Monday, November 17, 2008

Radical Christian Graphic Novel is praised

David Crumm, the highly respected journalist formerly of the Detroit Free Press, who now publishes, (which is a wonderful site devoted to discussing all things spiritual from around the world)...had graciously included Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle, in his listing of "10 Books to Watch" in his 11/17/08 edition.

In the article Crumm pays me the ultimate complement...and no, I don't mean his labeling me a "radical Christian" (which I kind of like, BTW)... but by bringing my work into focus through a comparison of Eugene Peterson's "The Message New Testament Bible." Crumm states when attempting to describe Eye Witness, "Think about a marriage between Indiana Jones and Eugene Peterson's dramatically rewritten Message Bible...Fresh, Fun, Faithful and Frantically Pulse-Pounding." Wow...that last part felt like Crumm had channeled a bit of Stan Lee's penchant for the dramatic!

Since I was not that familiar with Mr. Peterson's work before reading this, (and I'm always on the look out for books exploring the original themes, writing style and presentation of the gospels), I dug a bit deeper into Mr. Peterson and this book. It appears Peterson and I share a some common goals for our works, (paraphrasing Peterson) "To bring the New Testament to life for those who haven't read the Bible because it feels to distant or irrelevant to them (in its current form) and to those who read the Bible so much, that it's become "old hat"'. Crumm has indeed hit the nail on the head with this comparison, since that is exactly the foundation behind the Eye Witness graphic novel reach those who may not be reachable otherwise through a presentation they are attracted to, as well as entertained by.

Now that sounds like a book I'm going to have to seek out!

R.J. Luedke

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wizard World Texas Audio Interview

Here's a two-part interview (so it's quite lengthy) I did at this year's Wizard World Texas, with Eric Shirey of Movie Geek Feed.

For those of you not familiar yet with my Eye Witness graphic novel series, this should answer a lot of your questions about it.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wizard World Texas Feedback

I wanted to file my report on this year's Wizard World-Texas convention.

This was the fourth time I've done this convention, since I began the Eye Witness series ( and I'm happy to report that this was...far and away...the best year for sales I've had here!

The last time I did the show was in 2006, and I was disappointed in both the lack of attendence but also the lack of interested customers at that show. So I didn't have a whole lot of expectations for this year's version. I don't know what the Wizard gang had did differently since then, but for a relatively small venue, there was a real heathly flow of people from open to close on both Friday and Saturday.

It was real refreshing to see how many people stopped by my table that had bought one of the earlier editions of Eye Witness and were excited to see the third. I hadn't seen this much repeat business from previous visits, since Comic Con International.

Also during the con, the Heroes for Heroes gang was on hand both on the exhibit floor and during Saturday night's live art auction, where they raised over $24,000, (see:
Here's my contribution, (my animated style Heath Ledge inspired Joker):

...and here's a pic of me working on the piece.

But overall this was a very good show for the fans, because there even though there was not a whole lot of awe-inspiring exhibits (ala CCI San Diego) there was a sizeable artists alley where both legendary creators, self & small press publishers and those artists looking to get their foot in the door...all hobb-knobbed directly with them.

My overall highlight came on the first day, when I spoke with a young man who let me know that he'd watched my Eye Witness developments over the last few years on the web and he was in awe to be talking to me in person. That's the first time I believe someone's been "in awe" of me (LOL)! But seriously, he went on to share that I had inspired him to also do comics that were spiritually uplifting.

It's little things like this that make all the headaches and hardwork, seem worth it!

R.J. Luedke

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Books from Ann Rice

Ann Rice, acclaimed creator of the southern-gothic vampire genre, (which is currently roaring full bore in sales...especially among teen to YA women), though her Vampire Chronicles series, is following up her first journey into Christian Fiction (Christ the Lord: Out of Eqypt:, with a new memoir detailing the rebirth of her faith.

I was so touched by her presentation in Christ the Lord, that it inspired some of the storytelling direction I took with Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit ( and Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle (

Her memoir is to be followed up with a new series of books chronicling the early ministry of Jesus.

Yahoo News just posted this story on the topic:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Where are those Christian Comics?

I recently ran across a blog posting dealing with the frustration a college-age Christian reader of graphic novels has over the lack of spiritual and/or Christian based books and comics on the shelves ( My thoughts are as follows (which if you've met me at a've probably heard me talk about at length. It's Bob's economics of the comic industry 101):

I share your frustration on this issue, my brother. As someone who has been creating a Christian based graphic novel series since 2002, I've ran across many of what I call "Closet Christian Creators" in the industry, who commend me for taking a stand for Christ in what I am doing. Many also tell me they'd love to do likewise, or have a story they've wanted to create for years, but that there is just not an outlet (I.E. a publisher) for them to bring it to market. In fact one writer (who shall remain nameless) who was the creator of one of our more high-profile and more "demonic characters", is among that group.

You've got to remember that most people working in comics are not like movie or TV directors and/or actors....who make enough through their trade to be financially independent. Most are working stiffs who rely on their monthy assignments to pay their car payments and mortgages... like most of America. And so this doesn't give them the opportunity to take months to years to underwrite creating their spiriutal or Kingdom honoring project. Sorry to say but it's just simple economics. That's why now most of what is being created comes from either very small press publishers, who only publish a title or two a year, or the creators themselves through self-publishing.

