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Broken: The Rebellion and Redemption of a Discontented Artist -- A Testimony Boook

A story of a young artist's search to find the meaning of life.
A 96-page, Softcover, Autobiographical Testimony, Sketchbook and a Short Story by Robert H. Flores.
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From Back Cover

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” — Psalm 147:3

“Jesus Lives”, first seen on a fellow student's notebook, was the phrase that sparked a fire inside of artist Robert Flores' life. Questions soon followed: Who was this Jesus? Was Jesus indeed alive? Why was He so important in world history?

Robert Flores, in this autobiographical testimony, recounts his anxieties and frustrations of living a life without God. Tracing his steps through junior high and high school, he describes the experiences that brought him face-to-face with the person of Jesus Christ.

In this book you will see an honest look at one artist's quest to find absolute Truth, a purpose in life and a relationship with God Almighty.

“Triumphantly transparent! A rough ride of realism that exposes an inner man that knew Christ's truth but denied it! This awesome testimony reads as a non-stop novel that takes you from privately profane to publicly profound. Flores' stylishly innocent illustrations are sharply contrasted by the weight of his written composition.”
— Clint D. Johnson, Creator, FaithWalker, Co-founder, Clear Vision Communications

“Robert Flores is a brilliant storyteller of singular vision . . . In Broken, he has laid his soul bare for us, which is what only a true artist would do. The Sketchbook section is a lot of fun and The Tribunal is an instant classic—Robert has managed to lay out the truth and the grace of the Gospel wordlessly and magnificently. This book should be in the home of every comic book fan, every Christian, and every person who appreciates truth and beauty and openness.”
— Eric Jansen, Writer/Artist, Paraman and Freedom Fighter

“Robert Flores is bringing to the world this wonderful, and REVEALING, new book . . . The man is an ocean masquerading as a puddle. As I read his book . . . I frequently found myself lost in his tale, and just becoming a fan. I think you will discover, as I did, some new things about Robert, if you are fortunate to already know him. If you don't know him, well, here is your chance!”
— Wayne Cash, Artist/Creative Director, WayDre Studios
Interview with Robert Flores on "Broken" by Jazma Online

1.What is and how was it formed? is my own publishing imprint that was formed in 2000. It was formed specifically to publish Christian comics, art and essays.

2. What is the storyline of "Broken"?

“Broken” is my autobiographical prose story of how I became a Christian. It starts roughly around my freshman year in high school and ends roughly around 2004. The story starts out with me being content with life, but through circumstances and sin, I increasingly became more discontented. Through a witness of a Christian and opening the Bible for the first time in my life (even though I was raised a Catholic), I became convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. Armed with that truth, I began living my life differently than before. Through it all, Jesus began changing the way I created art. He convinced me that I needed to use art for him, rather than for my own selfish goals, and, so, I got involved in Christian comics. My Christian life and my comics life are so interwoven, it's amazing. As a result, my comics naturally come from my Christian beliefs. I couldn't produce comics any other way, even if I tried!

3. What do you hope to accomplish with your comics?

I hope to glorify God in my comics. I want to tell stories from a distinct Christian point-of-view. I want to point people to the Bible and to the absolute truth that it brings. Beyond that, I would hope that my comics would allow readers—both Christians and non-Christians—to see God for who he really is.

4. Why do you think others will find "Broken" interesting?

Anyone who has an interest in art, comics and finding one's meaning in life will, I hope, find “Broken” interesting. Autobiographies tend to be more brutally honest than other kinds of writing I think. And, I hope that my honesty will connect with readers so that they can relate to my experiences. One of the lessons that God has shown me is that no matter how well I think I have my life planned, God always has a better plan. Another message I think comes across in the book is that there is hope for everyone. No matter how bad someone has messed up his life, God is willing to fix it. These are the kinds of themes that I hope readers will find interesting.

5. What other comics have you worked on?

In 2001, I published a book called “The Graphical Epistles of First John, James and Jude”, which was an illustrated adaptation of those 3 books of the New Testament. I've also done a short Christmas story called “Unspeakable Gift” and a short story at the end of “Broken” called “The Tribunal”.

6. Why do you think religion has a place in comics?

Religious comics are just like any other kind of comics. They are just as valid a genre as any of the other genres out there. I think Christian comics lend themselves more to slice-of-life stories, but there's no reason why the Christian point of view can't be lived out in, say, fantasy, romance, western or sci-fi stories. I'd actually like to see Christian heroes placed in many kinds of circumstances, because seeing how a Christian hero would react to certain situations would be, in some instances, quite different than a non-Christian hero. Christian heroes have an extra “code” to live by, rather than just a standard heroic code. The Christian lifestyle is a valid lifestyle and comics are just another way of expressing that to readers.

