Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011: Year in Review

Hey gang,

Now that I've finally processed the pounds of turkey and pumpkin pie in my system from our Thanksgiving feast, I thought I'd take a pause to reflect on 2011 from my perspective.

This time last year I was considering whether I wanted to take my talents and experience toward doing public speaking to church and christian youth oriented groups about Eye Witness and my decade long journey with it, or focus more on creating new artwork and working primarily on the comic/pop culture convention circuit...which would still allow me to promote and sell EW to those it was designed for (mainly the unchurched and skeptical comic fan out there).  After much deliberation on this, I went with the latter!

So...what this the right decision for me?  Hmmmmm....

I speak with a lot of young aspiring writers, artists and self-publisher's at my appearances and through my various pages on the web and get a lot of questions in regards to the financial viability of creating your own comics and graphic novels.  Truth be told, like any indy creative endeavor (film making, music recording, fine art, novel writing etc....) creating and publishing comics/gn's is a risky endeavor where there is no guarantee of financial bounty...or for that matter, breaking even.  If one decides to go down this creative path, it must be with a clear understanding that this is something you feel compelled to do, a project you feel passionate about and that you have funding in place you can afford to do without (kind of like how my Dad always told me to approach going to Las Vegas..."don't gamble what you can't afford to lose").  In other words, it should something you'd do 24/7, even if no one ever paid you for doing it!

In most cases if you're approaching the comic/gn publishing industry from an indy perspective with the belief that your creative properties going to make you rich, (or just maybe financially independent) then you're setting yourself up for a rude awakening.  Is there precedent to the contrary?  Sure... Jeff Smith (Bone), Todd MacFarlane (Spawn), Dave Sim (Cerebus) to name a few...but when you look at the shear number of indy comics that have come and gone each and every year for the last couple decades, these are truly close to "one-in-a-million" scenarios! Am I sharing this because I'm trying to keep young talent from even trying?  Absolutely not!  I'm merely sharing what is (from a financial perspective) the reality of what you're taking on when you go down the self-publishing route. 

If you have a burning desire to tell a story in comic/gn form, then sometimes self publishing is your only, and best, option (especially with the rise of digital publishing...but that's another topic all together).  But just go into it with a firm grasp on what your goals are.  For me with Eye Witness, it wasn't about the financial return I might make (though everyone who heard about the concept I was undertaking or saw the advance artwork assured me I was going to sell millions of copies....I kid you not).  It was about my fulfilling what I saw as a divine directive for my creative talents.  I was extremely passionate about this project and set down the path to create the book (then the series) no matter how much it costs me, or how much I received in return.  My main payoff was determined by how many people I would touch with the story!

I was fortunate that the Lord was at the helm of this particular endeavor and more times than I'd like to admit, He helped keep food on my table and money in our bank account.  But for the better part of a decade I slaved feverishly to complete what became something of an epic (400+ fully illustrated pages) while basically earning enough for the publishing to pay for itself.

Getting back to my original point (in a real round about fashion)...I decided I needed to create a model where I could continue to share Eye Witness with people (since most people still are unaware of it, despite my efforts) while earning extra income from other creative work I was producing.  And since, my target audience for Eye Witness was mainly the unchurched it just made more sense that I should continue to have a presence at comic/pop culture events, rather than "preach to choir", so to speak, by limiting my self to only Christian events and churches.

So yes, this was the right decision for me!  In 2011, it has allowed me to create a decent income from sales of my prints/posters and landing of commissions and contract assignments, while still being able to not only sell Eye Witness, but also continue to inspire and counsel other writers and artists I meet that likewise feel compelled to use their talents in the service of the Lord, but just don't know how to do it.

Will I one day travel down the other path and begin to speak with young believers about my mission with Eye Witness?  That's always possible and like I've operated pretty much for the last decade...I'm leaving that in God's hands.  He'll let me know when it's time to change gears!