Part of my goal through the Eye Witness series, has been to create enough attention and buzz within the comic and book trade to demonstate both to the retailers and publishing community that the paring of spirituality and comics/gn's can work, does have a massive willing audience and will sell if given a quality product. Once that is established and the money is flowing through the to speak, then you'll be amazed at how many books/stories you'll see roll out. But the good news-bads news scenerio will then be...will they be published for the right reasons once the big-boys are involved, that is to say will the spirit which drives many to follow this path, be corrupted by an industry who's bottom line is the bottom line, rather than outreach. Just some food for thought.

If you, like the original poster are new to the genre, checkout my 3 Eye Witness graphic novels...which combine an American style Biblical adaptation...with a modern day action-thriller, at:


Friday, October 24, 2008


Dallas, TX –, the premiere online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2008 NATIONAL “BEST BOOKS” AWARDS, (NBBA) on October 20, 2008. Robert James Luedke’s Christian based book, Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle, (Head Press Publishing, 2008:, was honored as the Winner of this award in the category of Comics: Graphic Novels.

Luedke created the Eye Witness series, as a way to share the spiritual, historical and dramatic nature of the Bible, in a way that is both attractive and entertaining...especially to teen and young adult readers, who may not attend church or read the Bible, but are avid readers of comics, manga and graphic novels. His unique combination of a Biblical adaptation with a modern day action-thriller has proven successful not only in comic outlets, but also with mainstream and Christian booksellers.

This is the third major book award that Luedke’s Eye Witness series has garnered. In 2007 the second book in the Tetralogy, Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit, ( was a winner at the Hollywood Book Festival in the category of comics/graphic novels ( and a silver medalist at The Independent Publisher Awards in the category of Dramatic Graphic Novels ( to mention being chosen as a finalist for the FOREWORD MAGAZINE book of the year awards.

Jeff Keen, President and CEO of, said this year’s contest, now in its fifth year, yielded an unprecedented number of entries, which were then narrowed down to over 500 winners and finalists in over 140 categories. A complete list of the winners and finalists are available online at Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape, from large publishing houses: Simon & Schuster, Tarcher/Penguin, HarperCollins, Hyperion, St. Martin’s Press, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons…to hundreds of independent publishers, including Head Press Publishing.

Head Press Publishing was established in 1995 and is dedicated to outreaching teen to young adult readers through creating works in the format of comic books and graphic novels, which are not only entertaining, but also feature a spiritual foundation. For further information, visit:

Monday, October 20, 2008

November Book Signing Events

I just wanted to let everyone know about my upcoming book signing events...which should be the last of my promotional appearances for Eye Witness (Book Three): Rise of the Apostle. After this, it's back to the studio to being work on Eye Witness (Book Four): The Unknown God.

November 1st and 2nd, I'll be in Austin, TX....for the Texas Book Festival. The event, which is in it's 13th year, has generated over $2 million dollars for libraries in Texas! The event features authors from all genres not only signing, but also doing readings from their latest releases. For more information, visit:

Look for me in the exhibitors area, booth 118, just off the intersection of the Capital Driveway and Colorado Street.

A week later, on Nov. 7-9th, I'll be in Arlington, TX...for Wizard World Texas. This is the largest pop-culture convention in Texas and will feature people involved in the world of: Movies, TV, comics, graphic novels, movies, gaming, video gaming and collectibles. For more information, visit: Look for me in the Artist's Alley area.

See ya' all there!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Graphic Novelist on Everyday (FamilyNet TV)

Award-winning graphic novelist, Robert james luedke, will be a featured guest on the talk show, "Everyday with Marcus and Lisa", this Friday morning (Oct. 3rd), from 10am to 12noon. Robert will talk about his journey over these last 6 years creating the Eye Witness graphic novel series, and his latest release, Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle (

The show is produced by FamilyNet TV, which is available around the county on most cable systems (especially Verizon and ATT), as well as on the SkyAngle Network.

For further information, visit:{FA5210ED-013C-4B4A-A39B-AA7F6F63E878}&content_id={9FB44CD5-2979-470F-B95B-2375977BC828}&seid=

From there Robert will travel to Columbus, Ohio...where he will be appearing at the MidOhio-Con, pop culture convention (at the Greater Columbus convention center). See:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Robert Luedke Featured ReaderViews

Award winning writer/illustrator Robert James Luedke's third volume of the Eye Witness graphic novel series...Rise of the featured this month on the Readersview Homepage:

Readersview reviews appear regularly on, on USA Today, Reuters, Fox News, Fox Business, and NBC. They also appear in newspapers such as Austin American Statesman in Austin, Texas, Chicago Sun-Times, Courier Times (suburbs of Chicago), The Beacon Times,Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio, and The Herald News and on many online websites and blogs as well as city sites such as ClickOnDetroit and Click2Houston. TV stations such as WESH, WCVBTV/DT5, NEWS4Jax, WXII12, KETV, KITV, WISN, WMUR, and WJAC also use our reviews.

For more information about the groundbreaking Eye Witness Christian-based graphic novel series or Robert Luedke, visit our homepage at:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hot Artist...Hot Image!

