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) 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!