Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taking it to the Next Level

It's now official...

Literary agency and author management company, D.C. Jacobson, (DCJA),has just come on board to help represent my work and take it to the next level of exposure (so to speak).

According to DCJA president Don Jacobson, “We are very pleased to partner with Robert, who’s proven to be one of the preeminent Christian graphic novelists in the U.S. D.C. Jacobson & Associates is always looking to innovate, and we see in the rising popularity of graphic novels and manga an opportunity to bring faith-based perspectives to this often dark genre. Robert possesses a strong combination of both story-telling and artistic skills.”

Personally, I see this as a huge step toward making Eye Witness available to lovers of comics and graphic novels not only in this country, but internationally and I see a partnership with a company like DCJA as crucial in moving in that direction, as well as bringing some of my other faith-based projects to life. Granted I've did pretty well the the limited resources available to me, but to take Eye Witness to where I envision it going, a larger, better capitalized and connected publisher needs to get involved. One day I hope to see versions of Eye Witness circulating the globe as well as seeing it developed into a big-screen epic. For these type of things it's clear I need help from the pro's and with this partnership with DCJA, I now have that.

After completing the final book in the Eye Witness series this spring, I will undertake a nationwide promotional tour beginning in the summer of 2010 and then begin work on the Eye Witness omnibus edition…which will collect all the stories presented in all four of the volumes plus an additional 30 pages of unpublished material.

To date, the Eye Witness series has been awarded: A Silver Medal at the 2007 Independent Publisher Awards; best graphic novel at the 2007 Hollywood Book Festival; best graphic novel in the USA Book News, Best Books Award in 2009; and have been a finalist in the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards, in both 2007 and 2009.

D.C. Jacobson & Associates is an innovative author management company specializing in literary representation for Christian communicators. The agency was founded by Don Jacobson, former owner of Multnomah Publishers, who published 1,000+ books including numerous bestsellers and award winners. DCJA engages in partnerships to produce and promote messages that renew church and redeem culture for Jesus Christ. To learn more about them, or to inquire about licensing Eye Witness, visit them at: http://www.dcjacobson.com/.”

Robert Luedke

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Got the Comic-Con Blues!


Those of you out there who have previously exhibited at, or thought about exhibiting this year at Comic Con International at San Diego (July 2010). The small press deadline for applications were in late Oct.. The deadline for artist alley was in September. And to top it off...they've already had their hotel reservations for exhibitors! All exhibit space is already sold out!

I have traditionally sent in my application anywhere from December to Feb. 1st as the deadline for small press has always been sometime in March to April. But not only did they move it up by 6 months, they did not even have the courtesy to even send out an postcard, or even an email to previous exhibitors alerting them to this change!

What is really annoying is that when you talk to them on the phone about this, they know they've got you "by the short hairs" since they have what everybody wants....and they are incredibly smug. When I told them, it would have been nice if they would have let previous exhibitors know about these dramatic changes in deadline, the response was...we told all exhibitors last year at the con about the changes (which I wasn't one of because of how they screwed up the hotels for small press in 2009) and it was posted on the website. End of story.

Anyway, if you'd like to roll the dice you can send in your small press, artist alley or comic-con table request and be put on the waiting list (don't have to send any money till they pick you...if they pick you). Good luck with that. And, then you can try to secure a room (battling against the 100,000 other people in attendance) when the CCI room reservations open on March 18th ...even better luck with that!

For someone like me traveling in from out of state, one without the other just doesn't work.

So for the second year in a row, I may be shut out of CCI after 8 years of exhibiting. But the good news is, I'm going to be going to almost every corner of this country in 2010 promoting Unknown God and I guess I'll just have to add the Long Beach Comic Con to the list to make up for CCI!

R.J. Luedke

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Start A New Christmas Tradition

Every since my children become of age to understand the true meaning of Christmas, I've shared with them something that has become a personal tradition for me each holiday season and that is I strive to go out of my way to help someone each and every day.

Helping someone can be pretty widely interpreted and that's what makes this not only fun and creative but also very satisfying....since it brings us closer to how the Lord commanded us to treat our fellow man.

It could be as simple as stopping and keeping a door open for a mother and her children. It could be pulling over to help someone with car trouble (even though you're in a hurry...and aren't we always in a hurry?), or going to walmart and buying a case of blankets and giving them out to homeless people in your community you run across.

You get the idea here...it can be as little or as big as you want to make it. But once you start doing this, a couple things are going to happen:

1. You are going to make a number of people very surprised and happy as they are going to receive something from someone they've never met (re: being a good Samaritan).
2. You are going to be amazed how your internal radar will begin actively looking for people in need, while most times we walk through life looking to avoid conflicts or people that will slow up down in our daily rat race.
3. You are going to feel fantastic! Since we are internally hot wired to be loving and compassionate to those in need, you will find that living life like we were meant to live, brings an incredible and largely indescribable feeling of joy. And besides that of course, the Bible tells us that we will be storing up treasure in heaven.

So start this new tradition on December 14th, with our new "Twelve Days of Christmas", where each day comes with a your gift of a good deed or helping hand given to someone in need. Keep track of them, write them down (in your journal or on your blog, facebook etc....), make it a contest with you kids, your office-mates, your homegroup or ministry.

But a warning.... one other benefit to doing this is, that you'll want to do it more, not just during the Christmas holiday, but every month of the year. So watch out...doing good selfless deeds, is contagious!

If you take challenge on, make sure to send me a note....let me know how it goes and what you accomplished.

R.J. Luedke

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For (2009)

Hey Gang:

I just wanted to give you an update on my progress with Unknown God and share a few things I'm thankful for on the very special Thursday morning.

As of yesterday, I started the home stretch on this largest of all the Eye Witness GN's. I began work on the final 20 pages, which will wrap up almost 8 years and 400 pages of storyline.....YEA! Please say a prayer for me that I can do this justice as it requires me to really stretch my talents to their limits to bring this project across the finish line in a complete and satisfying fashion.

Some things I'm thankful for...

-My loving wife (Sandy) of now over 26 years, who provides me the environment that has allowed me to pursue the EW project.
-That God has graced my children with health.
-That the Cowboys play each thanksgiving day.

-That 8 years ago God revealed his plan for, what up till then I thought, was a pretty wasted life.

-That God continues to bless this wonderful bastion of freedom we know as the USA. And even though we are currently going through some tremendous trials and growing pains as a country and people, that all these experiences will serve to make us stronger and more thankful...as it did our forefathers (and mothers) who weathered the storm of the great depression.

-recipes passed down through generations, like creme cheese based potato topping and liver turkey stuffing (it's on old-world German thang)...yum!