I belatedly wanted to share with you the image created for our Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle promotional poster image. At this point the poster is only available at my personal appearances in '08 and early '09 (see the schedule on our home page at:

The design was a joint collaboration between myself and Dallas artist David Rodrigues ( But the finished painting is all David!

David specializes in doing life size painting at get togethers, (corporate, church, events, festivals, etc...) working in acrylics and using a sheet of plywood as his canvas! When I asked him why he worked in that medium, he told me, "hey, have you seen how much it costs to create a six-foot canvas?" But economy of scale aside...working on this medium adds a very unique texture to his finished work.

This poster image in particular has proven to be so popular, that at this year's Comic Con International ( people scarfed them up at record pace! In fact, on Thursday afternoon (a day and a half into the event), we had to stop giving them out, so we'd have some left over for the weekend!

So definitely don't miss your chance to score one of these at one of our upcoming appearances (next up: MidOhio-Con. See:

R.J. Luedke

Rise of the the News!

Hey Gang....

Just wanted to give you an update on the coverage generated by Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle, (which is exciting, since it just released nationally a week or so ago...depending on your region of the country):

Publishers Weekly:

Tulsa World Newspaper:

Midwest Book Review, (which has included it in it's latest Children's Bookwatch edition):

...a podcast of an interview recently done on FAMILY LIFE RADIO NETWORK:

.....and just FYI, the World Magazine did a wonderful piece on the rise of the graphic novel in pop culture (one of the most comprehensive I've ever read on the history), that at it's core talked about the movement of Christian based comic and graphic novels...some good (Eye Witness included...yeah!) and some not so good:

Enjoy my friends...and always keep spreading the Word!

R.J. Luedke

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Friends, I've done the impossible again and returned for a second time from the AOL-MESH-TEAM gravyard!

What is the moral to this story?...the way the AOL TOS is now set up, (and they confirm this), they do not want ANYONE to use their AOL accounts for ANY TYPE of commerical applications. To give you an idea of how easily they can close your account down, their current TOS, include things like "that if you send an email with a hyperlink to ANY commercial web sites", that is grounds for termination...even if you're just trying to show a friend something you found on the web!

How many of you did this in the last week, let alone the last day or two?

So this time we'll learn our lesson and work to duplicate all we have saved on their servers and prepare to move on to a more friendly commerical enviroment.

And for the lovely person who thought it would be hoot to report my newsletter as spam...ha, ha-ha, ha-ha...haaaaa!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Texas Release Party Benefiting Heroes 4 Heroes

Weds. August 13th is the national release date for the third book in the Eye Witness series...Rise of the Apostle (

To celebrate, we are holding a Texas Release Party on Satuday Aug. 16th at Titan Comics of Dallas...where you can get your copy signed by me, colorist Mike Lagocki and cover-designer David Rodrigues (both of: And to make things even more exciting, for every copy of Rise of the Apostle, (or any of he Eye Witness books purchased) I'll donate a copy to the Dallas based Charity, Heroes 4 Heroes, (see: They have worked diligently over the past few years to collect and ship all sorts of entertainment media to our troops in the middle east...and received cudos for their efforts all the way up to commanding Gen. Patraeus!

We are encouraging everyone who joins us, to bring an item to donate. So if you have: Comics, Graphic novels, books, recent magazines, Music CD's, DVD's, MP3, players, video games or gaming systems...laying around your house collecting dust, bring in on down and help entertain our men and women serving overseas!

To prime the pump a bit more, for everyone who brings something to donate, you'll recieve a FREE exclusive, autographed Rise of the Apostle poster...which is only available at my personal appearances!

And if that wasn't enough, Dallas' own Space Gun Studios ( will be on hand to premier their new anthology, Synesthestic.

What: Rise of the Apostle...Texas Release Party
Where: Titan Comics, 3701 W. NW Hwy, Dallas (call: 214-350-4420 for directions)
When: Sat. Aug. 16th, 12noon to 3pm

Hope you can join us!~ Contact us with any questions.


Friday, August 08, 2008

AOL MESH TEAM did it again!

Friends and associates....if you are trying to email me currently at my aol address and get the mail returned, it because the mysterious MESH TEAM is at it again!

Because I sent out a group of emails to former purchasers of Eye Witness from our website and one of them (who I'll guess was with AOL) must have sent it to their spam folder....they said I have violated the terms of service...despite this being an opt in list. Understand it does matter if what you mail out is actually spam with these people, but if someone you've mailed to chooses to report it as spam, (because maybe they don't like you, resent your business practices, are having a bad day or just want to create a problem for someone), that's all they need to take this action!

As reported previously, this MESH team seems to do this quite often and quite arbritrarily and the AOL member is not even given the chance to answer his accuser (so to speak). The only option you get is to write them a letter.

But fortunately this go round I'm a bit better while I'll try to get this reinstated once again, but I may just move on. I'll keep you appraised.

But until that is determined, please email me at... ...if you need to get a hold of me or respond to my mail.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Comic Con 2008 Report

As a creator and publisher of Christian based graphic novels, I view the world of pop culture and the conventions which worship it's icons as my great mission field. And for those of you unfamilar with this world, Comic Con International, held each year since the mid-'70's in San Diego, is the largest of these events in North American. This last year it drew over 125,000 people over it's 4.5 day run.

