The stories within Chick’s tracts, peppered
throughout with scriptural references, seem to show that everyone is bound
for Hell, even the “good” people, and that the only way to avoid this is
by accepting Jesus Christ as one’s savior. The tracts almost always
end with the protagonist getting “saved” or going to Hell. The artwork
is often very good, and the narratives are short, blunt, and to the point.
Additionally, the stories are often paranoid, misinformed, offensive, clueless,
and unintentionally hilarious.
One likely reason for the popularity and ubiquitousness
of Chick tracts is that they often address issues popular with sectarian
Christian denominations, such as Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God,
which have been steadily increasing in membership since 1940.4
A number of tracts criticize various parts
of society which fundamentalists generally do not approve of, including
homosexuality (The Gay Blade
; Who Murdered
), ecumenicalism (Why No Revival?
the occult (The Trick
and evolution (Big Daddy?
In the Beginning
In addition, Chick tracts show little tolerance for non-evangelical Christian
faiths, skewering Catholicism
This paper will focus on the humorous aspects of Chick’s
work. Due to the lack of space, only three tracts will be examined,
each with a different theme: science, homosexuality, and race.
Who’s Your Daddy?
is Jack Chick’s argument against evolution. Similar in spirit to the
debates between evolutionists and creationists that have been going on ever
since the Huxley-Wilberforce debates of the 19th century,5
presents an evolutionist university professor outwitted
by a creationist student.
starts off with the professor polling his class to see who believes in evolution,
then orders the lone dissenter to “get out of
Realizing that this isn’t
very professional behavior, allows the student to stay in order that he might
little beliefs to shreds
to note that more than one person has described the appearance of the professor
as “Jewish” and that of the student as “Aryan.”8
When the student mentions the Bible, the professor, calls
the young man a “fanatic
and demands that the student argue his case only in scientific terms—he also
implies that mentioning the word “Bible” is a criminal offense for which one
can serve time.9
The student complies
and begins to present his argument.
First the student mentions “six basic concepts
,” which the professor writes on the board.10
The student claims that only one of
these, “micro-evolution: changes within kinds (of plants and animals),” has
been proven, and that the rest are “believed by
implying that the professor
is, as Carl Sagan wrote, “worshipping at the altar of science.”12
The class agrees with the student and
the professor seems to be outfoxed.13
The truth is that this is a “straw man” argument, as these “concepts of evolution”
are creationist, not scientific concepts.14
The highlight of this debate is when the student presents
which “disproves” much of the evidence for hominid evolution
Some explanations are falsehoods—the
earliest known hominid, “Lucy,” is “proven” to have been no more than an unusual
chimpanzee and “Neanderthal man” is portrayed as having been little more
than a normal human who suffered from arthritis.16
Other explanations are true, but their presence on the chart misrepresents
them as being accepted by modern science—Piltdown man, which was recognized
as a hoax in 1953, and Nebraska man, which was never widely accepted in the
The student continues to destroy argument after argument
until the professor admits defeat.18
The student goes on to convince this professor of evolution
is responsible for all of creation, the professor is fired for refusing to
teach evolution anymore, and the student tells the class how they can get
A rather happy ending,
except for the now-unemployed professor. Then again, considering how
easily he was outsmarted by a mere student, he probably never deserved the
job in the first place.
, under close scrutiny, fails to make
the case for creationism because it opens religion up to refutation by presenting
itself as “a set of claims,” rather than a “state of being.”20 Big Daddy?
, by posing as “science,”
fails to apply the scientific value of skepticism to its own method, its entire
foundation resting on the Bible, a text based more on emotion than logic.21
For pure entertainment value, however, Big
easily beats anything the Leakeys have ever written.
Big Gay Ray
opens with a gay parade being interrupted by a black evangelical, Malcolm
Wesley, hoisting a sign reading, “Homosexuality
is an abomination
.” The police immediately come to the rescue,
charging Malcolm with a “hate crime
and beating him into submission in a scene that looks like the Village People
having a club-fest with Rodney King.22
In the hospital, Malcolm learns that the parade organizers
will drop the “hate crime” charge if he stops being so hateful. Enter
a smiling priest with a (supposedly unseen) demon on his arm—Reverend Ray—the
“Big Gay Al”23
of Chick tracts.
