded a superstar status distinction at the Comic-Con gathering in San Diego, California if it were not for the religious nature of his material.
Unable to find a firm that would publish his work, Chick self-published his first cartoon revival book in 1961 using $800 he borrowed from a credit union. Chick Publications has been housed in a low-profile office in Rancho Cucamonga since it was founded in 1970.
Of course, you are not going to see any reference to Jack Chick on the nightly news. The few newspapers that bothered to make note of his passing only had negative things to say about him. They all slapped him with their favorite dirty word—fundamentalist.
He is remembered by some as the king of scaremongers. One site called Jezebel had the headline: “Jack Chick, the Creator of Bigoted Yet Weirdly Enjoyable Evangelical Comic Books, Has Died.” The LA Times noted that “Chick managed to offend Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Freemasons—who found their beliefs discounted, ridiculed or condemned as false—or worse.”
Mr. Chick’s work got the attention of many atheists. There are several links on YouTube which has a group of atheists reading out his tracts, and then providing profane mocking commentary. It proves the point that you can judge a man by his enemies.
The reclusive Chick did very few interviews. The last full interview he gave was in 1975. Jack did speak in 1997 to a Daily Bulletin reporter, Mike Cicchese, in his driveway for 10 minutes. He was also camera shy. Amazingly, there are more claimed photos of Bigfoot than of the man who ran the most successful tract ministry in world history.
From what little information there is written about Jack Chick, we learn that he chose comics over the pulpit after hearing a radio missionary explaining how the Chinese used comics as propaganda. Chick was an Independent Baptist who followed a pre-millennial dispensationalist view of the end-times.
David Daniels, Jack Chick’s chosen successor, said “Chick is widely misunderstood as a hateful person. He was a plain, ordinary guy who liked to draw. He was just a guy who wanted to please the Lord, use his drawings for God and help other people not go to hell. And that was it.”
My first experience with Chick tracts was when I was given them as a child in the early 1970s by my Sunday school teacher. They were easy to read and their low cost to produce makes it easy to understand how they spread all over the globe.
The world is rapidly becoming so dark; the day may soon come when much of his commentary is barred as hate speech. His books have already been banned in Canada, denounced by Christianity Today and the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and ejected from many Christian bookstores.
Years ago, I wrote an article titled, “God’s Billionaires.” It listed some of the people who obtained heavenly riches. I’m sure Jack Chick would be included on any expended lists of those who achieved wealth in the Lord. It is my hope that we will all soon join Jack in sharing the blessing that God has prepared for those “who love his appearing.”
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).