Comic Con '08 has come and gone....The good? We had our best year EVER at CCI by the number of Eye Witness books we sold and gave out. Since we were doing the world premier of Eye Witness book three: Rise of the Apostle, I assumed we'd be selling mostly copies of it, (since we had had books 1 and 2 there for the last three years), but to my surprise we sold mostly sets of all 3. That is a very true indication that we were attracting new fans to our series, (and Chrisitan works in general), that might not been open to it in years I kept hearing the question, "have you guys been hear before?" So these were people who may have gone by our table in years past without giving my books a second thought. woo--hoo! Also good news was, that I met a group of young people that had traveled from Colorado to come to Comic Con and hand out tracks. This was a mission trip for them!

The Bad? It seems like there was less of a presence by Christian creators, (by that I mean indy, small or self publishers...always plenty of closet-christian creators). Of course the Christian Comic Arts Society (CCAS: was there, like always, but I was disappointed to see that Michael Davis and the Guardian Line of Christian comics was a no-show (! And I know that, since they were suppose to have a booth right across from me. But other than that, I was unware of any other Christian or spiritual based books being exhibited.

But during the annual Sunday Chapel service I put out a call for all those in attendence, (Since I did the sermon), to dig deep over the next your spritual gifts...and determine how you can use them in God's service. For those in attendence gifted artistically, that could mean more comics, graphic novels, (for the exhibit hall), original art or sculpture(for the art show), indy films (for the film festival), or costumes (just to walk the convention in, or for the masquerade ball). For those gifted for ministry, it could mean walking the room and handing out comic style tracks or maybe having a table for those in need of help.

It will be interesting to see how that call in answered over the next 12 months.

bob luedke


Saturday, June 28, 2008

RIP Michael Turner

I was blown away this morning by hearing of the passing of one of the comic field's truly nice guys and huge artistic talents....Michael Turner.

After doing some digging I found out the some of the details:
Artist Michael Turner has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 37. Aspen Comics’ Vince Hernandez told CBR News Saturday morning that Turner passed away Friday night at 10:42 Pacific Time at Santa Monica Hospital in California.

The news spread quickly at Wizard World Chicago, during what would have otherwise been a riotous night at the hotel bar, the mood suddenly turned somber with remembrances of Turner from friends and acquaintances. A minute of silence will be observed during Wizard World Chicago Saturday afternoon.

Turner is an artist best known for his work on books like “Witchblade,” where he got his start in comics, moving on to titles such as “Black Panther,” “Superman/Batman” and his very own creator owned series “Fathom” and “Soulfire” through his publishing company Aspen Comics. A prolific artist, he’s done work for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and has provided covers to some of the best-known comics published in the last ten years, including Brad Meltzer’s “Identity Crisis.”

In 2000, Turner was diagnosed with cancer -- chondrosarcoma in the right pelvis, which resulted in his loosing his hip, 40% of his pelvis and three pounds of bone. What followed was 9 months of radiation. The cancer has gone into remission and returned multiple times since he was first diagnosed.

For anyone who’s met Turner, they’re likely to tell you what a genuinely nice guy he was and how his spirit for life was higher than anyone else they had ever met. Oddly, my path crossed with Turner’s numerous times. We both live in Los Angeles, and on at least five different occasions we would run into each other at clubs or special events around the city. He seemed like the kind of guy who was up for anything and had a great sense of adventure, especially as evidenced by his love and excellence at water-skiing and martial arts.

Turner’s fight with cancer was truly inspirational. He fought it with dignity and grace.
More details concerning Turner’s passing are forthcoming.

Those wishing to send their condolences to Michael Turner's family are encouraged to send them to:
Aspen MLT, Inc.

C/O Michael Turner
5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111
Culver City, CA, 90230

Aspen Comics also encourages anyone wishing to make a charitable donation in Turner’s name can do so to his requested charities, The American Cancer Society or The Make-A-Wish Foundation
The entire article can be viewed at: Comic Book Resources (CBR)....

On a personal note, I first met Michael at a convention in Tulsa back in the mid-90's, when I was promoting my Template series...and we we kicked butt in a game of hotel-bar-trivia one night! Michael was just beginnings to shake up the industry with his work on Witchblade at that time.

Over the years I saw him almost annually at most major events around Texas, (and of course San Diego) and he always seemed to be very supportive of the indy and small press creators who would approach him for insight, advice or comments on their artwork and never took a "holier-than-thou" attitude because of his success.

His kindness and compassionate nature, not to mention his incredible artistic talent, will sorely be missed.

R.J. Luedke

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A 21st century Holocaust?

The following was originally posted by author, Gabriel Peter (on It was so startling and compelling, I felt I needed to do my part to share this information:

Read this post. Please do not let its length turn you away from the urgency of its message. Pass this along and get the word out.

As is said in the climax to the article, "If the full truth becomes known to the wider population, then whatever support remains for the state constructed by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will begin, even more decisively, to ebb away." The following is a horrifying and eye-opening reality.

She was an ordinary North Korean woman. Short in stature with long black hair, Cho Jin Hae and her family lived in the North Hamkyung province. Like most North Korean families, they suffered from starvation. Jin Hae was forced to skip school and dedicate her life to finding sustenance for her family. In a country depleted of natural resources, it could be anything from mountain animals to tree bark and grass.

