It’s truth vs. tricks in Episode 12 (Part 1)

Teaser image of Etgar ordering his speech balloon for Ep. 12-1

What is truth, and what is magical thinking? In Episode 12 (Part 1): “Spray and Pray,” our heroes start to explore this theme, and the answer is subtler than you might think.

Deli recovers from his wound and talks about being "reborn." Tiqwah dismisses Deli, who starts shooting water cannons with his Bavel magic.Ep. 12-1 Page 3. Etgar calls his speech balloon. The speech balloon destroys Deli's spells. Etgar boasts that he doesn't rely on magical thinking, but the truth.

Most fantasy universes have a system of superpowers or the supernatural, and “Milhamah: Fighting Words” is no exception.

Blessed truth, cursed deception

At the end of Episode 11, Deli speaks an Akkadian shoresh root (based on birth) to repair the hole in his face. And now he uses another root to fire water cannons.

In “Milhamah,” the Bavel Empire (or “macrostructure”) corrupts and twists languages in order to replace them with nonsense. Their motive is to assert control and manipulate reality for selfish, destructive ends.

Deli calls this “magic,” but Tiqwah calls it lies and manipulation. In terms of worldbuilding, she’s right. Bavel seeks to impose its will to power through its quest to destroy the Holy Tongue.

On the other hand, the Holy Tongue is associated with candor, accuracy, and “telling it like it is.” In this episode, Etgar sets his alfon to use the dalet-bet-resh (דבר) root. He sends out a roaring speech bubble to destroy Deli’s magic.

Under the Holy Tongue’s authority, our heroes use speech as a prophetic rebuke, speaking truth to power.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

One more thing: Etgar mentions the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. This provides the scientific explanation for why the “Milhamah” can use the shoresh roots to enhance their alphabet abilities.

As the link explains:

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the theory that an individual’s thoughts and actions are determined by the language or languages that individual speaks. The strong version of the hypothesis states that all human thoughts and actions are bound by the restraints of language, and is generally less accepted than the weaker version, which says that language only somewhat shapes our thinking and behavior.

Read more on the topic here. But basically, the “Milhamah” characters’ thoughts, words and outlook determine their reality and destiny. Those who prize truth and goodness turn their Holy Tongue alphabet powers into blessings. Likewise, characters who use language to enslave others perform magical curses.

And in that context, think of the curses that lurk in the background of our own real lives. What hells are often unleashed by the quick fix, the empty “something for nothing” promise, the slick corporate marketing pitch, or the focus group-tested political sound bite!

All of this only scratches the surface to how language shapes the “Milhamah” world. Now that we touched on truth, we’ll see how faith shapes the Holy Tongue Society in the next episode. Hope you’ll join us and keep reading!

The urn returns in Episode 11 (Pt. 2)

Etgar is stunned by what he hears behind him.

While the battle continues, the evil urn Deli startles our heroes from behind. The villain seems to be reformed … but not in a good way! Will Tiqwah and Etgar find what they’re looking for in the aural grid before it’s too late?

This is Part 2 to “Slaughter in the Water,” and you can see the earlier part here.

Things get technical behind the scenes in this episode, as it starts to explain how the “Milhamah” characters weaponize their alfons to make blessing attacks outside of their own natural ability. Gradually readers will learn about these things over the next few episodes, but I’ll give a preview here.

Basically, Tiqwah and Etgar connected the speech balloon and the foundation glyph to their alfons to make new letters appear in the aural grid.

The aural grid shows sound frequencies, and Tiqwah and Etgar are looking for ‘Ivrit ones to do new attacks. The evil Bavel Empire try to scramble these ‘Ivrit frequencies to make it harder for the heroes to do this. (Though in Bavel’s perspective, they believe they’re actually unscrambling their own language!)

Anyway, it’ll be up to our heroes to find the correct sequence of letters needed — a shoresh root — to code in an alfon attack, or a blessing. Will they do this next episode? Maybe…

Meanwhile, what is Deli doing?

Etgar shot the urn in Episode 9, but now the fiendish jar is back. Well, it used an Akkadian curse called walа̄du. Deli’s natural shoresh root is dalet-lamed-yod (דלי). He’s using a permuted power caused by switching the letters around, (ילד). This undergoes a consonantal shift, as in Akkadian the same Semitic root is spelled waw-lamed-dalet (ולד).