7. What do you do with any free time you have?

My free time is spent mostly on drawing and writing. I read a lot of books on Christianity and art. I'm also involved in church and the Christian Comic Arts Society.

8. If you had one wish what would it be and why?

I wish I could fly like Superman. I could just imagine the feel of wind in my face, thousands of feet off the ground, exploring and looking down on the earth. It would be so awesome. Hopefully in heaven I'll be able to.

9. What comics did you read as a child and do you read now?

I discovered comics really late in life. The first comics I read were the late 80's Archie series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After that, I started reading X-Men and some of the early Image books. My later reading, in college, consisted of Sin City and Bone. After that I stopped reading comics, with the exception of Christian-themed comics. There are a lot of things in comics that I don't agree with—pervasive language, sex, and violence—that I don't feel a need to read comics with those themes.

10. Do you have any future projects?

I'm actually working on a watercolor children's book based on one of Jesus' miracles. I'm also working on a few other short stories. One is set in the end times and another is about a homeless man who meets Jesus. Since my day job is graphic design, I have only my free time to produce art.

11. What would you like to accomplish in life that you have not?

Well, since I've only produced a fraction of the stories I want to tell, I'd like to continue making stories that I hope would make a difference in people's lives—stories that point to Jesus and the life that is possible in Him.

12. Who is most important in your life?

Jesus. He has been so gracious to me in my life. He's given me an art talent that I can use for him. He took me out of a sinful life and gave me a much better life than I could have ever hoped for. Twelve years ago, as a non-Christian, I would have found that hard to believe, but now I know it to be true.

13. How can someone contact you?

They can contact me through my website:

14. Any final words of advice?

Sure, I'd like to encourage aspiring artists and writers out there to read the Bible. There is a wealth of truth in there. And since artists are trying to portray truth in art, the Bible is a good place to start. I consider God the greatest writer who has ever lived. And, I try to live my life as a character in His story. My hope, and my desire, would be that everyone would live that way: as heroes in the greatest story that has ever been written. Thank you for the interview.

Copyright © 2006 Jazma Online. This interview can be viewed here at Jazma Online
Interview with Robert Flores by Eric Jansen of CCAS

1. CCAS: First off, tell us about yourself, who you are, where you come from and what you do.

Robert: I’m Robert Flores. I come from Southern California in a place called the Inland Empire, which is about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. During the day I’m a Christian graphic designer and at night I turn into a Christian comic book artist/writer/publisher. It’s great. A career in graphic design allows me to pursue the thing that I was born to be: A Christian artist. My first book was The Graphical Epistles of First John, James and Jude which came out in 2001.

2. CCAS: Now, your new book BROKEN is a very revealing autobiographical book/testimony-why did you decide to do that?

Robert: Honestly, it came out of the blue. It was late in 2004. I was in a place where things were going well in my life and I was just looking back on where God had brought me. God just really intensely laid it on my heart to start typing out my life story. But it was not my first time writing my life story down. Back in 1998, after God had reinstated me into a relationship with, I typed out a short version of my salvation story. But, at that time, it was really embarrassing and I put it away, never intending it to be seen by public eyes. I never wanted my story published; I just wanted to write down the events for my own sake. Well, fast-forward to 2004, God led me to write my life story down again. Though, this time, it was so seamless. He had brought many things to my remembrance, things that I’d long forgotten back to my mind. It was amazing. Eight nights in a row, I typed my testimony down and that is essentially what the published version is, minus some editing and sentence structure. It was the most seamless creative act in my life. But, I knew it was God’s will, because it just felt so right to be doing this. That manuscript was made into a limited number of ashcans. Now, a year and a half after that ashcan, that same ashcan version forms the core of the most recently published Broken book. This project has been an amazing journey. It’s as if God gave me the idea back in 1998, but He had to bring me through more things until I was at a place to tell a complete story. This book is something I never could have planned on my own. It was totally God’s doing.

3. CCAS: One of the things you write about is that in high school you drew a lot of pictures of people dying in the most horrible ways. Some people might just brush this off as harmless teenage fun-why does it bother you so much now?

Robert: A lot of stuff I’ve tried to block out of my mind from my pre-saved days. Those years of doing violent drawings (about 2 years worth)is truly a dark chapter in my life. Indeed, some people may think there’s nothing wrong with letting off some teenage steam every now and then. “I was doing it to make people laugh”, I would tell myself. But, in my heart, I knew the real reason for doing that: I was doing it to be rebellious towards God. Everywhere around me kids were being rebellious towards authority, parents, teachers, the law and yes, even God. This was my own small rebellion. It may not seem rebellious to non-artists or to other people who read my story, but for me, at that time, this was incredibly significant. It would be something to point to later down the road that I was indeed a sinner in need of a Savior.

