Jack T. Chick dies
Jack T. Chick, the author and publisher of numerous fundamentalist cartoon tracts, died on October 23, 2016, at the age of 92, according to the Facebook page of Chick Tracts. Writing in Los Angeles magazine in 2003, Robert Ito suggested, "With more than 500 million copies of his 142 books in print, including translations in more than 100 languages, Chick is the world's most published living author." But he was also hugely controversial, due to his uninhibited indictment of what he regarded as contemporary social evils — including abortion, Dungeons and Dragons, homosexuality, the occult, and rock music — and his equally uninhibited conspiracy theorizing, centered on but not limited to the Catholic Church.
Evolution was frequently in Chick's sights. Most famous was his tract "Big Daddy?" (originally published in 1970), which featured a clean-cut college student confounding his dogmatic professor on the topic of evolution by presenting "amazing findings which are rarely made public" showing that evolution is a "big lie." Later editions of the tract credited the flamboyant young-earth creationist Kent Hovind for his assistance. According to Randy Moore, writing (PDF) in Reports of the NCSE in 2013, "Big Daddy?" is "the most widely distributed anti-evolution publication in history." Also among Chick's antievolution efforts are "Earthman" (1990), which contends, "top scientists denounce evolution as a bad joke"; "In the Beginning" (2000), according to which "There was nothing prehistoric" (emphasis in original); "Apes, Lies, and Ms. Henn" (2004), featuring a teacher dogmatically presenting evolution to primary school students; and two full-length comic books, The Ark (1976), according to which the remains of Noah's Ark are on Mount Ararat, and Primal Man? (1977), which assails human evolution in particular.
Chick was born in Los Angeles on April 13, 1924. In 1942, he won a two-year scholarship at the Pasadena Playhouse School of Theater. His studies were interrupted by his service in the U.S. Army; he served three years in the Pacific theater and rose to the rank of sergeant. He graduated from the Pasadena Playhouse School in 1948. In the same year, while on his honeymoon, he was converted to evangelical Christianity by listening to a revival broadcast. Eager to spread the gospel but too shy for public speaking, he found the solution while listening to a discussion of comic books incorporating Communist propaganda in China. He established Chick Publications in 1970.