The pink seal beneath Deli contains real Semitic letters and words. The Akkadian for walа̄du in the center. The Paleo-Hebrew and Ugaritic letters for (ילד) are in the middle orbit, plus the six different root permutations in Aramaic-style Hebrew script. The outer ring has the alef-bet.

So as the comic says, Deli permuted or switched his powers around to heal himself through a rebirth. Of course, since he’s from Bavel, he does this through the power of trickery and evil. Next episode you’ll learn the difference between the Holy Tongue’s Society’s truth-guided blessings and Bavel’s manipulative curses, and why it matters.

A side note

Please take a moment to vote for Milhamah: Fighting Words” on the Top Webcomics site! The more votes we get, the more visible this comic becomes.

Also, if you haven’t signed up on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages, please take a moment to do so!

Episode 11: Slaughter in the Water (Pt. 1)

Deli is ready to fight.

This new episode’s first part isn’t exactly a slaughter, but good and evil go at it for another round. The last time “Milhamah: Fighting Words” had this much fighting between Shem and Deli, Shem took a walloping. Check and see what happens here…

Shem returns to battle.Shem fires an "osteoblast" of bone shards.Deli deflects the attack.Plan B looks a lot like Plan A.

Action scenes always take more time to design than talking head panels, but the end result is often satisfying. This time I tried to make things more dynamic by breaking the panel’s perspective with Shem’s “osteoblast” bone shard missiles.

I also added more sound effects and used the negative space outside the panels to contribute to the storytelling. I’ll probably do that more, especially in my remastered print edition. The goal is to begin selling copies in April with a couple of comic cons on the horizon!

Storywise, while Shem’s limited attack moves are a punchline here, I look forward to giving him more to work with in the scenes to come. Plus we need to see what Etgar and Tiqwah are doing in Episode 11 Part 2!

In other news…

Just a reminder: You can also see “Milhamah” comics on Tapas and Webtoon. I’m trying to grow those subscriber bases, so if you use those sites, you can get automatic notifications when new episodes come along.

Also, you can vote for “Milhamah” on the Top Webcomics page site, which draws a lot of webcomic fans. I’ll be promoting this more in the near future. Help this series climb the ranks!

Episode 10: Close Call

Tiqwah gets upset.

It might be a close call, but Tiqwah and Etgar manage to daze Deli and reunite with Shem. Then Tiqwah starts scolding her teammate for leaving his alfon training device behind. But will alfons be enough to stop Deli from drowning them underground?

Tiqwah and Shem reunite.


This episode is a transitional one to a pivotal action scene, which I look forward to seeing play out. But first let me give a little background on the alfon.

An alfon is a communication device and weapon that acts like a phone, radio, hologram viewer and sonic weapon. It listens to the atmosphere for conversations, even scrambled ones like Bavel uses to corrupt the communications for all other languages. Then, with the help of its user, the alfon can convert what it hears into weaponized commands.

I’ll have more news to come in the upcoming days about “Milhamah” happenings. See you then!

Grammar Part 3: Hebrew history

The 22 Foundational Glyphs in "Milhamah" depict the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. Get ready to enter a study of Hebrew grammar.
A screenshot of the Aqademyah's like of my praise for their services, which included a link to this site.
The Aqademyah likes me! They really like me!

 

After learning about Semitic languages in November, our journey through the Joüon and Muraoka book continues. This time we’re going specifically through the history of ancient Hebrew.

Biblical Hebrew is fairly consistent throughout the centuries. The Bible’s writers, from earliest to latest, differ most in vocabulary. Some of the syntax also evolves, though it’s not that significant. Morphology, or word formation, changed the least due to stable consonants.

However, Joüon and Muraoka point out that the following Mishnaic Hebrew era strays farther from the biblical style conventions. However, they speculate that some Mishnaic-era writers still wanted to write in the Bible’s older style and format.

And they say Mishnaic Hebrew started to form after most of the Tanakh (Old Testament) was finished. The Mishnaic era also covers the period of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jesus. 