-and finally...that when all else seems dark in our lives that we still have the ability to laugh!

Happy Turkey day all...and be on the lookout for more sample artwork from Unknown God soon, as well as a pretty exciting announcement!
R.J. Luedke

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eye Witness Graphic Novels Come to iPhones


I'm very excited to announce that Eye Witness has now entered into a whole new method of distribution with its release in the Comixology iphone application.

To begin with, Comixology is the first place outside of our own website where comic and graphic novel fans can purchase the revised and remastered edition of Eye Witness: A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth. This first graphic novel in the Eye Witness tetraology, is broken up into three parts for this app. Each part costs only 99 cents, so it's quite a bargain! The next chapter in the Eye Witness saga, (Acts of the Spirit) will be offered in a similar serialized format soon.

To purchase the Comixology app. for your iphone, visit the iphone app store. Once you have the Comixology app in place on your phone, you can search by Title, publisher (Head Press Publishing) or Genre (Christian), to purchase Eye Witness...or just go to the Eye Witness page on the Comixology website.


Since 2007, through it's comiXology brand, Iconology, Inc. has been working to expose more people to the world of comics, through comiXology.com and related applications. We are uniquely situated to connect all parts of the comic book industry: consumers, distributors, publishers and creators. ComiXology.com, comic book retailer tools, iPhone and Blackberry apps and digital comics are all connected through the comiXology platform.

Here's a quick tour of the Comixology application and how it will revolutionize the way you read comics and graphic novels:

R. J. Luedke


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, the NFL and Dr. Frankinstein

I read this morning that the group that was attempting to purchase the NFL franchise (St. Louis Rams) had decided to drop Rush Limbaugh from the group. The official statement from the groups leader, Dave Checketts, was, "Limbaugh's participation had become a complication in the group's efforts and the bid will move forward without him." What brought the issue of the ultra-Conservative's radio host's participation to the forefront, was the declaration by the Colts owner, Jim Irsay, that he vowed to campaign against the groups bid if Limbuagh was a part of it.

The NFL commissioner added his two cents to the discussion by saying, "the commentator's (Limbaugh's) 'divisive' comments would not be tolerated from any NFL insider." In case you've forgotten, Limbaugh's earlier foray with the NFL, was as a commentator on ESPN broadcasts of games a few years back. That stint ended abruptly, after Rush being Rush, couldn't resist saying (paraphrasing) that Donavan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles) wasn't really that good, it was just that the media wanted to promote a successful black QB. *sidebar...I think histories proven Rush wrong on this point.

Obviously Mr. Limbaugh cannot be happy about this turn of events and did his best to try to paint himself in more human terms (than his on-air persona) by appearing on a nationally televised interview on NBC's Today show earlier this week (Despite the fact...ironically...that he challenged their sister network, MSNBC, not to do any stories on him for 30 days). But it was too little to late and frankly pretty much the same narcissistic, ego centered, self aggrandizing pablum we've come to expect from Limbaugh (but more on that shortly).

From my perspective, here's the problem with "performers" like Limbaugh and his brethren Shawn Hannity and Glenn Beck. Like Howard Stern before them (The King of the Shock Jocks) they have carefully crafted an on-air persona that are targeted toward a particular type of viewer. The type that praises them (and in some cases deifies them) for expressing similar political, social and religious viewpoints. The same case can obviously be made for someone like Keith Olberman, so this is not a phenomenon strictly of those who lean right in our society. But the issue with Limbaugh (and his disciples) is that they many times present opinions that sound quite hateful and racist to those outside of their fanatical fans (RE: Barack the magic negro song).

Limbaugh presents himself and as being a "voice of the people", because part of hourly self-promotion is that he'll tell you about the millions of daily listeners he has. But in the big picture, even if he had a two million national listeners daily, that only represents one half of one percent of our population...and that's not taking into account that a good percentage of those tuning in are doing so just to hear what outlandish, hateful or idiotic thing he's going to say next (in other words, not followers). So it's more accurate to say that Limbaugh is the voice of a "particular segment of the people", those who identify with his message and DON'T see any racism or hate speech when they hear it...just common sense (as they perceive it).

So putting this in context... the NFL, which is considered the gold standard among professional sports leagues, doesn't want to have someone like Limbaugh in a position of becoming a spokesman for a team and/or the league itself, because the amount of potential fans his comments could alienate far (FAR) exceeds those he could bring to the table (because demographically, they're most likely already fans of the NFL to begin with). It's strictly a business decision, because frankly, there probably are some closet Rush fans among the owners, but just like our general population, they are most likely in a tiny minority of all those people involved with the league.

Limbaugh will most likely rail against this for weeks, maybe even months, on his radio show since he doesn't like to lose and rarely (if ever) will admit he is wrong about anything or anyone. But that character trait is precisely why I think that Rush Limbaugh is merely an act...a character which he's created that he now can no longer control. The "I'm always right and everyone else is wrong persona" which he's cultivated has raised him to demi-god status among his followers, but has also put him in the position that he basically cannot participate in any other endeavor which requires the more subtle talents of compromise, negotiation and sensitivity to the needs of other people or groups...who may not share or even disdain his political and societal views. To do so would undermine the character of "Rush"and endanger his radio empire...because he might be exposed as being nothing more than a performer playing a role, rather than the zealous-messiah. In other words, like Dr. Frankenstein, he's become trapped by the monster of his own creation!

Mark my words, there will one day come a time when Limbaugh will walk away from his mega-million annual radio salary and call it quits. When that day comes, we will finally get to pull back the curtain and see the true man behind the persona of "Rush", because he will be ready to go on to other things, other challenges...and it will be best for him to leave the character behind. You know, kind of like what Paul Reubens had to do with "Pee Wee Herman", if he wanted to extend his acting career!


As if on cue, on Thursday (10/15) Limbaugh did exactly what I predicted in the original post, and used his radio show to lash out and blame everyone for this turn of events besides himself. And in true "Rush" form he even managed to implicate President Obama in his failed bid to become an NFL owner. Yea...like the Pres. is sitting around the whitehouse scheming ways to prevent a talk radio host from potential business opportunities. Can you say, delutional? How 'bout, denial

R. J. Luedke

Friday, September 11, 2009

Think Life is Tough? Think Again!

Food for Thought: In our modern, fast paced, hundreds of TV channels, Internet connected, tweet you thoughts...world of ours, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and consumed by feeling of wanting to have more and to be more.

