Monday, December 24, 2007

"HOLY NIGHT", Batman!!

Dec. 24th, 2007

In this day and age I think we easily hear the same old Christmas songs on the radio over and over again (on stations in their 24-7 Christmas music modes)...and maybe tend to dismiss them as our parents or grandparents music.

Last night in my church's Christmas presentation though, the music director took the time to take one of those old tunes and make it relevent and come alive for me. So much so, I felt compelled to share this bit of history with all my brothers in the blog-o-sphere.

"Oh Holy Night", is a song that's been around since the late 1800's. It was originally written in poem form by Placide Cappeau, (who was a French wine merchant and poet and not a very devote church goer). Cappeau as asked by his local parish priest to write a Christmas poem that he could use in his sermon that week. The poem was later put to music by Adolphe Adam in 1847.

In 1855, it was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight, (an Unitarian Minister and editor of Dwights Journal of Music). Because of it's reverent homage to a first person viewing with awe the birth of Jesus, and it's verses concerning freedom from slavery and opression it became widely popular and an instant classic in the civil war era.

On December 24th, 1906, Reginald Fressendon, broadcast the first AM radio program, during which he played "Oh Holy Night" on the violin....making it possibly the first piece of music ever broadcast on the radio?!

It's rumored that on a Christmas eve during the ongoing trench warfare of World War one in Europe, a French solider arose from his trench and began to sing the hymm loudly over the battlefield in his native French language. In reponse a German soldier also stood up and began to sing the hymm in German. Soon the whole battlefield was filled with the sound of "Oh Holy Night"....and for the next 24 hours of Christmas day, not a shot was fired and there was peace on the battle fields in honor of the birth of Christ.

So next time you're singing this old tune in church, with your kids, your friends or along with the radio...remember it's significance and revel in the holy spirit that inhabits both its creation and development in our society.

May you all have a blessed Christmas celebration.

RJ luedke

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is here a True Christian Leader in the House?

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

I’ve found myself struggling these past couple of years as I’ve continued to develop my faith through reading and re-reading the gospels; studying Jesus and his times; and placing his message in the historical context of life during the Roman occupation, (which is partly an occupational necessity, due to the research needed for my Eye Witness graphic novel series/ ).

The struggle develops, because the better understanding I seem to gain of the messages Jesus’ delivered through his words to his apostles, his sermons and his parables (The Good News), the harder time I have reconciling life in the 21st century and how many people who claim to be “Christian” leaders seem project themselves to the world, as the very opposite.

One way to summarize my struggle is to put it in the context of the public-political discourse leading up to next year’s primaries and presidential election. As American voters we obviously want the strongest, best-suited person to lead our country over the next four years. Determining who’s best suited, involves many things, including how we perceive: Their ability to make decisions; how they handle themselves in extreme pressure situations; their ability to deal with people and willingness to compromise without having to sacrifice their principles; their previous job-related histories (re: have they governed another group successfully); their temperament; their character…and the list of traits is potentially endless.

But as people of faith, we (the editorial we) also feel our leaders should embody the qualities that Jesus mentions in the Gospels. In Jesus words, the greatest leader is not the one with the most money, political fundraisers and power-broker allies, but the best servant to his fellow man. Hence, I find myself conflicted when trying to determine whom best fits that bill among the possible candidates. There are those we can write off pretty quickly, while others who always seem to ride the spiritual fence, so to speak…while still others (Like governor Hucklebee), who wear their religious credentials out front and center, (being a former minister who is actively seeking to court the religious conservative voter). But being the president involves a lot of decisions that can/may/do compromise the foundation of what Jesus tells us a leader is, should be.

Currently, I’m reading Brian McLaren’s latest book, “Every Thing Must Change” ( If you’ve never read McLaren’s earlier work, including the Secret Message of Jesus, he is driven to spark a spiritual revolution in our world, based upon getting back to the roots of the original message of Jesus (through understanding it’s historical context) and how it has been manipulated over the centuries into something that is now bolstering the very same destructive culture Jesus sought to topple 2000 years ago. In this latest work, McLaren talks about what Jesus was referring to, when he mentions the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (which in McLaren’s view, is a revolutionary concept of a new, better Godly empire than what 1st century Jews were a prisoner of…I.E the Roman empire). Every quality of a man (or leader) Jesus talks about in the Gospels ran counter to the viewpoint of the predominant Roman culture. I mention it here, because it brings to mind many of the same issues we, as 21st century Christians, face today…especially if we find ourselves being called to lead (our business, our church or our city-state or country). Remind yourself what Jesus called us to do (or be)….

1.Don’t get revenge when wronged, but seek reconciliation.
2. Don’t repay violence with violence, but seek creative and transforming non-violent alternatives.
3. Don’t focus on conformity to external moral codes, but rather on internal transformation in love.
4. Don’t love insiders and hate (or fear) outsiders, but welcome them in the context of love for all, justice for all and mutual respect for all.
5. Don’t have anxiety about money, security or pleasure in your life, but trust yourself to the care of God and he will provide for you.
6. Don’t live for wealth, but for a living God who loves all people, including your enemies.
Don’t hate your enemies (or competitors) but love them not based upon what they have done to you, but as you wish they would do for you.

Its pretty daunting list, isn’t it? Take a minute to reread each of those, but think of them within the context of a particular situation our next president could face, (re: terrorist violence, what to do about illegal immigration, dealing with our perceived enemies like Iran, reconciling how the Christian (west) can co-exist with the Islamic (east); the place for homo-sexuals in our society; etc, etc…).

Is there one man (or women) out there among the hopeful that will lead using this kind of solution solving foundation? The sad truth is probably no…because the political expert would say…America can’t afford to operate that way, we’d be perceived as too weak economically and politically, to vulnerable to attack. But you know what? We’ll never know till someone who say’s he’s a “Christian” who wished to lead this country, has the courage to try! Take just a minute to ponder that statement.

The pundits would say, that just announcing such a thing would be political suicide. But would it really? How many people out there would embrace such a revolutionary concept of leadership? Some will say this is pure idealism, fantasy, not realistic in our day and age. Can you imagine how many forces, both internally within our country and externally around the world, would stand in the way of such a leader! There would be virtually no one on his side, except of course….God!

But I would answer that with, this is what Jesus laid out for us. There are over a billion people in this world who still follow his guidance 2000+ years later (it’s still the largest religious following in the world), but yet not one country is truly using his leadership guidelines, (and no, I’m not referring to the rules and regulations laid out by the modern day Vatican), but Jesus original intent. Can you imagine the potential not only for this country, but also for the world if we (being the good ol’ US of A) became a beacon for Jesus’ example in this manner? There literally would be no stopping us, figuratively speaking!

When you read McLaren (and I’m sure there are many other authors and/or theologians that hold this viewpoint) the message is very clear that Jesus came to us to give us the blueprint for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, not “just” in heaven. He demonstrated for us through his life, his deeds and his words exactly what God originally created us to be, until that is, we were corrupted by original sin. Jesus called upon his disciples to carry this “template” (if you’ll excuse the pun….see my previous comic work for the in-joke) of what it means to be a Godly man to the nations of the world, (including their kings).

