How to stay motivated as an artist

Sometimes people ask me how I stay motivated as an artist, especially when I’m just starting out and trying to get my work seen.

Here’s my advice: Pursue whatever motivates you to plan and research. That’s where your passion is.

Shem finds a dalet glyph.
Shem found what motivated him. Will you find yours?

Staying motivated is easy when I have a 20-plus chapter story outlined on paper with over a hundred scenes (so far) roughly sketched out in spreadsheets. Plus there’s filler when I feel like it.

But you really have to like your characters and your setting, and have a fire in your bones to share it with the world. In my spare time, I get a kick out of learning Hebrew and other Semitic languages, so creating this comic is like a journey or game in itself.

“Milhamah” has been floating around in my head for a couple of years. Finally bringing the story to life has been very rewarding so far, even if only a few people are currently seeing it.

Also, since I use vector art, making comics is like killing four birds with one stone.

Design a new character? That can be the backbone for a video game sprite animation or a future  merchandise design. Make a new panel? That can be reused as future card game art or a print for conventions.

Just make sure you save and back up all your rough materials!

Deli is delighted to meet you.

Finally, “Milhamah” reveals its first main villain, Deli!

Deli is an evil urn held up by a winged humanoid golem.
Don’t expect this Deli to make you a sandwich.

Deli (pronounced duh-LEE) is a member of Bavel’s linguistic imperialism division. He is on a mission to silence the Holy Tongue Society.

While the jar and its carrier might appear to be a team, they are one combined being. Only the urn is sentient; the winged humanoid is a muscle-bound puppet that can’t think on its own. Rumors say both entities are thousands of years old.

Just like ancient Babylon, the new Bavel Empire obsesses over space and its stars. So Deli represents the water bearer Aquarius.

(The Aquarius symbol is on the character’s crown, and the cuneiform version is on its forehead. Ishtar Gate designs inspire the rest of the costume.)

One might wonder what Aquarius has to do with the grammar and language themes in “Milhamah.” But it does, as you’ll see!

Deli’s root letters are dalet-lamed-yod (דלי), which deals with water extraction. When he undergoes permutation, he has control over life, the tides, doors and more.

Watch Deli in action when “Milhamah” Episode 6 is published next week. Stay dry, Shem!

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

I quickly made this for Rosh Hashanah while experimenting with Clip Studio Paint over the weekend. That program which has great features for comics such as screentones, speed lines and more. You’ll be seeing the results soon in Episode 6.

A happy new year to all my Jewish and Hebrew-speaking friends!

Tiqwah stands on apples while holding up honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
The Hebrew text is “Shanah tovah,” which means “a good year.” Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year.

A door is ajar in ‘The Gatecrasher’ (#5)

Shem’s treasure hunt meets a jarring interruption as an underground vault opens a portal to one of the Bavel Empire’s fabled gates. A surprise guest lurks in the distance — could the gatecrasher truly be a vase with a face?

This is the full four-panel comic of "The Gatecrasher."
You didn’t think it would be that easy. Right, Shem? (Click on the image to magnify.)
This week’s comic was fun to make, and it’ll likely set the stage for the next 10-20 episodes. I focused on punching up the visuals by adding more color and dynamic poses. I also changed the dialogue font to something snappier and more familiar to comic readers.
Plus we spot a teaser of Deli, our first villain from Bavel. (Hope that isn’t too much of a spoiler. But he looks pretty evil, right?)
This week I plan to add the past episodes to a new comics widget on this site, which will make it easier to reference them. I’ll also offer more commentary on the past episodes. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, if you like my work, please subscribe to my comic and social media via the menu toolbar’s links. Share and spread the word!

Take cover! We’re on Twitter

Tiqwah watches a speech balloon hit the ground beside her.
Let’s hope Twitter will be less dangerous than incoming speech balloons outside the Holy Tongue Society’s base.

In its quest for more eyeballs and readership, “Milhamah: Fighting Words” now has a Twitter account, @MilhamahComic. Feel free to follow me!

It makes sense for a comic named after the Hebrew word for “war” to enter the Internet’s verbal free-for-all. However, the plan is to stick squarely to marketing the comic and posting links, not using the account as a soapbox. Still, I appreciate your prayers!