As a male, I find it very alluring to see myself as one of Vinny Chase's posse in the popular HBO show, Entourage. Having so much money that you can buy your friends new cars for their birthdays...running off to Paris in a Gulf stream at a drop of a hat (just 'cause there's nothing better to do)...or just hooking up with any beautiful young model you run into, just because we're so popular and naturally can have anyone we choose (disclaimer: this is just an example of things that occur regularly on the show and are not indicative of things I personally desire...so you don't need to worry about my walk...just FYI).

But for 99.9% of us, that's just not the real world, but at the same time we sometimes judge our lives by that fantasy standard of opulence presented on TV and in movies and forget the simple blessing that we (being citizens of the United States of America) have become accustomed to. Pastor and Author, David Foster, helps us to "get real" about our blessing within his book , A Renegade's Guide to God:

"Consider this...

-If you are healthy right now, you are more blessed than the millions who won't survive another week.

-If you have never had to experience the scars of war, the loneliness of prison, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation...then you are ahead of the more than 20,000,000 people around the world.

-If last Sunday you attended the Church of your choosing without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death...you are more blessed than almost 3,000,000,000 people who live on earth at this moment!

-If you have a refrigerator with food in it, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep tonight...you are richer than 75% of people on this planet.

-If you have money in the bank, in your wallet or even spare change in a dish on your nightstand...you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy!

-And if you can read this blog, you are more blessed than over 2,000,000,000 people in the world who cannot read anything at all!


My life seems pretty good in comparison. My problems don't seem all that large or unsolvable all of the sudden.

Sometimes it's hard for many of us to even use these kind of comparisons, 'cause we just don't even think they are relevant and after all...could never happen to us. But just ask a few of the 60,000 homeless people walking the streets of L.A. daily, (or the approximately 500,000 nationwide), if they ever thought it could/would happen to them!

I hope this gives you pause today (9/11) if only for a few minutes to remember those who are not as fortunate as yourselves. And remember (if you are Christian) that one of the most foundational tenets of our faith is to first and foremost help those who are in need...the widows, the orphans, the sick, the poor, the homeless and those in prison.

In this country, God has blessed us with so much more than most of us can ever acknowledge and the truth is, it really doesn't take much for him to take it all away either...in fact, if you believe in pre-destiny, that may already be in the plan for you soon! So, as Pastor Foster would say, "Shout out loud, send up a flare, yell, run, sing, leap for joy," because today...at this moment...we, among all the people in the world are under God's blessing!

So don't take your life for granted today, for our blessings are better than a million "maybes" tomorrow for most people in our world...no matter how un-fufilling our lives may seem.

R.J. Luedke

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Do They Let Anyone in Here?

I was shocked, confused and bewildered as I entered Heaven's door,

not by the beauty of it all, by the lights or it decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven that made me sputter and gasp,

the thieves, the gays, the sinners, alcholics and trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice!

Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anythng nice.

Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in Hell,

was sitting pretty on Cloud Nine looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus...what's the deal? I'd like to hear your take.

How did all these sinners get up here? God must have made a mistake!

And why is everyone so quiet and somber? Give me a clue.

Hush child, He said, they are all in shock...no one thought they would see you!

Author Unknown
From the Book: A Renegade's Guide to God by David Foster

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dallas Comic Con appearance

Hey gang, though I've basically sequestered myself away in my studio-cave this summer to complete illustrations on Eye Witness: Unknown God, I've decided to poke my head out into the light of day (at least for two days) and attend this month's Dallas Comic Con...since it's right here in my own back yard.
Here's the scoop:

Saturday August 15th (11a to 6p) and Sunday August 16th (12noon to 4p)
Richardson Civic Center

411 W. Arapaho Rd.

Richardson, TX

If you live in the DFW area stop by and say hi. You'll get a chance to not only get copies of all three of the Eye Witness graphic novels, but also a FREE signed poster and if you're so inclined...and opportunity to watch me ink pages from Unknown God.

Also there is quite a nice lineup of Comic (including: Paul Smith, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brandon Patterson, James O'Barr ) and TV/Movie guests (Including: Yancy Butler, Dean Stockwell, Rene Auberjonois) at this show, so bring the whole family!
See 'ya all there!

R.J. Luedke

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comic Con Intern'l: part two

Something just occured to me this morning.

Last year at CCI '08, I was the keynote speaker at the Sunday Morning Chapel service and Christian Comics panel. During my seemingly endless discourse, (I tend to ramble when you give me an audience and a mic), I challenged all those in attendance (about 100) to do something over the next year to expand God's Kingdom, whether it be in your home, at work, in your town or during your leisure time activities. My point being, that all of us...every one...are like God's DNA because we are unique. No one has our particular set of skills, educational background and physical attributes. We were all created for some purpose in God's game-plan. The challenge is to not only identify those unique set of abilities we have been gifted with, but then also discovering their purpose. To do so can lead to a satisfaction and joy in life that other more material things can never hope to match.

I bring this all up, because part of my challenge was for the people in attendance to share those things that have accomplished over a year, with me and the Christian Comic Artists Society (CCAS) members at the convention in 2009.

So I feel by not being able to attend this year, I may have not lived up to my part of the bargain. For that I deeply apologize, but that decision was taken out of my hands by forces which I had no control over this year.

But the good news is, the CCAS will be there in force, both at their table in the Small Press Pavilion (M12) and also at that same Sunday Morning Chapel service and Saturday Spiritual Themes in Comics panel (see the program for times and room numbers)...so connect up with one of them and file your report for the Kingdom. Or, if you'd like, feel free to send me a message by leaving a comment here, or at our contact page on the Head Press Publishing website.

Or, hold on to that news (and add to it) for I will be on hand next year in 2010!

R. J. Luedke

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comic Con International 2009

COMIC CON 2009 NEWS!!!!.....

Although I will have to miss this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, (the first time since 2003), I will be there in spirit, as my friends from the Christian Comic Arts Society (CCAS) will be featuring all three of the Eye Witness graphic novels at their table in the Small Press Pavillion (M12).

So, if you're planning on attending and wanted to see what the series was about...or just get a book you might have missed, they will be there for you.

In addition, for those of you seeking other spiritual based programming at this mammoth event, the CCAS also organizes the Sunday Panel/Church Service, the Saturday "Spiritual Themes In Comics" Panel, and the Saturday evening Open CCAS Meeting! Check the Con program book for times and room numbers.

Now everyone enjoy the heck out of this event for me and send me your recollections and comments and I'll see you in 2010, with the WORLD PREMIER of Eye Witness: Unknown God!

R.J. Luedke

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Working a Graphic Novel System

I have a lot of people who have asked me over the years why it takes so long for books in the Eye Witness series to be published, (about 24 months). The answer is quite simple...because I perform most of the work myself.

