Yesterday, a sort of legend died: Jack Chick, wildly prolific maker of tiny, usually unintentionally hilarious evangelical comics, went to go meet his faceless god at the age of 92. Chick made comics warning about the spiritual and real-world dangers of Halloween, Rock and Roll, Catholics, Jews, gay people, pretty much any secular interest, and, yes, he even had at least one comic about cars.
I’m also pretty sure that if Chick were to look at the lives of any of us really interested in cars, he’d find a way to suggest we’d all burn in hell within just five or six pages.
If you’re somehow not familiar with Chick and his cruel, bonkers worldview that was presented with all the subtlety of a meth’d-up jaguar wearing a jacket made of fireworks and airhorns, here’s a good video explainer:
Chick was relevant to car-lovers and even just general drivers for two main reasons: first, in the dark, dank, pre-internet days, Chick Tracts that you’d find in remote, rural gas stations often provided the best laughs of a long road trip. Second, there’s one comic about racing, called The Wall.
The Wall is pretty standard for a Jack Chick story, which means it boils down to this: basically decent person lives life, talks to someone evangelizing for Jesus but doesn’t convert right that fucking second– maybe they intend to, but, like, tomorrow. Then, decent person dies in the crazy short time before accepting Christ, whereupon a faceless god-figure banishes them to hell for all eternity.
There’s some clumsily-drawn racing scenes in the comic, of various eras of NASCAR cars and some nice fiery wrecks. There’s also the realization that the reason one of the drivers is doomed to spend an eternity in the boiling excrement of hell is because that driver, basically, loved his wife more than the idea of Jesus that another driver told him about four days before.
While I don’t agree with pretty much anything Jack Chick ever wrote, and I’m pretty sure that Roman Catholics didn’t engineer the Holocaust or that Harry Potter books won’t cause the wholesale destruction of humankind, I had a grudging respect for the guy. He was tenacious and prolific, and I’m pretty sure he coined the trademark Haw-haw! laugh later popularized by Nelson from the Simpsons.