Christian cartoonist Jack Chick, who tried to save people from hell through his popular black and white evangelistic tracts, passed away on Sunday.
“Brother Jack Chick passed away Sunday evening, October 23, peacefully in his sleep. He was 92,” Chick Publications’ Facebook page announced.
He had been suffering from poor health weeks before he died, according to his long-time secretary Karen Rockney, The Guardian reported.
Chick was best known for creating small cartoon pamphlets, also known as Chick tracts or “chicklets,” which tackled different topics like false religions, Halloween, homosexuality, witchcraft and the occult and abortion. He also focused on contemporary issues in his comics. His works all had one thing in common: they pointed the reader to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For example, one of his works, entitled “Dark Dungeons,” discussed the real and imminent harm of participating in the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, and how Jesus can help anybody who has been deep in the game and wants to break free.
Chick embraced the Christian faith by listening to Charles E. Fuller’s radio program “Old Fashioned Revival Hour,” which he and his wife listened to regularly by the insistence of his in-laws.
He was reportedly struck when Fuller quoted the Bible: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." God touched his heart and he surrendered his life to Christ, according to Christian Comics International.
His idea for creating evangelistic pamphlets came when a missionary broadcaster told him that many people in China were being convinced to accept communism through the distribution of cartoon booklets. He felt God wanted him to use the same method to spread the gospel.
By the 1960s, he was already producing gospel tracts, and in the 1970s, he had his own print shop. During that time, Chick Publications grew as his work gained popularity.
However, Chick was not without critics. He was often criticized as being anti-Catholic. At one time, his publications were banned in Canada because they allegedly promoted hate speech.
"Though Chick professes to preach love, his tracts promote homophobia and anti-Catholicism," media watchdog Brill’s Content wrote, according to Christianity Today. “Chick may not care if he offends the mainstream Christian community, or if people within his own fundamentalist school ignore him. They're not his target audience.”
"To some, Chick tracts are American folk art, or even a form of religious pornography, titillating and somewhat dangerous. Chick is the ultimate underground artist: single-minded and self-published, passionately committed to his message without regard for external social forces,” the magazine further wrote.
Before his death, Chick had been spreading the gospel for about 40 years. His pocket-sized comics have been distributed internationally and have been translated in 100 languages.
All in all, his publication has sold 500 million copies of evangelistic tracts. However, this could be an underestimate, as a 1998 article written by critic Daniel Raeburn said 400 million Chick tracts had been sold by that time, according to The Guardian.
Chick, as Raeburn called him, was probably “the most widely read theologian in human history.”