For those of you not familiar with the way larger comic/graphic novel publishing companies work, think of companies like Marvel and DC like an auto assembly line...where each person on the line has their job to do and does it in order. This creates a very efficient system if your goal is to publish books from concept to shelve as quickly as possible and is critical for juggling multiple sequential titles and keeping them on schedule.

Example: The writer writes an outline or fully developed script; that goes to the penciler, who does the pencil illustrations from the script; that goes to an inker (or for you fans of Kevin Smith...a tracer) who inks over the pencils; that goes to the colorist who takes the black and white line art and makes it pop in full color; that goes to the letterist, who now adds the dialog, narration, thought balloons and any special sound effects; that goes to the editor, (or multiple layers of editors) who does all the things editors do...who then may refer it back to any of the previous people in the chain to make corrections and/or additions; and then it goes to the printer. Granted this is just a basic outline of the structure and depending on what company you will work for, it will deviate...but you get the idea.

This kind of process guarantees that everyone in the chain can be working on something simultaneously to insure the book is produced in the most time efficient way possible.

Indy publishers, like myself, are more equated to the old world concept of "hand made automakers," where each car is meticulously worked on till it's totally constructed and another one is not started till the first one is completed. There are many reasons why this second type of system is used in publishing, but most I'd guess deal with either lack of production capital or just a desire to be a part of every facet of a book's production. For me, it's a little of both. But needless to say, I can only be working on one aspect of the book at a time before going on to the next.

Neither system is "the right" way to create comics or graphic novels, but they are just systems used to achieve a common goal and utilized based upon the needs and goals of the particular creators or publisher. Just like in the film industry there are "studio" pictures (with large budgets and hundreds if not thousands of people working on them) and there are "indy" films (which are the vision of one man...or a handful of dedicated professionals that are driven by their creative juices rather than a paycheck). Think about for a moment the number of people needed to produce a movie like Watchman, versed the number needed to produce a film like Juno or Good Will Hunting. Neither is the right way to make a movie (though I'm sure you'd get a lot of heated discussion on that point) but both are used based upon the size of the project, it's projected budget, it's level of financing and it's potential for box office.

Here's a outline of what it takes for me (time wise) to construct one of the Eye Witness graphic novels (of approximately 100 pages):

1. Construction of original draft of the script (developed from out outline)...1-2 months.

2. Illustrations (that is, the penciled and inked images...which in a 100 page book will number approximately 600 individual frames. During this process on many pages I will be revising the script based upon the space I am creating on the pages)...10-13 months

3. Coloring (assuming I'm doing all that work myself...done with Photoshop on my computer)...1-2 months.

4. Lettering (where I basically will do a third draft of the script....done with Illustrator)...1 month.

5. Editing and pre-press production (creation of the final cover, back cover and non-story related pages)...1 month

6. Advanced marketing of the book to distributors, retailers and the media...2 months

So as you can see in this breakdown, to get the books to the shelves of your local comic or book store (and in the warehouse of online retailers) takes anywhere from 16-20 months...and that's not counting any of the marketing and personal appearances that then take place once the book is released (which I've typically dedicated 6 months to)...and assuming I can keep to a regular full time production schedule with no disruptions due to personal or family reasons...which has never happened yet!

Could I speed up this process by bringing in people to help pencil, ink, color or letter the book? Absolutely! But this series for me is very personal...kind of my personal quest if you will...and though it is both physically and mentally taxing, I enjoy and prefer to stay on top of all areas of it's projection...a sentiment you will see quite often among indy film-makers also. This is my baby!

R. J. Luedke

Friday, July 10, 2009

Honk If you Love Jesus!

A letter from my grandma....

Dear Grandson:

Just the other day I went up to my local Christian book store and saw a 'Honk if you love Jesus' bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting. So, I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

Boy, am I glad I did; what an uplifting experience that followed. I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good he is, and I didn't notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed. I found that lots of people love Jesus!

While I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, 'For the love of God!' 'Go! Go! Go! Jesus Christ, GO!' What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking! I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach.

I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant. He said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign right back. My grandson burst out laughing. Why, even he was enjoying this religious experience!!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed. So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters, and drove on through the intersection. I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared. So I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!!

Will write again soon, Love, Grandma*

*for the sake of clarity and disclosure...This was sent this by a dear friend over the web and just had to share it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Advance Artwork for Eye Witness Book 4

Here's a taste of some of the advance artwork from the Eye Witness: Unknown God...the fourth and final chapter in the graphic novel series.

As I write this I am in the early stages of the illustration for the book, which will be somewhere in the area of 125 pages and is tentatively planned for a summer 2010 release.

The final piece is the color guide for what will eventually be the fully painted cover, (done by painter, David Rodriguez).

R. J. Luedke

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Economy of the Word

Studying the word this morning, specifically the letters to Timothy from the Apostle Paul, I had an Epiphany!

It occurred to me that the current economic crisis we are experiencing might just be one of God's wake up calls to a world that has gotten itself way out of whack in how we prioritize our lives, view prosperity and the purpose of worldly wealth. The Bible is full of examples of situations that occurred on local, regional or even a global scale, which God used to redirect his people. I for one am a believer that God does still work in our world this way, though because of our enlightened condition many of us are blind to those occurrences, or dismiss them after wise secular analysis.

The apostle Paul had direct contact with Jesus after the time he was reported to have descended to heaven and shared much of the same wisdom Jesus imparted during his earthly ministry to his disciples (which are evidenced in his letters). In the first letter to his disciple Timothy (who was leading the church at Ephesus at the time and who Paul considered like a son), Paul shares some of that wisdom when he wrote about wealth and how Tim should deal with the wealthy in his church*:

"Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow (as many of us have experienced first hand over the past year or two). Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage...to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining a life that is truly life!

But if it's only money that people are after, they'll self destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble, nothing but trouble! Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.

A Devote life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God."

*1 Timothy 6: 6, 10, 17-19 (The Message Bible)

As a nation and culture, do we put too much emphasis on acquisition of wealth and being wealthy? (That's a rhetorical question, in case you were wondering). As the current financial meltdown has shown, our whole economic prosperity was based upon greed and the illusion of wealth on paper, and like Paul wrote, in a cosmic blink of the eye, it was gone and in it's wake left a country...and by association the whole world...in turmoil, despair and regret!

Paul never disparages our right to support ourselves, profit from our hard work or even thrive, but rather this is a cautionary tale about what we do when prosperity comes our way. Do we congratulate ourselves and hoard our wealth, or do we count it as a wonderful blessing which should be shared with those not so fortunate?...and are far to few people doing this?