After her infant sister starved to death in their mother's arms, Jin Hae's father ventured dangerously into China, hoping to bring back some food for his family. However, on his return, he was arrested by the North Korean police, brutally beaten, and later starved to death in a North Korean slave camp.What was his crime? He was found coming back from China with a small bag of rice to feed his five remaining children.

Jin Hae and her family defected to China under the cover of night?choosing to attempt freedom, instead of being imprisoned in one of the slave camps designated for families of "criminals." Hae's mother and her two remaining siblings left behind their five-year-old brother with a neighbor family, since none of them had the strength to carry him. They learned that he was later kicked out and starved to death wandering the streets.But for Jin Hae's family there was no safety, even after successfully making it to China. They were eventually captured by Chinese authorities. Her 17-year-old sister was sold into prostitution -- her whereabouts remain unknown.

The two remaining sisters were sent back to North Korea, where they were tortured and beaten in prison. Hae still bears marks, and has difficulty walking and moving her shoulders. She and her sister managed to escape with the help of Pastor Phillip Buck, an evangelical minister from Seattle and a North Korean activist. Pastor Buck received the "Civil Courage Prize" for helping many North Koreans escape. The North Korean government imprisoned him in 2005 and released him 15 months later. He helped Jin Hae and her sister seek asylum in the United States in March 2008.

Jin Hae and her sister are only two of very few who actually make it to a free country's border. There are currently fewer than 50 -- maybe as few as nine -- North Koreans currently in the process of gaining asylum to the United States.THE HIDDEN GULAGNorth Korea is one of the most unrecognized human rights tragedies of all time. The North Korea Freedom Coalition estimates that anywhere from 400,000 to one million people have perished in Kim Jong Il's slave-labor camps.Satellite photos reveal sprawling encampments decorating the North Korean landscape. Some are more than 20 square miles in size, containing multiple, enclosed, self-contained "villages" for different categories of prisoners: one for "political criminals," another for the families. For example, "Unit 22" is dedicated to family members of presumed North Korean criminals. Images of Nazi Germany's ethnic cleansing may come to mind, and for good reason. Today, a gulag -- a human blood-bath of Holocaust proportions -- is occurring in North Korea.

Besides those hundreds of thousands who have perished in Kim Jong Il's slave-labor camps, many more have died of starvation or from trying to escape the country.One of every four North Korean Christians are in jail, and five out of six repatriated from China die after their return.

North Korean officials practice all forms of torture to get prisoners to confess of crimes that they did not commit -- such as interaction with Chinese, Westerners, or Christians. Those who survive the torture are sent to slave-labor camps with little food rations. Stories of prisoners hunting down rats for food or fighting over a kernel of corn found in cow waste are not uncommon.However, this is considered a rule infraction. Eating food other than the rations provided, along with working too slowly, can result in food reduction -- which spells death for many prisoners who are not fed enough to begin with -- or the practice of being made to sit motionless for hours on end. Some prisoners say this is more torturous than being beaten. Many prisoners tell stories of also being beaten with rods repeatedly. In fact, one Korean woman, who testified before Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) during April's North Korea Freedom Week, said she was forced to run naked in negative 25-degree Fahrenheit weather.

Detention cells are frequently used. In these cells, a person cannot lie down or sit, causing the loss of circulation to their legs. Many have died in these cells. Persons trying to escape, and other major rule-breakers, are publicly executed by hanging or firing squad in front of assembled prisoners; and often the prisoners are made to walk by and touch the dead corpse on pain of death.

Abortion and infanticide are also quite common. All pregnant women in the labor camps are made to dispose of their children before or after pregnancy. Many witnesses quoted in The Hidden Gulag, by David Hawk, recount tales of helping North Korean women give birth, only to watch her faint as her baby is strangled before her eyes.


Kim Jong Il's labor camps are modeled after the Soviet system. In 1929, Josef Stalin first began to discuss the expansion of the concentration system, which eventually became known as the gulag (i.e., primitive slave-labor camps). According to The Hidden Gulag, "The [Soviet] regime also did its best to hide the truth about the camps, concealing the vast geographic extent of the slave-labor system, as well as the enormous numbers of prisoners involved... Soviet leaders did everything possible to hide their prison and labor camps from the outside world."In the fullest possible sense, North Korea's labor camps are direct descendants of Stalin's gulags. In fact, testimonies from former North Korean officers reveal that Kim Jong Il's prison camps were built according to the Stalinist model. Furthermore, documents have been found revealing that the Soviet Union sent advisors to China in the 1950s to help the Chinese organize labor camps. One can only assume that such training would leak into China's ally, North Korea. "It is the last bastion of true Stalinism left in the world," declared Open Doors president Carl Moeller during North Korea Freedom Week.


Acts designated as crimes and misdemeanors in North Korea include every seemingly innocent expression or act imaginable -- from sitting on a picture of Kim Jong Il to knocking over a jar of ink. There are arrests for political "crimes," such as reading a foreign newspaper, singing a South Korean pop song, leaving a village or the country without permission, or "insulting the authority" of North Korean leadership, particularly Kim Jong Il or his deceased father, Kim Il Sung.In fact, Kim Il Sung remains president of the country, even 12 years after his death. Every village has an audio speaker that is pre-set to turn on at 6:00 a.m. every morning, telling the people how lucky they are, and speaking of the god-like qualities of Kim Jong Il. Every home is required to have a picture of both father and son, and regular security checks make sure the portraits are well cared for. A lack of electricity, telephones, Internet, and cable keeps the country in the grip of Kim Jong Il's ideology. It has been described as an ideology of state: submission of individuality for the "common good."