Could it be that 2000+ years later, that God is still waiting for the Kingdom of Heaven to evolve (excuse another pun) and begin on Earth?

So as you can see, I for one, am slightly conflicted about the impending election, because hearing that a candidate would repeal Row verse Wade, wishes to discriminate against homosexuals (See #3) and would build a fence around our nation (See #4)…does not tell me if this man (or women) is the kind of servant leader this country really needs to take our country forward in these increasingly difficult and dangerous times. It just tells me he’s pandering to the politico-religious-powerbrokers, using “Christian speak” to get votes.

Robert Luedke

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Graphic Novel has Life of Its own!

After much conversation, prayer and reflection, I've made the call to expand the Eye Witness graphic novel series into an additional volume, taking the series from a trilogy to a tetralogy (utilizing the ancient Greek term for theatrical works constructed in four parts).

Back in 2002, I had started out to create only a stand alone graphic novel about the Passion week with the original Eye Witness volume, (A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth), but shortly after it's publication in August of 2004, I began hearing from enough of fans of the book that expressed interest in seeing the "rest of the story", that I decided to extend the series to a trilogy, through incorporating an adaptation of the Book of Acts into the narrative and thus creating a sort of graphic novel presentation of the birth of the Christian faith (see: ).

Upon writing the working script and laying out the pages for the third volume though, (Rise of the Apostles), I have found that this final book in the series was taking on a life of it's own and was going to run in excess of 170 pages (twice the size of either of the first two). Given the fact that the plan was to release book three in the summer of 2008, it had become apparent that that deadline was looking more and more tenuous, (since I not only do the writing, but also the illustrations for each volume). Every time I sat down and started to layout pages, I was adding more and more content in an attempt to get the book just the way I wanted it, (the good news and bad news of being a self-publisher). With the number of pages and amount of detail I was putting into them, realistically I would not have had the book ready for publication possibly till early-2009...and that was way too long to leave the fans of the series waiting. So the decision was made to roll the one large and ever-expanding story into two volumes, released within a year of each other.

Eye Witness (book three): Rise of the Apostle, is scheduled for release in August of 2008, with a world-premier at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the last week of July ( ). The cover painting for this volume is provided by Lee Moyer, ( and additional internal coloring by Carsten Bradley, (

The fourth and final (as of yet, un-named) volume of the Eye Witness tetralogy, will tentatively release from late 2009 to early 2010.

Robert Luedke

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


That wonderful battle-cry was made semi-famous by Tim Allen in the movie Galaxy Quest, ( but is very relevent to the story I'm going to share with you, which was forwarded to me by the author, Pam Kumpe, through (
She writes....

Terry Fator of Mesquite, Texas is the winner of the TV show, "America's Got Talent" (

BUT DID YOU KNOW- This time last year, he was getting ready for a show and had booked a 1,000 seat auditorium. As he took the stage, only one person sat in the audience! Yes, one lone 12-year old boy came to his show.

Terry sings, does ventriloquism, and his dummies impersonate celebrities. He's the best I've ever watched, absolutely pure entertainment.But when no one came to his show last year, he almost gave up his dream after 32 years of practicing and performing. All those years, he worked hard. He practiced. He developed skills. He kept trying. He knocked on doors. He sang. He made up new skits. He created. He performed. He dreamed.

Did I say -- he never gave up?

What an inspiration for all of us. Dreams do come true. Terry went from "one" fan, to number one on this show. He is a winner. The Lord says, he knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper us, not to harm us, and he will give us hope and a future. I personally am not praying for a million dollars, although you can write me a check if you want to. But I am praying with a hopeful heart about my writing pursuits. How about you?

Are you working hard to see your dreams come true?I don't want to look back, and wish I had tried.

Blessings from East Texas
Pam Kumpe

Pam really hit the nail on the head! How many of us have the persistence to follow our dreams for 32 years until it becomes a reality? We live in the fast-food-overnight-sensational-world, which has conditioned us, that if "IT" (being our dreams) don't happen now...or in the time table we set for them...than they are not going to.

Remember, Noah labored over 70 years, before he completed the arc!


Robert Luedke

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

RJ Luedke Featured Arist at Urban Arts Festival

Author and illustrator of the award winning Eye Witness graphic novel series, Robert James Luedke, be a participating artist in the latest live arts event sponsored by ArtLoveMagic ( in conjunction with the Urban Arts Festival of Dallas....(for full details visit: ... On Friday night Sept 7th at the Jannette Kennedy Gallery:

(Google Map:,+Dallas,+Texas+75215&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=34.038806,82.265625&ie=UTF8&ll=32.767844,-96.795666&spn=0.008823,0.020084&z=16&iwloc=addr&om=1).

Robert will be working live inking pages from the upcoming Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle, (see: ...for sample pages), along with selling some T-shirts (both mine and some from LifeCoBrands... ), copies of EW 1 & 2 along with talking about drawing, inking, comics and publishing graphic novels with anyone who is interested.

On Saturday, Sept 8th, Robert will be a part of a panel on the comic arts and self-publishing during the Urban Arts Festival (see their website for full details).

If you reside in and/or around DFW, stop in and say hi and explore all the wonderful things happening in the world of arts around Dallas/Fort Worth.

For further details visit:

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Prayer for an Atheist

I opened my Dallas Morning News today, to read about a man who lives right here in DFW, (Carrollton to be specific), by the name of David Kroft. Mr. Kroft is about to take on the state of Texas in federal district court, over our student's "moment of silence" each morning.

Mr. Kroft has a long history of complaints and actions taken against the school system and his children's school in particular over anything having to do with even mildly suggesting God in what he feels should be a 100% secular setting, (re: No Cub Scout meetings at school because they don't allow atheists; no Silent Night at the Christmas Pagent; doesn't allow his children to say or to stand during the pledge of alligence, because of the words "under God and many more other examples *) get the picture!

*I don't know if you can pull the article up online @, (it's entitled, "Moment of Silence begins court battle", from 8.7/07), but it would be worth it to understand the depths to which Mr. Kroft has been willing to go in this crusade).

As a person who took almost 40 years to embrace the "supernatural" (as Mr. Kroft calls it), in my own life, I don't know whether to be angry with Mr. Croft or have pity on him. Having lived most of my life as a skeptic who believed that Christianity and the concept of God was closer to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings than a healthy way of life, I can understand people who either reject or keep belief in God at arms length...'cause I was one of them. But to see someone who approaches his atheism with an almost evangelical fervor, like Mr. Kroft does, begs the question....why?

When you sit down and listen to, or research the background of many high profile atheists there seems to be a common thread you can find of either pain, devastation or resentment of authority somewhere in their background which many people may not understand. Some might have had a devastating incident somewhere in their past, (death of a family member or loved one, lost of job or career, illness), some may have felt rejected or ostracized by a church or someone representing the church and some may generally just reject the concept of having respect, fear or worshipping "any authority" within their lives, (that was me).