Of all the wonderful things that Jesus and his apostles shared, money and how we handle our money I believe tops the list of mentions in the Gospels. Both Jesus and Paul were very clear that worldly wealth is transient and for those who believe in the promise of Eternal Life, it only serves our needs a tiny portion of time. In other words, truly important wealth is gained by: Doing good, being rich in how much we help others in need and being generous to a fault. The kind of wealth these actions accumulate is sustaining throughout our Eternal Life...while earthly wealth is only good here and now...which in God's cosmic timetable is only a blip.

It's hard getting your hands around this kind of concept, especially when it runs so contrary to how our world seems to operate. But if you've ever met someone that has made the commitment to this kind of lifestyle, you many times will find a person who has a peace and joy in this life which (excuse the pun) "money just can't buy."

So take stock in your life and examine your faith. Do you truly believe that following Jesus is the way to Eternal Life? If so, Jesus and his apostle Paul have given us a blueprint to how best to enter and prosper in that next destination. Are you prepared to follow their direction?

R. J. Luedke

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Digital Remastered Version of Eye Witness Now Available

Beginning on Sunday May 10th, we are going live with our first "digital only" offering...a fully remastered and revised edition of the first book in the award-winning Eye Witness series, A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth.

This is our first attempt at creating something specifically for digital distribution and since the original edition of the book was very experimental, production wise, I was dying to go back and remaster the colors, revise some of the narrative while cleaning up the editorial missteps.

Initially, the revised edition of Eye Witness Book One will be exclusively available through the Head Press Publishing website, at: http://www.headpress.info/order.html
...but also, we are currently having discussions to make it available through other select comic and Christian venues sometime in the near future (Stay tuned).

This is a huge step for us toward making Eye Witness available to more people, both inside and outside of North America. We've heard from numerous potential fans, who've read a very complementary review on the Internet, only to find the books weren't available to them locally in stores or through web retailers. Now, virtually anyone with a computer and PDF viewer can purchase and read the first book in the Eye Witness series at a very reasonable price.

The fourth and final book in the Eye Witness tetralogy, Eye Witness: Unknown God, is currently in production and tentatively scheduled for a summer 2010 release.
R.J. Luedke

Friday, May 08, 2009

Fed Up With Enabling (Re: MLB)

So, another day, another major league ballplayer caught trying to circumvent the rules and cheat the league, his team and the fans (re: Manny Rameriez banned by MLB for 50 games for violating the banned substances rules).

I for one and getting sick and tired of this reoccurring theme in baseball. No, I am not talking about the continuing trend of players getting caught using banned substances...even years after the league cleaned house (yeah....right). Rather I am referring to the people who steward the game always making excuses for these cheaters-violators...and allowing the cheating to go on with a wink, a nod and a hand slap!

Watching the ESPN report on the story last night, we got to hear the L.A. Dodgers GM say Manny had just made a mistake; team manager, Joe Torre, say we all stand behind Manny and forgive him; and "The Donald" (head of the MLB players union...Donald Fehr) once again state this infraction is nothing larger than someone purchasing a supplement from GNC by accident. ARRRGGG!!!

Can't someone just come out and say it? He cheated and he got caught. It is something that will not be tolerated in our game. End of story! But naturally they can't/won't do that because it could affect the game, affect Dodgers attendance and mostly...it might make Manny angry that he's being thrown under the bus (though in reality he snuck under there himself).

Going to the store and buying whole milk when you were suppose to get 2%, is a mistake. Taking a female hormone, designed to restart testosterone production after you stop taking steroids is no "accident", it's cheating.

When an employee is convicted of breaking the law while carrying out his duties for a company, he is fired and distanced from the organization. He is not supported by the company, nor publicly forgiven...that would give the appearance of endorsement of his illegal behavior.

Every team in MLB has physicians on staff that are there to clear all supplements and meds. the players take just to make sure they don't contain any banned substances. Players have been directed (for a few years now) to not take anything without their seal of approval. So to do so is either totally irresponsible, just plain stupid or being done in an attempt to circumvent the rules. So no...in this day and age players just don't go to the local vitamin store and load up on supplements.

Manny's defense was he was given this by "his personal physician" to treat some mystery condition and he'll take all responsibility. But responsibility for what? For not using or at least consulting with team physicians? For allowing a doctor to convince him that taking a female hormone would be okay? Or...because he rolled the dice and got caught and now has let his team, his team-mates and his fans down.

This scenario is like a broken record that is played over and over again, each time another big name star goes down. No one has deliberately used banned substances and if they did it was just once...long ago, in a Galaxy far, far away...or wait for it....by accident! Here's what happened: I was sitting around the gym the other day and I accidentally let someone shoot an hypodermic needle full of female hormone into my butt. Quite ridiculous, isn't it?

Until pro. sports refuses to play these games anymore and declare a lifetime ban for any offense, you'll keep seeing people attempt to cheat...'cause after all, look at the upside if Manny didn't get caught...a $25 million dollar payday signed this last summer...which is now about $7 million dollars less!

R.J. Luedke

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Going Where Others "Have Gone Before" (A Star Trek Review)

I had a chance to watch the all-new Star Trek tonight and am proud to say that this movie is one of the best big screen adaptations of the original TV series (from the '60's).

Yes, I realize there were movies made with the original cast, (duh), but to me they all seemed a bit out of "phase" with the dynamics of the original show (Wrath of Khan not withstanding). Maybe it was Kirk's hair weave or those constrictive uniforms, but they just didn't seem to capture the same magic. The interactions seems to be a parody of what was created on the small screen.

This totally new cast of old favorites does an excellent job of recapturing the original character dynamics and interaction which made the original series go beyond being just another sci-fi tv show. The real trick for the cast was for them to play these iconic characters, (Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty et al), without digressing into merely doing impressions of the original actors.

I feel Kirk (Chris Pine) was played with the mandatory reckless abandon, (but seems to get punched out way to much), Spock (Zack Quinto) was sufficiently serious while wrestling with his human emotions, McCoy (Carl Urban) was a wonderful incarnation of a young angry person who will one day be known affectionately as bones and Scotty (Simon Pegg) captured that playful genius that you can't help but love. The majority of the rest of the standard crew are all accounted for, except Nurse Chapel....who is only mentioned by name, but not seen. I was pleasantly surprised to see Eric Bana playing the Romulan, Nero!

You will find the writers of the story used this time traveling saga to create an environment where they don't have to rewatch the entire 40+ year history of the franchise when creating future story lines. It is a brilliantly crafted piece of writing that effectively frees them from stepping on any trekkie's toes in the future if they veer from continuity.

The special effects were wonderful and the two-plus hours zoomed by so fast, I was wanting more...always a good sign. Just for good measure there is the mandatory appearance by an original Star Trek hand....but you're just going to have to see it for yourself, I won't spoil it for you here!

