Sunday, December 31, 2006

Biblical art project still lives

Just to update those who have been sending me email about when the "visions" project is going to get off the ground, (see posting: ARE YOU A CLOSET CHRISTIAN ARTIST, from 8.25.06).

To make sure we do this project justice, in both in production, distribution and marketing phases, we (Tim and I) are attempting to locate some outside capital specifically for this project, prior to getting the wheels of product started.

Given our industry experiences we have a pretty good feel on what we'll need to do this at the high quality standard we have in mind and want to have all the resources we'll need in place prior to making any commitments to the wonderful array of artists we have lined up.

There currently are a couple people and/or organizations that have shown an interest that we are in in discussion just sit tight, and you should be getting some word soon as to when we'll get off and running with this project, (which has generated a lot of excitment with book buyers I have spoken too over the last few months).

Stay tuned.

R. Luedke

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Day of Thanks?...Where does one start?

Today I am thankful for….

The numerous birds that I watch out my kitchen window each morning

That I live in a country where we can freely express our thoughts, beliefs and opinions

The health of my children

Continued daily reruns of Seinfeld

The majesty of a color-filled sunset

Twenty three years…and counting…with someone who loves me, no matter my numerous flaws and eccentricities

Being able to shut out the stress of the world and lose myself in music…if only for a short time

Real moist beef jerky

The ability to laugh so hard, that for a few moments, everything else is forgotten

Being able to discern the difference between spiritual and religious men

The wonderful homemade pumpkin pies my wife bakes this time of year

Learning that patience, love and compassion are stronger and more productive than anger and pride

The irreverence of Dane Cook

Knowing what it’s like to score the winning touchdown

The ability to visualize something and then being able to recreate it in a drawing or painting

Dogs and puppies

Knowing that someone who created all we have is interested in knowing me

The Rocky Mountains

The ability to experience striking out the cleanup man, with a sweet curveball

The multi-colored quilt my grandmother made me to keep me warm in college

The power-supply I draw on daily through the Holy Spirit, to energize me, direct me and lift me up when I am feeling low

A snowfall on Christmas Eve

Being able to make people laugh

The wisdom and knowledge that God has patiently waiting to share with me

James Bond marathons on Spike TV

Seeing my children grow into young adults

….and so much, much more!

When I sit and contemplate a list like this, I feel kind of ashamed of everything God has given me over my life, (not the tangible things like money and "stuff" but the little things), which for the most part I just take for granted. It's kind of like how we all feel once a year at Christmas....that we feel enveloped within the joy and spirit of giving and go out of our way to be nice and do things for others this one week a year.

If only we could be this thankful and filled with the spirit of joy and giving every day of the year, like we are around thanksgiving and Christmas...what would our world be like? Oh would be like the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, that Jesus talked about so much! It has always seemed like an impossible dream, when you look at everything that is going on in our world, but it can come closer. All it would take to start the ball rolling is you....each one of us makes the decision to change the way we live and simply shares that with one other person and instructs them to do the same.

It will be the MLM of Love!

Now that would be something to be truly thankful for!

RJ Luedke

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Limbaugh, Fox and Parkinsons

Pardon me for a moment as I do something that I despise and that's get political, (sort of), but I just can't ignore this without saying something publicly:

Reading the internet and my local papers today, I see where Rush-Limbo publicly came out yesterday on his radio show to say that Michael J. Fox was "either acting or off his meds," when he spoke out for a democratic candidate for congress who happened to support stem-cell research, (which is crucial for developing a cure for diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers), because the ticks and radical uncontrollable movements associated with the disease were present for all to see.

It appears the pot is calling the kettle black here and Rush is the one who must be off his ("illegal") meds, for making such an incredibly uninformed and desperate attempt to stain the reputation of a man who is the face of the cause of finding a cure for Parkinson's disease in this country. But, oh yeah...his politics differ from Rush's so it's okay to totally distort the true about him!

If you know Mr. Fox's story at all, you are familiar with his history with this disease, how it has affected all facets of his life, (marriage, career etc...) and how he has valiantly persevered and used his celebrity status to make Americans and our government more aware of the effects of diseases like Parkinsons and the degree to which they are prevelent our society.

If you've seen Mr. Fox at all in his public presentations to groups around the country, including the Congress (which I'm sure someone as professional as Rush would do...ya'know do research before stating his opinion on a subject)'d know that he is not acting....this is the degree to which this disease is affecting him. Conditions such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers, can cause such vivid symptoms and that they cause people to totally withdrawal from public life, due to their inability to control them and their embarrassment because of it. Ask the Reagans how this affected their father,(our former president), Rush!

The skeptic might say..."but I've seen Mr. Fox in a movie or TV role over the past few years, he didn't have those kind of movements and ticks then!" Having heard Mr. Fox address this subject previously, it's because for him to do even a cameo role requires extreme amounts of medication, dedication and discipline...even for 30 seconds of "non-ticky camera time". He can pull it off, but it is completely exhausting and mentally dehabilitating for him after it is completed.

Rush is good theatre. He is an actor playing a part, no more or less than Mr. Fox has been in movies or TV. But where Parkinson and how Stem Cell research is related to it is concerned, that's where the acting ends and real life begins for Mr. Fox. He will in all likelihood die from this disease, so his speaking out on this issue, is partly out of trying to save his own life, where Rush's opinion, (like all of his opinions), is simply part of his act as a right-wing shill because agreeing with Mr. Fox and his cause, could hurt a republican's chance for election to the congress...and of course never let it be said that Rush lets the truth get in the way of politics!

It continues to amaze me how millions of people in our country take every word or opinion that comes out of his mouth as the gospel truth. My father taught me as a socially-politically developing teen, "Always beware of someone who is absolutly sure he is always correct, because the chances are, they are either misinformed, myopic, or just plain ignorant of all sides of an issue."

Remember people, this is the same man who came out and said publicly that our government and justice system is too lenient on recreational drug users, but then when he is caught massively abusing illegally obtained pain pills, rather than just "walk his talk" and facing up to his addiction, (or the PC term, his disease), like Mr. Fox has publically done with his disease, Rush hid behind the skirts of his high-priced legal team did everything he could to avoid facing up to his crime and paying his debt to society... (just like those he so elegantly criticized for doing so in the past). It was the ultimate chance for him to show the world his strength of his character and how much he truly believes the opinions he states empirically on his show...and he failed this listener on both counts.

Michael J. Fox is ten times the man that Rush can ever hope to be and I salute him for his courage!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wizard World Texas is Coming!

I just wanted to mention to the world, (or all seven of you who visit here regularly…LOL), that I will be attending the Wizard World Texas pop culture convention, in Arlington, Texas...which is sponsored of course by Wizard Magazine.

The convention is being held from Friday November 10th through Sunday November 12th at the Arlington Convention Center, (which is right next to 6 Flags Over Texas and the Ball Park in Arlington). For more information about location, hotels and tickets, visit Wizards website:

So if you live in the DFW area, or Texas, or the southwestern U.S., why don’t you plan on attending the largest pop culture related convention in Texas? There’ll be plenty of comics, graphic novels, books, games, music, movie stars, TV stars, pro. wrestlers, masks & costumes, electronics and lot’s of FREE stuff!

You can find me in the Artist Alley section, (which is usually a separate room from the main exhibit hall), at table 2460. You’ll be able to get autographed copies of both of the Eye Witness graphic novels, (as well as my earlier works: Template and No Justice/No Piece) and pickup a FREE Eye Witness poster, (which retails for $4.50 on our web-site); and if I’m feeling ambitious, maybe even an original sketch. Or just stop by and chat about God, Comics, the state of Christianity or just our crazy world!

Hope to see you there!

Robert Luedke
Head Press Publishing

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's the Buzz?

Just wanted to share some of the wonderful comments & reviews we are receiving on Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, (book two in the Eye Witness graphic novel trilogy).

"Your artistry really helped bring a great story alive for me. And linking it to the modern day saga only served to heighten the mystery and majesty of what occurred two thousand years ago.”

Alan Palmer
Producer WKCT-AM

“The language of the apostles, the Jews and the Romans in ancient Jerusalem is presented in a contemporary American vernacular. The story of the apostles (especially the conversion of Paul) is told with lively interest. The modern day plot of attempted assassination is equally of interest with its twists, turns, and unexpected developments. Eye Witness: Acts Of The Spirit, is a unique, entertaining, imaginative, and very highly recommended graphic novel for readers of all ages.”
Michael J. Carson
Midwest Book Review

“Luedke’s talent will entice children and young adults to read where they may have resisted previously. The illustrations are beautifully done. The content is a beautiful way to illustrate the love of Christ for each of us. It is with great pleasure that I highly recommend this book to parents that want their children to discover the true story of the resurrection.”

