Article by José de Segovia from Madrid on Monday, January 13th 2020 ·.·★ Reading takes 9 minutes or 1768 words.
The author of these and other nightmares was Jack Chick (1924-2016), the editor and cartoonist of a series of publications that are now a growing object of study in the ′underground′ comic book world. Until his recent death, little was known about him, that there were only a couple of youth photos and a brief interview in 1975. To discover now the strange world of Chick is to face the marginality and eccentricity of the world in which some of us have been raised , but also like it or not, of which we are still part ...
This series is an exercise in empathy - something unusual in the age of the Internet, which feeds on controversy - an attempt at compassionate apologetics - to which Christianity is already little accustomed. In revealing the contradictions of most of Chick′s authors, advisors and collaborators - Alberto Rivera, Rebecca Brown, Jeff Godwin, John Todd, Kent Hovind - some of whom were later charged with fraud and even sentenced to prison - the two Ultimately for abuse, rape, aggression and tax evasion - we do not want to make a simple allegation of denunciation to show how bad these individuals are, but try to understand them critically. Since, in short, approaching this world is facing our own demons ... never better, talking about Chick!
The dramatic joins the apocalyptic conflict in a worldview as a mere scenario of a supernatural drama, where the spirits are not as real as physical life. It is that matter is nothing more than the appearance of a spiritual universe of angels and demons, where what matters is the destiny of the soul before the deception of the world. In this game of masks, reality is hidden. We must be on guard against all threats. Since, in this paranoia, nothing is as it seems.
What is behind the secrecy of Chick ?, which did not allow any recent data or photo to circulate during his life. According to the biographer who officially continues Chick′s work, David Daniels, it is the humility for which he did not want to give importance to his person, but to God. It is one of the themes that he insists on in his book and his YouTube videos While the documentary feature film by the professor of literature at the University of Tallahassee (Florida) Kurt Kuersteiner, author of the unauthorized guide to the art of Chick and specialist in subjects of terror, he suggests that it was not due to discretion or privacy, but because of the threats he was subjected to. Since according to the collector and student of Chick′s work, Robert Fowler, he believed he could be killed by fans of different religions. Probably, the reason is neither.
Daniels himself tells how at first he appeared on television shows with pleasure, but when they started laughing at him, he refuses to give interviews. It seems not because of fear of attacks or assassination attempts, since he was a soldier in the war and had no bodyguards. In fact, when the Los Angeles Times journalist visits him, he enters his house and observes that the garage is open. Chick was not like many of his Internet followers, who hide under pseudonyms not to show his face. What I think he couldn′t stand is laughing at him. His insistence on being called Little Jack speaks more of his pride, than of what he presumes. That′s how many of us, I didn′t accept criticism!
As a good evangelical, Chick makes war on his own. You do not have to give an account to anyone, because you are not under the supervision of any church or organization. He is a sniper. Like the Christians who now fill the networks firing at everything that moves, it does not represent any denomination or entity. He was supposed to be ′free Baptist,′ then charismatic, although he doesn′t even know the congregation to which he belonged. He says what he thinks. That is the vitality, but also the great weakness of the evangelical movement. It promotes free initiative, but always gives that feeling of chaos and confusion to everything around it.
No wonder it′s so anti-Catholic, Chick. He would be unable to submit to any hierarchy or authority. It is the free examination led to its most radical consequences, the Bible alone, as we interpret freely. Protestant without complexes, someone unable to dominate and control, who expresses what he thinks without any coercion, totally independent. This is described by the author of one of the recent studies on his world, the collector Robert Fowler, who is not even a Christian:
“Chick fits into the highest tradition of the underground press. His material is created, written, drawn and published by two people (Chick and artist Fred Carter). Even the distribution is very limited, mostly in small establishments, by word of mouth and sale by mail. Chick′s material is difficult to locate. Jack draws what he wants. He is not committed to anyone. His work is deeply personal, intense, often violent. The stories are about people, their mind and heart, not stuffed animals or teenage superheroes. The ads in treaties and comics are from the house. They are limited to cover. They are not paid advertising. There is no commitment to any advertiser. ”
At his death, the British newspaper The Guardian described him in his obituary as ′the most widely read theologian in human history.′ At the beginning of the century it had already sold four hundred million treaties. Now a cult object for the ′underground′ comic, it is compared to Robert Crumb and imitated in parodies by cartoonists such as Daniel Clowes, perhaps the greatest author of ′graphic novels′ currently. Boycotted by many Christian bookstores and even censored by governments such as Canada, his reputation as a ′cursed artist′ has only increased his prestige in the marginal world.
In this series that we now start in Entrelíneas we are going to comment on his most representative brochures of the different manias and obsessions of Chick, to follow not only his biography and thought, but also those of his most intimate collaborators with his lights and shadows. It is a team work, idea of José Pablo Fernández. I have chosen to begin his best-known treatise, ′This was your life!′, The best selling of all his publications. Not only because he was the most popular, but also because he did it the year I was born (1964) and inspired many of my teenage nightmares.
Like all Chick treaties, it has had a certain evolution over the years, since they change quite a lot from one edition to another. There is a second version in 69 and another in 72, while the one now known is from 2002. It has been translated into more than a hundred languages, adapting to different races, sexes and ethnic variations. There is even a version especially for Muslims.
Although almost every vignette is accompanied by a biblical text, many Protestants were scandalized by the physical representation of the divine Throne, where Christ is humanly visualized, even without a face. Most Christians are accustomed to the illustrations of Jesus, but Chick′s conservative circle not only uses only the English version of King James, but considers that the prohibition of images of the Decalogue extends to all visual representation of Jesus.
The strength of the comic is, however, in those dark and dark images. Angels and fire are reproduced with the literalness of traditional iconography. The tragic outcome is followed by an alternative ending, which presents the message of salvation. In the first version it is accompanied by what could be the moral life of the good Christian. As Chick is getting rid of evangelical moralism dispenses with this type of vignetting.
Me encanta la figura del personaje de píe fumando en pipa con el que comienza el folleto. Tiene un estilo de mediados de los años 60 que representa el tipo de hombre al que iba destinada la revista Playboy. Mientras bebe, aparece el hombre de la guadaña, que le provoca un repentino ataque al corazón. La imagen de su cuerpo en el ataúd bajo tierra, mientras celebran su funeral, es digna del mejor cómic de terror.
Tras intentar convencer al ángel que viene a buscarle en la sala de espera del juicio de que no es tan mala persona, se enfrenta a su vida proyectada en una inmensa pantalla en sesión nocturna al aire libre, tipo autocine. Para una generación como la mía, que entendía que ver una película era un acontecimiento colectivo, la sugerencia de Chick no puede ser más poderosa.
La sorpresa de la historia es que, a la hora de la verdad del Juicio final, la condena al Lago de fuego no es por robar o matar, sino por lenguaje sucio, miradas lujuriosas y aburrimiento en la iglesia… ¿Quién está libre de semejante culpa? ¡Yo no, desde luego!
Me refugió como el personaje del tratado en la oración del penitente. Y abrazo la promesa de Isaías 1:18 que me invita a “venir y estar a cuenta” con Dios, porque “si nuestros pecados fueran como la grana, como la nieve serán emblanquecidos; si fueren rojos como el carmesí, vendrán a ser como blanca lana”. Me reconozco como pecador y acepto a Jesucristo como mi Salvador y Señor… ¿Tú también?
This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as ¡Esta fue tu vida! ¿Estará tu nombre en el Libro de la Vida?