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Mystery Science Theater meets Dark Dungeons


Secrets of Dark Dungeons

This is the story of the footnote in which Jack Chick claimed that CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were authors of the occult. Chick no longer makes this claim, but you might wonder why he ever did. That's what this page is about. Our story begins with a tract and a suppressed allegation, but leads by a narrow thread of evidence to the Illumnati.

The original page and its current version are reproduced below.

What Jack Chick doesn't want you to see

Jack Chick first published Dark Dungeons, his mindless diatribe against role-playing games, in 1984. It circulated among gamers, attaining the status of (dare I say it?) a cult classic. I saw it perhaps a year later; I got it from my brother, who got it from a gaming buddy of his.

As Chick Publications HTMLiorated their old tracts, it was only a matter of time before they got around to Dark Dungeons.

The official version now featured on their website tells the familiar story of young Debbie, a girl drawn into a cult that wears funny robes but quits to join a cult that burns books.

Strangely, one page has changed. The original tract warned readers about the satanic dangers of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, yet the version published on the web does not. Both versions are reproduced below for purposes of comparison. Has Jack perhaps realized that Middle Earth and Narnia aren't the havens of sin that he once suspected they were? Or has he knuckled under to pressure from devil-worshipping hobbit-lovers?


To be fair, consider this official response, passed from Chick himself through a representative of chick.com:

When we write the tracts we need to have printed information to prove what we are printing. He was told about C.S.Lewis and Tolkien by a man named John Todd. (That is why he printed it in the first edition). In trying to find written proof of this statement, we were unable to do so and the information was dropped. We must be able to prove what is printed by more than one source.

Evidently there is enough evidence to convince him of the silliness about role-playing, but not about Tolkien. And just who is this John Todd?

The man behind the curtain

Todd, it seems, was a fire-brand preacher in the late 1970's who travelled widely with a message of hate and fear. If you're deeply interested, you can turn up several articles by searching the web for his name. This is a typical description, attributed to the Last Times newspaper, March 1979:

Todd claims to have been an important figure in international witchcraft before his salvation, and has traveled to churches all over America preaching imminent attack upon believers by a loony conspiracy of European bankers, Spirit-filled Christian leaders, American politicians and the National Council of Churches, to name a few. What is now coming to light, however, is the picture of a severely disturbed individual whose Army records describe possible brain damage as a result of childhood beatings. They also tell of homicidal threats, false suicide reports and a severe personality disturbance leading up to a recommendation for discharge. Little of real substance is known about the turmoil he has caused in the past year because embarrassed Christian leaders are reluctant to talk about it.

When Todd began preaching, several sites report, Chick was one of the first to take him seriously and publicize his message. That much seems consistent even with Chick's own statement. It is unclear how much information about Todd is reliable, however, given the wilder claims made by some authors. Some sites, for instance, describe Todd's false imprisonment in South Carolina, recent release, and subsequent death at the hands of the Illuminati:

The day that John Todd was released from prison, the unconfirmed reports are that he was picked up by helicopter and murdered by being dropped into shark invested [sic] waters in the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, even the more extravagant sites offer no explanation for his condemnation of Tolkien and Lewis.

[Uncut version]
p. 19 of the original tract

[Bowdlerized version]
p. 19 of the bowdlerized tract