Reverend Ray and I’m gay!
” the priest gushes. “And Jesus loves
Reverend Ray very likely represents a criticism
of the decision of some mainline churches, such as the Episcopalian and
Presbyterian, to ordain and/or tolerate openly gay ministers.25
Ray then tells Malcolm how homophobia
is wrong, and begins to support his argument with a liberal interpretation
of the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.26
But Ray is soon interrupted by Malcolm’s friend, Bob, who “exorcises” the
demon and relates the “true” version of the story—God destroyed the cities
because there was too much buggery going on.27
The tale concludes with Ray having a complete turnabout, denouncing the gay
lifestyle, and accepting Jesus into his heart—“It happened!
Jesus is real. . . . I know I’m saved!
Ray seems to have had what Wayne Proudfoot terms a “religious experience”—one
gets the feeling that Ray doesn’t believe his salvation “can be dismissed
as an illusion of hallucination.”29
That Chick is a Baaad Mother-
One would be hard-pressed to call Chick a racist.
The same tracts are often published in multiple languages, each variation
featuring characters of the prevailing racial type (ie, Chinese tracts
feature Asians, Swahili tracts
feature Africans, etc).30
of Chick tracts could be interpreted as presenting negative stereotypes,
which isn’t really surprising, considering fundamentalists tend to be less
open to racial integration in their churches.31
Case in point, Soul Story
1977 tract that quite obviously was influenced by the “Blaxploitation” films
of the early seventies, such as Shaft
One of Chick’s most unintentionally
hilarious works, the protagonist of Soul Story
is Leroy Brown, a thug
from the ‘hood with a God-fearing grandma who wants to save his soul.
Naturally, the tract starts out in prison, where Leroy threatens a guard,
calling him a “white @*!!!
When a guard tells Leroy that the warden
wants to see him, our belligerent hero replies with “You tell that
head honky to @**!!!@!
very next panel we find that Leroy’s anger was unwarranted, as the nice warden
is freeing him because the Supreme Court ruled that Leroy was denied his “rights.”35
Thus far, the most valuable lessons
that Soul Story
has taught us is that prison is filled with angry,
racist negroes, and the judicial system works in their favor.
Back in the ‘hood, Leroy finds that since his time in
the joint, his woman and his organization have been claimed by his rival,
Leroy enters RD’s pad in style,
knocking the door off the hinges and standing in the doorway like a pimp ubermensch,
while a startled bystander shouts, “Oh, no! . .
. It’s LEROY BROWN!
One can almost
hear the funk music playing in the background. Bad, bad Leroy Brown
then calls RD a “stupid jive
,” beats him to a pulp, and takes back his organization and his
As the story continues, Leroy’s grandma, on her deathbed,
tries to save his soul, to no avail.39
At grandma’s funeral, an assassin hired by RD attempts to kill Leroy in a
drive-by shooting, but misses and kills his girlfriend instead.40
Leroy swears revenge and honors his
girlfriend’s memory by putting the moves on her sister, Joyce.41
Joyce admits she’s a Christian, and
the tale takes a strangely Oedipal twist—Leroy confesses that his new love
interest reminds him of his grandmother, and he begins to think about finding
The lesson Chick seems
to be imparting here is that black men are adulterous criminals who are only
interested in using Jesus as a means to an end—that “end” being sex.
The story climaxes in a gunfight with RD in which Leroy
becomes mortally wounded.43
his way back to Joyce’s apartment, Leroy falls into Joyce’s arms, accepts
Christ as his savior, and dies just in time to make it to Heaven.44
What’s ironic is that this tract seems
to have been marketed especially to inner city blacks. One wonders how many
gang-bangers saw this tract as a “get out of Hell free” card—criminal behavior
is okay, as long as you have a few seconds of life remaining to find Jesus.
For the love of Chick
Jack Chick has become an American institution. Admirers
of his work include non-believers as well as believers. Chick’s
work has been praised by the likes of famed underground artist Robert Crumb,45
and has been parodied in National Lampoon
Fans have even created an
online museum and fanclub
can be found on the internet.
