Q&A: Robert James Luedke
The four, 96-page graphic novels that comprise the Eye Witmess storyarch are now available in a newly compiled, slipcase set by Robert James Luedke.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE THE EYE WITNESS GRAPHIC NOVELS?
As cliche as this may sound, the inspiration for Eye Witness was basically an answer to my prayers! For the first couple years after my spiritual rebirth, (at the age of 41), I consistently prayed for God to put me where I could best serve His kingdom. And even though at that point I had walked away from the comic industry a couple years earlier, he made it clear to me that I needed to return and create a graphic novel based upon something He had inspired within me two years earlier during a bible study.
Eye Witness started out as a single book, which eventually grew into a trilogy, then later a tetraology. The original goal was to share the Passion story of Jesus in a way that young readers who might never attend church or pick up a Bible, might be attracted to. Then, the Biblical narrative was paired along side a modern day action-adventure story as a way to make the story more palatable for non-believers. Eventually the Biblical adaptation was expanded to cover the whole birth story of the Christian Faith...which is basically covered in the biblical Book of Acts.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
There is really two kinds of answers to that question...from a literary standpoint and a comic standpoint (since I'm writing in the format of graphic novels).
From a literary perspective, I've always been drawn to sci-fi and action thrillers and writers who've I've admired are (in no particular order): Arthur C. Clark, Steven King, Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy. From a comic perspective my influences include: Will Eisner, Steve Ditko, Barry Smith, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Gil Kane and last (but the most influential) Jack Kirby.
My pleasure reading had really tapered off the last decade, due to the time required to produce and market Eye Witness, but I've been drawn to a couple authors, including: Brian Mclaren, Patricia Cornwell and Michael Chabon.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
Since the goal of Eye Witness was to take the story of the birth of the Christian faith to a whole new legion of readers, it obviously had a huge part in this epic project!
One of the things I had to focus on was to make sure I didn't fall into the trap of making the narrative drift too heavily into any one denomination's direction. My goal was to capture (the best I could) the original faith and how that deviated from Judaism of the day. Ironically, that desire really made me aware of how Christianity has, in many respects, gone right back to where Judaism was when Jesus walked among us.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Well, I always wanted to be an artist and illustrator. The writing bug didn't infect me till I was in my mid-thirties and recognized that in order for me to be able to work professionally I had to develop those skills so I could totally package my intellectual property and bring it to the marketplace.
WHAT DO YO MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
Besides the obvious, that readers will glean a few hours of entertainment, I hope that the series might spark an interest in the Bible by those who might have been resistant to it's message before. Secondly, that my success might inspire other artists and/or authors to follow down this path and use their creative gifts to honor God's Kingdom.