I truly find it kind of hard to believe though, that Mr. Kroft's mission began (as he states in his blog), purely by reading George Orwell's 1984 in high school. We've all heard of this book making people afraid of intrusive government (I.E: the Patriot Act, speeding camera's, police sobriety checkpoints etc...), but that's the first time I've heard people site this book as a reason to reject the concept of God. But I can't help but feel there is something more there...some incident in his past that is eating Mr. Kroft up inside. Maybe only he and his wife know what that is. Maybe he's never shared it with anyone...or even been honest with himself about it!

He will not appreciate it's "supernatural" implications, but after thinking at length about this article, I ask that we all include Mr. Kroft, his wife and especially his children, (who are truly the victims here because of what they must have to endure at school ever time their father goes on the warpath against God, down here in the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt), in our prayers that God will reach out to him in some way or fashion to help soften his hardened heart and release his emotional burden, so that he might truly be able to heal and find some inner peace.

It is a gesture he would not understand, but as we all know, God always finds a way to reach people...and many times in a way they'd never look to or a time when they least expect it.
Let's make this a chain-prayer...and pass this on to your brothers and sisters on the web!

Whether he wants it or not, we'll all be prayin' for ya David!

R.J. Luedke

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hollywood Festival Honors Acts of the Spirit

(Hollywood, CA/ August 2nd, 2007): The second book our my graphic novel series, Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, took home the top honors in the category of Comics at this year's Hollywood Book Festival, which was held on Saturday July 28th, (see: ).

The purpose of the festival and the awards, is to honor books that deserve greater recognition from the film, television, game and multimedia communities. Criteria used in selecting winners are the story-telling ability of the writer and the potential of the work to be translated into other forms of media.

This is the second major book award for Acts of the Spirit. In June, the book was awarded a Silver medal in the Independent Publisher Awards, (which were announced at this years BEA Convention in New York; see: ), in the category of Dramatic Graphic Novels, as well as being named as a finalist for the FOREWORD magazine Book of the Year Awards.

This was a very surprising and ironic event for me after returning from a week at the Comic Con International. After listening to enthusiastic fans of the series ask me all weekend about whether I had began development of the books in other media...especially an animated version... then to come back to Texas and see that the Hollywood Festival's judging panel also believed the book deserved further recognition by other media, really blew me away. Although I created the series as a way to convey the story of the birth of the Christian Faith, in an entertaining and attractive way to lovers of comic books and graphic novels, I am not opposed to seeing it adapted into other media, as long as those wishing to do so, do not stray from the original core goal of the project.

We are currently in production on Eye Witness (Book Three): Destiny Road...which is slated for a later summer 2008, release date. We just came to terms with a "world class talent" cover artist for book three, that will blow everyone away! Stay tuned for more details!

For more information about Eye Witness series, come visit our main website:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Head Press Publishing Making Waves at CCI '07

Beside selling copies of the graphic novel series, Eye Witness (books 1 & 2: ), Head Press Publishing will be offering a convention exclusive at this year's Comic-Con International 2007, in San Diego from July 25th-29th, (to purchase advance tickets go to: ).

But this years booth promises to be even more special than in year's past, because HPP will also be the home for a handful of carefully selected RED-HOT Christian themed entertainment items, that will available nowhere else at the convention!

Here's a quick list of what you'll find this year at our table in the Small Press Pavillion (Table P8 Aisle 1900):

-The EXCLUSIVE COMIC-CON ashcan edition of, EYE WITNESS: DESTINY ROAD. This is an advance sneek peek at the third and final book in, Robert James Luedke's, Award-Winning Eye Witness Christian graphic novel series. There will be a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered copies available on a first come first serve visit us as early in the con as you can before they are gone. The finished 160+ page graphic novel will be ready in time (hopefully) for CCI '08.

-NEVER CEASE, a novel by Sue Dent ( ). A vampire and a werewolf....can the two who were wronged make it right by their faith? Find out in this highly praised horror novel with a Christian foundation. Never Cease, was on the peliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker awards, ( ), in the catagory of Superior Achievement in a First Novel & was named Book Club Choice of the Month (in April '07) by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW:

-T-Shirt creations by Life Co Brands ( ...featuring their NO EVIL & I KILLED JESUS designs.

-The wonderfully irreverant and cutting edge anthology magazine, MEGAZEEN ( ), which features some of the most talented creators working in the genre of Christian comics today.

-and....For the gamers out there we will feature the PRINCIPALITY collectable card game by EPOS, (see: We will have both master decks, (which has everything you need for a 2 player game) and also the A CHOIR OF ANGELS EXPANSION PACKS.

So don't miss out on stopping by and taking a look at all these wonderful products.

Like last year Head Press Publishing be located right next to the Christian Comic Arts Society (CCAS: ), so our little corner of the Small Press Pavillion will be guarenteed to be the center of the Comic-Con universe for Christian oriented products and creators! And speaking of the CCAS, they will be sponsoring a SPIRITUAL THEMES IN COMICS PANEL, (on Sat. 7/28, from 10:30-11:30am and the CCAS PANEL & CHAPEL SERVICE (Sun, 7/29, 10:30-11:30a).

And Finally:

Author and Artist of the Eye Witness series, Robert James Luedke, ( ), will be on hand for the entire convention, signing autographs, working on pages from Destiny Road, drawing sketches and in general talking to fans about: creating comics, writing, inking, composition and using graphic arts in make sure to stop by and say hi.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Eye Witness creator on FANBOY TV.

Robert James Luedke, the author-illustrator of the award-winning Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, graphic novel, (see: for information)... will be a guest on FanBoy TV's (Internet Protocal TV), on Monday July 9th, from 7-8pm CST. While on the show, Robert will be speaking about his Eye Witness series and actually rendering a piece of original artwork during the program (which is given away to viewers during the following weeks episode...see the FANBOY TV site for details on how to register for the drawing). For more information or to tune in, go to: or iTunes -

According to Robert, "This is a wonderful opportunity for me to talk about Christian based comics and graphic novels and share a bit of a forum that is pure POP CULTURE."

FANBOY TV is a wonderful show that appeals to those who love comic books, graphic novels, anima, manga's a very entertaining and visually exciting show!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eye Witness Author reaches worldwide TV audience

Award-winning author/Illustrator, Robert James Luedke, will be live on The Harvest Show on LeSea Broadcasting on Thursday July 12th from 9-10 EST,(for more information, visit...

The Harvest show is broadcast live through 12 stations in the U.S. and is replayed daily at 10pm and 2am EST. In addition, it reaches over 46 million homes via DirectTV channel 321, (as well as being syndicated in many markets around the country.

It is carried on Middle East Television (METV), where they reach an additional 73 million homes in Israel and 15 surrounding nations. The Harvest show is also carried on Far East TV (FETV), which brings the show to an additional 4.3 billion people in Asia, Australia. It reaches 78 million homes through the Wonderful Network of Europe and an additional 8 million homes are reached in Argentina on Canal Luz.

"I'm very excited about this appearance, since for the first time I'll be able to share with people of other cultures about what I've been called to do with the Eye Witness graphic novel series," according to Luedke, "and will hopefully spark other creative people to follow down my path."

