Article by Pablo Fernández from Barcelona/Monday, January 13th 2020

Somebody loves me! Jack Chick′s influence on the underground comic

Robert Crumb is known as the singular, irreverent and militant father of the underground comic, but Jack Chick had anticipated him seven years! The life of both is full of paradoxes. Robert Crumb was already responsible for an irreducible atheist′s fame when he wrote in a private letter about his admiration for Jack Chick′s drawings, among which his favorite is this comic ′Somebody Loves Me′ or ′Somebody Loves Me′ (1969 ). Robert Crumb was not a celebrity then. He had to wait to be in his fifties to start earning enough money with his drawings, which is when David Lynch, Terry Gilliam and Terry Zwigoff record the documentary ′Crumb′ (1995). Paradoxically, however, he has achieved the popular recognition he enjoys today just after he illustrated the first book of the Bible.


Robert Crumb was already tired of fighting with everyone when he moved to southern France. It was there where he dedicated four years to the production of ′The Book of Genesis′ (2009). Thanks to the illustration of the literal texts of this book according to the translation of King James, Robert Crumb has received the first prize for the best artist according to the Harvey Awards, the first prize for the best graphic novel according to The New York Times and even the first position in sales of Christian books according to Amazon. Everything in this gigantic volume reminds one way or another of Jack Chick and, to a greater surprise, ten years later, he says he is now more interested in reading than in telling stories. And who believes in God! Now he draws in collaboration with his wife and his own daughter, when he is not collecting and playing popular music recorded in the 1920s.

Robert Crumb had always acted as a battering ram against society in a line very similar to that of Jack Chick. Nor was he comfortable in San Francisco, when big names of the counterculture wanted to involve him in his activities. It has always been very difficult to get the attention of an audience. Most people go unnoticed even by those around us but isn′t it even harder to still get that attention if you also want to offend and change that same audience unilaterally? ′How can you convince us if we don′t want to hear you?′ Socrates was rightly asked. The ability to overcome those impossible obstacles used by people to protect themselves from change, especially grouped in society, is without a doubt what makes the professionals in the underground comic and independent film industry show so much admiration for the work of Jack Chick .

The cunning Jack Chick achieved in eight years what has taken Robert Crumb a lifetime and many of us cannot fail to show true admiration. The society also rejected Jack Chick′s comics but he found a way to sow the city with them through an elaborate guerrilla strategy. We saw in the article on the comic ′The Santurrón′ (1964) where he learned these strategies Jack Chick. The next lines are intended to give voice to the tribute that has been intentionally or unintentionally drawn by artists such as Robert Crumb, Daniel Clowes or Johnny Ryan, but also large and small names linked to the work of Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith or Rick & Morty; small and big names of the evangelical environment like David Berg, Vic Lockman or Life Messenger; and of course, small and big names in the collecting environment like Ivan Stang, Harry S. Robins or Daniel Raemon.

The rugged early years of Robert Crumb

Jack Chick also felt something very special for his own comic ′Somebody Loves Me.′ So much so that unlike what happens in most of his work, the protagonist remains alone, sad and literally mute. There are hardly any quotes from the Bible. Just a few grunts interrupt the pages that show basically dark drawings of a particularly small child battered and beaten to death, at which point an angel takes him to heaven. The simplicity of the story and the absence of explanations brings a very powerful element to the comic. The death of the innocent, yes, occurs before the impassive eyes of the adult character that could be his father and also the many citizens around him. Accomplishments among which are of course the pious Christians. Jack Chick used to see himself as a small and battered creature so this story clearly aims to provide autobiographical features and finally translates the comic into twenty-three languages.

