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This is an edited version of a story I did some years ago, set in a world where a certain Pasadena native takes up superhero comics and move to New York City rather than turning his talents as artist and businessman elsewhere.

Jack[1] met Eli[2] while they were serving together in the Pacific.

They both liked to draw, but Eli had managed to make a living at it!

The two became fast friends. Jack followed Gil back to New York when

the war ended in 1945. Jack never was a particularly talented artist,

but damn few artists had a better work ethic. He also had an

unexpected talent for doing business, and after he managed to get the

rights for the Mighty Crusader, Jack Liebowitz vowed never to work

with him again.

Gil Kane was one of the few Golden Age writers who served in the Pacific. In this world, they wound up in the same unit. JC is from the same generation as the Golden Age comics pioneers, but seems to have been a savvier businessman than they were most of his life. Note that moving to New York means he never meets his would-have-been wife back in Pasadena and is never converted by her to fundamentalist Christianity.

So Jack wound up at Marvel, nee Timely, working with Lee and

Kirby. Few people understood the art of the monster better than Jack;

his science fiction fiends were always especially gruesome, the fates of their

victims especially dire. He was a man who understood the power of horror,

and how to use it to shock and enlighten his

readers. He never did like the Code, and always preferred the work he

did for Bob Gaines to any of his later stuff. But he freelanced for

everyone who'd take him, and did fairly well for himself. He left the

field in the late 1950s and worked in advertisting for a while, but he

never did find a field he could really _believe_ in.

I'm assuming that JC is still didactic and still has the same writing tics: 'a grim world with terrible people beneath a happy suburban surface', etc. I think he'd fit in just fine at EC Comics. His post-Wertham career path tracks that of many Golden Age artist/writers who left the field.

When the Marvel boom started, Stan Lee rehired him at an even better

salary, figuring Jack was the only guy who could get along well with

Steve Ditko. It turned out to be one of Stan's better moves. The two

recluses worked best together, and Jack managed to get Steve to work

with him on Uncanny X-Men. Jack always worked best with members of an

oppressed minority battling against a wicked power structure, and his

new characters like Susan "Power Girl" Barnes and Deacon "Iron Fist"

Carter helped inject life into the flagging title. His stories were as grim and gritty as

the age allowed, often pessimistic tales of heroes who were

the only salvation in a dark world: he proved a major influence on a young Frank Miller.

Jack Chick does like doing grim, terrible urban cityscapes; it seemed like a natural leap to make him also write some pretty depressing urban superhero stories. As for his friendship with Steve Ditko, both men are famously anti-social recluses: in the alternate timeline, they strike up an unlikely friendship.

Jack's best books are generally considered to be the eerie, nearly

dialogue-free Uncanny X-Men #35 "Somebody Loves Me" and the grim, Code-

pushing Dr. Strange #9 "Dark Dungeons". The cover for Dark Dungeons

is on the cover of the recent "Marvel Masterworks" volume that collects his work,

though my personal favorite of his work is the cover he did for the graphic novel edition of

Batman: Year One.

These are, of course, titles of famous Chick tracts. I leave it up to the reader to imagine their plots.

Ultimately, though, Jack was the wrong temperment for the new

generation. Like his friend Steve Ditko, he didn't get along well with

the fans; he was just too much of a recluse. He could give autographs,

even quick sketches, but he hated conventions and the press.

(He famously appears as a blank outline in various Marvel Bullpen stories of the 1960s)

He left Marvel in 1970, joining Charlton during their brief flowering of the

period. A savvy businessman, Jack kept a portion of the rights to all

his characters, making him one of the few writer-artists to make a

solid living. His grim, pessimistic view of a dark and gritty world made his writing

a strong influence on Alan Moore's Watchmen. Indeed, Moore credited Ozymandius' famous

"Haw-haw!" to Jack's notes.

A world with no Chick tracts, but a world where Jack Chick helped write Watchmen and is probably the most famous writer of _The Question_. A better world than ours?

Jack supported himself with more advertising work in the interim,

occasionally cropping up at Marvel or DC to freelance. Though Marv

Wolfman always hotly denied it, a prelimary sketch from the period

does greatly resemble the faceless, glowing monster that was the Anti-

Monitor. He drifted out of sight until the 1990s, when a new

generation of fans discovered him via the Internet. Jack liked the

Internet fine, and soon established a thriving website and business.

A line of comics published under his own name proved to be one of the few

independent lines that survived the crunch of the 90s. Around that time,

Jack started making occasional apperances at conventions, even once

alongside his friend Steve Ditko. To the amazement of fans, he

actually gave a few interviews about the old days for Men of Tomorrow.

He makes a cameo appearance in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and


I'm making the assumption that Old!JackChick in this alternate reality is social enough to get out and actually meet the fans, a legacy of working in NYC rather than in the butt-end of Pasadena. He's more social than Ditko is now because JC seems to have a much stronger impulse to share stories and influence people than SD has.

He's had a mixed relationship with the Big 2 recently: his famously dogged

adherence to canon has made him not fit in well in the era of Joe Quesada's Spiderman

and Geoff Johns' Green Lantern, and he has made some enemies by quietly criticizing both.

In 2007, his face appears on a milk carton in Spiderman 3;

his most recent cameo was in Iron Man 2 where his picture

loomed ominously above Robert Downey Jr. in a Stark Industries board meeting.

At 87, Jack Chick is doing fine.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Chick

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Kane

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