Both of the Eye Witness graphic novels are available through, ...or visit any finer bookseller in your area. People outside of the USA, can order at:

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day and Christianity?

I was inspired by a message from my pastor yesterday, (Matt Chandler/The Village Church,, on how we (as Christians) should think about Memorial Day.

He shared his phone conversations with one of his brother ministers who this year took up a mission in The People’s Republic of China. When they speak on the phone they must be very careful what they say, for you never know who may be listening in that country, since being convicted of sharing the Gospel and/or proselytizing can easily land you in jail or worse. Because of this, they have developed a very simplistic code system, which allows them to speak about the Church and it’s success and/or failure without every really talking about it. Needless to say, it can result in humorous and even confusing messages, if both parties aren’t synched up on the code, (“We are running short of ‘user manuals’ at the office, can you ship us over another 500?”).

So what does this all have to do with Memorial Day? Simple! On this day every year, we should bow down in prayer before God and thank him for all the people who have sacrificed their blood that we may live in a country where speaking in code about our Lord is not necessary!

Living our entire lives under the protection of freedom of speech and religion, we tend to forget that such freedoms are not universal. We may look at being imprisoned or executed for speaking about Jesus and his gospel as historical and belonging to a bygone era, when in reality it still happens daily in many parts of our world! In my Eye Witness books, I write about and illustrate followers of Jesus being beaten, stoned and crucified, (see:, but 2000+ years later these same punishments occur regularly to Christians, (though the cross has been replaced with more modernized forms of torture and execution).

We may sometimes find we are not very enthusiastic about some of the things our current leadership is doing, but that does not mean that our philosophy or system is wrong… maybe just a bit askew sometimes. But our country is still the paragon of freedom that allows our church to flourish and we must always remember those who laid their lives down to make that a reality.

So May God bless those who had the courage to provide the freedoms under which we can freely worship on this Memorial Day 2007!

Robert Luedke

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, wins Nat'l Book Award

Got some stunning news today, that I wanted to share with all of your out there that have supported the Eye Witness series to date:

Press Release, 5/21/07....

It was announced on Friday May 18th, that Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, will be awarded the silver medal at this years IPPY Award presentation, for the category of dramatic graphic novel .

Acts of the Spirit, written and illustrated by Robert James Luedke, (see interview:, is the second book in the Eye Witness graphic novel trilogy. Eye Witness premiered with book one ( A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth), in August of 2004 and Robert is currently in production on the third and final book in the series, (Destiny Road), which will be released in late 2008.

"To have a Christian based graphic novel recognized in this fashion by the media is a wonderful blessing to this developing genre, " states Luedke. "The whole purpose of this series was to bring the story of the birth of the Christian faith to a new generation of readers who might not be interested in going to church or reading the Bible...but love a good action-thriller presented in the graphic novel format. Though winning awards is not what we set out to do...if doing so provides the books with more viability and can get them into the hands of more young people, then we're ecstatic about it!"

The IPPY Awards presentation, (sponsored by Independent Publisher Magazine/Jenkins Group), will be held in conjunction with this year's Book Expo American (BEA), at "Books Off-Broadway", on Friday June 1st, from 6-9pm at the Triumph Room of Provdidence. (for more information, visit:

The second Book of the Year Award which Acts of the Spirit is in the running for, sponsored by FOREWORD Magazine, will be announced at the BEA on Friday June 1st, from 2:30-4pm, at the "Live on Second Stage" event, on the main show floor, (for more information, see:
For more information about the Eye Witness series or to order, visit:

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Acts of the Spirit Nominated for Book of the Year

Independent Publisher magazine, has just announced, that the second book in the Eye Witness graphic novel series, Acts of the Spirit, has been named as one of the three finalists in the 11th annual Book of the Year Awards/dramatic graphic novel category.

Final results for the entire contest will be announced on May 18th, at this years Book Expo America (BEA) trade show in New York City. At that time, the gold, silver, and bronze medalists in each category will be named. Winners will be formally recognized at the 11th Annual IPPY Awards event on Friday, June 1st, at "Books Off-Broadway: a Celebration of Excellence in Independent Publishing” sponsored by Desktop Miracles, Color House Graphics, and Combined Book Exhibit

This is the second Book of the Year nomination for author/illustrator, Robert James Luedke’s, creative blending of a modern day action-thriller with a fully illustrated presentation of the earliest days of Christian history. The book has also been named a Book of the Year finalist by book trade magazine, FOREWARD…who will likewise be awarding their winners at this years BEA, (see:

For more information about the IPPY awards, visit:

Head Press Publishing

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Eye Witness Book Three in production

When I was creating the first Eye Witness book, (A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth), from 2002-2004, I believed that this one project was the answer to God’s calling for my talents. Retell the Passion story of Jesus, in a relevant, accessible and entertaining way and will hopefully reach a lot of people with the story who might not really delve into it otherwise.

Shortly after publication of this book in 2004, when I was marketing it at conventions, churches and bookstores, I learned that this wasn’t enough. People wanted more. They wanted to know the outcome of this event, which was one of the most relevant in man’s history. People wanted, (needed it seemed), to be able to better understand the effect Jesus’ life-death-resurrection had on the world and his contemporaries, both friend and foe alike. Though to the mature Christian the answers may seems all very elementary, to those who are not yet believers (or skeptics) these answers may be missing or the answers they have heard, confusing to them...and after all that is the kind of person I am writing for.

The more I had people ask me when the next book was coming out, the more I began to ponder this and it all became very clear to me…I wasn’t through yet! Here was one of the world’s greatest action-adventure stories ever written, just waiting in the wings for someone to do a contemporary adaptation of. I am referring to of course…the book of Acts. This book of the Bible contained the answer to most asked question for non-believers…how did this one week two thousand years ago end up affecting the lives of so many people, even today? Thus was born the Eye Witness Trilogy!

I share all this exposition, because it’s that time again gang, when I embark on the most time consuming portion in the creation of one of the Eye Witness graphic novels….the illustration process. Since December 2006, I have been busy writing my screenplay, (I call it a screen-play, because creating a working script for a graphic novel for me, is more in line with that format, than it is to say writing a manuscript for a novel), for the third and final chapter in the Eye Witness saga….Eye Witness: Destiny Road.

For the next approximately 15 months, (depending on life’s diversions), I will be sequestered to my studio creating this, the largest of the Eye Witness books. At over 160+ pages, it will involve close to 1000 individual illustrations. At an average of about 8 hours a day of work, six days a week, that means I am beginning what will be about 3000+ hours of work to complete the trilogy. I don’t share this for any other reason, but to educate those of you out there in the blog-reading audience who may not understand or appreciate what it takes to produce a graphic novel this size.

Starting with this entry I will attempt to let you, the reader, come along for the ride as I am developing this book and see behind the scenes in the process and watch all the prat-falls that can occur along the way. So make sure to visit the blog regularly to see what I am up to and even sneak a peek at some of the artwork as it unfolds.

