Question: "What are Chick tracts?"
Answer: Chick tracts are evangelical tracts produced by Chick Publications, Inc., based in Rancho Cucamonga, California. These booklet-style tracts carry attention-grabbing titles such as “A Demon’s Nightmare,” “The Execution,” “The Death Cookie,” and “Party Girl.” Each booklet contains a story, illustrated with cartoons, designed to grab attention and present its message in a clear, convincing manner.
Chick Publications was founded in 1966 by Jack T. Chick, who draws the cartoons to illustrate the tracts. In the past 50 years, hundreds of millions of Chick tracts have been distributed. There are currently over 100 different tracts available, and the most popular one, “This Was Your Life!,” has been translated into nearly 100 languages.
The artwork illustrating Chick tracts is simple, bold, and arresting. The tracts have a small format (about 3 by 5 inches), and most of them are about 20 pages long. They definitely pique interest. Whether or not a person likes Chick tracts, one thing is for sure: the tracts leave an impression. If you’ve read a Chick tract, you’re likely to remember it. Some people maintain collections of Chick tracts, and there is a permanent display of Chick’s work in the Smithsonian Institution.
Chick tracts have attracted much attention because of their lurid illustrations and sometimes-controversial subject matter. There are several titles in the collection that are specifically aimed at the Catholic religion, which Chick presents as false, demonic, and corrupt to the core. Other tracts take on evolution, the Mormon Church, and other religions. Chick is sometimes accused of overusing stereotypes to depict the unsaved and the self-righteous, but, of course, his tracts are cartoons.
Theologically, Chick tracts have the gospel right. They present faith in Jesus Christ as the sole means of salvation, and the warnings against sin and hell are biblical. However, Chick Publications is staunchly KJV-only, and some of their tracts are nothing more than diatribes against other, “non-inspired” translations.
The KJV-only position is unfortunate, given the tracts’ purpose of bringing sinners to Christ. But that issue, coupled with the off-putting portrayal of Catholics, makes the use of Chick tracts problematic. While some of these tracts do clearly relate the gospel, and God wants the gospel to be published (Mark 13:10), some Chick tracts could cause more problems than they solve.