Anyway, I’m more than halfway done with comic No. 5 and plan to finish it over the weekend. I’m adding more Photoshop effects and punching up the colors to make the episode more appealing. If I get compliments, I’ll go back to my old episodes and reformat them.

Personalities clash in “High Steaks” (#2)

Tiqwah invites Shem to dinner. Shem hopes his steak won't be as tough as her odds of keeping promises. Tiqwah's glare scorches Shem, but he taunts with a second pun. Tiqwah gives up, offering extra food in exchange for silence.

(See this comic and the others at Tapas or Webtoon, and please subscribe! )

Which has more fiery intensity: Tiqwah’s wrath or Shem’s provocative puns?

In the end, Tiqwah pays for her past broken promises, using beef as legal tender. (How did Shem miss that one?)

Besides inching the plot past the prologue, the goal of this comic was to highlight a bit of the characters’ personalities and watch them clash.

As the Holy Tongue Society’s tactician, Tiqwah likes to think of herself as a long-range planner, though she doesn’t always succeed. As the group’s overall leader, Shem likes control and order, but even he has a silly side.

Soon it will be evident that Shem has many sides to him, including those he wants to keep hidden…

In the comments below, tell me what you think about the characters and how they might develop. Questions, suggestions and other constructive feedback are welcome!

A salute to your savlanut! (Patience!)

Shem is busy. Tiqwah is unreliable. I'm both.
Shem ‘Etzem scolds Tiqwah Tawit about being unreliable. She and this blogger have something in common.

Sorry about the neglect. It’s been awhile since I last updated the blog! To anyone who stumbled here and came back, I congratulate you for your savlanut — your patience!

Let me take time to update you on  how I kept busy with comics and game production.

So I just completed my fourth “Milhamah” comic strip, as you can see on my Instagram. I’ll post the latest strips one by one in the following days and explain a bit about the backstory.

In the meantime, I’ve also been programming a roguelike game based on the “Milhamah” universe. It’s about halfway to a very basic, playable state. When it’s ready for a beta, I’ll link it here and keep building it.

Like most roguelikes, the “graphics” are basically made out of type. While the goal is to eventually roll out real graphics, letter glyphs are still a decent fit for the universe’s linguistic setting.

In the meantime, check out my social media, or subscribe to my comics on Tapas or Webtoon!

Prologue preview

Censorship. Dystopia. Mystery cults. Ancient alphabets. Apocalypses. Goats.

This is an eight-panel Prologue Preview of “Milhamah: Fighting Words.” It debuted at the Motor City Comic Con May 18-20.

Over the next few months, I’ll be alternating between backstory and skits featuring a few of the main characters. Before going too far in telling the story, I’ll perfect the series’ voice while acquainting the audience with the characters and background world. 

Soon I will be putting this webcomic up on Tapas and Webtoons. You may also follow me on social media on Facebook or Instagram.

In the meantime, enjoy!

   

Ancient Egypt may spell out clues about the alphabet.

A main theme in my artwork is language, particularly how people use it to perceive the world and relate to one another.

So it’s intriguing that a researcher apparently found the earliest known example of an abgad (aka abjad). That basically refers to an alphabet pattern found in many Semitic languages:

The alphabet that we use today is derived from that used by the Phoenicians, a civilization that flourished between roughly 3,500 and 2,300 years ago in the Eastern Mediterranean. They used what scholars call a Semitic language, a term that refers to a branch of languages that trace their origins to the Middle East, each sharing some similar words. The early forerunner to our alphabet was written in Semitic languages. Few texts that are written in Semitic languages date back 3,400 years or more, however.

To go along with the Tower of Babel themes in “Milhamah,” some of the characters, superpowers and scenarios are tied to the Hebrew alef-beit, or alphabet. So as you read this comic series, expect to learn more about those letters over time!

‘Milhamah’ preview to debut at Motor City Comic Con

This weekend will be the first time that the “Milhamah: Fighting Words” series debuts at a convention’s artist alley. How exciting!

I will share a table at the Motor City Comic Con May 18-20, which is held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan.

You may buy a new eight-frame prologue preview that briefly lays out the “Milhamah” backstory, or you may also check out some of my other art prints.

I hope to do lots of networking, fan interaction and sales at the event. See you there!

Check out more details about the Motor City Comic Con at www.motorcitycomiccon.com.