Jack Chick was recruited to fight in World War II the same year Robert Crumb was born in Philadelphia. Robert′s mother, Beatrice Crumb, would spend the next twenty years distracted in an amphetamine addiction while her father, Charles Crumb, tried to put at home the discipline and order he had learned fighting the Japanese in the army during the Second World War. Charles Crumb was a war draftsman and had literally written the book on how to train successful people entitled ′Training People Effectively.′ Charles was an atheist but forced his four children to participate in the routines of the Catholic Church and Robert himself sought God with sacraments, rosaries and prayers quite regularly until he was sixteen. His two brothers Charles Jr. and Maxon were mentally ill and Robert Crumb recently confessed to film director Santiago Segura that his father was beating them continuously in a painting that reminds a lot of Jack Chick′s comic book entitled ′Somebody Loves Me.′

Robert Crumb was born with a visibility problem and needed his brothers to make laszarillos when he began making his first comics. At fifteen, Robert and his brothers were already trying to sell their own comic books inspired by the satirical magazine MAD without success, door to door. MAD magazine is still published today and is the only survivor of EC Comics, the editorial project originally founded by pioneer Max Gaines and that had included comics about the Bible in its catalog. The magazines of EC Comics become from the end of World War II, now in the hands of his son William, the real siege weapon against society, which is how they end up knowing Jack Chick, Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb Robert Crumb said he wanted to be a popular cartoonist at seventeen but he didn′t like superheroes. He was interested exclusively in neuroses. Strict Charles Crumb stopped talking to his son for ten years when he learned about the drawings he was making.

The Bible and social justice of EC Comics

Also the hipster Jack Chick was looking for his place in the comic industry precisely at this time. Many well-thought believers and atheists of this era could barely see in EC Comics magazines, beyond explicit references to sex, fantasy or terror. Politicians however could see beyond. EC Comics gave voice to some very serious criticisms of young authors about war, economy and racism that were really worrying for the established regime. Tales From the Crypt, MAD and hundreds of other independent publications, which then imitated them from other publishers, did not have much commercial success, but they planted cities with criticism.

Critics paradoxically encouraged readers the desire for social justice that is implied in the Bible, the unique book written by that supposedly nationalist God, which the Americans trusted according to the stamping of their bills. The fastest way for the government in its goal of ending that subversive movement therefore had to go through a cover: that was finally the supposed danger of terror and horror explicit in the comics, about a seemingly increasingly violent population .

Jack Chick was recruited to fight in World War II the same year Robert Crumb was born in Philadelphia. Robert′s mother, Beatrice Crumb, would spend the next twenty years distracted in an amphetamine addiction while her father, Charles Crumb, tried to put at home the discipline and order he had learned fighting the Japanese in the army during the Second World War. Charles Crumb was a war draftsman and had literally written the book on how to train successful people entitled ′Training People Effectively.′ Charles was an atheist but forced his four children to participate in the routines of the Catholic Church and Robert himself sought God with sacraments, rosaries and prayers quite regularly until he was sixteen. His two brothers Charles Jr. and Maxon were mentally ill and Robert Crumb recently confessed to film director Santiago Segura that his father was beating them continuously in a painting that reminds a lot of Jack Chick′s comic book entitled ′Somebody Loves Me.′

Robert Crumb was born with a visibility problem and needed his brothers to make laszarillos when he began making his first comics. At fifteen, Robert and his brothers were already trying to sell their own comic books inspired by the satirical magazine MAD without success, door to door. MAD magazine is still published today and is the only survivor of EC Comics, the editorial project originally founded by pioneer Max Gaines and that had included comics about the Bible in its catalog. The magazines of EC Comics become from the end of World War II, now in the hands of his son William, the real siege weapon against society, which is how they end up knowing Jack Chick, Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb Robert Crumb said he wanted to be a popular cartoonist at seventeen but he didn′t like superheroes. He was interested exclusively in neuroses. Strict Charles Crumb stopped talking to his son for ten years when he learned about the drawings he was making.

The Bible and social justice of EC Comics

Also the hipster Jack Chick was looking for his place in the comic industry precisely at this time. Many well-thought believers and atheists of this era could barely see in EC Comics magazines, beyond explicit references to sex, fantasy or terror. Politicians however could see beyond. EC Comics gave voice to some very serious criticisms of young authors about war, economy and racism that were really worrying for the established regime. Tales From the Crypt, MAD and hundreds of other independent publications, which then imitated them from other publishers, did not have much commercial success, but they planted cities with criticism.

