A Demon's Nightmare, by Jack T. Chick
'A Demon's Nightmare' (1962).

Jack T. Chick was a U.S. comic artist, writer and publisher of extremely popular but controversial Christian comics. Chick's comic "tracts" - made either alone or in collaboration with assistants - have been distributed and translated in over 100 languages. Even after his death, Chick Publications still produces millions of new comic pamphlets and reprints of older ones through his website. Yet Chick also is considered by many to be one of comics' legendary oddballs, due to the contents of his tracts and his reclusive, media-shy behavior. His stories are infamous for their dubious narratives, immense plot holes and outlandish conspiracy theories that lack credible research, and sometimes, even logic. He went through absurd lengths to link everything he feared or hated to Satan or the Vatican. Chick thought up far-fetched and ludicrous connections between the Devil and atheism, feminism, rock music, sports, video games, pop culture media and non-Protestant religions. Many of his stories end with the horrible and sensational torture and death of at least one sinner in Hell. Chick's tracts are controversial enough that some Christian bookstores refuse to stock them. Jack T. Chick does have fans who are interested in his religious tales, although many enjoy his tracts for their zany imagination and unintentional campiness.

Early life and career
Jack Thomas Chick was born in 1924 in Los Angeles, California, as the son of commercial artist Thomas Chick. At school, he studied stagework and direction and received an acting scholarship from the Pasadena College of Theater Arts. In one of his rare interviews, Chick claimed he didn't receive a Christian upbringing and was far from religious during his youth. His Christian peers saw him as "the last person on Earth who would ever accept Jesus Christ." During World War II, Chick fulfilled his military service in New Guinea, Australia, The Philippines and Japan. As a cryptographer, he didn't engage in direct battlefield action. Local missionaries left a strong impression on him, but it wasn't until after the war that Jack Chick became a born-again Christian. He met a devout Canadian woman, Lola Lynn Priddle, who converted him to Protestantism. Chick became a regular listener to Charles E. Fuller's religious radio show, 'Old Fashioned Revival Hour'. Chick and Lynn married in 1948. After her death, 50 years later, he remarried an Asian woman, Susie Chick. His only child, Carol Chick, died in 2001 after complications from surgery.

'Times Have Changed?' cartoons from 10 December 1953 (Deseret News and Salt Lake Telegram) and 28 July 1954 (the Courier-News from Camden, New Jersey).

Times Have Changed?
Jack Chick's earliest professional cartoons showed little hint of the kind of comics he became famous for. On 16 November 1953, the first episode of his single-panel cartoon series 'Times Have Changed?' (1953-1955) appeared in print. The cartoons are set in the Stone Age and mostly feature anachronistic jokes. Cavemen and -women are depicted interacting with dinosaurs, mammoths and saber tooth tigers, while living in a 1950s-style modern society. The gags were written by P.S. Clayton and syndicated by the Mirror Enterprises Co. to newspapers in the Los Angeles area. The final episode was published in 1955. Strangely enough, some of the papers erroneously credited Clayton and Chick as "Clayton S. Chick". Allan Holtz of Stripper's Guide has suggested on his blog that it is possible the cartoons may have inspired Hanna-Barbera to their similarly anachronistic Stone Age animated TV series, 'The Flintstones' (1960-1967).

Why no revival?
'Why no revival?' (1961).

Chick Tracts
Originally, Chick earned his bread as a technical illustrator at the Astro-Science Corporation, an aerospace company in El Monte, California. It wasn't until 1961 when he first published a moralistic Christian comic, 'Why No Revival' (1961), followed by his first actual tract, 'A Demon's Nightmare' (1962), a year later. From then on, he devoted all his time to writing, drawing and publishing his so-called "Chick tracts", in order to promote Protestantism evangelism from a fundamentalist Independent Baptist point of view, and to save sinners. His breakthrough story was 'This Was Your Life!' (1964), that found nation-wide distribution and was translated in 100 languages. Chick's religious comics are typically printed in the form of small, pocket-size pamphlets. The final panel or back cover gives a numbered, step-by-step guide to accepting Jesus into your life and living your life in the correct Christian manner. Strangely enough, the cartoonist's tracts were inspired by Maoist propaganda comics. From a conversation with missionary and radio broadcaster Bob Hammond, Chick learned that in Maoist China, the party ideology and Chairman Mao's policies were visualized in comic strip-style pamphlets. Hammond told him that it was an effective way to reach and influence the masses. Ironically, Chick's comics are banned in China.