Star Trek, definitely rates a solid A and after this weekend's box office I would guess it won't be too long till the sequel is announced. This movie should be suitable for most children above 10, but there is a smattering of curse words...all used for humorous effect.

R.J. Luedke

Monday, May 04, 2009

An Insiders View of Wolverine Origins

As someone who been puttering around the comics industry since 1989 and been following Wolverine since Uncanny X-Men #98, (circa 1975), I wanted to share my thoughts on the latest X-Men franchise movie, Origins: Wolverine.

I went into the theatre with a bit of trepidation due to the two disappointing reviews I read in the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle. The thing was, I really understood what the reviewers were bothered by and based upon the trailers I saw I could understand how what they thought could indeed be true (not enough character development, story paper thin and with little explanation, special effects lacking).

But I'm here to say that even though I walked into the theater looking for these flaws, I did not agree with them. Now that may be because I'm pretty versed on Wolverine's (and X-Men) history, but my daughter who watched it with me is not...and she had no problem following the storyline or making sense of the characters and their abilities.

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine was sufficiently agonized, gruff and when circumstances called for it...a bit sarcastic and funny. It wasn't necessary for him to carry most scenes because there were so many other interesting characters with very diverse personalities. This allowed Jackman to maintain Wolvies penchant for being a bit brooding and moody.

Liev Schreiber was sufficiently dark and blood thirsty for Sabertooth, though I would have liked to see someone with a more massive body style, ala the size of Sabertooth from the first X-Men movie. I thought his habit of falling back to charging someone on all fours, like a wild animal, was a nice touch to establish the feral nature of his character.

Ryan Reynolds was at his wise cracking best as Wade (Deadpool), reminiscent of his character in the Blade Trinity movie. The only problem was, there wasn't enough of him! (spoiler warning) I thought Wolvie's explanation of why he wasn't talking late in the movie was very clever, but I would have rather had them trade some witty repartee! (end spoiler warning).

Though I thought the scene with the Blob (played by: Kevin Durand) a bit gratuitous and out of pace with the rest of the movie, I still enjoyed it non the less because of the accurate way they portrayed the character and his abilities.

And last but not least, Gambit was a joy. Watching Taylor Kitsch (Friday night lights) playing him, I couldn't help but picture Johnny Depp in that role! But Kitsch did a good job illustrating gambits attitude and abilities (which never have translated well in print, in my opinion), even though they spent almost no time establishing his background. One of the strongest battle scenes of the movie involved the Gambit, Wolvie and Sabertooth in kind of a free for all.

The negatives?
I thought the prediction of Wolverine's pending memory loss was a bit hokey (what experience or data did Styker have to possibly make that kind of hypothesis)? Just dropping that whole line of dialog and letting it happen naturally would have had much better shock value, where as this way they telegraphed it from a country mile for the audience.

I am a purist where my comic book based movies are concerned. For decades comic book movies basically bombed for one simple reason. Hollywood refused to follow the successful character designs and story lines of the comics and chose to "hollywood-ize" them. With the release of the first X-Men movie, a trend began of not only some incredibly successful movies, but also some of the most loyal to the source material. These type of movies were now being created by directors and producers who were familiar and respected the source material and it showed in the quality and the bottom line. The characters as written have been loved for years (in some cased decades)...so don't mess with what works!

I read a quote by the director (Gavin Hood) for Wolverine, who said that the first writer working on the screenplay wrote a script till the point where he was unwilling to do any further revisions. (paraphrasing) "The difference between that movie and the one we made, was that I didn't want to make the comic book into a movie." He stated he had no problem if his vision differed from the history of the character, as long as it made "his movie" work better. (Spoiler warning) Thus you get things like Wolvie and Sabertooth being brothers and the powers of Deadpool (End Spoiler Warning).

And finally, I would have liked a bit more of Logan/James' formative years (you know, the story we've come to know as Wolverine: Origins...the comic mini-series). As it was you get about 3 minutes of it and then they move on.
But when it's all said and done, the story was very enjoyable. The action sequences with the exception of one were all very thrilling and easy to follow. Special effects...top notch. The movie does nothing to diminish this franchise, nor the career of Hugh Jackman and I'm already to watch it a second time just thinking about it...always a good sign.

I rate it a B+...but it could be too of intense for kids under 12.

R.J. Luedke

Friday, April 24, 2009

Free Graphic Novels on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

Saturday May 2nd, is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY nationally...where comic shops, publishers and creators come together to give away comics at stores around the country. This is all done in an effort to help more young readers discover the joys of reading in general and reading comics in particular.

Since I'm already scheduled to make an appearance the ComicPalooza Comic Festival in Houston on May 2nd and 3rd, I'm going to contribute to the spirit of the day, by giving out FREE signed copies of Eye Witness (Book 1): A Fictional Tale of Absolute Truth.

This is only going to be offered on Saturday and only while my supplies last (since I am limited by what I can haul to this event). So if you plan on attending, come find me first!

In additional I'll also have some FREE 2 x 3' Eye Witness promotional posters to give out to anyone who stops by my table the entire weekend.

RJ Luedke

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Resurrection Day to Y'all!

SACRIFICE: (1) An offering, as of a life or an object, to a diety. (2) A giving up of one thing, for the sake of another.

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

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

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

So, as a spiritual person....yes, attending corporate Easter worship at your local church is important, especially in Fellowship with your brothers in Christ...but more important is your personal worship this weekend. I worship God and especially his son Jesus with a personal fervor during this time, that rivals Islam in their shows of public display...in prayer, in compassion shown to everyone I come across, and in trying especially hard to honor Jesus this weekend with a sacrificial act for someone in need.

As Christians we all should hold these qualities within our hearts year-round, but especially during thise three day period... the most important of days in the history of mankind.

RJ Luedke

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Can You Imagine This Today?

Just imagine the feeling....

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

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

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

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

He starts to tell all of you, about where we will go after death and what it's like...because he's been there, he's seen its glory for himself! Then after a few weeks of his presence he tells you he is leaving you to join his father in that next place, but he will save a spot for you there and you feel momentarily sad because he will be departing again. But somehow still his presence is with you and within you and you vow to always remember how you felt on this day...the day you discovered that you had met, known and could talk to the living God. And this provides you with peace, joy, strength and security for the rest of your life, in both good times and bad.

Just imagine the feeling!

RJ Luedke
(originally crafted/posted in April of 2006...but worth repeating)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Coming to Houston!

I've just added a personal appearance to what will be a very limited schedule for 2009...since I'm in production of Eye Witness Book 4....COMICPALOOZA!

