RIP, Jack Chick

Christian cartoonist Jack Chick died this week at 92. To pay tribute, here’s a return look at a post from 2011:

A selection of Jack Chick tracts
A selection of Jack Chick tracts

It will be a busy Stumptown for me this year. I will be on two panels (one a perspective drawing demo, the other about the relaunch of Dark Horse Presents) and I’ll be selling books and decorated envelopes at my table the rest of the time. This year, in addition to my new Watson-Guptill book Extreme Perspective! For Artists: Learn the Secrets of Curvilinear, Cylindrical, Fisheye, Isometric, and Other Amazing Systems that Will Make Your Drawings Pop Off the Page, I have a new minicomic to sell, a parody Jack Chick tract written by me and drawn by my friend, Portland cartoonist and animator Chad Essley.

David Chelsea is reading: The Trouble with Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh
by Norman Solomon

Classic Chick Panel
Classic Chick Panel

Among the tribe of ironic hipsters, especially hipster cartoonists, a taste for Evangelical comics artist Jack Chick is a kind of secret handshake- we all admire the flat-out vulgarity of his goofy cartooning style, and the way his hellfire and brimstone storylines scream out loud the things we suspect our more polite Christian friends keep to themselves (Among other Christian cartoonists, Chick seems to be a source of embarrassment- I once had a chance on a panel to ask Rick O’Shay artist Stan Lynde what he thought of Chick’s work, and his reply was a masterpiece of diplomatic distaste.).

My homage to Jack Chick. Art by Chad Essley
My homage to Jack Chick. Art by Chad Essley

There have been a number of Jack Chick parodies over the years (most notably by Eightball cartoonist Dan Clowes), but to my mind his brand of take-no-prisoners storytelling defies mockery, and the only possible way to answer his sincere belief is with some sincere disbelief of my own. The quintessential Chick tract is about some heedless soul who leads a life displeasing to God (sometimes as a drug addict or homosexual, sometimes as a Mormon or Jew) and then (usually after dying in a sudden accident) finds himself in the Hell he scoffed at. I reverse this by having a Christine O’Donnell-type chastity lecturer who has just died- you guessed it, in a sudden accident- meet Jesus, who tells her the afterlife doesn’t exist and that her years of celibacy have been wasted. To make things more fun, all dialogue is in rhymed tetrameter: “You’re not going to Heaven- it doesn’t exist./ But then neither does Hell.” “I am royally pissed!”.

Chad has his own history with religious fundamentalism. Raised Mormon, he once drew a very funny autobiographical comic about the time he used a visit from two Mormon missionaries as an occasion to formally resign from the church.

On a more secular note, here’s an envelope I’ll be selling at Stumptown that I forgot to include in yesterday’s post.

8th Annual Stumptown Comics Fest
April 16 & 17, 2011 • Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR
Tickets are available now through TicketsWest Online and at participating TicketsWest retailers!