At first, Chick scripted and drew all his comics personally. In 1970, he established his own publishing company, Chick Publications, based in Rancho Cucamonga, California. In collaboration with the cartoonist Fred Carter, Chick additionally published a series called 'Crusader Comics' (1974-1985). Chick's comics have been distributed all over the world in several different languages. However, the often-cited claim that they reached 750 million readers should be taken with a grain of salt. Like most pamphlets, Chick tracts are printed and handed out widely, but not necessarily read or believed by everyone who is given a copy.

Although best known as a comic book publisher, Chick also brought out written books and pamphlets. Among them were 'The Next Step: For Growing Christians' (1973), 'The Last Call: A Revival Handbook' (1978), 'A Solution to... The Marriage Mess' (1978) and the anti-Catholic pamphlet 'Smokescreens' (1983). However, some of these books still make use of occasional comic strips to liven up the pages. Jack Chick also spread his messages through audio cassettes. In the Internet Age, Chick's works are easily accessible on the official Chick Publications website.

Two of Chick's assistants have been identified. From 1972 on, Chick employed the African-American cartoonist Fred Carter to help with the artwork. Chick and Carter's graphic style can be easily distinguished. Chick worked in a cartoony style, while Carter used more realistic and detailed drawings, with heavy use of shading. In 2000, David W. Daniels joined the staff of Chick Publications as Chick's main writing partner. Over the years, and especially after Jack Chick's death, Daniels became the face of the company. An alleged third artist might have worked for Chick between 1989 and 1991, but the identity of this artist has never been verified.

Mama's Girls
'Mama's Girls' (2012). 

Jack Chick's comics have a wide scope of themes, but generally follow a similar basic pattern. Stories start off with showing people who lead a sinful life. Some have several vices or are downright criminals, others are atheists or non-Protestants and unaware of God or Jesus' messages. Throughout the story, they are informed about religious teachings, which Chick quotes in footnotes. In some stories, the sinners convert to Protestantism and are "saved". But in most, more emphasis is placed on those who don't repent. These stubborn sinners invariably end up in Hell, where they are humiliated, tortured and killed in spectacular fashion. Most of Chick's comics are one-shot stand-alone stories, although there are a couple of recurring characters, like the mustached preacher Bob Williams, the pigtailed schoolgirl Li'l Susy Barnes and Fang, a cute dog.

At first glance, Chick's comics don't seem to differ much from usual Christian propaganda. Wanting to convert readers to his teachings, the author offers basic information about his religion, with the promise of salvation. Chick believed in an ultraconservative version of Protestantism and many of his stances aren't unusual for fundamentalist evangelists. His comics are fiercely opposed to abortion, pornography, premarital sex, feminism, homosexuality, the evolution theory, science, freemasonry, atheism and any religion other than his own. But even within this niche, the stories have extraordinarily eccentric viewpoints and mind-bogglingly weird plot twists. According to Chick, Satan forms a direct alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, who are responsible for all evil in the world. If one is to believe Jack Chick’s tracts, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, Communists, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are all front organizations of the Vatican. Chick was personally convinced that the Pope ordered the USSR to conquer Israel and that atheists are sometimes demons in disguise. Following his logic, the Catholic Church was behind the assassinations of both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, the failed murder of Pope John Paul II, both World Wars and the Holocaust. In 'My Name... In the Vatican?', the tract states that the names of "every Protestant Church member are recorded in the Big Computer in the Vatican". However, it never becomes clear how they are going to track down all Protestants in the world, let alone what the Vatican plans to do with this information.

The paranoia doesn't stop there. In 'The Last Generation' (1972), Chick depicts a dystopian pagan society, where animal sacrifice is enforced in schools. Children walk around in Nazi-like uniforms and are brainwashed to report any Christian they see to the police, including their own parents. The Christians are then sent away to mental camps. In this world without religion, chaos and natural disasters are everywhere. In some of Chick's stories, being devout is not enough. His tract 'Flight 144' (1998), for instance, introduces a group of missionaries who have built schools, hospitals and fed and clothed thousands of African natives. But when their plane crashes, they still go to Hell, "because they never told people how Jesus could save them." To add insult to injury, a recently released murderer who became a born-again Christian goes straight to Heaven, even though "the only guy I led to the Lord was my cellmate." In 'The Trial' (1996), a little girl is brought to court for claiming that accepting Jesus as your savior is the "only" way to go to Heaven. She wins the case, because "Jesus wouldn't tell a lie". In the afterlife, the girl goes to Heaven, while a Roman Catholic bishop, an imam, a rabbi, a bible scholar and even her own mother all roast in the eternal fire, simply for having different viewpoints. In his comics, Jack Chick names various media as the Devil's tools. To lure people away from the "good" path, Satan apparently created rock music, Halloween, Wicca, New Age, 'Harry Potter', 'Family Guy', 'Dungeons & Dragons' and even sports. In short, Jack Chick's vision of Hell seems more bleak and narrow than Hieronymus Bosch, since it's nearly impossible to avoid "sinning".