It's Houston's (and possibly Texas') largest Comic festival, featuring dealers, exhibitors, artists and special guests....and did I mention, IT'S FREE TO THE PUBLIC!

I'll be on hand both on Saturday May 2nd and Sunday May 3rd, signing copies of the first three books in the Eye Witness series and signing/giving away FREE Eye Witness posters.

It sounds like a very unique event, with is an 8000 ft. dealers room and guests and publishers scattered throughout the mall.

for more information, visit their webpage:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rise of The Apostle Finalist for Nat'l Book Award

ForeWord Magazine, just announced that the third book in Robert James Luedke's, Eye Witness series...Rise of the Apostle....is a finalist in the catgory of Graphic Novels in the 2008 Book of the Year Awards.

This is the second industry honor to come to Luedke's Rise of the Apostle...which has already won The 2008 National Best Book Award (for Graphic Novels), sponsored by USABookNews.com.

More than 1,400 books were entered in 61 categories for FOREWORD MAGAZINE'S annual book awards. These were narrowed to 668 finalists from 376 publishers. These books represent some of the best work coming from today's independent press community!

The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers, selected from FOREWORD'S readership. 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 on May 29, 2009. The winners of the two Editor's Choice Prizes will be awarded $1,500 each. The ceremony is open to all BEA attendees.

ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was designed to discover distinctive books across a number of genres. The list of finalists is searchable by category, publisher, title, and author.


ForeWord affects the choices of booksellers and librarians across the country who weekly advise millions what to read. Their typical publication reaches an audience of 20,000. Foreword also put the magazine in the hands of agents and editors at larger houses who are looking for leads to bring into their fold from the independent press sector. All told, readership is about 85% librarians, 12% bookstores, 3% publishing professionals…and of course, parents.

Other Finalists for the Graphic Novel catagory:

Cleburne by Justin Murphy (Rampart Press)

Good and Evil by Michael Pearl (No Greater Joy Ministries)

Gunnerkrigg by Tom Siddell (Archaia Studios)

No Girls Allowed by Susan Hughes (Kids Can Press)

1000 Years of Manga by Brigitte Koyana-Richard (Flammarion)

The Clockwork Girl by Sean O'Reilly & Kevin Hanna (Arcana Studios)

The Grand Inquisitor by John Zmirak (The Crossroad Publishing Co.)

The Spirit: A Pop-Up Graphic Novel by Will Eisner (Insight Editions)
Congratulations to all these wonderful creators for their nominations, as any these books are worthy of winning an award. We advise any fans of graphic novels, comics and manga to check out as many of these as you can!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Making of Watchmen: Part 3

Comic Buyers Guide (CBG) in their issue #1652, just did a wonderful job of spotlighting Watchmen, the original series and the upcoming movie, by Warner Bros. As part of their treatment, Andrew Smith (contributing editor) does a very informative Q & A about Watchmen the making of the original comic series (yes, it was a 12 issue comic before it became a graphic novel phenomena).

For the benefit of those of you who may not have access to the periodical, I'll share some of the more interesting information in the form of multiple choice questions/ which I'll then answer...leading up to the movie's release.


What awards has Watchmen won?

a. A people's choice award

b. A Hugo

c. An Eisner

d. both B & C


d. Watchmen won an Eisner Award in 1988 for best limited series and a Hugo award, also in 1988, in the "Other Forms" catagory.

The The Hugo Awards, given annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award. The Hugos are voted on by the thousands of members of the current Worldcon which is also responsible for administering them.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Making of Watchmen, Part Two

Comic Buyers Guide (CBG) in their issue #1652, just did a wonderful job of spotlighting Watchmen, the original series and the upcoming movie, by Warner Bros. As part of their treatment, Andrew Smith (contributing editor) does a very informative Q & A about Watchmen the making of the original comic series (yes, it was a 12 issue comic before it became a graphic novel phenomena).

For the benefit of those of you who may not have access to the periodical, I'll share some of the more interesting information in the form of multiple choice questions/ which I'll then answer...leading up to the movie's release.


Why has the Watchmen creator/writer and industry icon, Alan Moore, requested his name not be included in the movies credits, nor is he doing anything to promote it?

A. Because he wanted to also write the screenplay

B. Because of ownership rights disputes with DC-Time/Warner

C. Because he insisted that Guy Richie be the director

D. Because he basically refuses to have anything to do with Hollywood.


B. Moore has a long and well documented history of disputes with both Marvel and DC, over his properties, ownership rights, censorship and licensing of his stories to Hollywood...and Watchmen is no exception. In fact, Moore has gone as far as to say in interviews that Watchmen was stolen from him!
The original contact he and artist Dave Gibbons had signed with DC stated, that the rights to the story would revert to them when the graphic novel went out of print (the series was published in 1986, with the original collected trade paperback edition coming in 1987). The problem lies with the fact, that Watchemen has NEVER went out of print...and at this point it would appear they will never allow it to go out of print (since it's won a Hugo Award and named as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century by Time Magazine). According to a New York Times article cited by the CBG article, Moore stated, "You have managed to successfully swindle me, so I will never work for you again."
This situation has resulted in Moore standing in the way of several product licensing deals DC has tried to develop on ancillary products and Moore basically declaring he wants his name taken off any and all books we worked on which he does not own.
This situation is basically why you will also not find Moore's name in the credits for some of his other stories turned into movies (V for Vendetta and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Making of Watchmen, Part One

Comic Buyers Guide in their issues #1652 (CBG), just did a wonderful job of spotlighting Watchmen, the original series and the upcoming movie, by Warner Bros.

(Plug: if you love the medium of comics and graphic novels, CBG magazine is a must-read to keep up on what's going on in the industry, plus reading monthly columns by the movers and shakers...not quite as PR oriented as a Wizard...more meat and potatoes, especially for those of us who've been around for a bit and like to know more of the industries history).
As part of their treatment, Andrew Smith (contributing editor) does a very informative Q & A about Watchmen, (which Time magazine listed in their top 100 novels...not graphic novels...of ALL TIME).
For the benefit of those of you who may not have access to the periodical, I'll share some of the more interesting information in the form of multiple choice questions/ which I'll then answer...leading up to the movie's release.
Were the Characters in Watchmen originally inspired by:

a. Golden age DC Comics heroes

b. Marvel comics characters

c. Golden age superheroes created by Archie Comics

d. Charlton comics characters

d. Charlton comics characters (with a some minor modifications)*

DC had bought the rights to the Charlton heroes in the 1980's. Their introduction to the DC universe was suppose to come through Moore's Watchmen conception. After reading it, Managing Editor, Dick Giordano, realized that there wouldn't be enough of them leftover after the series, to do much with...but he loved the script, so he suggested Moore change the characters to one's he created specifically for the project....which he did, but with some familiar traits.
-Rorshach was based on Steve Ditko's Question, with elements of Mr. A added in.