Joüon and Muraoka divide the biblical language into two eras: a “golden age” before the Babylonian exile and an era afterward. The authors acknowledge that some scholars think the entire Bible was basically written after the exile. But Joüon and Muraoka point out linguistic differences, such as the Bible’s later books spelling “Jerusalem” and “David” in a way earlier biblical books didn’t.

Hebrew’s relationship to ‘Milhamah’

The “Milhamah” webcomic doesn’t glean too much from this history. However, the character of ‘Aravah ‘Ivrit, whom I unveiled last week for Hebrew Language Day, embodies the language. Some of the details are in that post.

My art drew quite a few people from Facebook to this website. I even earned a Facebook like from the Academy of the Hebrew Language, which chiefly promotes the holiday in honor of Hebrew revivalist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. Their resources are a great help to my comic research, and I let them know that. 

All in all, it’s not a bad way to end the year!

‘Aravah ‘Ivrit appears on Hebrew Day

'Aravah 'Ivrit trots into the picture with her flamethrower lasso.

Just in time for Hebrew Language Day, “Milhamah” is previewing a new character for 2019. Meet ‘Aravah ‘Ivrit!

‘Aravah’s character is based on the shoresh root ‘ayin-bet-resh (עבר) and its permutations. While it may be awhile till she appears in the webcomic, here are six things to know about her character in “Milhamah: Fighting Words”:

1. ‘Aravah is the embodiment of the Hebrew language who is leading an independence movement against the Bavel Empire. Her goal is to break Bavel’s global dominance by “mixing up the tongues,” or scrambling its communications.

2. She works with the paramilitary Holy Tongue Society but isn’t part of it. She has ties to numerous other anti-Bavel associations, including an alliance with the guardians of the Arabic language. Hebrew and Arabic share similar shoresh roots: עבר and ערב.

3. She set up a headquarters in a western territory called ‘Ever that’s home to expanses of old Wild West desert-like wilderness. This explains why she is dressed as a cowgirl.

4. ‘Aravah is pregnant and way overdue for unknown reasons. As a result, she is often famished and rarely engages in combat. Her baby, however, is known to teleport out of the womb to fight the enemy.

5. Her personality switches between pleasant and hot-tempered. Her opponents underestimate her as a boorish fool — and learn to regret that.

6. ‘Aravah likes it hot. Her main weapon of choice is a flamethrower, and legend has it that she can summon holy fire from heaven.

As we await 2019, look forward to seeing ‘Aravah ‘Ivrit in upcoming episodes of “Milhamah”!

Check out the new Redbubble store!

Check out the new online store at Redbubble.com/people/Milhamah

Need a quick gift idea? Several of my artistic designs are available for sale on the new Milhamah Redbubble store. The artwork can be applied to merchandise such as T-shirts, mugs, art prints, cellphone cases, greeting cards and much more. Many more designs will be posted in early 2019, so keep checking it out!

Meanwhile, “Milhamah: Fighting Words” Episode 10 is still on the way and will be here before Christmas—it just grew a little longer than expected. And then I have one more surprise in 2018… 

Welcome to Moledet

Welcome to the treacherous homeland of Moledet in this new concept design!

On the other side of Bavel’s gate is the province that Deli governs. As a coastal city battered by the tides, Moledet’s economy exports water and manpower to its surrounding provinces.

Moledet’s inspiration comes from Hebrew words derived from the shoresh root ילד, which deals with birth. (Deli uses a shoresh with the same letters swapped around.)

This location is famous for its giant midwife toads, which are actually male frogs. These creatures are in charge of raising the city’s children and brainwashing them into the armies of tomorrow. The baby in this image is swaddled in an Akkadian robe and wields a classical blade on a Bavel flag.

The Bavel Empire enjoys fanatical support from Moledet’s populace, which hates outsiders due to vague historical grievances. The citizenry also acts like a cultic family and invests much of its resources toward reproducing — naturally and artificially — for the government’s glory. It’s certainly hostile territory for the Holy Tongue Society!

In the new year, look forward to seeing more of Moledet in future episodes of “Milhamah: Fighting Words.” The next webcomic, Episode 10, should be ready by next week.