That's Baphomet?
'That's Baphomet?' (2011).

From the start, Jack Chick's comics have been controversial. Most of his characters are often offensive stereotypes or gross oversimplifications. It depicts a world where anyone who hasn't converted is blissfully unaware of Christianity, or any of its messages of Salvation. In Chick's eyes, these people are either evil, stupid or - at best - misled. His version of the Gospel differs tremendously from that of other independent Baptists.

Many of his stories reveal Chick's severe intolerance towards anyone with different beliefs or opinions than his. In Canada, some of Jack Chick's tracts are classified as "hate literature" and are banned. In 2016, the Dutch pastor Stan Kamps was approached by two policemen and strongly discouraged from publishing a translated version of Chick's highly islamophobic comic book, 'Allah Had No Son' (1994). In his rare 1975 interview, Chick denied that he had a problem with anybody of a different race, nationality, religion or viewpoint: "... as long as they accept Jesus as their savior and convert." A biased attitude was on display when he reprinted some of his Chick tracts "for African-American audiences", as if this demographic needed to be approached in a different way than other races. His African-American assistant, Fred Carter, redrew several older stories, only changing the white characters into black ones.

Allah Had No Son
'Allah Had No son' (1994), drawn by Fred Carter.

One particular Chick Tract, 'Lisa' (1984), was so controversial that it is no longer in circulation and not featured on the official Chick Publications website. Its storyline deals with a porn-addicted husband who sexually molests his daughter, Lisa. When a doctor notices the young girl has contracted herpes, he confronts the father. Rather than having him arrested, the physician claims that the rapist "isn't responsible" for his deeds, because "Satan is in control." If he just converts, then "Satan won't tempt him no more". The father suddenly feels spiritual relief. He shares his joy with his wife, who was also abused in her youth and knew about her husband's molestation of her daughter, but "turned a blind eye". He confesses that he took out his own personal frustrations on her and Lisa, but that becoming a born-again Christian is the solution to all their troubles. As Lisa joins the conversation, she is comforted by her mother with the news that "Your daddy and I will never hurt you again. We love you, and Jesus does too." This withdrawn pamphlet outraged the punk band Alice Donut so much, it inspired their protest track 'Lisa's Father (Waka Baby)' (1989).

Another story removed from Chick's bibliography was 'Wounded Children' (1983), drawn by Fred Carter. The plot deals with a young boy, David, who becomes a homosexual after Satan shows him his father's heterosexual porn collection. This motivates David to adopt a gay lifestyle, because he thinks "he's a girl in a man's body". To some readers, Satan inadvertently comes across sympathetically, as a nice, elderly mentor who defends the boy against prejudiced people (like David's own parents) and helps him accept himself for who he is. Many images in the story also feature unintentional homo-erotic content, which might explain why Chick eventually withdrew it from his catalogue.

Over the years, some of Chick's older comics were updated or edited to tone down some of its content. 'Dark Dungeons' (1984) - which attributes the popular board game 'Dungeons and Dragons' to Satanism - originally claimed that the fantasy novels by C.S. Lewis (famous for 'The Chronicles of Narnia') and J.R.R. Tolkien (author of 'Lord of the Rings') were Satanic. This claim was removed from later reprints and replaced by a reference to J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series. Chick Publications was promptly sued for copyright infringement and forced to add "TM" behind the name, even though the original accusations remained intact. 'The Poor Little Witch' (1986) originally ended with a girl dabbling in witchcraft and getting murdered by Satanists. Although she died a gruesome death, she didn't deny Jesus and went to Heaven. In the reprint, her death scene was removed and changed to a promise that "when Mandy dies, she will be accepted in Heaven". The original text also claimed that "40,000 to 60,000 ritual homicides per year occur in the U.S." - an absurdly high number. In later reprints, the claim was removed.