-Nite Owl II, was based upon the Blue Beetle (with lots of similarities also to Batman).

-Dr. Manhattan was Moore's version of Caption Atom, though I personally see him more derivative of Dr. Solar (or Solar Man of Atom).

-Ozymandias was inspired by Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt.

-Silk Spectre II, is loosely based upon Charlton's Nightshade...though Moore's said in interviews that the similarities only go as far as she's the only woman on the team, he was envisioning more of a Phantom Lady or Black Canary type character.

-The Comedian was really a blending of Groucho Marx, Nick Fury with G. Gordon Liddy, though visual elements of his character can be seen with Archie characters, Hooded Justice and Hangman (one of the most brutal comic characters of the 1940's).

*According to Moore, he originally had toyed with the story using the golden age Archie comic heroes, before DC offered him the Charlton ones...which explains some of the similarities to those properties.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Are Christians Dumbing Down?

Hey gang....I just ran across a blog headline which grabbed my attention and I wanted to share and comment on it...since the site does not accept comments on it's posts.

Click sliceoflaodicea to read the original posting.

Addressing the part that got my attention (being someone who's championed the development of the spiritual based graphic novel), here's a taste...

Fast forward to 2009 and the rotting corpse of Western Christianity. This buffoonery is what now fills churches today—the entire idiotic scene inspired by a children’s cartoon of singing and dancing vegetables (which I assume refers to Veggie Tales). Infantalism rules, literacy is dead, and God-given intellects are dead, suffocated under years of video game playing, movie and television watching. Hard to believe that Christians used to produce books like “Bondage of the Will”, and translations of the Scriptures from the original languages. Today, pastors and church laity are reading “graphic novel” (comic book) versions of the Bible because they struggle to grasp anything beyond a one syllable word. Here are some of evangelicalism’s finest in action. Watch and weep.

Now, if you didn't visit the original posting, this commentary is mainly directed at a posted video showing a Christian congregation dancing, singing and worshiping in a way the author finds distastful and degrading. But for the purposes of my comment, I'm dealing with his/her misguided generalization about literature created for young people and/or the graphic novel.

This author seeks to make a point about the breakdown of sophisticated analitical thought and writing within the Western Christian culture by slamming things obviously not created to answer such demands by believers.

Raise your hand, if you think Veggie Tales was created to foster advance discourse on the tenants of Christianity among religious scholars! A Ridiculous question? Of course it is, but it's to make a point. Products like Veggie Tales and most literature (re: picture books) and video's aimed at children are not meant to teach advanced religious theory or complicated Christian Dogma, rather plant seeds of interest among children using forms and styles of entertainment that is prevelant among "our culture". Likewise with most Graphic Novels or Christian based comic books. DISCLAIMER: Before I go forward I will admit for the record, that in my Eye Witness series, I do attempt to dig a bit deeper and pair the Gospel as presented by the Biblical narrative with historical and cultureal data about the first century we now known, in an attempt to take the reader to the next level of interest...but will grant that is not the case with most product designed in this format of literature.

But I reject this author's base assumption that pastors and church laity are reading Graphic Novel adaptations of the Bible (and Christian based fiction) because they struggle to grasp the intrecacies of the Bible and anything beyond "one-syllable words."

First of all, I have yet to come across a publisher that is creating a graphic novel adaptation of the Bible, that is meant to replace the original prose form...that's not to say someone isn't working on one now and it will be a monumental undertaking...but for most of us following this course, I think it's a fair assumption to say that this form is meant to attract readers to the Bible narrative that wouldn't be reading it otherwise, or in other forms. With Eye Witness, I'm attempting to reach the skeptic or person that's uninterested in attending church or reading the Bible, but loves reading in the format of comic books, graphic novels and manga (which translates to comic books in Japan...but in general terms has come to represent the entire output of far eastern created works of that style). My goal is to attract that person through my use of dramatic graphic design and a fictional intermingling with the Biblical narrative to make the story come alive with a contemporary feel. The endgame is to get the attention of someone who wouldn't think twice about reading these stories otherwise and God Willing, to create a spark of interest that might lead them to their local church, teen ministry or even picking up the source material.

Once again, I'll make the assmumption that many of the titles being published today in this format, share a similar goal. Now is that a bad or good thing for "the Church Body"...especially when you consider the docuemented drop off that occurs among young people when they get to high school age? But could there be their churches out there using graphic novel adaptations in their sermons? If there are, I'd wager a guess they are a seeker church that is catering to a high school to college age attendee...and this is the way to get there attention.

Secondly to generalize that those who read Graphic Novels cannot grasp anything beyond a one-syllable word, is this author basically showing their ignorance about the whole format. As anyone who's actually familiar with what's been produced in graphic novel or comic book form over the last 30 years can attest to, charagorizing the format as being simplicist or for those who struggle to read, is a blatent misnomer. Trust me, if you can grasp the involved prose of a Neil Gaiman (Sandman) or Alan Moore (Watchmen)....much of the Biblical narrative would prove to be a snap! Sure there are comics like those produced by Archie Comics and DC's animated line, that are rather simplistic, but than again they are targeting a 10 and under audience.

So what do we make of this uninformed rant? Not knowing the author, my guess would be they have a serious bone to pick with the western Christian Church and like a magician they seek to "pull things out of the proverbial hat" that will support their generalization that it has basically devolved into a chanting, dancing bunch of fools who have no foundation in advance learning or culture. Take a peek inside any Christian bookstore (or religious section of your local Borders) and you'll see their is an abundance of books being produced by contemporary authors every month, who seek to challenge the intellect as well as rouse the passion of the highly literate Christian reader.

Secondly, it's obvious the author has difficulty with the concept of OUTREACH and how it can be used effectively in our comminities. The Apostle Paul called upon us to discover our spirutal gifts and use them to advance the word among the people of the world. By his very actions, Paul demonstrated how we, as followers of Christ, we must be able to converse with "the world" in styles which they use...To the Jews, he was a jew, to the Greeks he became a Greek!

Using something like Veggie Tales, or Christian rock music, or the graphic novel, are all ways to speak to different segments of our culture (and/or age groups) that communicate in a way that they relate to and are attracted to. It surely doesn't mean that our message is deluted...but that it's just in a different language, metaphorically speaking! It's the same premise behind why we have four different Gospels, each written in a way to commuincate with a different aspect of the first century world.

R.J. Luedke
Award Winning Author/Illustrator