Thursday, January 01, 2009

Examiner Article about CruZader

Here is Tony's SF Examiner article about CruZader. With any luck, it'll make the print version of the publication. Here's the link, Examiner CruZader Article by Tony R. Rodriguez.


By Tony R. Rodriguez

Omar Morales is an East Bay native and the creative mind behind The CruZader comic book series. And though The CruZader has yet to be marketed by a publisher or major distributor, it’ll certainly be onto big things in the literary comic world. Morales is the architect responsible for birthing Antonio de la Cruz, the Catholic Church’s robed militant of justice known in certain circles as the CruZader. Literary agents, take heed: Snag up Morales and The CruZader!

I recently met up with Morales at the Starbucks inside Barnes & Noble located in Jack London Square. This now sleepy part of Oakland has always possessed a charismatic literary history, so it was a very fitting place for a nice literary chat.

I began: “Congrats with your CW Bay Area TV first place recognition in their Comic Book Hero contest. Have you recently submitted The CruZader to any other comic book contests?”

With humble pride, Morales responded: “There’s a contest called The Comic Book Challenge. It’s an annual contest promoted by Platinum Studios in L.A. It’s an international competition. I made top fifty out of literally thousands and thousands of participants . . . I felt blessed just to make it that far.”

I continued: “So Antonio de la Cruz, your comic’s heroic CruZader, tell me a bit about him and the comic.”

“The CruZader is an amalgam of a Jedi knight, James Bond, Van Helsing — and a ninja. Each of these has influenced me greatly. But the biggest source of inspiration for The CruZader would be my deceased uncle, Ezekiel Morales. He was a lifelong Jesuit priest, who served in Mexico as well as the Oakland Diocese. His rigid interpretation of Catholicism and love for life and community is very much alive in the CruZader’s complex persona." Morales then went on: “The CruZader is based in modern times. It has some elements of science fiction, as well as old traditions of the Church. And that’s the struggle with Antonio de la Cruz. How will he fit in during modern times? With modern morality? And still keep true to these ancient traditions of the Church? It’s a struggle the CruZader endures constantly.”

Concerning Morales’s focus on “modern times”, I probed: “Is there a ‘modern’ group of people you’d like the CruZader to fight off?”

“Yes. It would be the radical Muslim terrorists,” Morales noted with disciplined candor. “As a matter of fact, the six issue series — which I want to combine into a graphic novel — ends with the CruZader taking on Muslim terrorists who storm the Vatican and have essentially taken control. This concept begins to unfold throughout issues four, five and six. I really need three comics to tell this story.” Morales then paused in order to emphasize a strong point: “I look at the radical Muslims not as a religious group, but more of a fanatical political group that through violence wants to impose their will upon the world . . . ”

I then asked: “With Antonio de la Cruz, the CruZader, what message are you sending out to your audiences?”

“He’s not a mindless soldier for the Church,” Morales stated with earnest conviction. “He’s ready to dole out justice on anyone. Meaning, if he encounters a priest molesting a kid, he’s not going to brush it under the rug. He is not an apologist, and nor am I . . . The Church is a beautiful institution and it recognizes that it has flaws. That’s the beauty of Catholicism to me. It’s human and it knows it has flaws. To me, Catholicism is recognizing you’re a sinner first. Then asking yourself, ‘What am I going to do about it?’ That’s the message of CruZader. We are not a perfect Church. If the CruZader finds flaws within his Church, he’s going to take them on just as hard as he’d taken on the Klan or a radical Muslim or a possessed person in need of an exorcism.”

And the CruZader is such a wrecking force! Check out issue one and delve into the fierce story of Antonio de la Cruz, the piously effective CruZader, and his struggle between battling the forces of evil and balancing ancient traditions with modern times.


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