Religious persecution is extremely severe, because Christianity threatens Kim Jong Il's tyranny. In fact, Open Doors declared in February that North Korea is the most dangerous place to live for a Christian. The North Korean government is based on a "Cult of Personality," a nation that is forced to worship Kim Jong Il and his deceased father. And while Kim Jong Il lives as he pleases -- even owning a fleet of limos -- his country suffers from malnutrition and starvation. Up to two million North Koreans perished during the famine from 1994 to 1998. Even in the aftermath, the country is unable to provide food for its people. Recent stories report that another famine may be on the way.

Failure to comply with Kim Jong Il's standards results in being sent to the gulag. There, approximately 200,000 North Korean men, women, and children currently labor in primitive conditions, being regularly tortured, beaten, and often executed publicly. In some camps there are few, if any, survivors, because many die before completing their sentence.


Not only are North Koreans imprisoned without trial, but Kim Jong Il also practices the idea of "guilt by association." The family of a presumed criminal can face life imprisonment to the third generation.In The Hidden Gulag, Hawk notes, "Tens of thousands of political prisoners -- along with up to three generations of their families -- are banished and imprisoned without any judicial process for usually lifetime sentences." Generations have been imprisoned without trial -- simply disappearing from their villages.

Even Westerners are not safe. In addition to Pastor Buck, New York businessman Steve Kim was sentenced to five years in a North Korean prison because he was caught helping North Korean refugees.BREAKING THE AWARENESS BARRIERCalifornia Senator Ed Royce (R), who has journeyed to South Korea, declares that it is "phenomenal that in this day and age that we would have a situation where several million human beings starve to death in North Korea, while the aid that was supposed to go to the people went instead to the military and the political party that was focused on developing nuclear weapons."The problem is two-fold. First, Americans often do not want to be made uncomfortable by a situation that they feel they can do nothing about.

Peter Beck, executive director for the U.S. Committee for Human Rights, was shunned by his own mother, who said that she did not want to read a report for fear that it would make her uncomfortable.But isn't that the problem? We squirm at the mention of torture and forced infanticide, but no matter how much we ignore it, it does not make the problem go away.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans live and labor in these slave-camps today. It must become common knowledge to the general public. "If the full truth about the camps becomes known to the wider population," Hawk writes in The Hidden Gulag, "then whatever support remains for the state constructed by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will begin, even more decisively, to ebb away."One person can be more influential than he thinks. "This is not to say that words can make a dictatorship collapse overnight," Hawk writes. "But words certainly can make a dictatorship collapse over time, as experience during the last two decades has shown.

Totalitarian regimes are built on lies and can be damaged, even destroyed, when those lies are exposed. The greater and more detailed evidence that can be provided, the more damage the truth can do."The second challenge is that we may feel that such a crisis is not "our problem." But whose problem is it? Becoming more aware and wrestling with the situations facing our world today could spell relief for North Korea. Being willing to confront the human rights atrocities in North Korea, reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and communicating to our lawmakers and friends could be the start to breaking the ice of silence.

Many Americans have said they wished they had known about the Nazi Holocaust, so that maybe they could have done something about it. Today, the crisis in North Korea mirrors the Holocaust. We have an opportunity to do what we wish we had done before. We must speak out for freedom. We must raise awareness. Because if we don't, who will?-- Angelise Anderson

Psalm 9:12 "For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Eye Witness: Rise of the Apostle almost ready to roll!

I've just cleared a huge hurdle and have wrapped up initial production (artwork, coloring, lettering)... on the next book in the Eye Witness graphic novel series RISE OF THE APOSTLE.

The next couple weeks I'll be wrapping up final book production and doing the editing from my proof readers on the book. It is scheduled to release in the book and comic stores nationwide on August 13th (at least that's the plan).

It is already available for pre-order on some of the major online book-sites, (re: amazon, and, etc...) and will be up on our site (, for discounted pre-order sometime in June!

It will listed in June's edition of Diamond Previews (the distributor to the comic book shop world,, so if you want to make sure you can buy at your local shop, go into that store and pre-order it this month (under HEAD PRESS PUBLISHING).

For those of your planning on attending Comic Con International this year, (and I know there might be a few out there among the over 100k that attend each year), I'll be having the world premier of the book at this year's show, (July 23rd-27th). If you don't have your ticket to this event yet...I'd buy it online NOW...! Last year's show sold's that big!

And for some new artwork and a fully animated commercial for the book coming in the next month, to our home page (a preview of the first 6 pages is currently available)!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Will Indiana Jones catch on with Young People?

Saw the 4th installment of Indiana Jones (Crystal Skull: this last weekend. Was it an enjoyable two hours? Yes. Did it have enought action to satisfy fans of A/A? Absolutely. But will it acheive mega-money heights with the movie ticket buying public? Maybe!

