Thursday, 12 September 2013

Is this the earliest example of Jack Chick's career in comics ?

This might be the strangest, odd-ball find I've seen in a while - and I've seen my share. While poring through a collection of old Maclean's magazines that he recently acquired, cartoonist Seth came across this gag cartoon from the May 15, 1949 issue that looks to be done by none other than Jack Chick! Yes, that Jack Chick - now better known as Jack T. Chick, he of the notorious fire-and-brimstone Baptist comics.

Check it out.

That's definitely his name in the lower left-hand corner:

Sure, it's a pretty pedestrian gag , but if it's actually from the pen of Chick it casts some overdue light on his mysterious career: primarily that he was a published (secular) cartoonist 64 years ago. From what we know, Chick drew as a child and underwent his pivotal religious conversion after the Second World War thanks to his new bride, a Canadian-immigrant he met in Pasadena, California named Lola Lynn Priddle. Apparently she was very religious and during a visit to her family's home introduced him to a popular evangelical radio show from Charles E. Fuller that was responsible for flipping the God switch in his head.

The couple settled in El Monte, California where he got a job as a technical illustrator for an aerospace company. According to Wikipedia, he was too shy to evangelize to people directly so turned to comics in the 1950s after learning that the Communist Party of China had used comic tracts to gain influence among Chinese workers and labourers. He self-published his first tract in 1960, and established Chick Publications in 1970. The story since then involves a steady, relentless stream of freaky, reactionary (yet highly influential) tracts, comics and assorted material. But I've never read anything about his comics career prior to his religious conversion -- i guess until now.

Chick married Priddle in 1948: a year before this cartoon was published in Maclean's, one of two marquee venues for cartoonists of the day. Is it possible that Chick, then an illustrator/nascent cartoonist, was pointed in the direction of Maclean's by his new Canadian wife? Who knows. If anybody else has insight into this cartoon, and this period of Chick's comics career, I'd love to hear about it.

Jack T. Chick

Many thanks to Seth for alerting me to this.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

One more and it's a trend: Another letter-themed blog by a cartoonist

What are the chances? After blogging the other day about the letter-themed Tumblr by Julie Doucet and Simon Bosse, I came across a Tumblr by Geneviève Castrée dedicated to her love of stamps. A cartoonist and philately nerd: does it get any better?

The site is called Perdus dans la poste (Lost in the mail) and is a joy to scroll through. I am shocked how emotional I got looking at some of these stamps.

(Raymond Briggs)

(I collected stamps as a kid in Ottawa, and remember the above ones very well.) 

As Castrée writes the site was inspired by the slow decline of the US Postal Service (where she lives). As she puts it:

"When was the last time you wrote a letter? The last time you licked a stamp?
Some will say that we need to modernize, that we don’t need what is physical, what is paper anymore. 
Well, honestly, if that is how you feel I find you to be heartless.  A properly functioning national mail delivery service is what I call CIVILIZATION."

I can go with that. More below.