Debra Gaynor
Reader Views
If you would like to share your thoughts on either of the first two Eye Witness graphic novels, (A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth or Acts of the Spirit), please post your thoughts/review on the "Customer Review" section of our listings on, (
I look forward to seeing your feedback.
Walkin' in the Spirit,
Robert James Luedke

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Next Great Awakening?

This topic has been gnawing at me since I read the article in my local paper last week, (Sept. 13th), about President George Bush telling a press conference of exclusively conservative journalists, that he senses a “third awakening” of religious devotion occurring in the United States.

For those not familiar with the term “awakening”, it is defined as, “A period of intense religious fervor, spreading over entire geographic regions.” In the past, awakening in this country have been the precursor to the creation of new denominations, social and/or political changes.

Since Mr. Bush was making this observation strictly to journalists he would basically consider friendly to his politics and theology, my assumption was this was his way of signaling the start of his campaign to rally the conservative Christian voters back into the fold, who may have drifted off over the past two years due to dissatisfaction with his administration. It’s pretty much common knowledge that Mr. Bush’s courtship of this large and very influential part of our society was key to his re-election.

So when things are looking bad on the political front, what should any good politician do? Play the God card and rally his forces, (“onward Christian soldier, marching off to war…”)!

My thoughts are, that the President feels this upcoming awakening, (like those before it…either two or three, depending on which scholar to choose to read on the subject), will foster many more people taking an active part in religion in this country, like they have in past awakening…which could only help the power base of conservative republicans. And you know what? He may very well be correct about this revelation…but not with it’s cause or effect!

From my over 10,000 miles of road trips, convention appearances and book signings this summer, I developed a pretty good feel of how the secular world views Christianity in this country. Since I have been mainly marketing the Eye Witness Christian themed graphic novels in secular venues, (re: comic-pop culture conventions, mainstream comic and book stores), I have had a great opportunity to gauge how young people react to even the mention of Christianity in locations where it is usually not found. What I have discovered is, that I agree with the President, that there could indeed be an awakening coming. But unfortunately, the coming awakening may not repopulate the ranks of existing denominations, but rather it might spurn the traditional church and it’s dogma and go into either totally new directions or really old ones*, (I’ll explain this further)!

In his reported comments to the press, the President stated that there was a cultural change that happened from the conservative 1950’s to the more liberal 1960’s…and according to Bush, “I think there’s change happening here (and now)…that there will be a third awakening,” (although some scholars already say that the period between the 50’s and 60’s was already the fourth awakening). That misrepresentation aside…I think he is right on target with the feeling that something of a cultural revolution along the same lines as the 1960’s could be on our horizon, that will indeed also radically effect the spiritual nature of our society. But what the President fails to take into consideration is, that in all previous documented awakening in this country, the religious status quo is always questioned and many times radically altered…which I do not think is the effect that Mr. Bush is really hoping for in tapping into this bit of our spiritual history!

Here is a capsulated history of great awakening in the United States**:

In the first awakening, (1730’s to 1740’s), religion became intensely personal to the average man and he became passionately involved in it, rather than just engaging in being a passive listener. Christianity was taken to the slaves, established religious authority was challenged, and people began to study the Bible in their homes rather than solely relying on their priest or pastor.

The second awakening, (early to mid 1800’s), was characterized by a wave of religious-social activism and emergence of many new denominations, (Methodists, Baptists and the Restorationists), that were focused on reaffirming many of the traditions of the original church, as described in the New Testament. During this time the country saw the creation of several Christian institutions still operating today, (American Bible Society, The Church of Christ and the Latter Day Saints movement).

The third great awakening, (1858 to 1908), was also known as the missionary awakening. Numerous social reforms were undertaken during this awakening, including child labor laws, compulsory elementary education and protection for women in the workplace. Both the YMCA and the Salvation Army were founded during this awakening to answer social needs. And Christian Science was created in an attempt to create a more culturally relevant approach to religion in a growing secular society.

As I already noted, some scholars think the fourth awakening occurred in the late 1950’s to the 1960’s, when many groups within society rejected the more conservative social mores of the 1950’s era. During this period, there were many changes reflected in society in regards to our feelings about war, segregation, school integration, and civil rights for all citizens of the United States, not just a chosen few. This awakening gave rise the development of many new sects, and the formation of the non-denominational mega-church and Para-church movement.

One of the common elements in all these awakenings is the social upheaval that accompanies them. Based on what I saw and heard this summer, my read on society is that a great many people, (especially the teen to “20-somethings” generation), feel a sort of disconnect to Christianity because it has become a, “love us or leave us proposition,” through it becoming so politicized. Because it has become the banner behind which the far right (politically speaking), gathers under, the observation by this age group is, if you do not share their political beliefs, than you cannot “be a good Christian.” And those who do not march in lock step politically, can be considered not only a foe to their political ideology, but also by association, maybe even to God himself?

This type of rhetoric is problematic for a number of reasons. One, that the average un-churched young person who is not familiar with Jesus, his gospels and the foundation of his teachings, will not understand the difference between someone who is truly representing Jesus in his life, with those “who are playing the Christian card” to achieve their personal or political goals. Two, if they happen to disagree with right wing political thought, they might then feel that Christianity must not be for them...since to be Christian is to follow a specific political ideology only, (which is the total opposite of what Jesus taught). This will have, (and really is already having), a chilling effect on this current generation, who rather than deal with this enormous barrier, are just choosing to marginalize faith and belief in God in their lives. And this is the spark that could light the fire of the next great awakening!”

*In the sixth paragraph, (in what is morphing from a blog entry to a novelette), I mentioned that I would explain the term “really old ones,” when referring to directions our country has taken during an awakening. In the second awakening, among the groups of emerging denominations came the Restorationists. This is defined as a number of different groups during this time all set out with one goal in transcend current religious tradition and dogma, and restore Christianity to it’s original form, as described in the New Testament by Jesus’ apostles. Their goal was to bring Christianity back to the way it was practiced in the original first century Church. At this time in our history this movement included the Baptists and Methodists.

The Restorationists of this time believed that the Christian religion was weakened and too divided, due to unreasonable loyalty to creeds, man created traditions and doctrines that made salvation seemed unattainable. Sound familiar? It was the same argument made by Jesus himself against the religious establishment of his day, and the same observation is pertinent in our society today!

If we view our current day religious landscape, we can see the seeds of a restorationalist movement already taking shape, through the increasing popularity of: Non-denominational churches, (which utilize many non-traditional methods and tools to connect to their communities); missional based churches; the Emerging Church movement; and the popularity of authors like pastor, Brian McLaren, (who has been recognized by one of TIME magazine’s 25 most Influential Evangelicals in America). In his most recent book, The Secret Message of Jesus, McLaren speculates that through history “the church” either manipulated and/or just left behind the true message of Jesus and the original Church…which is, that the Kingdom of God was in the here and now, and could be attained and embraced by all. According to McLaren, waiting for heaven was not what Jesus had in mind, but for all the people to be able to experience Heaven on Earth during their lives.

These kinds of shifts can only occur if there is a significant dissatisfaction with the religious establishment and our social condition, by both those in the clergy and those sincerely wanting to locate God but not finding him accessible through the Church, as they perceive it.

So fasten your seatbelts gang and get ready, for our beloved President may be right and the next great awakening is coming. As Bob Dylan wrote (during the last great awakening), “The times they are a changing”…and that is a good thing, if it allows more people to connect to Jesus!

Robert James Luedke, is the author and illustrator of the graphic novels… Eye Witness: A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth & Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit. Copyright 2006.

**source: Wikipedia.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Artist/illustrator update

Since my last posting, (which I had duplicated only on one Christian Comic message board), we've heard from a handful of other closet-Christian-creators who've expressed an interest in the as of yet, un-named illustration project we are putting together, (see previous post for details).

Now on board:

Darren Brady
Howard Bender
Bob McLeod
Ron Frenz
Joe Devito

I cannot wait to see whom surfaces once we release our first general media press release on this in the next few weeks!

Robert Luedke

Friday, August 25, 2006

Are you a Closet-Christian-Artist?

Periodically, I receive emails and phone messages from artists looking to do some work for HPP. Unfortunately, at this time I do not have the projects to offer them...even the real pro's out there, just looking for a gig.

But that is about to change....
(Trumpet please: Ba, Ba, Ba...BAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!)....