Critics paradoxically encouraged readers the desire for social justice that is implied in the Bible, the unique book written by that supposedly nationalist God, which the Americans trusted according to the stamping of their bills. The fastest way for the government in its goal of ending that subversive movement therefore had to go through a cover: that was finally the supposed danger of terror and horror explicit in the comics, about a seemingly increasingly violent population .

Jack Chick and the pure coincidence with Basil Wolverton

Basil Wolverton was already a committed evangelical Christian when he drew that cover of the magazine MAD. He had been baptized in 1941, with thirty-two years, in the church that today is called Grace Communion International. Shortly after in fact he held the position of elder and what we know today as ′The Wolverton Bible′ is but a compilation of the more than five hundred illustrations that Basil Wolverton made on behalf of his church from 1953 until the end of his life. His drawings about the Old Testament and the Apocalypse are frankly overwhelming. Basil Wolverton took advantage of his experience with especially grotesque drawings, to give voice to this community so fond of talking about the end of time long before Jack Chick began his very particular mission to save the world in 1962. We already said in the article on The comic and the Bible that any resemblance between Basil Wolverton and Jack Chick is, however, pure coincidence!

Basil Wolverton asked questions, Jack Chick answered them. Basil Wolverton wrote his name in his drawings, Jack Chick was hiding behind anonymity. Michael Drivas, owner of Big Brain Comics in Minneapolis, says that Jack Chick′s comics were especially interesting because you could find them anywhere and that ′no matter how hard you tried you were unable to make sense of them, or find out where they came from. That difficulty.′ it allowed you to imagine any kind of conspiracy that was obviously always more interesting than the real explanation behind it. ′

There were Christians like Frank Beard, F.W. Alden or U.S. Abell drawing comics already in the 19th century. Illustrations such as those on page 8 of the comic ′The Letter′ (1982) are literally copied from Canto X, Lines 40-42 of ′The Divine Comedy′ by French Gustave Doré (1832-1883). Jack Chick will copy Doré again in other titles to fight Catholicism, such as ′Are Roman Catholics Christians?′ (1981) and ′The poor pope?′ (1983) where he also surprises, on the other hand, that he uses this book by Dante Alighieri as a source of inspiration, so clearly linked to the cult of the Virgin Mary. Jack Chick never gave credit to his models or influences and paradoxically pursued with constant ferocity all those who have tried to imitate or parody his comics.

Today there are hundreds of Jack Chick parodies documented with religious zeal by their collectors and some like ′Psycho Dave′ have been persecuted by hackers and lawyers from Chick Publications. Can you imagine what Jack Chick would have had to pay for the claims on the rights of Dark Shadows, Family Guy, Dungeons & Dragons and all that long list of products parodied in his comics? Already in 1968 Ralph W. Rusthoi printed and distributed comics of two suspiciously similar authors: Vic Lockman and Jack Chick with the titles of ′Hippie, Come Home!′, ′Tim & The Time Top′ or ′Sophisticated Katie′. The Life Messengers company would also make its own approach to the same Jack Chick format since 1968 with “Hooked for Good”, “Free to Live” or “Who Am I?”.

Imitations of Jack Chick in his closest circle

Dann Slator aka Chaplain Dann was born the same year as Jack Chick and also fought with him in Okinawa but they don′t know each other until 1975. Dann then informs Jack Chick about the conspiracy of the seminars against the translation of King James, which will appear later in the comic ′Sabotage?′ (1979). Chaplain Dann is photographed by the cartoonist of Jack Chick and appears with the rude cowboy appearance that characterizes him in ′Reverend Wonderful′ (1982), ′The Letter′ (1982) and ′Unwanted′ (2010), another story of a child battered but where the protagonist is now poor Dann. Chaplain Dann actively collaborates with the self-promotion of Jack Chick′s comics in fiction and reality and finally also ends up promoting his own line of treaties with the same Chick Publications format.

