Proving the adage that only the good die young, outsider artist, fundamentalist, and bigot Jack Chick has died at the age of 91. Chick was known for his religious tracts in comic strip form and for his damn near universal bigotry- hating Catholics, gay people, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, gamers, Hindus, hippies, and you, you snarky liberal!
As tools of evangelism, Chick's tracts were failed propaganda- they were so over-the-top, so hateful, that they didn't have a chance to convince anyone not 100% in Chick's camp. As outsider art and unintentional comedy, they were top-notch. His overwrought "Dark Dungeons" strip, a key document in the "Satanic Panic" of the 70s and 80s, is a perennial favorite with gamers. His anti-evolution "Big Daddy", with its "evolutionist" professor ripped straight out of an early 20th century "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is popular among biologists and atheists. My Hindu roommate used to burst out laughing when someone quoted the anti-Hindu tract:
"There are six-million gods in India... AND ALL OF THEM ARE SATANIC!!!"
Similarly, my electrical engineering major roommate would howl with laughter at Chick's stab at modernity, with his Devils describing a technological innovation in Hell:
"We've added microchips to increase the pain!"
Chick's world was certainly an outré one, with the Vatican not only creating Islam and Mormonism, but communism as well. His was a kitchen sink approach to finding theological enemies, a conspiracy theory worthy of a pulpy novel by Roberts Shea and Anton Wilson. Chick's tracts have been satirized by gaming nerds, Lovecraft nerds, and atheist nerds. Reading comment threads on posts about Chick's death, though, has been a sad experience- as an urban northeasterner from a family that values education, I was never exposed to the sort of fundagelical bigotry that leads to shunnings and false accusations (even, in cases such as that of the West Memphis Three, imprisonment on death row). Somehow, the laughable Chick tracts have some power over the small-minded and cruel-hearted. People who burn books (a book burning forms the "happy ending" of "Dark Dungeons") often end up as people who burn people.
I'm hastily typing this post out on my phone before heading down to a science lecture in a bar (you know, a meeting of the hellbound), so I haven't added any links or images. I'll add those later, plus some examples of Chick's oeuvre, including some of his unintentionally(?) homoerotic "Crusaders" comics. There are also some wonderful parodies of his works. Tomorrow, I'll have time for editing the post, I just wanted to get this up before rigor mortis set in the old bigot's body. In the meantime, I have to email my old roommates.