Ever heard of Chick Tracts? Seek ye enlightenment? Jack T. Chick is a protestant comic artist who, over the span of about 50 years, has created over 100 short comic series’s dealing with issues ranging from abortion and drug abuse to Dungeons and Dragons (yup). The tracts serve as a form of protestant Christian propaganda, and tend to lean towards the ludicrous and moderately offensive end of the comics spectrum. The following image is taken from a tract entitled “Dark Dungeons”. Basically, a teenage girl gets involved with a D&D/witchcraft cult. Her friend commits suicide because her character in the game died, and she herself is freed from the grasp of an evil spirit when she accepts Jesus as her savior.
From what I’ve seen, this is one of his more ridiculous comics, but it contains one of the major recurring themes in his works: either you accept Jesus Christ, or you end up in hell. So before I go any further I should probably mention why I wanted to write a blog post about this guy. I mean, a lot of the reason was I just thought his comics were kind of hilarious and wanted an excuse to make fun of them. But I also wanted to bring up a relevant question for discussion: to what degree are religious propaganda comics like the Chick Tracts harmful? By harmful I mean do they have an ability to impact people in a powerfully negative way. Granted, it’s sort of up for debate as to what defines a negative impact with comics such as these. Certain people could argue that if Chick’s comics somehow managed to get homosexuality and abortion banned from all 50 states and convert everyone to Christianity that would be a positive thing, but that is not my argument. Let’s look at a couple panels from one of Chick’s more serious comics.
While the first image I showed in this post dealt with witchcraft and D&D, issues that most audiences would not consider particularly threatening or relevant in today’s society, this second comic deals with the very personal issue of faith. Obviously, Chick takes a biased stance on this issue. I’d say the majority of people who stumble upon Chick Tracts either read them and like them because they align with their own spiritual view of the world, or they read them and have a good laugh before moving on with their lives. The prevalence of Christian propaganda comics is so small and far from the mainstream that I doubt any group of people could feel seriously alienated by them.
Nevertheless, even if only one person feels hurt or alienated by comics like these, I would consider that a negative impact. And people are bound to get offended reading through Chick Tracts. Chick not only sends people of other faiths to hell in his comics, but also homosexuals, people who have had abortions, people who like rock music, and people who haven’t really done anything in particular they’re just not completely saintlike. Oddly, out of all the tracts I’ve looked at so far, I haven’t seen any murderers, rapists, or genuinely cruel and evil people go to hell yet.
The main way in which I can see the comics being harmful is the way they reinforce intolerance. The comics certainly present a very narrow view of right and wrong. Many of the comics are directed at children, and deal with the same controversial issues in an extremely one-sided manner. I can see this stuff being confusing and potentially damaging to a child’s sense of their own purity and their relationships with their peers. But as I mentioned before, I doubt anyone, even a child, would really change their outlook on life, themselves, and their spirituality after reading these comics. After all, there are plenty of more powerful factors in a person’s life that shape who they are; namely their parents, their peers, and the environment in which they are raised.
So yeah. I don’t think Chick tracts should be taken too seriously. Besides, all this over-zealous paranoid religious propaganda is just a bunch of fabricated nonsense. Chick doesn’t know what he’s talking about, right? Right.
If you want to read some more Chick tracts, check out Chick Publications.