Robert James Luedke
Head Press Publishing

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Eye Witness creator on Worldwide Podcast

This Friday Evening, (April 20th), at 9pm eastern time, I'll be a part of a world-wide Podcast.

It will be broadcast from the home of RECOVER IN CHRIST MINISTRIES. During the broadcast I’ll be talking about the making of my Eye Witness graphic novel series ( and how the graphic arts can play a big role in getting people involved in ministry.

To listen in and even participate in this live Net event, go to:

…copy and paste the above link, and let your friends, family and people in your church know they can CLICK THE LISTEN BUTTON to stream and listen.

Talk at you then...literally!

Robert Luedke
Head Press Publishing

Monday, April 09, 2007

Johnny Hart...RIP

Sunday April 8, 2007 NEWS 'B.C.' creator Johnny Hart dies

Johnny Hart, an Endicott native whose collection of cartoon cave-dwellers amused and sometimes irritated newspaper readers for almost 50 years, died at his Nineveh home on Saturday. He was 76.

Hart is survived by his wife Bobby, and two daughters. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Hart's B.C. comic strip was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide with an audience of 100 million. He lent his characters to promote many local agencies and activities, including the Broome Dusters hockey team, BC Transit, Broome County Parks and the professional golf tournament which became the B.C. Open.
B.C. participated in the nation's space program. In 1972, Hart received a public service award from NASA for outstanding contributions.

Later in his career, some of Hart's cartoons addressed religious themes -- a reflection of his own deepening Christian faith -- which dismayed some readers and delighted others.

Hart's biography at the Creators Syndicate web site said he never considered cartoon a serious profession until he graduated from Union-Endicott High School. At 19, he met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence and who later became a partner in the Wizard of Id, another of Hart's comic strip creations.

"I'm very hard-pressed to find the proper words to express my feelings," said Alex Alexander, founder of the B.C. Open. "I talked to Bobby, his wife, just a few days ago and she told me he was doing quite well. And I was encouraged by that. And then when I found out this morning he had passed away, it came as a shock." Hart designed the bronzed trophy given to B.C. Open champions, showing a caveman following through on his golf swing after hacking out a divot. And Alexander called him "the soul" of the tournament.

"Johnny was very much involved with the tournament," Alexander said. "He was just always very helpful. Always wanted to do anything that he could to help the tournament progress. And he was always there when we needed him. Never said no. Just a great, great influence."

On a personal note...This gentlemen, for me, was very influencial in the crafting of my comic strip work, throughout high school, college and a strip I had worked on for syndication during the 80's. His sharp wit and wonderful way of turning a clever pun still influences the way I look at strip comedy and satire today.

He was truly one of the giants in the comic strip world, and because he had been doing it for so long, he was a constant in our lives (like the sun rising each morning), so I don't think we'll realize what a prize he was, till we no longer get to see any more of his work in each morning paper.

bob luedke

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is the Lost Tomb, the Next DaVinci Code?

If you are a faithful follower of Jesus and the Christian Faith…before you blow out a vein in your head over the upcoming documentary, (The Lost Tomb of Jesus, Sunday 3/4 on Discovery Channel), which is proposing that the remains of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their possible offspring (Judah), were found in a tomb in Jerusalem…understand the facts surrounding this. Trust me, it will ease your troubled mind a bit, and give you a better foundation with which to answer questions non-believing friends may pose to you.

First: Make no mistake…this film though a documentary is a moneymaking venture. Unless there was serious bling to be made, why would someone of James Cameron’s status get involved, (especially on the marketing end…I.E. press conferences), unless that is, he was a devote skeptic (which he is conveniently not addressing at this time)? Documentaries skirting the fringes of fiction by combining their facts with unproven assumptions are becoming pretty commonplace, since Michael Moore proved the format could be financially viable. Dan Brown’s the DiVinci Code (book and Movie) took this movement to new heights (or depths, depending on your frame of reference) as he approached this model from the other direction…veiling a work of fiction with pseudo-science.

If you doubt this contention, then read the words of Cameron himself, who has already stated, “This is the beginning of an ongoing investigation. If things come to light that erode this investigation, then so be it.” So whether the conclusions are true or not, apparently that doesn’t make much difference to Cameron. Spoken like a true spiritual fence sitter who will be laughing all the way to the bank at the controversy this creates!

Second: The conclusions apparently being made by this film, are not based upon hard archeological data or empirical evidence, but are more in the vein of a “Just Imagine If” kind of project, designed for one reason and one reason only…to create controversy. Why? To make money…lots’ of money. Dan Brown proved that poking a sharp stick at the foundation of Christianity, could net an 8-figure return. The renowned archeologist, Amos Kloner, who originally discovered this site and these ossuaries back in 1980, has stated for the record, “The claim that the burial site (of Jesus) has been found is not based upon any proof, it’s only an attempt to sell. With all due respect, they (the film-makers) are not archeologists.”

In my own research for my Eye Witness books, ( ), I’ve discovered (and Kloner agrees) that the names, Jesus, Mary and Judah were very common names in first century Palestine. “Of 900 burial caves found within four kilometers (two and a half miles) of Jerusalem’s Old City and from the same era,” according to Kloner, “the name Jesus (or Yeshua) has been found 71 times and that “Jesus son of Joseph” had also been found previously.” But no other archeologists of note have given these artifacts any particular significance or connection to Christianity’s founder. To put this in perspective, it would be like an archeologist finding a tomb with the names Bob, Sandy and Rob son of Bob…in Dallas 2000 years from now and conclude they’ve found the tomb of the legendary author Robert James Luedke (okay, legendary is wishful thinking….LOL).

The filmmakers have even gone to the extreme steps of giving themselves credibility by making sure everyone knows the film has been in research and production for over three years, and hey…they even have an expert in ancient DNA analysis on board. For what? There are no living descendents of Mary Magdalene (or even accredited historical record of there being any), so what would DNA have to do with anything? And these remains/ossuaries have been known for 27 years…why haven’t any other more respected archeologists come to these same conclusions?

Three: There is nothing new about this discovery. A film was produced by the BBC about this same site and artifacts, containing similar conclusions, a decade ago…that also was basically dismissed as having no empirical proof or evidence at its basis. And in case you forgot, just 5 years ago the prestigious organization, Biblical Archeological Review Journal, claimed it had found an ossuary with that housed the bones of James, brother of Jesus…only to later admit it was a hoax.

So what does this all mean to you? That as a faithful Christian you educate yourself about this story, so you can speak as someone who is doing more than just pooh-poohing it without anything to stand behind your words. Yes…I know that Faith and God’s Word is all we (as Christians) require to know what is the truth is, but when dealing with people who are already skeptics and do not yet know or understand the power of Faith in their lives, it helps to be able to speak in their language, so to speak, (“to the Greeks, I became a Greek”).

I don’t think organizing boycotts of Discovery Channel, or James Cameron films achieves anything but provides the film with more free PR. As someone who has never been afraid of hearing both sides of any question, I recommend we all just watch this program on Sunday Evening, so we can speak from a position of knowledge, (about what it actually presents), rather than from a position ignorance and fear.