Writer, Tim Lasuita (Comic Buyers Guide, Mad for Kids et. al...), and I are in the conceptual stages of a project artists and illustrators may have an interest in...especially you closet-Christian-artists out there, who just don't have an outlet to use your God given talents in worship!

We are currently in the process of putting together the first in what will be a series of DVDÂ’s/books that will provide illustrations of the best-known stories/events from the Bible. Our goal is to have a full spectrum of styles and visions represented, (from fine art, to traditional DC-Marvelish style, to abstraction, to chartoonish, to manga), so that this project is open to professional class artists from all styles.

Our primary target audience for these DVDÂ’s will be churches, youth ministries, missionaries and outreach programs, (both domestically and abroad), that would like to integrate cutting edge modern-graphics into their programs and literature which will appeal to their younger audiences and replace the same old clip art they have been using since the dark ages. Alternatively, the finished product, (along with an accompanying published version for the book trade and comic book market), will also be of interest to fans of finer illustration everywhere, especially because of its eclectic collection of styles.

At this time the specific compensation details are being worked out, but in a nutshellÂ…there will be a nominal fee paid to the artists on the front end, with the potential to earn royalty income based on the volume of sales. In addition, each artist will retain the rights to the original artwork and the reproduction rights outside of those required for the project, and we will even assist them in marketing sales of ancillary products, (t-shirts, lithographs etcÂ…), through the infrastructure we create to market this product on the web, (including turn-key order processing if needed). But to be honest, we hope to attract creators more for the appeal of the project and the ability to use it to express the artists talents in a form of worship, verses a "what will I be getting for this" type of mentality.

Currently, our list of tentative participants is: Samaxx Randolf, Mario Ruiz, Dick Ayers, Bob Wiacek, John Workman, Frank Bolle, Brian Rood, Josef Rubenstein, Rudy Nebres, Rich Bonk and Keelan Parham.

This is a wonderful way for artists and illustrators to not only have their work introduced to a whole new audience around the globe, but to use their incredible gifts to express their love and vision of God, as well as do their part in bringing about a renaissance of popular art within Christian worship.

We are currently gauging the number of creators within the artistic community, who might have an interest in becoming involved in this project. If you do have an interest and would like to learn more, than start by contacting me at:

Once we have established the number of potential contributors that will participate, we will provide a complete breakdown of the full compensation plan, and detail our specific production schedule, marketing and distribution plans...from which participants can make a final decision.

Look for that information to be coming in early Oct., once I am done with my primary marketing push for Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit. Whether you are interested or not, please share this opportunity with overt, or closet-Christian-Creators you may know, who might have an interest.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Robert James Luedke

Monday, August 21, 2006

A PR Primer...Count it all as Joy!

Hi again!

After a six week absence, I am back online to share some of what I have learned on the first three legs of my summer appearance tour.

Wow, you never know how taxing both physically and mentally life on the road (for business) can be till you try it!

Over all the summer tour has been very interesting as I have had some nice groups of people join me in some locations, and little to none in others, (more on this later).

The International Christian Retailing Show, (ICRS, formerly known as the CBA International), was very exciting, as I gave out 150 samples of Acts of the Spirit, to retailers and distributors, in less than 45 minutes.

Comic Con International was great! We had our best year yet, sales wise, and made many nice connections with other Christian publishers of comic books and graphic novels, as well as with the local and national media, (more on this later also). Sunday's spiritual themes in comics panel, was very well attended, (I had counted about 70 at the highest point), and it generated some wonderful dialog back at the table on the exhibit room floor, (which was right next to the Christian Comics Arts Society).

Wizard World Chicago, was somewhat of a mixed bag, as one tends to get spoiled by CCI. But I did not do as well as I would have liked saleswise and got the same vibe I felt back at CCI in 2004, when I premiered the first Eye Witness book, (like many were afraid to stop when they saw my banner with the ascending Jesus, because they thought I might preach to them or maybe shout out, "REPENT, REPENT YOU SINNERS!"). We have overcome that in San Diego, but this was my first time in Chicago since the late '90s, so I'll get you "flatlanders" some slack.

The great thing about the tour has been the large amount of press coverage it has generated. Most of it very wonderful and complementary. Some not so much. Case in point, read over this article which ran in the L.A. Times last Saturday, August 19th:,1,336917.story?coll=la-headlines-California&ctrack=1&cset=true

Yes, the angle this article took was indeed a surprise,(as the reporter had spent about 3 total hours with me learning about me, my testimony, my mission, the industry and the creative process of making a graphic novel), but the fact the this signing was poorly attended was the focus of her piece?

I've been contemplating/Praying about how to accept a slam or count it "all as joy".
My initial reaction, was that as a Christian, we all know it's good to be transparent, but of course on the other hand, we also realize as a businessman/marketer, that sometimes that does not jive with the message we are trying to convey. In other words, we have a positive message we "try to present" to the media about our products/projects, and would prefer they did not point out the negative, (ex: that "no one purchased a book at a particular booksigning"), along side that message.

BUT TO CARIFY...I had put together this whole summer signing tour months ago, and had made certain assumptions about the level of support, (marketing/media), I would receive from the participating retailers on the tour. But here's a lesson learned, that I will share with my brother artists and publishers. Assume nothing! You must followup to make sure they (the retailers) are doing what they promised as far as marketing of these events. During the west coast tour especially, I learned this lesson after a couple stops had did virtually nothing to promote the signings, in-store or outside of it, (including not even having books on display in the store prior to my arrival), which I will point to in paritially explaining the empty seats at the signing in question in the L.A Times article.

After learning this lesson, I increased my level of followup both to the store managers and the local media in the next stops, (because they certainly were not going to do that in most cases). This did not result in huge turnouts at every stop, but at least greatly improved my chances.

But what it all came down to with someone like me (unknown author) at these booksignings in all manner of stores, was my ability to get local coverage in the media. In Cities like Minneapolis, I could not make that happen, and as Sherwin Schartzrock can testify, (because we did a joint signing there)...that gave us a lot of time to catch up and philosophize about the meaning of life and the state of the industry, while sitting at our table.

But on the other hand in cities like Eau Clair, St. Jospeh and Dubuque,(where I had radio, TV and newspaper coverage), I had people in the seats for very nice Q &A's and even sold a half dozen or so books in each location.

Should we expect more than this? Not unless we are Steven King or Ann Rice...according to media expert, Whitney Kelley, (of A. Larry Ross communications). She says, the typical author at a signing, taking all levels of familiarity by the public into consideration, will sell only 7 books on average at a signing!

Unfortunately, she didn't pass on that nugget of wisdom to me, until well after I had made my plans.

But potential poor showing aside, I look at my summer tour, (from this point forward to be referred to as: "Bob's excellent adventure"), as not a sales success, but definitely a PR success. Making appearances like this, gives local media a reason to cover you...because they have a local event with which to key/angle their coverage of your message, where they might have ignored it otherwise. Off the top of my head, the first three parts of this tour have generated: 6 feature newspaper articles, (5 good, 1 LA Times), 2 TV features and a handful of local radio interviews, (not to mention web only coverage).

Visit a couple of the good ones:

Who among us, would not consider that kind of exposure of our works, (and the Spirit of God within them), as a blessing?

Now excuse me, while I shlank back to my cave and prepare for the last two legs of the tour!

Robert Luedke is the author/illustrator of Eye Witness: A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth and Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Oh My God....I'm a MUTANT!!!!

Here’s some food for thought (1)…

…The comic book (and also movies), about the X-Men, has capitalized on the concept of mutants existing along side homo sapiens on earth. These mutants have special gifts, which “normal men” do not. These mutants become ostracized and persecuted by other men out of fear and jealousy. The concept is very appealing because it is looked at as a metaphor for persecution of minority groups, (I.E….Jews, gays, you name it). But I see a different parable working within the framework of the X-Men…That men of God, who have truly received Christ in their lives as their savior and accepted the Holy Spirit, are changed into, “God’s Mutants!

MUTANT Defined: 1. Undergoing mutation; resulting from mutation. 2. A new type of organism produced as a result of mutation 3. He who has changed.

The Old Testament prophet Samuel, said it very plainly, "The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power and you will be changed into a different person!"

Food for thought (2)… Are you really utilizing the “special talents” God has gifted you with, (those set of natural skills and life experiences that make you uniquely you…your Mutant Abilities, so to speak), or are you keeping them from the world?

We all have them, (our mutant abilities), just some of us either: Don’t want to admit to them; feel embarrassed by them; don’t see a use for them; or haven’t quite figured out what our talents are.

