Jack Chick is best known as the creator of Chick Tracts, the little religious comics that predict dire fates for those who celebrate Halloween, read Harry Potter books, or adhere to any religion not approved by Chick. But how did he get his artistic chops?
At the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & Library Blog, Caitlin McGuirk posts a fascinating selection of Chick's pre-tract comics, a caveman series from the 1950s titled Times Have Changed? Like The Flintstones and BC, both of which came later, the comics use modern-day gags in a caveman setting. The writer was P.F. Clayton, and Chick handled the art.
The vintage-comics blog Strippers Guide has more samples of Times Have Changed?, although when the post first went up, in 2008, they didn't realize that the artist was that Chick. The official biography of Chick on his website says that he had liked to draw since he was a child, but there is no mention of his pre-tract comics: "He had always longed to be a professional cartoonist, but now as a Christian, he desired to use his artistic talents for the Lord."
Looking at his early single-panel work, it's hard to imagine that Chick would become the creator of a line of comics that would achieve such notoriety. Times Have Changed? looks like pretty much every single-panel cartoon published in the 1950s, with a fairly generic style and bland subject matter. The leap from that to the madness of Chick tracts such as Somebody Goofed shows considerable evolution, although not so much in skill as imagination — or maybe Chick was just bottling it up all along.