Let’s use this situation to create dialog and discussion, not run away from it!

Bob Luedke
Copyright, 2007, Robert James Luedke ...Author/Illustrator Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit...and A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Inspiration in Frustration...

It's quite easy to wake up each day and believe what's the use?

I'm no different than my neighbor, I'm no better than my brother.

I toil each day just to pay my bills and find I'm always still wanting.

My joys become stretched farther apart and there seems like no point in being me.

Will I ever make a difference?

Will I ever be of note?

Or, am I destined to just being another wheel in a cosmic wrist-watch, that only draws attention when it is broken?

But a light shone upon me and I considered for a moment, that we are all a special creation.

Concieved in a time before time, in a space unlike space,

to be master of a task designed for us and no other.

There can be no point in denying the fingerprint that I am, though sometimes I like to try,

but the challenge will alway be to identify the assignment,

not it's completion.


Robert James Luedke

Copyright 2007

Robert Jamed Luedke, is the Author/Illustrator of the Eye Witness, graphic novel series

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Acts of Spirit, Finalist for Nat'l Book Award


ForeWord Magazine is pleased to announce the finalists in the eighth annual Book of the Year Awards. These books represent some of the best work coming from today's independent press community.

Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit (ISBN-13 9780975892428) by Robert James Luedke, (published by Head Press Publishing), was announced as one of the finalists for the Graphic Novel catagory. According to Luedke, "Just being included as a finalist for this award, is obviously an honor and hopefully it will go a long way to opening the eyes of retailers, librarians and the reading public about the genre of faith-based graphic novels."

Nearly 1,400 books were entered in 59 categories. These were narrowed to 698 finalists, from 419 publishers. The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers, selected from our readership. ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was designed specifically for them to share in the process of discovering distinctive books across a number of genres with judgments based on their own authority in each category and on their patron/customer interests.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor's Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at BookExpo America at the Javits Center in New York City, June 1st from 2:30pm at LIVE@ Second Stage located on the main show floor.

For a listing of all finalists, go to:

For more information about the Eye Witness series, visit:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Here's a fun little quiz to share with your friends and family.

What do all these classic pieces of literature have in common?

The Arabian Nights
The Diary of Anne Frank
Black Beauty
Call of the Wild
The Bible
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Doctor Zhivago
All Quiet on the Western Front
Fahrenheit 451
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Tropic of Cancer
and Harry Potter

---The answer is that they have all been targets of censorship by a group, government (including the USA) or religious organizations. And when you consider that Fahrenheit 451, (written by the sci-fi pioneer Ray Bradbury), was about censorship and book burning…it's the most ironical of the list!

Censorship is defined as: The removal from public viewing, or the prevention of circulation of information, where it is felt best by some controlling group or body that others should not be allowed to access the information, which is being censored.

Typically censorship is undertaken by governments or by an established body (religious or mass media). By it's very nature censorship recognizes that there is some person or body of persons that can determine for the majority of a society what information or forms of entertainment it should have access to. In the seminal work dealing with loss of freedoms, (including censorship), 1984 by George Orwell, the term was coined "Big Brother" to describe these people or groups who would be making these types of decisions for us.

Censorship is generally found in societies whose freedoms of speech are repressed, (communist countries and/or dictatorships) or are leaning in the direction, but it also thrives ironically in bastions of freedom, like the United States, where groups can and do use fear and ignorance as the motivating factor in their drive for censorship.

Case in point: The children's book The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron. This book just received the coveted, Newbery Award for children's literature…which is basically the equivalent of receiving an endorsement by Oprah, within literary circles, with book buyers and librarians. So needless to say, there are people out there that feel this is a pretty powerful and effective piece of literature designed for children (whom the author says is the 9-12 age group). That is, all but a couple librarians, who have taken to the blog-waves to share their discontent over the fact that the author uses the word "scrotum" in the book and are making it their mission to alert other librarians and parents, all over the country about this terrible occurrence and encouraging them to have the book removed from the shelves…. before it too late, (you know…that time when we'd have to discuss with our kids what a scrotum is).

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, (and you can admit it…I had to think it over for a few seconds ma'self), it is defined by Webster as, "the pouch of skin containing the testicles." And if you don't know what they are…sorry you're going to have to look that one up for yourself!

One of the librarians in question stated on her blog, "The word scrotum does not often occur in polite conversation or children's literature for that matter." Dana Nilsson, a librarian in Durango Colorado writes, "This book included what I call a Howard-Stern shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope." A Howard-Stern type shock-treatment? Let's see, how many more descriptive and disgusting names can I think of, that Stern would use on his show before resorting to the official medical term of scrotum to describe this part of the male anatomy? Okay, so Dana doesn't get out much!

Another one of the blogger librarians write, "I don't want to start an issue about censorship, but you won't find men's genitalia in quality literature." And there it is gang! We (the offended librarians) feel in our judgment that any description of the male genitalia (which sounds like your discussing some sort of single celled creature discovered under a microscope… but I digress), is inappropriate, even if it's done using only the specific medical terminology to do so…but that's not censorship! A rose by any other name, my friends, would still smell as sweet. One of the common threads of all censorship is that the censor will usually claim what he is doing is not censorship…they're just trying to help us out by keeping harmful information and words away from us and our children. Aren't we lucky?

What they are doing with their 21st century styles cyber-assault on this highly decorated book, is exactly what censorship has become in this information-highway-age we now find ourselves. But you want to know what really makes this whole thing even more ridiculous? The use of the word scrotum, (it's actually kind of fun to say, try it...scrotum, scrotum, scrotum, scrotum, scrotum…. there, got that out of my system), it's not even used to describe any man or boy anatomy in the story. It's about a dog that got bit in the scrotum by a snake, (which was actually a true anecdote the author was sharing).

Ah-ha…now it all makes sense to me now! The librarians in question were protecting our children against possibly reading about dog genitalia in a children's book.

So how does a free society deal with this kind of garbage? By doing the same things they are doing…voicing our opinions against anyone telling you or your children what books are appropriate for you or your children to read. That's not their job. They select from the thousands of books that come out every few months and make choices based upon, marketing to them by publishers and distributors, critical reviews, (in publications like Publishers Weekly and Forward Magazine) and watch book awards lists to see what books have been deemed by those who have proven to be experts in culling out books of note from the masses published.

Their job is not to make reading judgments for their patrons based on their subjective personal tastes…like does a book have or have not words describing male canine genitalia included…(ha, ha, ha…sorry I can't even write that without chuckling). So, let you local librarian know, you'd prefer they just concentrate on making books available and let the parents or teachers make the call on what their children will or will not read. Heaven forbid a parent or teacher would have to engage their children in a conversation about what a scrotum is!

Their next target of the cyber-librarian assassins…a book about the little kitty's uvula getting caught in the mouse trap...discuss!

Robert Luedke
Head Press Publishing

copyright R.J. Luedke 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Are We Worldly, Commercial or Ministers?

A recent newsletter from the wonderful and informative entertainment website, Infuse Magazine (, has inspired me to wax philosophic on the topic of Christianity and the Arts....If it of God, or is it about the money?