The New Testament, speaks quite a bit about our talents or special gifts. In fact, in the book of Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul, it is said that when we accept Jesus in our lives as our savior we are given God’s Holy Spirit, through which we are changed and given our special gifts, or those gifts we already had since before our conception, will now come to the surface.

Jesus himself speaks quite a bit about the nature of God’s Mutants, (true followers). He describes us as not quite fitting in with the rest of the world…as being “in the world,” but not being “of the world”. We are described as being literally like aliens on our own planet! Have you even felt that like? “Hey, I know I’m a human being, but I just don’t feel like I belong with most of those around me, or what society thinks I should be. Why do I see things so differently than most of people I meet?” That’s because YOU ARE DIFFERENT…you are God’s Mutant!

In the book of his Apostle, Mathew, (25:14-30), Jesus talks about our “special talents” and our responsibility to use them, or lose them, (so to speak). We are directed to take our God gifted talents, and to use them to, (using a parable), plant seeds, cultivate and harvest an abundant crop. Crop of what? A crop of New (God's) Mutants of course!

We are all called, when we become believers, to share God’s Glory, (or simply put, the process that we ourselves have experienced through accepting God…salvation, forgiveness of past, present and future sins...and our awakening or discovery of, our “Mutant abilities” that God has gifted us with). Through this sharing we allow other people to experience that joy for themselves, also find salvation…and tap into their “Mutant Abilities.” To keep our joy and “Mutant abilities” to ourselves is to waste them! God gave them to us for a reason. It is our job to discover that reason, or purpose, and go out and use them. If we don’t, to paraphrase Jesus, “then we are like a lamp that is kept under the bed at night…it does not provide any light to those who need to see in the darkness!”

This is very reflective of how my life had become. God had gifted me with a very natural and incredible talent to draw, which became very evident in my life as early as 6 years old, when I could master drawing in perspective without even understanding what the heck perspective was. By 8 years old I was being passed around the classrooms in my school, to do portraits of the teachers. But even though, my “special talents” always defined me, I never fully put them to use “in the world”.

(SIDEBAR: Isn’t it curious how “the world” looks at those with artistic abilities…. I.E., writers, artists, song writers, poets etc…that though we have a special gift, those skills are not looked at as really important to making a living, like those gifted for business, engineering, sales etc.)?

It wasn’t until I accepted God/Jesus in my heart, mind and soul that the true purpose for my “Mutant Artistic Abilities was shown to me…to share God’s word through Graphic Novels/Comic book presentations. In my life those God given artistic talents, though used to varying degrees, were never a “LIGHT TO THOSE WANDERING IN THE DARKNESS,” until now. And only then, was inner peace given to me through purpose that was never present in my life.

It’s amazing the number of stories that this you will hear from incredibly talented individuals, (artists, actors, musicians, writers and even athletes), who reflect this same idea! A skeptic might say, “but what about all those successful artistic or talented people, who do not believe?” I would answer, their level of success will be fleeting and of “this world”, (money, fame, idolatry), but will not be of a lasting nature.

Success in God’s eyes is eternal and alternatively not using our God given “Mutant Abilities”, leads to separation from God eternally, (remember, most of us are on this earth only about 70 years, but then with God forever…or not)!

Jesus told us, “For everyone who has, (talents), will be given more and he will have abundance. Whoever who does not have, (doesn’t use those talents), even what he has will be taken away from him and he will be thrown outside into the darkness.”

So, revel in your “Mutant Abilities”! Like Professor X would say, “Find the purpose for them…. and go out and be a light for other men with them, rather than using them for mere personal gain!”

There is where you will find fulfillment in life as “God’s Mutant!”

Copyright, Robert James Luedke, 2006.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Like many people who have come to Jesus, (in the literal sense), later in life, I was motivated by the eternal questions:


For a vast majority of those who hit mid-life these are questions that seemed to be ingrained within our subconscious, some might say like our natural instincts to hunt, or to pursue the opposite sex, or to raise a family. These basic instincts seem to almost haunt us as they constantly rear their head in times of solitude, or introspection.

We all want to feel wanted. We all want to feel we are special or unique. We all want to feel we have an intrinsic value…that we matter in some way in the big-picture of life!

For those not yet connected to God, they may pursue answers to these questions through all manor of methods: Higher education; pursuing an upwardly mobile career path; through alcohol or drugs; through sexual conquest; through marriage after marriage; through rebelling against the norms/customs of their culture…and the list is endless.

But for many, (myself included), the path of self discovery always leads back to one direction...we can only truly find ourselves when we find God!

I’ll use myself as a guinea pig for this example. I felt I had a number of natural talents that other people around me just didn’t seem to have. I was artistically talented, even at the age of 8, where the 2nd grade teachers would pass me from classroom to classroom to do portraits of the teachers and I always seemed to embraced the limelight, and had no fear of speaking in front of a group of people whether big or small.

I always just took these things for granted, because they were always there, always inside of me. It never occurred to me that I was different than 99% of my classmates because in 1st grade I already understood how to draw in perspective and what vanishing points were. No one ever taught me, I just instinctively seemed to know! But even armed with this “special talent or gift”, I could never really find my place or use for it in the work-a-day world. And it was not for lack of trying either! I attempted to use my artist talent to: Create a daily comic strip; to become a free-lance illustrator; to design giftware and to create and publish secular based comic books. But nothing special, successful or profitable ever came from my artistic-based career pursuits.

Than something changed drastically in my life, when in 1999, I surrendered my pride and my life to Jesus and accepted him as truly the Son of God and my savior. (To view my complete testimonial on how and why this occurred, visit the webpage: ) For the better part of the first two years of my journey toward and with God, I prayed often about discovering who I was, what was my purpose and for God to reveal to me my reason for being. In a morning of prayer, in Dec. 2002, God answered my questions! That morning, he kind of shook the cobwebs out of my head and said…”HEY…THE ANSWER IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! WHY DO YOU THINK I GAVE YOU THIS INCREDIBLE NATURAL ABILITY THAT MOST PEOPLE ONLY CAN MARVEL AT, IF I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO USE IT FOR A VERY SPECIAL PURPOSE?” (I am of course paraphrasing the message I received through prayer that morning). “ I DESIGNED YOU TO USE YOUR ARTIST TALENTS AND YOUR COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS TO SPREAD MY WORD IN A WAY AND TO AN AUDIENCE THAT IT IS NOT BEING SPREAD TO NOW.”

For me that could only mean one thing…I was to use the art-form/literary genre with which I was the most familiar with and which God, (through my life experiences to date), had led me to become knowledgeable of and adept at…the comic-book style of storytelling. Further, it meant that this little story that had been floating around in the back of my head, almost from the day I became born again in Christ, was how I was to focus those talents. And thus, Eye Witness was born and suddenly I had my purpose! I was so excited by this revelation, that I called my wife long-distance to tell her of this development, (she was on vacation with my kids in another state at the time)! She gave me the ol’…”that nice honey…did you remember to feed the dog?” But as time went by, she came to realize the enormous impact this day truly had on my life.

This is one of the wonderful benefits of accepting Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life. You may for the first time, understand your place in God’s big picture. You may for the first time, be able to see yourself as the unique, wonderful creation that God has made you. And you may for the first time, understand why you’ve experienced some of the strange, traumatic and confusing situations that made up your life experiences…because it all has a purpose in who you are now!

Everyone will not be an artist or writer for God, just like everyone will not be a pastor or minister to a congregation. But my point of this post is, that there are so many parts to the body of Christ, that everyone has value and can contribute. Some teach, some serve, some mentor, some council, some entertain and inspire, some evangelize, some soldier, some pray, some sing and some administer. God has gifted us all in a unique way to take on his directions for us. The wonderful challenge and reward of truly allowing the Holy Spirit to work within you, is discovering what piece in God’s cosmic puzzle you are!

Resources: To help you understand this thought and lead you down the road to further discovery, I would suggest reading, Rick Warren’s A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, and Renee Hornbuckle’s, THE POWER OF PASSION: Finding and Following the Path to your Passion.

Copyright 2006, Robert James Luedke, author of... Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit and Eye Witness: Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Christian Comic Books: Why we do it?

The article posted this week in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel webpage, (, “Comic Books Increasingly Making Reference to Faith,” made me think quite a bit about why the comic book industry in the U.S. has not embraced what I would think a potentially lucrative genre for them, (since Spiritual based works are constantly at the top of USA best seller book lists).