At least two guides to Chick’s work, Robert B Fowler’s The World of Jack
T Chick, and Daniel K Raeburn’s The Imp #2, have been published.48
Even for those who disagree with Chick’s
fundamentalism, his tracts can provide a hearty reminder not to take ourselves
(or religion) too seriously.
1. Robert B Fowler, The World of Jack T Chick (San Francisco:
Last Gasp, 2001), 1-2.
2. The Jack T Chick Museum of Fine Art, nd, <http://members.aol.com/monsterwax/chick.html>
4. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America,
1776-1990 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 248.
5. Susanne C Monahan, William A Mirola, and Michael O Emerson,
eds, Sociology of Religion: A Reader (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall,
6. Jack T Chick, Big Daddy
(Chino, CA: Chick Publications,
1970, 2000), 1-3.
7. Ibid, 4.
8. Fowler, 2-9. See also Jim Foley, “Fossil Hominids:
Big Daddy?” (2001), http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/bigdaddy.html
9. Chick, Big Daddy
10. Ibid, 7.
12. Monahan, Mirola, and Emerson, eds, 390.
13. Chick, Big Daddy
14. Mike Friedman, “Jack Chick’s Big Daddy, Part
1” (2000), http://www.godhatesfundies.com/articles/chick_bd_part1.shtml
Greg Morrow, “Frothing at the Mouth: Jack Chick’s Big Daddy
15. Chick, Big Daddy
16. Ibid, 11-12.
18. Chick, Big Daddy
19. Ibid, 19-21.
20. Monahan, Mirola, and Emerson, eds, 382.
21. G Sam Sloss, “The Success of Science: An Evolutionary
Perspective,” Michigan Sociological Association
, Volume 15 (Fall 2001),
22. Jack T Chick, Sin City
(Chino, CA: Chick Publications,
23 Big Gay Al is a flamboyant, openly-gay character on
the popular animated series, South Park
24. Chick, Sin City
25. Monahan, Mirola, and Emerson, eds, 176-177.
26. Chick, Sin City
27. Ibid, 9-14.
28. Ibid, 20-21.
29. Monahan, Mirola, and Emerson, eds, 66.
30. Fowler, 2-52.
31. Monahan, Mirola, and Emerson, eds, 246.
32. Fowler, 2-36.
33. Jack T Chick, Soul Story
(Chino, CA: Chick
Publications, 1977), 4. Profanity in Chick tracts is always rendered in asterisks,
ampersands, punctuation, and various other symbols. See Fowler, 4-15
for a complete list of “Chick swear words.”
34. Chick, Soul Story
36. Ibid, 6.
37. Ibid, 7.
38. Ibid, 8.
39. Ibid, 10-11.
40. Ibid, 13.
41. Ibid, 14-15.
42. Ibid, 15.
43. Ibid, 17-18.
44. Ibid, 19-21.
45. Fowler, 6-15.
46. Ibid, 6-5.
47. The Jack T Chick Museum of Fine Art, nd, http://members.aol.com/monsterwax/chick.html
48. Fowler, 6-17, 6-18.
Chick, Jack T. Big Daddy
. Chino, CA: Chick Publications,
1970, 2000. Available online: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0055/0055_01.asp
. Chino, CA: Chick Publications, 2001. Available
. Chino, CA: Chick Publications, 1977. Available
Finke, Roger and Rodney Stark. The Churching of America
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992.
Foley, Jim. “Fossil Hominids: Big Daddy?” 2001. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/bigdaddy.html
(16 Jun 2003)
Fowler, Robert B. The World of Jack T Chick
. San Francisco:
Last Gasp, 2001.
Friedman, Mike. “Jack Chick’s Big Daddy, Part 1.” 2000. http://www.godhatesfundies.com/articles/chick_bd_part1.shtml
(16 Jun 2003)
“The Jack T Chick Museum of Fine Art.” http://members.aol.com/monsterwax/chick.html
Monahan, Susan C, William A Mirola, and Michael O Emerson, editors. Sociology
of Religion: A Reader
. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice
Morrow, Greg. “Frothing at the Mouth: Jack Chick’s Big Daddy.”
(16 Jun 2003)
Sloss, G Sam. “The Success of Science: An Evolutionary Perspective.”
Michigan Sociological Association
. Volume 15 (Fall 2001): 124-145.