Jack Chick wasn′t just precisely when he started his campaign against the world. Ron Ormond, a director specialized in films about monsters and girls, very close to Bela Lugosi, also helped the evangelical pastor Estus Pirkle, providing for him all kinds of details of a hell in apologetic films like ′The Burning Hell′ (1974) . Today we literally have websites that are dedicated to commenting on the most sordid aspects of such publications under the name of ′Museum of Weird and Demented Religious Tracts′, ′Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster′ or ′Tracts Dissections′, sites where The mood of any proselytist can easily come down.

The prize for the most sordid treaties could be won by David Berg. The theologian José de Segovia wrote in this same medium that David Berg had run out of education, without work and without a church precisely in 1968. The explosion of proselytizing comics that were then in California should have caught David Berg′s attention and soon began the campaign that would make him ′the darkest figure in the evangelical sectarian world.′ David Berg commissioned in 1974 a very important work to Edward Priebe, the creative head of his new religious group the Children of God or The International Family. Mary F Easterling said that ′The Illuminati and Witchcraft′, the project of the Children of God with the famous collaborator of Jack Chick named John Todd did not reach much beyond the cover that now circulates on the Internet. All the letters of David Berg, however, about that infamous campaign of proselytizing with sex, which would make him sadly famous, did begin to be illustrated and distributed then in the form of comics under the name of ′True Komix′, many of which They can be consulted today for free at xfamily.org.

The angels and demons of Kevin Smith

Jason Mewes was born that same year 1974 and has become known as the Jay of ′Jay and Bob the Silent,′ the independent film partner equivalent to the classic ′The Fat and the Skinny.′ Jason Mewes, the slim character of this Kevin Smith universe couple, was born in the suburbs of New Jersey and is behind the production of one of Jack Chick′s latest parodies. Kevin Smith, who is in fiction the fat and silent Bob, has stated that he regrets not having created it himself since it has all the natural and supernatural ingredients that appeal to him. All the recent Canadian series ′Todd & The Book of Pure Evil′ is written in excessive terms like Jack Chick comics; but the parody is especially evident in the episode ′BYOBOPE′, which is when Atticus Murphy Jr. proselytizes Satanism with a small comic of exactly the same size, format and style as those of Jack Chick entitled ′A One-Way Trip to Hell ′(2012).

Jason Mewes did not know his father and his mother spent on drugs everything he earned by stealing from hotels when he met Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith was fascinated with the vitality that Jason Mewes had in spite of everything and did not stop until he was able to make him known through his own comics and movies. Kevin had a very different past from Jason. Kevin Smith had received a wealthy Catholic education and had spent his childhood chasing the nuns of his school with interesting questions about supernatural activity. All this activity of angels and demons was already written in a script for the film that will be delayed five years and will finally be known as ′Dogma′ (1999). Kevin Smith meanwhile worked in a road shop, where he drew up an impossible plan. He sold all his comics and with the credit of a good number of cards he collected the $ 27,575 he needed to record in the same store where he worked a film of colleagues in black and white entitled ′Clerks′ (1994).

The positive response ′Clerks′ had at festivals such as Sundance or Cannes caught the attention of Miramax, the subdivision of The Walt Disney Company that had released Queptin Tarantino′s ′Pulp Fiction′ that same year. Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino then had many common interests related to comics, religion and swear words but they still didn′t know each other personally. We already saw in the article about Quentin Tarantino that his ideas were behind two of the highest-content films linked to the parody of Jack Chick: ′From Dusk Till Dawn′ (1996) and ′Little Nicky′ (2000). Kevin Smith also had Irish ancestry, had been educated in Catholic traditions and had flirted as a young man with the evangelical church. Kevin Smith was clearly determined to make an apology for Christianity when he recorded ′Dogma′ but his particular interpretation of the spiritual life aroused all the anger of the ′Catholic League′ institution and sowed the media with the idea that it was ′a blasphemous film ”.

