Trick or Tract: Satan, Jack Chick, and Other Halloween Horrors
Every autumn Christians throughout North America engage in hand-wringing disputes over what to do about Halloween. The discussions tend to reflect in microcosm how we interact with overtly secular aspects on a larger scale. Should we separate and stand apart, becoming a witness by our disengagement or do we participate and attempt to redeem the event by acts of hospitality and neighborly love?
Such discussions invariably involve some well-meaning believer recommending handing out “gospel tracts” to trick-or-treaters. And almost always, the tracks they have in mind are ones produced by the most frightful man ever to be associated with Halloween: Jack Chick.
While you may not recognize the name, if you’ve ever used the restroom of a truck stop then you’ve probably seen his work (they are always found there—always). Chick produces tracts and comics that look like work that R. Crumb would have produced had he attended Bob Jones University. For over twenty years the tracts have been used to spread such Christian messages as Catholics are going to hell and that the Holocaust was a Jesuit-led inquisition against the Jews.
To me, though, Chick is not just another anti-Catholic bigot. When I was a kid Jack Chick was the man who was responsible for more nightmares than the Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Nightstalker combined. Chick not only scared the hell out of me, he made me afraid that hell was all around me.
While his comic books are less well known than his tracts, they were a primary source of children’s literature around my fundamentalist church. In a typical display of twisted ’70s fundie logic, our congregation believed that comics about Satan and the occult were more wholesome than reading about Spiderman or Archie and Jughead. [more]