The article quotes noted comic book writer, Fabian Nicieza* , saying, “I don’t know of any mainstream publisher who would bite ‘that’ bullet too hard, not in fear, but concern of not wanting to divide their audience.” In one sentence I think Nicieza does a pretty good job of summing up the dichotomy facing those who create Christian based comic books and graphic novel properties. On one hand, we (the editorial we) wish there would be more industry wide acceptance and therefore more publishers open to publishing our stories. But on the other hand we realize, (if only subconsciously), that if a larger publisher, say a Marvel or DC, created a Christian or Spiritual publishing arm, in all likelihood they would not be publishing those works for the right reasons….those being of course, to share their love for their creator, spread his word or worship him, but for the profit potential. And there lies the problem!

While there is certainly nothing wrong with being in business for profit, (earning money, creating profit and having success are not a sin…but using God for profit, like a modern-day false prophet is ). But if what Nicieza speculates is true, than the only reason a Marvel or DC would publish these kind of works would be if their bean-counters could show them that the amount of profit they could earn would offset the amount of audience that they stood to lose. And if that were the case, than what would be their motivation to create Christian, or God inspired stories, other than to raise the bottom line for the stockholders?

What makes our “growing sub-genre of Christian comics” so potentially exciting is that we (the editorial we) are not working under this type of pressure. For most of us, this is something we are either doing in our spare time outside our ol’ 9 to 5, or our publishing efforts are self-funded or privately funded by a small circle of investors, (who usually see eye to eye with us spiritually speaking). This gives us the freedom to really let the Holy Spirit work on us and in us, to produce works, (whether auto-biographical, allegories, Christian fiction-fantasy or Biblical adaptation), that let us express our love for God, or what he means to us, or the underlying fabric of all that God represents to us.

Due to our financial constraints, this also means Christian creators are mainly unfettered by the editorial bureaucracies that can both make sure a work is presented in it’s grammatical, technical and continuity level best, but also can potentially strip a writer or artist of their original vision, to fall in line more with the editorial or corporate position. While this can lead to works that can appear raw and unpolished compared to the corporate publishers, it also means the reader is getting to view the original unfettered vision of what the artist/writer are attempting to put down on the page. And isn’t that what ART is all about…the interpretation of the artist, not the level at which he can mimic the skill or perfection of works churned out by corporate hired artists whose only goal is to please the vision of their editor, rather than their creator?

Though I’m sure there some who will scoff that this is just an excuse for why many Christian created comics are not as professional in appearance as their corporate cousins, and I will not deny that there are many comic books created in this genre that are far from professional, (as there are in ALL comic genres….don’t believe me, visit the small press areas of any comic convention this summer, or revisit some of the books put out by Marvel mid to late 70’s). But to those people I say…you are missing the point for most of us (the editorial us)! I am not doing the Eye Witness Trilogy, for any reason other than it is answering a divine calling I had on one December day in 2002, to use what talents God has granted me, to create a series of books in the comic style format, that could reach people with the story of the beginnings of the Christian Faith, which might not be reached in any other way. And if you spoke to a cross-section of those working in this genre, I’d venture a guess you’d hear something very similar on their motivations. In fact, I have yet to meet someone working in this genre that has told me they are doing it for the money! Does that mean that we are all altruistic artists/writers who are just expressing our love of God, or that there is little money to be made working in this genre? Probably both at the moment, because like the Christian Rockers of ten years ago, the Christian establishment does not really know what to make of us, or see a value in what we are producing. But through God’s grace, I have faith that too will change.

We do not care about dividing any audience out there. We already know them. There are the believers, there are those who are not sure and there are those who choose not to believe. I personally am writing for all three! If I earn enough money from publishing Eye Witness to have it pay for itself…that’s a blessing and means I can keep going. But if along the way my work inspires those who do not know or choose not to beliveve, to seek out God in a more personal way, than I have succeeded in my God given mission!

What editor could offer me that kind of commission?

*As a side-bar I thought it kind of ironic that Nicieza, would make these kind of statements while being front man for a company that is bringing Islamic based comic properties to the U.S. and around the world. He says, "The 99 (his comic under the Teshkeel imprint) is based on underlying Islamic values, which in truth are universal...but, it is not a religious comic book." Ha!...anyone out there who does not believe that the underlying basis of this company is to help spread the word of Allah, call me, I've got some swampland to sell down in south Florida!

Copyright 2006, Robert James Luedke

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Da Vinci Code: Should Christians Embrace or Avoid

With all the attention being paid to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, (both for his latest paperback release and the upcoming big-budget movie starring Tom Hanks)'s hard to avoid the question being asked in both the Christian and secular media..."as Christians should you avoid this book and/or movie because of its basis in distorted Christian history?"

WHY AVOID IT? As we are all aware there is a vocal minority of "religious Christian leaders" who feels that any book, or movie or graphic novel, (plug, plug, plug), that seeks to question the statis quo, (or for fictional-dramatic purposes)...twist, bend, add-to or distort the Biblical narrative...should be avoided at all costs. The reasoning seems to be, that these blasphemous presentations (despite the fact that they are clearly presented as works of fiction), could lead to un-churched people getting the wrong idea about Christianinty and will therefore continue to keep it at arms length; or worse, that current believers will buy into the fictional basis and decide they no longer believe!

When I see high profile tele-preachers spending screen time on this, or neo-politico-religous organizations setting up websites and boycotts, I ask myself, "Could it be these people really don't understand the nature of the Man that they are basing their lives on?" To me, being a loyal follower of Jesus and censorship in any form or advocating cutting off yourself or your family from our pop-culture, just do not go hand in hand. What our neo- conservative leaning-brothers never seem to understand, (or even consider), is that Jesus was not about being at odds with our culture, but embracing it, understanding it and diving into it. Jesus did not tell his disciples to avoid the sinners, (prostitutes), avoid the corrupt, (tax collectors in league with Rome), avoid the un-believers, (Gentiles). He was right there with them, listening to them, talking with them, eating and drinking with them, sharing God with them, demonstrating unconditional love and compassion to them. They did not join him, (as depicted in the Gospels), because of he demanded it, or told them how evil they were if they didn't...rather because of the spirit of love he demonstrated, made it impossible to ignore. Jesus is about attraction to a life of service to our fellow man in love and compassion, not conformity to a set of laws or rules designed to keep us all a uniform cultural step! Hey....that's what he was fighting with the Pharisees and Saducees 2000+ years ago!

The Apostle Paul, whose high profile life as an anti-Jesus activist, all led up to his rebirth and salvation, took Jesus' examples in this area to the next level. He used his education and familiarity with numerous cultures throughout the Roman Empire, to dive into each region and not try to get them to hear the Word the way he wanted them to hear it, but rather using methods, stories and legends that these cultures were use to and comfortable with, (I.E...using Greek God's as a point of reference in Athens etc...). In a formal sense, this process is know as Contextualization. In basic terms that means, that the Gospel, (though it never changes), should be put into a familiar frame of refernce to the culture in which it is being brought. My thoughts on this are, that both Jesus and Paul modelled for us that we are to use our cultural surrounding to more effectively share this gift we have, not as someting to avoid or boycott. Who are you going to reach, if you don't go out of your social or cultural comfort zone?

In my own chosen form of ministry there is a very applicable example. With some notable exceptions, most of what is produced in the comic industry is pretty empty hero-worshipping tripe, when you really get down to it. But I will admit, I grew up reading, studying and enjoying the heck out of this tripe! Breaking it down to it's most basic components, the whole super-hero genre is all about Idolatry, (which is "excessive devotion to or reverance for some person or thing other than God"...a major no-no in the Bible all the way back to the old testament). If you don't believe this applies, try spending a day or two at the Comic Con Intenational in San Diego, and see the level of devotion that thousands of people have to some of these characters and/or their creators! But my point being, that as a man reborn in Christ and person who has worked within the industry for about 15 years, (retailers, artist, writer, publisher), I could go down one of two paths....

1. I could start an anti-comic-book webpage, that directs children not to read them, because of all their idolistic themes, violence and sexual content, and even better create a boycott against the parent companies of the publishing houses that create these titles, (say Time Warner, who owns DC Comics). Or....

2. I could work within the industry to create comic books and/or graphic novels that are both attractive, entertaining and have Christian and Spiritual themes, in the hope that I will better be able to reach unbelievers, who may not be touched by God's word otherwise.

Which do you think Jesus would advise is the right course to take?

Which do you think would "attract" more young readers to God?

But I digress, (as Peter David is found of saying)....

WHY SHOULD WE EMBRACE THE CODE? Simply put...if you don't read the book or see the movie, how can you possibly discuss it with people and use it as a tool to share the truth from the Gospel, verses what they saw on the big screen? This is a tremendous opportunity to engage millions of people in discussion about Jesus, Christian history, and the true nature of our faith...who are not in your weekly home teams or churches! Why would we want to avoid that?