There were also those who related the film to the then typical New Age discourse. Those who pass over the movie ′Dogma′, letting themselves be impressed by the appearance of Alanis Morissette, the popular singer then for her love of Buddhist meditation, miss the details that make her an evangelical guerrilla film mainly fundamentalist. Many themes in the movie ′Dogma′ are treated with the particular emphasis of the foul-mouthed Jack Chick. From the initial notice of responsibilities to the silence of God broken at the end of the movie, practically all the scenes are reminiscent of the message of his combative comics.

The idea that he is the devil who moves people to do evil, the idea that Christians are all hypocrites, the idea that the church is perverted when modernized, the idea that capitalism is a form of idolatry, the idea of ​​recovering the concept of God′s wrath or the idea that in the end all our sins will be exposed to the eyes of mankind. All these themes in the form of dialogues barely breathe the viewer. There are very few films with such a high theological combat content as ′Dogma′ and with an intention so clearly focused on the demonstration of God′s existence, goodness and justice.

Jack Chick′s great and not-so-great parodies

′Somebody Loves Me′ is at first glance a popular song composed the same year of the birth of Jack Chick and performed by more than seventy-five artists but a closer look discovers that it is also the title of an old religious song from WF & Marjorie. Jack simply enjoyed giving the details a misleading sense and often hiding surprises to make the reading more interesting. The comic ′Somebody loves me′ was one of the first of Jack Chick. It was edited in 1969 but had already been drawn during a lunch break while still working for Astro Science Corporation. The RCA Victor label had released the gospel version of ′Somebody loves me′ in 1963, played by a group of whites called The Blackwood Brothers Quartet. The idea that this pioneering group had of personalizing a bus for their tours was not only an inspiration for their friend Elvis Presley, but also for a whole generation of young people who would definitely shape the ′Contemporary Christian Music′ that Jack Chick so abhors afterwards .

′It′s amazing!′ Robert Crumb wrote about Jack Chick in 1979. ′Creativity is very interesting and intense and his worldview is so psychotic and twisted ... It′s so WELL DONE! ” According to Sporcle′s vote, comic book fans believe that Jack Chick deserves the 126th place among the 300 best American comic cartoonists of all time. His influence on society, however, is well above the possibilities of a cartoonist in that category. Let us take into account the 950,000,000 self-published and finally distributed copies that have served to be part of the pantheon of the permanent exhibition of American culture at the Smithsonian Institute and the first place in the classification of most read theologians in the world according to The Guardian.

According to Robert Fowler′s sources, two out of every three Americans would have been exposed to these comics to a greater or lesser extent. Reading the biography Matt Groening, the creator of the series ′The Simpson′, we cannot be surprised by the interest in Jack Chick comics. The cartoonist Daniel Clowes, Oscar candidate for his work ′Ghost World′, had already eagerly read many comics by Jack Chick before drawing and distributing the parody of ′Devil Doll′ (1989). Cartoonist Johnny Ryan has produced countless parodies and many of them have been printed and distributed by Monster Worship.

Jack Chick′s strategy is so good that young people like Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the creators of the ′Rick & Morty′ series, still imitate it. Justin Roiland himself encouraged his audience through his personal account on Reddit to start hunting the printed copies of the comic ′The Good Morty′ (2014). The comic appears for the first time in the episode ′Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind′ but it is also that 250 printed and signed copies were included in the Blu-Ray box with the first season that same year. The price of these copies on eBay is now so high that a genuine counterfeit business line has been created in parallel, which is the obsession of many collectors. There are hundreds of examples and only based on Donald Trump there are at least three different entitled ′Trump is the Antichrist′ (CultJam, 2016), ′Trump Tracts′ (Ethan Persoff, 2016) 0 ′I′m Rich′ (PCBA , 2019). Kathryn Rathke and Barry Wright printed and distributed enough copies of the latter to get the attention of the Seatle press.

The rock group Alice Donut already made a parody of the most controversial treaty in 1989 with an impressive video clip for the song ′Lisa′s Father′. Rodney Ascher, the director of the documentary ′Room 237′, dramatizes for television nine terrifying ones treated more in ′Hot Chicks′ (2006) but the definitive documentary about the world of Jack Chick is ′God′s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade Of Jack Chick ′(2008). Its director Kurt Kuersteiner gives in his own voice to informants of Jack Chick such as Rebecca Brown, Kent Hovind or the cartoonist Fred Carter. Fred Carter had refused to appear but the film′s director believes he was later forced by Jack Chick. According to Kurt, Jack did not want to appear in the media, but he was always interested in talking about him and the director had access even to the famous office ′THE WAR ROOM′.