Hope to see many of you all again in 2012.  I've have a bunch new comic and pulp culture inspired prints and posters to share (like this one):

RJ Luedke

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eye Witness Now Available to Even More Digital Readers!

Hey Gang,

I just heard, that my Eye Witness series is now available to users of the New AMAZON KINDLE FIRE, through the Graphicly app on the Head Press website, as well as the BARNES & NOBLE NOOK TABLET...also through Graphicly!

The versions of the books on Graphicly, contain previously unreleased behind the scenes commentary and artwork, from your's truly...exclusive to that app.  For more info, visit:
RJ Luedke

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Girl I'll Never Get Over!

More Than a Pet

Almost 12 years ago a dog was born from unknown parents, to unknown owners who decided they couldn’t care for this puppy. So, like a lot of unwanted pets she found herself left with an animal sanctuary in the Austin, TX area….best know for housing a colony of monkeys.

After almost a year when the shelter became overwhelmed with dropped off animals this year old dog was taken to the downtown Dallas branch of the SPCA. There she waited patiently week after week for the right family come along and adopt her….and a wait of months it eventually became, as most perspective dog owners…it seems…were more drawn to the ample supply of puppies available, rather then the more mature dogs.

With her time at the shelter coming preciously close to when she’d be euthanized, in August of 2001 a family in search of a new companion to replace a dog they recently lost to old age was touring the facility. They already had went the route of trying a puppy, with disastrous results (since it was discovered within weeks to be very sick and only lived a couple months) so now they were open to the possibility of adopting a more mature dog…one that was proven to already be in good health.

Walking through the isles our family was struck by the one particular dog who just stared at us with the most piercing and beautiful bronze eyes. After taking her out on the dog walk area of the facility it quickly became apparent that this sort of odd mix of who-knows-what kind of parents was the dog for us. Lacy she was named and Lacy she stayed!

After trying for months to figure out just exactly what kind of dog Lacy was, we more or less settled on the fact that she appeared to be mostly some sort of border collie/sheep dog mix. Incredibly smart, she quickly took to our family and new environment and before you knew it became a member of our household.

Lacy passed away today, after wrestling with arthritis for many months.

She was more than just a pet to us, she WAS like one of our children!
In a long lifetime of having dogs, I never met one that was so gentle! You literally couldn’t make her angry or get her to growl, let alone bite anybody or anything (a watchdog she was not)! The closest thing I ever saw to her being pissed off, is when Sandy tried to move her over in our bed (where she slept her whole life) to make room for her feet…and even then, it was just sort of a low moan deep insider her chest as she did her “dead dog” routine…which is where when you tried to move her when lying down, she’d go limp like a possum and you’d have to literally push her to move her 50 lbs over!

She loved taking car rides where she's hang her head out the window to get the maximum number of smells and taking walks at the local parks and lake Grapevine and chasing rabbits was always on the back of her mind. I loved to watch her hunt and chase them, but fortunately she only ever caught one!

All of our family spent time with her today, loving on her, holding her and giving her her fill of her favorite bacon flavored dog treats! Sandy and I were with her right to the end and held her and she gave her one last breath…a big peaceful sigh.

I’ve lost dogs before my life, but I just cannot remember one being so hard to now live without. She was there for me during the last 12 years…which was some of the hardest of my/our life and was a constant for me. She could always be counted on to give me a wiggle of her tail to cheer me up even when things seemed the blackest and let me hug and kiss on her big black soft ears, with never a complaint. Amazing as it may seem I think I can count on one hand times when I had to ever give her a slap on her behind or yell at her in 12 years…’cause she was just…that good….that smart…that well behaved!

As with all dog owners I hope there is a place for them in heaven and if so they surely welcomed Lacy this afternoon and she will be waiting for me to show up with her “saddle” (which is what we’d call her body collar) and take her for a walk!
"Lacy, riding in the car with her 'saddle' on, headin' for the lake".

Rest in Peace Lacy-girl…we will never forget you!
R.J. Luedke