Overall, Chick's comics thrive on "scare 'em straight" storylines to convert readers. The cartoonist takes a sadistic and sensational delight in sending people he dislikes to Hell. But his reasons are often so outrageous and badly researched that it is difficult for some to take these stories seriously. The goofy drawings and corny, melodramatic dialogue only add to the unintentional comedy. Overall, Chick's comics hardly have anything to do with what the Gospel teaches. He quotes from the King James' Bible, but even then the verses are twisted out of context. And still, the biblical quotes are always overshadowed by the cartoonist's own imagination and daft theories, and he never gives any reliable source for his offensive rants. Most of the books he refers to are part of Chick Publications' own publications. Other literary sources were written by people whose credentials have been thoroughly debunked. Chick's anti-Catholic viewpoints are based on the books of Alberto Rivera, who has been discredited as a fraud who pretended to be a former Jesuit priest. In 'Big Daddy' (1972) and 'There Go the Dinosaurs' (2007), the anti-evolution theories use disgraced televangelist Kent Hovind as source, even though Hovind's doctorate degree as a biblical expert has been proven to be falsified.

As a result, many Christian bookstores have refused to sell Chick tracts. Even some other Christian fundamentalists have distanced themselves from its content. Likewise, Chick also quit the Christian Booksellers Organization in 1981, because of self-described "Catholic infiltration". Critics have pointed out that Jack Chick owes his fame more to the controversy and ironic cult following around his work, than the amount of people who were actually "converted" by his comics. According to his 1975 interview, Chick and his employees received a lot of hate mail and death threats, but to him this proved that his work was at least read. In his opinion, the people were now "warned" and had "no excuse" on Judgment Day.

Fairy Tales by Jack Chick
'Fairy Tales?' (2007).

Ironic cult following and parodies
Despite all their controversy and silliness, Chick's comics have gained a cult following. Many fans don't share his views, but enjoy the outrageous ludicrousness of his tales. Chick Tracts are a strange mix between predictability and unpredictability. At the start of each story, it is clear who will be the sinner of that episode. But how the "villain" will be sent to Hell and how Chick will justify that decision is always different and entertaining. Sinners are rarely just plain "bad". They are diabolically evil and engage in many depraved, over-the-top crimes. Satan loves to disguise himself, but uses unsubtle pseudonyms (like "Lew Siffer") and masks to fool unsuspecting idiots. When he reveals his true identity, he looks like a devil from a Punch and Judy play.

Another aspect of Chick's tracts is the corny dialog. In 'Angels?' (1989), all rock bands - even Christian ones - are managed by Satan. When the band members of a group sell their souls to him, they all die horrible deaths. As the lead singer describes it: "Bobby died of AIDS, Jim O.D.'d and Don is into vampirism." In 'Payback' (2002), queen Jezebel is devoured by dogs, which is described as follows: "After the dogs were finished with Jezebel, not much was left. It was pretty gross." In 'The Bull' (1986), a notorious criminal converts to Christianity and bullies his fellow inmates into following his example, with the words: "As of right now, all killing stops! There will be no more raping, because I just found out that God hates sodomy!"

'Angels' (1989).

Although Chick frequently offers "sources" for his wild accusations, they are hardly reliable or, at best, used out of context. It appears that he usually had only a superficial knowledge of most of the people, organizations and media he attacked. For instance, in the story 'Dark Dungeons' (1984), 'Dungeons & Dragons' is depicted as a game that lures people "into the occult, once they reach the 8th level". In 'The Last Generation' (1972), New Age followers dress in 1950s B-movie space suits and engage in torture and cannibalism. Many of his tracts suggest that Halloween was a creation of Druids who committed human sacrifices. Even if one tries to follow Chick's logic, there invariably comes a point when it stops making sense, and many readers can't help but laugh at the sheer insanity of it all. Several blogs and websites are devoted to ridiculing Chick's stories.

From another viewpoint, Jack Chick has been described as an "outsider artist" - an amateur with an odd, naïve style who is unaware of how unique and eccentric his work is. In the late 1990s, an article in Brill's Content magazine described Chick's comics as "American folk art, or even a form of religious pornography, titillating and somewhat dangerous." Chick himself was cited "the ultimate underground artist", because he "self-published his single-minded works, without regard for external social forces."