Kurt Kuersteiner also gives his own voice to artists and collectors such as Ivan Stang, Harry S. Robins or Daniel Raemon, many of whom have created a collective called Church of the Subgenius. The collective is actually a performance that aims to satirize religion and that according to Stang, which is also known as the Rev. Ivan Stang, has already reached 40,000 members and annual benefits of $ 100,000. The first of his comics entitled ′SubGenius Tract # 1′ was published in 1981 precisely in Weirdo magazine by Robert Crumb himself.

The disadvantages of working on models

Reverend Ivan Stang, who is at the head of Church of the Subgenius, says in the movie that one of Jack Chick′s most interesting attributes is that, being so excessive, he automatically becomes the ideal character to imitate and parody. We have already seen it! This is the same reflection of Wired magazine when writing that you can produce a parody of Jack Chick without modifying a word or line of the original as in the movie ′Dark Dungeons′ (2014). People work on models and we can barely get to know anything beyond them. Unlike what we see God do, which he can create from nothing, we limit ourselves to modifying what we have already seen doing. ′God was the last original creator, the rest we just plagiarize,′ said John Hegarty, the head of the image of Levi Strauss & Co., quite common sense.

′What was it? The same will be,′ wrote the author of Ecclesiastes. The Persian terms in these texts lead some experts to date this book of the Bible around 450 BC ′What is it that It has been done, the same will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything that can be said: Behold, this is new? It was already in the centuries that preceded us. , nor of what will happen there will be memory in those who will be after. ′ The temptation to remake the entire knowledge system every generation not only affects theology; but yes, now we talk about Jack Chick, the cartoonist The Guardian recognizes as the most read theologian. Jack Chick had just entered an evangelical church when he already raised himself as a teacher of all and built his very particular worldview on the natural and supernatural world. Jack Chick argued that virtually all creation including the European Economic Union was satanic and to give credibility provides false biblical evidence.

The temptation in which Jack Chick falls directly connects with the very first stories of the Book of Genesis, which Robert Crumb has rightly returned to at the end of his life. The serpent did not have the slightest resistance in his argument when he said: ′You will not die; but God knows that the day you eat of him, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.′ There are few arguments more seductive than that for human beings, no matter if they are atheists or believers: it is not exactly the desire for something new but more particularly the desire to suspect and rival in opposition to God in relation to what he has created. Adam and Eve are not forced to leave Eden for wanting something new but for facing God. God is not shown in the Bible especially interested in preserving the same format of things indefinitely. In fact, the Book of Genesis opens precisely with a creation and a fundamental change in all aspects. Infinite texts of the prophets include messages of encouragement, based precisely on future new creations: “Behold, I am doing something new; it will soon come to light; Will you not know her? ”Writes the prophet Isaiah. ′Again I will make my way in the desert, and rivers in solitude.′

Robert Crumb recently told journalist George Kenney that he remains skeptical about religion, but that he is fascinated with the person of Jesus. Christ, in fact, shows himself in the gospels as that new creation of which the prophets spoke, saw himself as opposed to religion as the new wine capable of breaking old vessels. The desperation of human beings is caused by the inability to create something new but we talk about something very different if we talk about Jesus. That is why his contemporaries were amazed and exclaimed ′We have never seen such a thing.′ We certainly need something new but we need it in relation to our Creator. We need a new birth and a new relationship with one who can successfully restore and improve everything we have lost by turning our backs. A new life is possible not because it is more or less necessary, nor because it is more or less accessible. It is possible, as the apostle John said, ′because God so loved the world, that he has given his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not be lost, but have eternal life.′


This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as ¡Alguien Me Ama! La influencia de Jack Chick en el cómic underground


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