This is a topic very close to my heart, as I have found myself on the front lines of these type of conversations every now and then, because of what we are attempting to do through our Eye Witness graphic novel series (see:

In regards to the economics of trying to carve out a niche in the world of Christian publishing...the array of comments I receive via email, on this blog and my various web postings, is really quite diverse on this subject. Of course I've received many messages in support of what I am try to accomplish. But, I've also heard from people who portray themselves as Christian and/or spiritual, that will berate me for selling my books at all! They rationalize, that if my works were truly "of God" and designed with the Gospel message in mind, I should just be giving them away. They feel, what I do couldn't be looked at as a ministry if it is a for-profit venture.

My answer to that is a usually a very simple question: What church or Christian speaker/preacher/entertainer, (music, comedy, movies, traveling Evangelists etc...), works for free with no type of support either through financial backing, selling something, through tithes and/or appearance fees? None. Unless the person heading up the ministry is financially independent, or has someone behind the scenes who is, everyone working fulltime toward sharing the word, whether it's in a Church, a web-site, through producing music, movies, books or television...all have to support their families, their staff and their infrastructure (through which they are sharing that message). I've been a part of a mega-church in the DFW area which has a stated operational overhead of "millions of dollars" each and every month. Is it any wonder why they sell, books, coffee, donuts, CD's, T-shirts and Christian addition to asking for a tithe each and every week? It's all part of how this church goes about taking the word to people not just in DFW, but all over the world through their services, through TV and through the internet.

I look at that kind of comment as being rooted in either ignorance of business principles (as they apply to ministry) or lack of familiarity of the format being used (because it feels so foreign to the person's experience, they feel that it certainly must be designed strictly for monetary gain, since they can not fathom how it could be used effectively to minister).

That begs the question...are there people out there just trying to make a buck by using the draw of Christianity? Yes, of course there are and have been literally since the first century, (see Bar-Jesus in the book of Acts)! So how does one know whether the presentation, song, movie or book is designed with a genuine desire to share/spread God's word, or just make a quick buck? As the Bible tells us, "You will know them by their fruit." In other words, it's overall impact may not be wide-spread or even understood till years (or even decades after it's creation). But the bottom line is always, does the presentation accurately convey (and portray) the word of God as described to us in the Bible (which was written by men inspired by God)? If the answer is yes, than no matter it's economic impact, it will reach people who need to be reached...and for me, that is the ultimate goal for my works. If the answer is no, then (paraphrasing the Gospel)..."If the activity is of man's creation, rather than of God's, than it will eventually fail and it's followers will scatter just like all followers of false prophets."

For maverick publishers/creators like myself, this is strictly about mission or ministry. I have a story to tell that was inspired by God in my heart, mind and soul. I have been given the talents and direction on how to mold that message to reach those I'm suppose to reach; how to market it; and how to finance it. God has provided me with both the resources and/or the people with the resources to help get it off the ground. God has provided me with enough sales to repay those who have given generously either of their time or services to get the series out into the marketplace.

Will God ever grant me enough exposure/sales to actually make the series a economic success (in other words, that I'll actually turn a profit)? For me that really doesn't matter, since I have a faith that is rooted in my belief that if I am obedient to his will, God will provide for me and my family...anything above and beyond that will be a blessing and just allow me to be able to just give more books away to youth groups and ministries who need them but cannot afford them (which I try to do as much as possible now anyway) and provide me a vehicle through which I can help other creators bring their projects to market.

Robert James Luedke

copyright 2007, Robert James Luedke

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


In this “over commercialized-sound bite-don’t miss out on this special offer,” world of ours, it’s easy to forgot the roots of things that are most important. And the most important of all of course, is Love!

Trying to decide what to get your honey, spouse or sweetheart this Valentines day? Why not a little gen-u-ine, honest-to-goodness….Love?

-Love is patient
-Love is kind
-Love does not envy
-Love does not boast
-Love is not rude
-Love is not self-seeking
-Love is not easily angered
-Love keeps no record of wrongs
-Love always protects
-Love always trusts
-Love always has hope
-Love always perseveres

and....Love never fails

RJ Luedke

(paraphrased from the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 13)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fans For Christ, Interview Posted

I know this is shameless self promotion, but hey someone's got to do it...LOL!

Seriously, here is an interview posted on the website, FANS FOR CHRIST. They are a wonderful group of people who are Christians who also enjoy various fantasy based hobbies, (re: gaming, D&D, costuming, role playing, etc...), and come here to network and share their love for God and their chosen hobbies. I really enjoyed meeting and talking with them this summer at the DragonCon in Atlanta.

For those of you, who might want to know a bit more about my background and motivations for creating the Eye Witness series, visit this link to see the newly posted interview I did with them:

Monday, January 29, 2007

Looking to Publish a Small Print Run Book?

I had this information forwarded to me today, and thought I would share it with ya'all. (Now I personally have not dealt with the company before, but this information came through one of my distributors, so I'll asume they are a very high quality company):

As the New Year begins, Lightning Source is pleased to announce our Winter 2007 Short Run Discount Promotion in the United States and United Kingdom. Effective January 29th, and ending April 30th, 2007, this promotion will provide discounted print rates on Short Run orders of 50 or more books.

Promotion Specifics:

· Program Dates: January 29, 2007 to April 30, 2007
· 50 copies is the minimum order quantity to receive a discount
· A 50-book order must consist of one book. Multiple book orders or individual titles may not be combined to reach a 50 book minimum order.
· Books submitted may be paperback, case laminate or jacketed hardcover with black & white interior. This program does not apply to color books.
· Promotion Code: GLOBAL(promotion code is case sensitive, and must be used at the time the order is place on the web for the discount to apply.)


· 50 - 99 copies per title = 5% print discount
· 100 - 249 copies per title = 15% print discount
· 250+ copies per title = 20% print discount

Discounts may be earned on as many orders as you like during the promotion period.
Orders must go to one "ship to" location. Lightning Source must ship the order no later than May 30, 2007.

Please remember the promotional code GLOBAL must be used at the time the order is placed to earn the discount.

Questions? Please do not hesitate to contact your Sales or Client Services Representative for more information.

Best wishes to you in the New Year, and thank you for your business!

Lightning Source Inc.

Contact Us: 615-213-4000 or 1-800-378-5508

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Scorsese Dilemma!

Is it just me, or is there an almost schmaltzy pro-Scorsese sediment in the academy these days?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of director Martin Scorsese, and put him right up at the top of the heap of American directors over the past quarter century. But that being said, I feel the Academy (I.E. …those who vote on the coveted Academy Awards for motion picture excellence) is trying to make up for their almost comical (if it wasn’t so tragic) snub of the directors work over the decades, by now nominating everything he does in the hopes that one will win an award, before they have to really eat some crow by giving him a lifetime achievement award (in Lieu of an Oscar for an individual work).

The Departed is a fine film. It has a fine cast that rates right up there with any film Scorsese has done. It is very entertaining, moves nicely and has a wonderful tension throughout. But, was it truly one of the best overall films of the year, or one of Scorsese’s best?