Parodies and celebrity fans
The December 1974 issue of National Lampoon Magazine (#57) ran the first known comic strip parody of a Chick tract, 'Head Shop or Dead Shop?'. The plot was scripted by P.J. O’Rourke, with Jeff Cox doing the artwork. In their song 'I Kill Children' (1980), the U.S. punk band Dead Kennedys quoted the line "God told me to skin you alive", from the Chick tract 'Why No Revival'. The comedian David Cross named every routine of his stand-up tour 'Let America Laugh' (2003) after the title of a Chick tract. The Chick Tracts were also spoofed by Charles Burns with 'Burn Again' (1989) and by Jim Woodring and David Lasky with their mini-comic 'Jesus Delivers' (1996). In their animated TV series 'Rick and Morty', Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon also poked fun at the Chick Tracts. The Chick-like comic book shown in the episode 'Council of Ricks' was made in real life too and later added to first pressings of that season's DVD release as an Easter egg. Daniel Clowes drew a parody of Chick's style, 'Devil Doll' (1988), as part of his 'Eightball' series.Interviewed by Sam Thielman for The Guardian (28 May 2015), Clowes said that Chick's tracts are "really compelling and I'd rather read these than pretty much anything else published in 1985." Other celebrity cartoonists who liked Chick's camp appeal are Robert Crumb and Matt Groening. Art Spiegelman, on the other hand, was less amused with Chick's ravings. He once stated: "It makes me despair about America that there are so many people who read these things."

Film adaptations
In 2003, Jack Chick released a slideshow film, 'The Light of the World' (2003). The picture was originally intended as an adaptation of Fred Carter's 'Jonah' comic book, based on the biblical tale of the same name. However, since Carter had made over 358 oil paintings about biblical themes, it seemed more fitting to expand the project to a slideshow about the entire Bible. Chick personally provided the narration to accompany the images. The soundtrack was composed by John Campbell. The 78-minute film was also released on DVD.

In 2014, one of Chick's tracts was adapted into a short film by L. Gabriel Gonda, 'Dark Dungeons' (2014), which resembles a straight-faced parody more than a genuine propaganda film.

Picture of Jack Chick from the Progress Bulletin (Pomona, California), 12 October 1974.

Jack Chick was a reclusive person. The man was never filmed, nor appeared on television. During his lifetime, only two photographs have been confirmed depicting him. In 1975, he granted a rare, written interview. Chick claimed that he didn't want to be the focus of media attention, only his comics. Some observers have suggested that this could partially be motivated by the numerous death threats he received. Author Jimmy Akin revealed in a 3 January 2004 article posted on Catholic.com, that Chick told him that "he was on too many hit lists to allow himself being photographed." For years, it was suggested that Jack Chick was perhaps a collective pseudonym for several ghost artists. His conspiracy theories defy logic and even contradict theories from previous issues. Over the decades, different writers and artists worked on different stories, although only Fred Carter and David W. Daniels have been credited for their contributions.

To this day, Jack Chick’s pamphlets are subject of discussion and mockery on several blogs and websites, for instance the The Chick Tract Club on.monsterwax.com. Some Jack Chick stories are so over-the-top hilarious that it's difficult to tell whether the authors were sincere, or not, but in his 1975 interview, Chick stressed that he indeed meant every word of his work. Interest by both believers and non-believers in the contents of Chick’s tracts guarantee that this colorful comic artist will remain a source of discussion for years to come. Even though after his death more photographs of the man have been released on Chick Publications has done little to diminish the many questions surrounding the life and work of this reclusive comic creator. Another artist of fundamentalist Christian comic tracts was Vic Lockman.

Final years and death
In the final years of his life, Jack Chick was diagnosed with diabetes. In 1996, he had a stroke and in 2005 a heart attack, for which he had to undergo a triple bypass. He eventually passed away in the fall of 2016, at the age of 92, taking the mystery of his personality to his grave. Chick Publications still reprints old Chick tracts, while new stories have been made by his main co-workers. His longtime cartoonist Fred Carter died in 2022.

Documentaries and books about Jack Chick
In his book 'The World of Jack T. Chick' (Last Gasp, 2001), Bob Fowler compiled the most complete overview of all the available Chick Tracts and information about Jack Chick. Another extensive and critical overview can be found in issue #2 (1998) of Dan Raeburn's magazine The Imp. Kurt Kuersteiner directed the informative documentary 'God's Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick' (2008) about the man. For those interested in Chick's life and career, 'You Don't Know Jack: The Authorized Biography of Christian Cartoonist Jack T. Chick' (Chick Publications, 2017) by David W. Daniels provides more info and some previously unpublished photographs.

The Long Trip by Jack T. Chick
'The Long Trip' (1994). 


The Chick Tract Club

Series and books by Jack T. Chick you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.