This movie is more about nostalgia than breaking any new ground. For those of us who grew up with the Indiana Jones franchise, it's almost like a pleasant trip down memory lane, as the movie drops in characters (whether in the movie or hinted at in dialog and/or in images litered throughout the backgrounds....if your quick enough to spot them) or plot elements, from the previous movies. It's almost like this movie set out not only to be a new episode, but also a homage to Indy (as well as its storied Spielberg and Lucas).

Speaking of which...once again, though the movie is entertaining and action packed, when you step back and put it in the context of how it rates with either of these movie legends' best works, it might fall tremendously short (especially in Spielberg's award winning case)....mainly since it really doesn't do anything to break any new ground (movie making wise) and really rehashed a number of situations and themes from the movies in this series made decades ago.

But coming back around to my main point....will this type of movie making nostalgia catch on with the main demographic for this type of film (the teen to twenty something audience)? My son, who is 19, didn't go see the film this week, (and trust me he sees every big film the weekend...sometimes the opens). He opted to go see Iron Man a second time. when I asked him why, he said, "Dad, that just doesn't look interesting to me, since I really don't know the character and feel I'll just be lost." Will other young people feel the same way? All I know is, the joy I felt when Indy saw Marion for the first time in this film and that big smile crossed her face, (re: Karen Allen, resprising her role of Indy's lost love from the first movie), I wondered to myself, whether this was meant to be just a sort of in-joke for all us baby-boomers and/or indy fan-boys (or girls)?

We'll see if I'm right after the big 4 day memorial day weekend? And that of course the ticket sales will then answer the question of whether Shia Lebeouf (or as I call him just to annoy my, is destined to become the heir to the Indiana Jones franchise?

Bob Luedke

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Scribes of the World, Take Heart!

Here's another one of those stories from a writer who's made it big that can help prop up the spirits of all us writers (or wanna-be writers) who are still waiting for their big break.

Stephenie Meyers, (, the Phoenix mother of 3 kids, whose Twight series (about Vampires and take heart Sue Dent/, has become a bonafied hit among teen and young adult readers, has sold over 5.5 millions copies in 28 countries. Last month she was named one of the 100 Most Influencial People of 2008, by Time Magazine.

Her original idea for the characters in Twilight came in a dream back in 2003. Her sister encouraged her to submit the idea to publishers. A year later, after being rejected by nine agents, the story was discoverd in a "slush pile" of unsolicited manuscripts at Writer's House (the Literary agency responsible for Nora Roberts, Neil Gaiman among others/ ).

Four years later, Meyers has been dubbed "the next J.K. Rowling", as her Twilight is now being developed for the big screen. The final book in the series, Breaking Dawn, will release this August with a first printing of 2.5 million copies.

The moral of the story?...don't give up on your manuscript, just because it may have been brushed aside by a publishing house or agent or two, or nine! Of course this may not happen for you, like it happened for Ms. Meyers, but if you don't believe it can, who will?
(source: Edward Nawotka/Dallas Morning News).

bob luedke
inspried writer of graphic novels

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Following the Company Line?

I was forwarded this link to a recent PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY article, about Buzz Dixon's line of graphic novels, (Serenity, Goofy Foot Girl) currently published by Thomas Nelson:

Having first met Buzz back in 2004, when he was shopping the concept of Serenity and I was releasing the first Eye Witness graphic novel, (See: , we seemed to both be on the same wave-length about bringing more books with a Christian foundation into the market of comics, manga and graphic novels, (from the subtle to the overt). Therefore, it somewhat saddens me to see him basically speaking the Thomas Nelson company line, "that our graphic novels are not necessarily Christian" the hopes of gaining wider reconition in the secular book trade, (see my blog from 2/12 on Thomas Nelson, to more fully understand how I view this stategy).

But then again....Buzz has high hopes for his properties, (as adressed in the article), being tranferred to other media and has partnered (ironically) with this "Christian publishing giant" to help make that happen.

It's funny but this very situation is one I've sat and talked about with brother Christian creators (of all of the, movies, comics etc...), for years and years! What if one of us created a book/movie/song that became widely popular and was offered a deal with a major company/publisher to make some serious dollars with it, would we be willing to tone down its Christian themes to make it more widely accessible? It's a fork in the road anyone wishing to create works with overt Christian themes, or messages, must deal with when working in a pop culturish industry. Do I stay my course and not sacrifice my desire to expand the kingdom through my works, or do I go down the path for more sales, more exposure, more money, in exchange for potentially having to give up some of my editiorial control of my creations to do so?

Is this moral conumstrom unique to Christian creators?...of course not, think of how many tales of creative types "selling out to take the big money" you've heard in your lifetime. It's just that with those who profess a goal larger than earning money or fame, (re: the great commission), it seems like the decision becomes magnified.

Disclaimer: Since I have not talked to Buzz about this yet, don't be mislead that I'm inferring that this is the course Buzz has taken with his's just that this interview, coming on the heals of a similar statement from his publisher a month earlier, has caused me to wonder out loud. Buzz Dixon is a wonderful person, an honorable businessman and to date Serenity has been one of the more pleasant and well received Christian themed american-manga published and my hope is that his core mission for his properties does indeed stay the same.

RJ Luedke
Head Press Publishing

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is Thomas Nelson Moving away from the CBA?