But you say, what if Christians see this, and decide they are now unsure about the basis for our belief? Guess what, then they were never really in "the Spirit of God" to begin with! Jesus does not lose his true followers, (defined as those who truly have the Holy Spirit of God working in them and through them, see John 6:39, 10:28, 17:12). He only loses those whose profession of faith may be more political or social in other words, not quite sincere.

As someone who loves these kinds of historical challenges I say, go out and do a little studying for yourself. The truth is right there in the Bible, as well in libraries and as close as the internet. So when you do run across a skeptic or unbeliever that says, "Aha....I knew it...the Bible is wrong!" You can discuss with him why that is not correct...or you can just get your feeling hurt and go away angry.

And by the way, your welcome Mr. Brown for this backhanded endorsement!

(my advise for great resource...Lee Strobel's, A CASE FOR FAITH, or A CASE FOR CHRIST. Either one will help shed the light of truth on a lot of the fictional distortions portayed in Dan Browns work).

Copyright Robert James Luedke, 2006
Author/Illustator of the graphic novels... Eye Witness: A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth and Acts of the Spirit.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Imagine: Someone You know Rising from the Dead

Imagine the feeling....

You have just experienced the biggest letdown of your life, because the man you have known, loved and followed as a mentor for the past three years, has just been arrested, beaten, publicly tortured and finally executed in the most humilating fashion possible in the city streets.

You've spent the past two days in hiding for fear that the government might come after you next, because everybody knows you were one of "his followers." You only have the cold isolation of your hiding place to keep you company in your sorrow. All you have been able to do is pray and feel your life ripped apart in silent anguish, for fear of alerting anyone of your secret refuge.

Then the Word comes....his body has been discovered missing from his place of initial burial. One of your friends, and fellow disciples of this man, has even reported that he is alive and walking again among the living! You struggle with mixed feeling of joy and disbelief about this, 'cause after all dead is it not? I've never seen a dead man walking...except of course for that fellow you met months back. What was his name? Lazarus...yes Lazarus... and he was apparently raised from death by your mentor, though some of us had our doubts!

Then it happens...after you and your friends have mustered enough courage to come out of hiding to meet, (even though it is in a secret as not to attract attention), he's there! Seeing him in the flesh, you suddenly think of every person who you've lost to death and the dreams you've had about just being able to see and speak with them, one last time. You recall how joyful and peaceful this makes you feel, upon waking up. But now this feeling of Joy and Peace is multiplied 100 times, because this isn't a dream...he's really here in front of you. You have touched him, talked with him, seen the scars from the whipping and stabbing he suffered. You've even see him consuming food in front of this can't just be some kind of spirit that you've heard about 100's of times in tales around the camp-fire. He starts to tell all of you, about where we will go after death and what it's like...because he's been there, he's seen it's glory for himself!

Then after a few weeks of his presence he tells you he is leaving you to join his father in that next place, but he will save a spot for you there and you feel momentarily sad because he will be departing again. But somehow still his presence is with you and within you and you vow to always remember how you felt on this day...the day you discovered that you had met, known and could talk to the living God. And this provides you with peace, joy, strength and security for the rest of your life, in both good times and bad.

Just imagine the feeling...!

copyright Robert James Luedke, 2006

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Resurrection Day!

To me, this seems like the holiday we should be celebrating above all others, (as opposed to Christmas), since as Christians it is at the core of what we are all about. Sure Jesus birth into the world is significant, but his death, (Good Friday) and rebirth, (Easter), are what we are all about. Without them, Jesus would have been just another prophet...not the Son of the Living God, whom walked the earth and helped us to know God, because he was God.

It's Jesus ability to overcome death, (which was witnessed by the way, in over 500 separately reported incidents all around Palestine, over a 40 day time period), that separates him from every other Holy Man or figure, in every other religion. So this event should take on massive importance, (like in the same type of level Islam celebrates their holy week in Mecca, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in every city in the world where the Church exists).

But when it's all said and done...the public display of worship is just that! Jesus talked about it in fact, that men who worshipped primarily on the street corners were the ones to be weary of, since they were doing it for man, rather than for God.

So, as a spiritual person....yes, attending corporate Easter worship at your local church is important, especially in Fellowship with your brothers in Christ...but more important is your personal worship this weekend. I worship God and especially his son Jesus with a personal fervor during this time, that rivals Islam in their shows of public prayer, in compassion shown to everyone I come across, and in trying especially hard to honor Jesus this weekend with a sacrificial act for someone in need. As Christians we all should hold these qualities within our hearts year-round, but especially during thise three day period... the most important of days in the history of mankind.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Jesus Papers: Non-Fiction or Fantasy?

Michael Biagent, the author who has most recently made international headlines over his UK lawsuit against Dan Brown, (author of the very popular DaVinci Code), announced this week, that he’s ready to release his newest book, The Jesus Papers: Uncovering the Greatest Cover-Up in History. And what a coincidence….the book’s release comes the very same day that 5 million paperback copies of DaVinci Code hit the U.S. market!

Like his earlier non-fictional work, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, (out of which Biagent claims Brown stole the basic premise for DaVinci Code), Biagent presents a sort of “what if…” concerning Jesus. Where Holy Blood speculated about Jesus’ possible relationship with Mary Magdalene and the possibility this relationship might have produced an off-spring whose roots can be traced to modern times, The Jesus Papers goes a step further and postulates that Jesus did not die on the cross, but survived to move to Egypt and eventually possibly to France. Authors and historians speculating about the events surrounding Jesus’ life, (especially his death and resurrection), are nothing new and skeptics have been providing their explanations of the resurrection for centuries, but what disturbs me about this particular book, (outside of Biagent’s obvious “best seller envy” of Brown and his attempts to one-up him), is the fact that it is presented as non-fiction.

Many Christian leaders, (especially Catholics), have been up in arms over the DaVinci Code for years now, ever since it became such an international best-seller, (43 million copies sold internationally). The fear always seemed to be…what if people read this book and think it portrays the events accurately? The more open-minded Christian leaders welcomed the dialog about Christianity and its roots that this widely read work created…but that’s another discussion for another time. But Brown always has been up front about DaVinci being nothing more than a work of fiction.

I’d would think more Christians would be concerned with works like the Jesus Papers, which portray totally unsupported speculation, as works of non-fiction. But fiction is exactly what this is, since Biagent states, that the basis of this theory is a document that allegedly existed that stated that Jesus was still alive in 45 A.D, which was allegedly seen by a man, (who died in 1948), who told another man, who many years later, told Biagent. He admits, there is no proof this document even exists, (or ever existed), and he’s still trying to track it down. Sounds more like a work of fantasy to me, or at the very least speculation at best.

Prior to my re-birth in Christ, I spent a lot of time trying to search for the truth about God and Jesus by reading a lot of books outside of the Bible, which attempted from an archeological, analytical or scientific standpoint to either prove or disprove Biblical accounts, (because that's how I had to process it). So I have no problem what so ever with skeptical authors discussing their theories, or beliefs, (or lack there of). In fact, reading some of these works by skeptics helped me develop a stronger faith, (though many warned me about reading such works)! But the danger lies with those speculations being passed off as having some basis in fact, when they are really nothing more than the creative fantasy of their author, because there is no evidence what so ever to support them, (as appears to be the case with Biagent’s book).

If you’re skeptical like I use to be, and find yourself thinking, “I know there must be something to this whole God thing, but I just don’t know if I can suspend my disbelief in the miraculous things Jesus is said to have done”, then I have a work of non-fiction that may help you answer those kinds of questions, (especially if you really like to look at problems in an analytical manner). Check out the book, “A Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel. Strobel, a former newspaper investigative reporter and skeptic, who when setting out to disprove the story of Jesus (and Christianity in general), found that the facts and science supported the Gospel narrative, rather than disputed it. Because of his analytical background, Strobel attacks the questions surrounding Jesus with the methodology of a police investigator. He looks at and tests such things as: The eyewitness, the scientific, the documentary and the corroborating evidence on the major points. He spends considerable time on the death and resurrection, and very succinctly and logically answers arguments made by skeptics over the centuries, (including Biagent's), about what they believe happened after the cross.

This book, along with Strobel’s, Case for Faith…are two of the most influence books I ran across that helped me come to grips with understanding Faith and helped me open my heart, mind and soul to accepting Jesus as my savior and son of God.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On's a Novel that's Graphic!

For readers of this blog who might be consistent readers of the literature based art-form of sequential illustrated storytelling, (that's comic book style), the term graphic novel is easily definable. For these types, just hearing the phrase gives you an immediate idea of what you can expect, verses the normal contents of a periodically published comic book.