4. CCAS: You talk about how you were inspired by the Image Comics of the time and the dynamic art styles in those books, but your style is completely different. Was that a conscious decision?

Robert: Ever since childhood my art has always been more cartoony, mainly influenced by the cartoons I used to watch on TV. Cartoony-style art has always been my style, but when I saw those Image comics I wanted to try my hand at something new. And, for some reason, I felt that this new “realistic” style was more respectful than cartoony art. So, I began reading/collecting/drawing X-Men, WildC.A.T.S., Cyberforce, Spawn, etc. for about 3 years. But, I eventually just gave up trying to do that kind of art. It was less satisfying to me than cartoony art. At some point, I also realized that cartoony art wasn’t “lower” than “realistic” art, because not all artists can do cartoony art well. Over the years I finally did learn to draw more realistic art to where now I am able to do both, depending on the individual project. But, I must admit, cartoony art is still where my heart is at, and besides, realistic art takes me much longer to create!

5. CCAS: How did you become a Christian? What were those first days like for you?

Robert: Well, after summer school, there was a change in my life. I wanted to live a good life. I no longer had any interest in being the “badboy artist”. And, people around me could tell the difference, too. There was just a satisfaction that I didn’t have to run from Jesus anymore. I didn’t have to follow the crowd. In fact, becoming a Christian was the most rebellious thing I did in my life-even more rebellious than my sinful art from the year before.

6. CCAS: What is the status of “The Graphical Epistles”?

Robert: The Bible-translation I was using for The Graphical Epistles and the contract to use that translation has just recently expired. For various reasons, I am going to be using another Bible translation and relettering the book and begin plans to sell it. Since 2001, it has been a freebie at conventions and other events and I think it is now the time to start selling it.

7. CCAS: And what are your plans for “Broken”? It seems like a book that would be very welcome in the teen section of any Christian bookstore.

Robert: Right now, my plans to get the book out there will be very “grass roots”: friends, family, website, Amazon, etc. No big scale operation, because, honestly, I don’t want to run a business. I don’t publish Christian comics to make money. If I did, I would be disappointed; I publish Christian comics to get the Word out. People may think that I would have a better chance of getting the Word out if I sold my publications to bigger publishers. That may be true, but I don’t want to sell myself short, either. In everything from the creation of a book to the selling, I have to have integrity to God, first and foremost, and then integrity to myself. And, right now, until a Christian businessman comes my way and wants to partner with me, my low-key operation is fine with me.

8. CCAS: Besides the testimony part, “Broken” also contains an extensive sketchbook section (are we going to see those characters in any story soon?) and a short story you wrote and illustrated called “The Tribunal”. That story wordlessly (and seemingly effortlessly) just lays out the Gospel so clearly-how did you come up with that story? How long did it take to produce? And is the star you?

Robert: The sketchbook part was a lot of fun to do, mainly because I’m very private with my sketches and for the most part no one has ever seen these sketches. The characters in the sketchbook have been with me since I was teenager. “Tom” is my oldest character, going back to the 6th grade. These characters did appear in The Graphical Epistles. As far as a story with them in it, um, there’s nothing on the horizon. I tried writing a graphic novel with these same characters many years ago, but it never clicked, so I gave up on it. They will probably be showing up in short stories every now and then (like the A Christmas Treasury story). The Tribunal was created at around the same time I was deciding whether or not to make Broken a 64-page book or a 96-page book. I really needed something to bring the book around full-circle and I didn’t have anything. This idea of God’s infinite grace came to me and I sketched it out in thumbnails and I just knew that this would be the last part of Broken. It took about 4 months to get it all done. I think it rounds out the book as a whole quite nicely. I hope that story can touch some readers’ hearts out there. And, as far as if I’m the hero of the story, well, let me put it this way: Jesus is the hero inside the hero.

9. CCAS: Thank you very much for your time. Any parting words?

Robert: I just want to encourage any one out there to pray about telling your testimony to the world through a written testimony. Too often we think, “Oh, I’ve already told people about how I became a Christian”, or, “Who would want to read my testimony?” The thing is is that God works everything for the good of those who love Him. Yes, you’ve had failures in your life, but who hasn’t? Yes, there are unpleasant things that have happened to you, but who hasn’t? When you write and publish your story for the world to see, you are sharing God’s grace with the world. And, when it comes right down to it, you’re not even “writing” a story. You’re more like a historian, recording the facts that God has written into your life. He’s the Author and Finisher of our faith. Thanks for the interview!

Note: This interview was conducted over email by Eric Jansen in May 2006.
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