A very interesting article was brought to my attention this morning from fellow author, Sue Dent, (, that Thomas Nelson had gone on the record with the trade publication, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, that they are not a publisher of Christian Fiction!

Wow...that would be news to the publishing world indeed. Before going any further, read the entire article to understand the context:

Now that your back ....Let me explain what I think this all means, from a position of one who's been in these Graphic Novel publishing trenches.

Thomas Nelson ( is indeed a company that people look to for quality "Christian based Fiction" (which I define as stories that go anywhere from overtly Biblical, to those with spiritual or Christian principles or ideas at their core), but a company who is now attempting to make headway into the GRAPHIC NOVEL MARKETPLACE, which is not so friendly to Christian based works (partly due to a bias created by years of persecution from the politically Christian Right, over freedom of speech issues with the product...among other issues).

With their upcoming line of GN's they are attempting to parlay the success they've found with their prose fiction (re: Dekker's works) to their GN lines...which is you read the orginal article talks about that 70% of their prose fiction sales come from outside of the CBA, while only 50% of their current GN sales are outside of the CBA (re: Dekker's trilogy and Serenity).

For those of you who are not in the know, GN's represent the largest catagory of growth in Publishing over the past few years in the USA. Outside of the USA it represents the top catagory of publishing worldwide and now we in the states are catching up in sales, beause the US book market is finally understanding that ANY KIND OF STORY can be told in this format, not just kids stuff or superhero's, but serious literary works of all genres.

So far the CBA has been kind of resistent to the GN format for a number of reasons, (a. don't really understand the format or it's potential to attract teens into their stores... and b. don't really understand how to display and market it, etc....). So TN, is being proactive to all book retailers by making this statement. They are in essence announcing...HEY, we're not just publishing illustrated Bible adaptations or tracts...this is serious fiction here FOR ALL BOOK RETAILERS, not just the CBA! But that does indeed kind of put them in a rocky place where their membership with the CBA is concerned. But, in the big economic picture they realize there is much more money to be made outside the CBA then their is inside. They just have to have a internal sitdown, I'd guess and decide what kind of publishing house they really want to be!

Footnote: We here at Head Press Publishing have been traveling down this Christian Graphic Novel path and clearing the brush for these larger publishers to follow. Through the publication of the AWARD WINNING Eye Witness graphic novel series, (which premiered in August of 2002), we have experienced and worked through many of the same barriers to our product in both the CBA and secular book trade that TN now is attempting to overcome. As they are finding, given the format, it creates challenges that are unique and quite different from prose only works.

But unlike TN, (or other very large publishing concerns), our bottom line goal with Eye Witness is not to generate the most income possible, but rather to impact the most people with the story of the Gospel shared within it who may not hear about it otherwise. Now don't get confused and think we're socialists (LOL)....if the books sell big-time and generate a healthy profit, we won't complain, but on the other hand that is not what spurred us to create this work, that would just be a nice benefit.

And when all is said and done, staying centered on that goal is what will keep the series on track through it's conclusion (all four books of the tetralogy published)!

Bob Luedke

Friday, January 25, 2008


I discovered last evening that my AOL account, (of almost 12 years) had been arbitrarily terminated. I say arbitrarily, since I cannot find out why this even occured or do ANYTHING about it.

Calling AOL's customer service number, I got to jump through the usual hopes, having to talk to the customer service department which is outsourced to some far-off land, where many times you cannot even understand the operators due to their heavy accents, (no racism intended here Time Warner, but if you are dealing with English speaking customers it behoves you to have support people that can fluently speak the language). Then I was told my account was terminated by something called a "MESH TEAM"...and that the reason for this action would not (could not) be discussed by anyone in customer service. If I wanted answers my only option was to "write a letter" to this Mesh Team at AOL's Dulles, VA address. WRITE A LETTER?!

Besides the obvious irony of having to attempt to communicate with this corporate giant, the slowest, most technologically ancient of methods, when it's focus is speeding communications and the flow of information...I find it particularly disturbing that this is how they choose to deal with customers that have been loyal to them for so long. It's obvious this method is meant to totally cut off any option on the part of the long term AOL customer to discuss this action, or for that matter, see if it is even justified in any way!

SO USE THIS AS A CAUTIONARY not sign up for AOL, or if you are already a subscriber, I would take steps to begin transferring your data, address book and any mailing lists to a new provider, since scanning the web I find this behavior of terminating of long term accounts by this MESH TEAM, with no explaination proveded (even if you do choose to write them), seems to be happening at an alarming rate all over the country. This unethical action by AOL has locked me out of over a decade of my contact information, and allows me no recourse or action to retrive it at this point! Having been a client of AOL for so long I stopped making hard-copy duplicates of contact information long ago, since I had total confidence in their service.

So if you have been trying to contact me through any of my normal email channels and have gotten it returned, please resend the information through the "CONTACT US" page on our website: ....and I will respond through a new email address.

I apologize for any inconvience this may have on the hundreds of people we communicate with monthly, but hope my sharing this information helps other people abandon the AOL ship, figurativly speaking, before this happens to them.

If you have a good referal for a email, group mailing provider, feel free to pass it on to me. I've been locked into AOL so long, truth be told, I don't know what's all out there.

Bob Luedke
Head Press Publishing