Later this week I’ll also publicize the new “Milhamah” RedBubble online store. While it was too late to make anything specific to Hanukkah, there is enough merchandise over there to make a great Christmas or holiday gift. And I’ll add new designs throughout 2019!

Episode 9: Taking Potshots

Etgar aims a holographic gun.
“Episode 9: Taking Potshots” has been released!
 With Shem in a daze, Deli prepares his final attack.
But suddenly, someone appears to be targeting Deli.
The potshot is a direct hit, straight through Deli's eye!

Tiqwah and Etgar come to the rescue, and gloat a little too.

Although Shem might be battered and broken, his Holy Tongue Society colleagues Tiqwah and Etgar come to the rescue. They team up to snipe at the enemy, but have they arrived too late?
I’ve been looking forward to Tiqwah and Etgar’s reappearance for a long time. Based on limited interactions with readers, it seems like Tiqwah is most people’s favorite character. And fans seem to like how Etgar looks, even though he hasn’t shown much personality yet. At least he brought a cool holographic device with him this time, as well as some daring goggles.
Of course, as the adjective and article, Etgar and Tiqwah make a good team.  Etgar’s eagle eye identifies targets based on their profiles and descriptions, and Tiqwah confirms them with target lock-on reticles.
It’ll also be fun to finally develop interactions among the three Ḥeleq members. Etgar lives in the present and is hungry for new horizons and experiences, while Tiqwah wants everything to be planned in place. A couple of surprises await Shem over the next few episodes, and they’ll flesh out him in the process too.
When I designed Deli, I almost immediately got the idea of having someone shoot that urn after drawing a few smug, ridiculous facial expressions on it. I mean, look at him. He deserves it, right?
Anyway, if you enjoyed this comic, leave a comment below, and please subscribe to my social media for more updates!

Grammar Part 2: Semitic languages

The 22 Foundational Glyphs in "Milhamah" depict the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. Get ready to enter a study of Hebrew grammar.

As we continue last week’s examination of Joüon and Muraoka’s book “A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew,” the authors remind us that Hebrew is a Semitic language that is similar to neighboring tongues.

For instance, Semitic languages’ shared traits include:

  1. Gutturals like ḥet (ח) and ‘ayin (ע)
  2. emphatics like  ṭet (ט), tzadi (צ) and qof (ק)
  3. Root sequences usually composed of three consonants that suggest specific motifs that are conjugated by adding vowels

According to the book, the oldest Semitic languages were born in the northeast, such as Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian) and Eblaite.

Next the book says the South Semitic languages generally arose, such as Hadrami, Minaic, Qatabanic  and Sabean. The Southern family also includes Ge’ez, which South Arabian emigrants to Ethiopia spoke, according to the book.

Finally the Central (or Northwestern) Semitic languages came to be, such as Canaanite, Aramaic and Arabic. While Hebrew was home to the land of Canaan, the book says proto-Hebrew and ancient Canaanite differed in some ways, like how they conjugated the qal passive verb.

Hebrew is very similar to Moabite and also related to Phoenician. Ugaritic, spoken to the north of Canaan, is a separate language with a cuneiform alphabet.

The Bible refers to Hebrew (‘Ivrit) as Yehudit. Besides the Bible, we know about ancient Hebrew through Babylonian and Akkadian documents. Ostraca and archaeological finds like the Gezer Calendar and the Siloam inscription offer more evidence.

Other languages like ancient Egyptian and Berber have some things in common with Semitic languages, but not enough to part of the family.

Where the languages fit in ‘Milhamah’

As “Milhamah: Fighting Words” begins its first year, expect to see Hebrew explained in depth, along with a smattering of Akkadian.

In our fictional world, several other languages have their own insurgencies and resistance movements against Bavel too. While virtually all of these movements are (at least temporary) allies of the Holy Tongue Society, their activities happen off-camera. “Milhamah” will only deal with Semitic languages, and specifically ones that I study in great detail.

Why Semitic languages? They have features that inspire artistic creativity and make good gameplay mechanics. For example, look at the trilateral shoresh roots, in which three consonants combine to make words with similar meanings.

This concept will make more sense in the weeks to come. The comic’s Episode 9 will be released Tuesday, and I hope to begin showing very early development screenshots or videos of the roguelike game in December.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!