But for the person a little less experienced in this format of literature, the term graphic novel might be confusing, or even raise some eyebrows, (especially in the Christian community).

No... a graphic novel is not a descriptive term....I.E., that it is very "graphic", harsh, or expliciate in the way it presents sex, violence and adult oriented themes. A graphic novel refers to the visual or illustrated quality of the work of literature. Think of it this way, a graphic novel is simply a "novel" that is fully illustrated! Any type of literature that can be presented in novel form, can be presented in graphic novel form and is done so in many cultures around the world, (especially in Japan, where it is better known as "Manga"). But here in the good-ol'-U-S-of-A, the general population is not yet privy to that development and most probably believe only cartoonish, (archie, mickey mouse), or super-hero themes are presented through this format.

Now that being said, certainly a graphic novel can package more adult only type materials, (just like any format of literature can and does), but for the most part on a percentage basis, there is probably less of this in this format, than say in magazines, text-only novels, etc...

The reason I am going to the trouble to explain what seems like such an elementary concept is because of a review for the Movie "V for Vendeta", (which was based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore), which appeared in last week's Dallas Morning News, and the subsequent dialog that developed between myself and DMN, Pop-culture reporter, Tom Maursted. I questioned Mr. Maursted, why he felt compelled to use the term "comic-book" when describing the source material for the movie, rather than graphic novel, (since V was never presented in sequential comic book form and was always packaged in the graphic novel opposed to Moore's work, Watchmen, was was first released in a 12 issue periodic format, than later packaged as a graphic novel)? This was his response:

"And when I say that V was based on a comic book most people never read, yes, what I mean is that literally most people have never read it. I am aware that the original graphic novel is an important and influential work. I am a fan of Alan Moore, especially Watchmen. I understand that with in a particularized community of readers, publishers and writers, there is a big difference between comic books and graphic novels and Alan Moore is something of a rock star and that to use comic book interchangeably with graphic novel denotes ignorance and boorishness. But I write for a general audience newspaper and for many readers, graphic novels are a kind of comic book."

This comes from a man who is not only very familiar with the format, (from his comments), but also covers pop-culture for a living. So is his viewpoint accurate? Well, the editors at the DMN apparently think so, since they commonly let this error go unchallenged. But like I replyed to Maursted, then it falls to him, (and any of us working within the industry), to not perpetuate this misconception, but correct it, (just like I have to tell my children...that if they do not correct the constant misprounouciations of our last name, people will call you by the wrong name the rest of your life).

So hopefully I am doing my some small help the "general audience" understand.

Lastly, for those of you like me, (who really like to get to the origins of things), here is a little of the history behind the term, "graphic novel", (reprinted from an article I wrote for Youth Worker Journal in 2005):

The term, graphic novel, was first used in 1978, in connection to the release of Will Eisner’s, A Contract With God. This collection of four short stories by the creator of a widely popular newspaper comic strip, (The Spirit, 1940 to 1952), were all interconnected faith based tales. But Eisner himself, (in his book, Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative), traces the roots of the format back to the work of Frans Masereel, a Belgian political cartoonist, who began producing “novels without words” as early as 1919, with his story Passionate Journey, (which was a novel told in 169 woodcuts).

There 'ya go!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Wizard Mag shows EW some love!

It had been pointed out to me, (and I confirmed it today), that in the latest issue of the Magazine on everything Pop Culture, Wizard, (#174...on sale now at newsstand everywhere....totally unpaid endorsement), they have included Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, in their list of the "42 Things You Need to Know About Comics in 2006".

Sample page from Acts of the Spirit.
We are #40 out of 42, but being the half full guy I am I look at it this way...when you consider how many comics/graphic novels are published each and every month in this country by the indy press, small press, or individuals, (hundreds at least?), just being mentioned as one of the 42 coming in the next year is an incredible honor and I feel blessed by this inclusion of my work!
Better yet, in the blurb, Wizard actually acknowledges that there is a segment of the market creating Christian materials! "Author Robert James Luedke continues to break new ground for the Christian Fiction genre." When you consider how elitist Wizard has appeared in the past concerning the small press, (anything beyond Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse), it is a marvelous development for the marketing potential for projects such as Eye Witness, Armorquest, David, Serenity, et al...that this leader in comic-market pre and post publication publicity is declaring for their readers that there is indeed a "Christian genre" being developed.
Some might say...."why do you care about what such a secular and publication like Wizard thinks anyway?" To that I would answer....I am called to spread God's Gospel to the readers of comics and graphic novels around the world. I am not going to reach many of those potential readers, by having the book reviewed in Christianity Today, Though that of course would be a wonderful thing, and would take my books into our secondary target market, (re: Christian parents looking for outreach to attract their children to God through relevant choices of media), it would not address my calling head-on! But having a respected pop culture publication, like Wizard or Entertainment Weekly, or Variety, etc... just acknowledging our existence, (Christian comic creators-publishers), and listing us as something people should take note of within the industry, gives the book a sort of "street-cred" with their readers around the country and thus opens the door for curiosity, (and possibly more potential readers...and pre-orders?).
I Count it all as joy my brothers!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Holy Spirit, Batman!

Another term used freely and abundantly in Christianity that may be confusing to the non-Christian is, the Holy Spirit. And that’s for good reason, since the Holy Spirit is the 3rd leg of the tripod upon which our faith is based, (the Holy Trinity…. the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost/Spirit), and thus utilized in most of the New Testament writings of Jesus' Apostles.

You may have heard a Christian friend say:

-Have you received the Holy Spirit?
-Is the Holy Spirit of God within you?
-May the Holy Spirit bless and guide you.
-Holy Spirit Batman, the Joker just vanished before our eyes? (Okay, that one’s not exactly biblically based)

…and wondered, what they heck and they talking about?

So what is this Spirit, which is Holy? To the non-Christian comic book fan, it may be the worshiping of the creation of Will Eisner by that name, but for the rest of us…. Jesus, prior to his crucifixion, spoke to his apostles (his inner-most circle of 12 followers, among his hundred or so disciples), about the Holy Spirit of God, which would come to lead them. He spoke of “the Counselor” and “Spirit of Truth”, which would come once he had left them:

“When he, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”(Jesus words, as recorded in the book of John 16: 13-15)

Jesus was very clear that though this Spirit, or counselor, would be different from him, it would still be of him and God, (since all that God was, belonged to Jesus and the Spirit would be sharing what was his). Who’s on first?… anyone?…anyone?

After his resurrection from the grave, Jesus continued to ready his apostles for the coming of this “Gift from God”:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father has promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John, (the Baptist), baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses, (his spokesmen), in Jerusalem and in all of Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Jesus words, as recorded in the Book of Acts 1:4-5, 8

And what Jesus said, was exactly what occurred on the morning of the Pentecost celebration, (The Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks). The Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the 11 Apostles, (the 12 minus Judas), through, “tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” (The physician Luke’s description, from the book of Acts 2: 3-4). “All of them were filled with the HOLY SPIRIT and began to speak in tongues as the spirit enabled them,” (in my studies on this…no, “tongues” does not mean the nonsensical gibberish spoken by TV preachers like Robert Tilton, but rather that his apostles immediately were able to communicate in the native languages of each of the hundreds of people in attendance…and all at the same time)!

Armed the power of the Holy Spirit, this handful of men, who just 40 days earlier, were scared, timid and anxious, (because after all, then man they believed was the Messiah had been brutally tortured and killed before their eyes…and who knows when it would be their turn), became powerful and boldly proclaimed that this Jesus whom was killed by their own high priests, had been resurrected from the dead and was indeed the Son of God, (both very big no-no’s which could lead to their own deaths). Within one day of this event, the hundred or so followers of Jesus grew to over 3000. Within days the 3000, became 5000…and so it went. Since many of these new believers were Hebrews from cultures all over the civilized world, the cult of the Nazarenes, (named because of Jesus’ place of origin…meant to be a derogatory statement, like racial slang names of today) began to spread all over the Roman empire and it’s surrounding cultures.

So to put it in pop-cultural terms, think of the Holy Spirit as (to borrow from G. Lucas), the “Force”…it’s not something we can see or touch, but a binding spiritual presence originating from the one True God, which is there for any one of us to access, (and you don’t even have to have a high meta-clorian count to do so)!