When I went to see past Scorsese masterpieces like, Good Fellas, Casino, Raging Bull and even Gangs of New York…I was riveted to my chair. It was the rare movie experience where you wished a three-hour movie could be extended to a four-hour movie, because simple put…it was so entertaining to watch and the time went by too fast. In Departed I didn’t get that feeling. It felt like the film was “trying to hard to be a Scorsese mob-masterpiece”. I got that feeling like I was watching wonderful actors act in a wonderful story, rather than being pulled into the characters and story itself (maybe that’s more of a consequence of casting Nicholson, but that’s another issue) which for me, is always the benchmark of a great movie.

So, it would not surprise me one bit if this was the year for Mr. Scorsese to finally receive that overdue Oscar. The Academy has a history for rewarding its box office juggernauts and visionaries after the fact, since they tend to be more conservative in their assessment of film. In other words, for decades Scorsese made movies his way, in his unique style which was a bit too flamboyant for the academy 10 or 20 years ago. But that same style is now most likely standard teaching fare in most film schools around the world…”so we (the Academy) better honor this genius while he is still making films, even though his best ones might be behind him to save face”?

It's not like this is a first, as many a Hollywood great has been snubbed during their best years of work and been awarded through the lifetime achievement root. Let's hope Scorsese does not have to suffer that same fate, and can go out with his boots on, so to speak...being rewarded for a great film.

R.J. Luedke

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Taunting poor sportsmanship, or is LT just a Baby!

This will only be relevant and make sense to you pro football fans out there, but onward and upward...

A pet peave I have with the NFL of today, is the fact that almost literally after every play there is someone on the field doing a little pre-mediated victory dance or skit, that says, HEY LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT WHAT I JUST DID (their job, for which they are being an obsene amount of money for?...LOL). Now after a touchdown or game winning play in the closing seconds, I (as a former footballer m'self) can totally understand the emotion of wanting to celebrate a bit, but in the NFL of today, there is no thought to foolish pride, or not showing up the opposing team or respecting your foe, etc.... It's all about how much attention can I call to myself for making a tackle, or getting a sack, or making a good run etc....

The ultimate foolishness in this whole process to me, is when a player does one of these little dances (after of course running a few yards away from the play, so the TV cameras can get a good shot of him looking like an ass)... even when his team is behind in the game. So it doesn't matter his team is getting whooped on, but HEY LOOK AT ME I MADE TACKLE!!

Okay, what does this have to do with Ladainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers? For those who missed the end of the playoff game last weekend, after his team lost the game, he was caught by TV cameras trying to fight with the opposing team (which is usually a time when opposing team-mates shake hands, hug or even pray together...yea!). When asked why this happened he said (paraphrasing), "they disrespected us, because they were doing a celebration dance (made popular by one of HIS TEAM-MATES) on the Charger logo in the middle of the field."

Two problems with this: 1. Hey dude, you lost, they won...that's when celebration dances are supposed to be done, especially in the playoffs...especially when you just beat the top seeded team in your conference! 2. What goes around comes around. His team-mates dance (Steroid user, Shawn Merriman) was used to taunt opposing teams all year long when he made a big tackle or sack. LT apparently didn't have any problem with that, so it's just seems almost fitting to give some payback when it matters most.

And hence lies the whole problem with allowing these kind of things from going on in the NFL to begin with. They are unsportmanlike, they taunt the opponent, and the draw attention away from the accomplishments of team and shift it to the individual (which of all sports, the NFL is most about team and team chemistry to get wins). The NFL doesn't allow a pre-meditated endzone celebration, why do they allow one when a tackle, first down or sack is made?

So LT, take a deep breath, understand that your team just choked big-time and understand what is reaped is usually sown in this world of ours.

Sorry, just had to vent about this someplace!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Feeling Set Apart Lately?

Ever get the feeling that being follower of Jesus, you sometimes feel separated from the world and doing the things the rest of the world does, just doesn’t seem to fit or feel right to you anymore?

We watch as those around us pursue the ultimate high, lust for the next sexual score or look for a way to make a quick buck (whether legal or not) and question ourselves for not joining into this mad dash any further. Where did we go wrong?

Those who enjoyed our company before, may now be reluctant to hang with us, because we’ve changed…we’re not the same person anymore and they feel kind of uncomfortable around us. Does following the path of Jesus, mean we cannot enjoy life or have meaningful friendships, since we no longer exactly fit with the world we came from?

What’s wrong with us? The answer is…nothing and everything!

It’s not that we are wrong, but that we are now more closer to right. When we accepted Jesus as our savior, he cleaned us…washed away ALL our sins, and what we were. We truly became reborn in (and through) him! At that moment we became a bit more like him…we became Sanctified.

I always looked at the term “Sanctified”, as one of those “three-dollar-Christian-words” which a lot of preachers used, but I never really understood. But at it’s essence the word defines our new selves in Christ. Sanctified literally means, “Set apart for God’s use.” And that’s just what happens to us, when we accept Jesus and become one of his followers. Then as we mature (as Christians) there also is a process of “Progressive Sanctification”, where as we continue to grow and that setting apart becomes more and more pronounced in ALL parts of our life, not just the spiritual.

When we become Sanctified, the light of God begins to show in us and through us…in how we speak, how we act, how we conduct business and how much we love. Jesus said, when we have the Holy Spirit of God within us, we are like a lantern in the darkness for those trapped in the shadows. As lanterns we can both lead people out of the darkness, while at the same time illuminate things/people that may rather not be illuminated. The later is why people who once relished our company, may now feel a certain uncomfortable sensation around us…they are not ready to be in the light or have it shined upon their lives, they wish to stay in the darkness.

I’ve experienced firsthand, both the wonderful transformation and the feeling of being somewhat like an alien to my peers. Working within the comic-book, graphic-novel industry like I do, you quickly learn that: No major publisher has an interest in publishing a spiritual/Christian based story; artists and writers are reluctant to identify with any religion (but especially Christianity it seems) for fear it might limit their free-lance job opportunities; and (most significant) that most that work in the field are creating projects that they deem to be cutting edge culturally due to their graphic depictions, violence, language, sexual content etc…and just don’t view Christianity as cool!

So basically, to work, publish and attempt to market a Christian project in an industry like this, makes me a living, breathing poster boy, for walking earth like an alien! It requires me to face ridicule, (both privately and in the media--including the L.A. Times), doubt, uncertainty or just ambivalence on a constant basis.

How do I survive in this situation? Only through staying in The Word, prayer and fellowship with brother Christians who are taking this same kind of narrow path in their chosen fields, (many of which I’ve already met here in Shoutlife-land), can I stay focused on God’s commission for me (to share God’s Word with unchurched young readers) and his promise (that my efforts will bear fruit, by saving those who may not be reached through other means---even if it’s just one or two people).

Brothers (and sisters), this is what being Sanctified is all about…I have been set aside for God’s use and I feel blessed to have experienced it (even though I resisted his call till later in life).

What about you?

Robert Luedke