I don’t want to let a week about comics end without at least mentioning Jack Chick.
If you ask average comic book fans what company is the most influential comic book publisher in the world and what artist is the most influential comic book artist in the world, they’d probably say something like Marvel Comics or maybe Dark Horse, and they’d probably say somebody like Frank Miller or maybe Alex Ross. But measured against almost any criteria outside comic book fandom the correct answers would be Chick Publications and Jack Chick.
The special irony in this is that many comic book fans never even have heard of Jack Chick.
Jack Chick is almost unknown to comic book fans because instead of using his skills and resources to spread the unrelentingly depressing existential nihilism that is entrenched as something like religion in the modern comics world, Chick is an Evangelical Christian and since 1970 has been creating comics which promote the Sola scriptura, ‘Born Again’ Christian approach to Jesus.
Jack Chick creates those pamphlets, tracts, people always see scattered about.
Millions of people all around the world have come to Jesus through their exposure to the Gospel in Chick’s tracts. Unlike many preachers, Chick doesn’t promote this or that committee’s understanding of religion. He preaches Christianity as he understands it. He almost always lets the Gospel speak for itself, using comics to create an appropriate context for the Word.
Sadly, Chick’s zealous passion for Evangelical Christianity has allowed him to fall prey to almost every bizarre anti-Catholic conspiracy theory that has ever existed in the Protestant world. Among many Catholics, Chick is known not for his great work at helping lost souls find Jesus, but for the comics he has created encouraging people to separate themselves from all things Catholic. In the Catholic world, Chick has been so influential at turning young people away from Catholicism that the Church has mobilized against him.
Chick has created, all by himself, a fuss almost as big in the religious world as the EC Comics scare was back in the Fredric Wertham days. In our day which idolizes rebels, one would think this alone might have made Chick famous. But pop culture almost never shines a spotlight on a Christian rebel. (Unless he’s a bona fide nut like David Koresh.)
But Jack Chick’s career is a great example of the power of comics. He is one guy working alone—or with one or two ghost artists—and he has created a movement that has influenced millions.
That’s pretty cool.