Both the Apostle Peter and Paul, spend a lot of time on the importance of the Holy Spirit throughout their writing in the New Testament and how everyone who repents of their sin and proclaims Jesus as their lord and savior, not only gains forgiveness of their sins, (past, present and future), and eternal life after physical death…but can also receive this same Holy Spirit to empower them to:
-Change, become literally a new man/women in and through Jesus
-Help guide them through life
-Empower them when they feel weak
-Discover and develop their God given spiritual gifts, (that’s another whole message in itself….coming soon)
-And one of the most important…provides them direct access to God and a loving personal relationship.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Caution....Falling Idols ahead!

It’s a sad commentary on our pop-culture when someone like Bode Miller can command the attention of the nation, (and the world via electronic communications), while actually accomplishing nothing in the process. After going 0 for 5 in qualifying for medals in his Olympic events, Bode Miller is officially the Paris Hilton of Turin, (“Looks great walking into the party, but totally without substance”).


Entering the Turin winter Olympics, Bode created a buzz and outrage as he admitted to (basically) skiing “buzzed” and/or hung-over and that many other skiers did likewise. We were all glued to the morning papers to read how he inferred that both Lance Armstrong, (the most tested athlete on the planet over the last 7 years) and Barry Bonds, (duh?), used performance enhancing drugs. And finally, we shuttered as he blasted the prohibition against drug use by the international ski federation. Why would we, (the American people), stand for this type of behavior by someone who is supposedly representing the best “we” have to offer on the world stage? The answer is simple…because we thought he was “that good”!

It’s no surprise that we cut our biggest stars, (be that movie, TV or sports celebrities), a lot of slack for their public behavior, or where their propensity for saying something either totally stupid or at least not well thought out, is concerned. And that is only because, when they are at the starting gate, or the tip-off, or when the whistle blows, (insert the appropriate metaphor here _____), they bring the goods! It’s put up or shut up time for these people we choose to idolize, and if they prove that are worthy, we allow them to share whatever nonsense is in their heads, ‘cause after all….they’ve earned the right to speak their mind through their ability entertain and compete! But those who cannot deliver on their boasting are not given that opportunity, or soon lose it when the shine wears off their star. If you doubt this concept, I offer up as an example the latest Nike commercial featuring the accused rapist, Kobe Bryant. Can you imagine…Nike literally lists all the reasons why Kobe is hated around the country during the spot, but of course leaves out his legal problems, (almost like they are winking at them in the public eye), Would any company make a man their spokesman who most likely bought himself out of a rape charge and then especially design an ad campaign that stressed why we hate him, if he didn’t just put up the second most points in the history of the NBA in a single game? As Charles Brown was known to say…gad!

As the Olympics wind down, that’s why we can all hope that Miller is on the final 30 seconds of his 15 minutes of fame. He earned his because of his breakout performance in the last Olympics, (in the Salt Lake City games), and for being ranked number one in the World rankings coming into the Olympics, (something that is rare for a USA skier). But in not even coming close to standing behind his boastful and incredulous words, with a championship like performance, not only made him look somewhat the fool, (and us foolish for idolizing him in this way), but it made us consider if he wasn’t being 100% honest when he told us he liked to ski high!

Then to top it off, instead of using this as a platform to appear gracious in defeat and a class act, he simply dismissed his poor performance (and the Olympics in general), as not really mattering, and just thanked the world for giving him the opportunity to party. According to Miller’s statement after going zip for five in his events, “It’s been an awesome two weeks. I got to party and socialize on an Olympic level,”…said allegedly with a former Playboy model on his arm.

This is a great example to the kids at home…consider whom you choose to worship. Here's a young man, who was given a tremendous natural gift. When he used that gift to aspire to the highest levels within his sport, rather than being humble, thankful and appreciating what he was given and what he had acheived, he chose "the dark side" and was focused on just himself. It was all about him, his ability, his right to party, his right to not have to live up to any standards other than his own. And like all people who abuse a God Given gift, it eventually is taken from them. After all, we are all stewarts to what God has given us. We can either care for it wisely or not...but we must be willing to then suffer the consuquences for our actions.

Here’s to hoping this will be the last we have to hear from Mr. Miller, at least in his current state. Let him retire with the millions he’s made from unwitting sponsors who have helped give him the platform from where he fell from, and whom he disappointed with the disinterest he has generated when they counted on him the most. Here's to also hoping he doesn't have to fall TO FAR into the darkness, before he is willing to look toward the light! But that being said...the light will always stay lit for him, whenever he's ready to look for it...just as it does for us all.

But take heart Bode…I hear Paris has a spot reserved for you at her next NYC party though! As Bode would say, "Dude… that Rocks!"

Friday, February 17, 2006

What the heck is Faith?

The reason I began to produce the Eye Witness series, was to answer what I saw as a calling from God, to use the talents I have always had in his service. More specifically, to use the medium I grew up reading, studying and working a tool to share God's word and message of salvation for all, (the Gospel story of Jesus).

As a result, I hear from and communicate with many people from around the country, (and some other countries where the book is making its way to), that ask me questions related to the basis for this work. I can relate to this curiosity, since just 6-7 years ago, I was one of these people...having been exposed to Jesus and the Holy Spirit for really the first time in my life and not really understanding a lot of the "Christian Speak" that was involved in the Bible and in Churches. I think as you become more familiar with God's word, (given to us through the Bible), it is very easy to become slightly insensitive to the fact that not everyone understands the basic concepts we take for granted.

So I will do my best to help clarify and translate into common terms some of these concepts for those who are readers of this blog.

First up: FAITH!

This is a biggy, since the term is at the very root of believing in God and more specifically, believing in Jesus and the whole underlying concept upon which Christianity is based.

Faith, to put it simply, is: "believing in something when all the evidence to do so might be absent." Worldly example: I have faith that Jerry Jones will bring the city of Dallas another super bowl championship through the Cowboys. There has been no evidence the last two seasons that the Cowboys are anywhere close to becoming world champions, (since they have not even made the playoffs). But I believe in the proven track record of the coach (Bill Parcells), and the drive to be the best of the owner, (Jerry Jones), that this will occur. So, though there is not concrete evidence that supports my Faith in this team, I just know it to be true.

The word Faith is used 232 times in the Bible and is shown to be the primary means through which man enters into a relationship with God. Going back to the ancient texts of the Old Testament, (cornerstone of both Christianity and Judaism...and Islam?), Abraham was a man of tremendous Faith. He believed God's promise to provide his descendents with a land of their own....though at the time he did not even have a child, (and he and his wife were old by our current standers: He 99, his wife Sari, 90), and the land God spoke of was already populated by many other people's. Because of his tremendous amount of Faith and not wavering from what God told him to do...all things promised to him came to pass.

Now this is where man, (especially the Man of today's highly educated and advancing scientific world), will stumble with Faith. God is not found in human reason, but only through Faith! Why? Because he's God, and you're not! That's over simplifying it, but look at it this way...if you truly believe that there is a God, and this God had the power, understandings, abilities to actually create the universe we know (including creating life from scratch...which at our current level of science, we still can't quite figure out) could we possible expect to totally understand him, his thoughts, his motivations and his plans? We just are not equipped "yet" for matter how much we assume we are. Analogy:No matter how hard you tried, could you explain the concept of evaporation to your family dog? Of course not, because no matter how well you had trained him, his brain does not work on the same level as ours. Food for thought....are we even that close to God's level, as a dog is to ours? Hmmmmmmmm?

Taking it back to our Biblical example: Could modern medicine explain now Abraham's wife Sari concieved and delivered a child in her 90's? Possibly, but most would dismiss it, because we just don't have the level of understanding to explain that. But it does mean it did not happen. 120 years ago, scientists would not believe 300 people could travel 600 miles per hour at 20,000 feet above the ground...that was pure fantasy or Jules Verne stuff. Why? Because they didn't have the level of knowledge to understand it. But it didn't mean it could not happen. See my point?

But here's the good news (according to pastor Matt Chandler/Village Church/Highland Village, TX)...."Faith takes us beyond our reason and empirical data-abilities and allows us to see the spiritual world that God has revealed (though the writers of his word...the Bible). He gives us faith in order for us to experience the world as "he" sees it and to trust in him. Though this knowledge is not exhaustive, it is adequate to know God intimately and gives us a fuller understanding of reality as it has been revealed to us by God himself"

See: Romans 10:9-10, Deuteronomy 29:29, Isaiah 55:8-9, 1st Corinthians 13:12...1:21, John 17:3

I'll end this with one final thought....Proverbs 3:5-6, states about Faith: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." Taking this kind of stance in our "John Wayne, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" society can be tough, but from my personal experience let me tell you its very comforting to know you have a friend, partner, mentor, father...who can and will help lead you in the right direction, when we can't do it alone! comfort!