Episode 8: A Bout with Doubt

In both fiction and in real life, evil adds insult to injury. It gloats and humiliates. It tries to make you doubt who you are and what you believe in. Sometimes it may even tempt you to question who God is.

In “Milhamah: Fighting Words” Episode 8, Shem ‘Etzem is faced with that same sort of evil from the Bavel Empire’s agent, Deli. Deli puts Shem up against the wall and then questions Shem’s loyalty to his own cause, the Holy Tongue Society.

Deli slanders Shem as an ogre and demon, but only looks at distorted outward appearances. For the record, Shem is human and not only has to fight a powerful foe, but people’s expectations over what a virtuous person should look like. Note also how the Bavel Empire accuses its critics not only of hypocrisy, but blasphemy!

This episode is also the first time that the 22 Foundational Glyphs are shown. These are tied to a non-biblical story of how God created the world through the 22 Hebrew letters.

In the fictional world of “Milhamah,” the letters (seen here in Phoenician or Ketav ‘Ivri “Paleo-Hebrew” style) are not mystical but tangible. After all, they exist in a world where grammar and parts of speech take human form.

As we end Episode 8, our hero may be conflicted and broken, but he’s not destroyed yet. Likewise, let’s persevere in our own lives — even when we don’t have all the answers neatly figured out.

Almost ready for a big reveal

It’s time to reveal an update after several days of comic creation!

“Milhamah: Fighting Words” Episode 8 has all its panels complete and is in its final editing stages for a Tuesday release. All that’s left is a few sound effects and some reformatting for the webcomics platforms. (Above is a preview revealing the villain Deli in all his arrogant glory.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing new character concept sketches. We finally have profiles for the Holy Tongue Society’s pronoun and verb characters, and my next goal is to vectorize them over the next couple of weeks. I also plan to do some digital painting of a concept based on the main villain. A couple of minor villains that will appear within the next few episodes also have their concept work done.

And for more good news, I’ve been getting my online store ready to launch. I made two T-shirt designs and will have a sample or two printed by next week. That way I can wear it to a marketing event next month.

Soon you’ll be able to buy the shirts online too, along with art prints and maybe stickers. Right now I’m leaning toward selling merchandise on Redbubble and TeePublic, though Amazon and Printful appear tempting too. Exciting things are ahead!

Inspiration and experimentation

Last weekend I did a new experiment to see where inspiration takes me.
Lately I’ve been drafting T-shirt designs for a promotional event. While thinking of ideas, I remembered how popular online Bible verse images are, especially on Instagram.
So I wondered if there would be crossover appeal to using “Milhamah” on the side as a teaching platform. My goal is to teach a Hebrew word or two to people who might be interested.
The psalms and wisdom books are my favorite parts of the Bible, so that was the first place I looked for a passage.

Inspiration came to me through Psalm 20:4.Levav is Hebrew for "heart," and 'etzah is Hebrew for "plan."

Besides the psalms, in the future I might use other examples of poetry or do language lessons using my characters for colors, animals, etc.

Art is about experimenting. If some people like inspirational quotes or vocab words, I’ll occasionally make more and maybe even make prints or shirts. Otherwise I’ll drop the idea and devote full attention to the webcomic.

Hopefully my plans will be fulfilled!

Welcoming fan art and feedback

Publishing artwork online is like leaving your wallet in a public place. Your valuables and identity are exposed, and most people who find it are going to keep it for themselves instead of trying to contact you or return it.

So when an artist gets comments and fan art back, it’s a welcome and wonderful surprise. Last week, @the_art_of_bsienk drew this excellent inking of Tiqwah Tawit for Inktober after requesting ideas on Tapastic’s forums. You can check out the link and the artist’s other Inktober work below.

While I hope that more people will create fan art and have fun with “Milhamah,” my biggest short-term goal is to get a community of commenters, especially on this blog, whether it’s talking about:

  • The latest “Milhamah” webcomics, including characters and settings\
  • Trends in video games, comics and anime
  • Artists who inspire me
  • My upcoming “Milhamah” roguelike
  • Video game mechanics and game design
  • Linguistic studies, especially Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian and Ugaritic
  • Archaeology of Biblical times and ancient Near East civilizations, or
  • Issues related to Orwellianism, speech and censorship

As a result, I plan to write a bunch of blog pieces on the weekends and schedule them to automatically post throughout the week. While I won’t name countries, lately I’ve been getting a consistent trickle of readers throughout the world, and I want to create content that will entertain and generate discussion.

If you know anyone who would like to read about the topics I mentioned above, send them this way!



The fight begins in ‘Aim for the Jugular’

After covering himself with ossified armor, Shem ‘Etzem tries to fight off the intruder Deli… to little success. Can Shem focus and pull himself together, or will he soon pass through Bavel’s gate as a captive?

Shem charges toward Deli to fight him.Shem's attack misses.Deli soars and lands in his humanoid vessel's hands.Deli fights back, using the urn as a baseball to score a home run on Shem.Shem flies backward toward Bavel's gate.

After a few episodes of buildup, the action scenes finally begin in “Milhamah: Fighting Words.” Part of the challenge of making this scene was illustrating motion and pacing the anticipation.

Manga-style speed lines and glowing brushstrokes help, but there is more room to push myself and improve. And because this comic now keeps the vertical scrolling webcomic format in mind, I’ve been adding more anticipation shots and facial expressions to tell the story through the images, and not just the dialogue.

It’ll be interesting to see where Shem’s impulsiveness takes him. He’s a bit of a contradiction, a volatile mix of focus and wild passion. The goal is to make him, for all his flaws, someone who’s memorable and easy to cheer on.

What do you like to see in a good fight scene? Which fight scenes in comics, TV shows or movies to you find most memorable, and why? Feel free to leave a comment. Questions and suggestions for “Milhamah” are welcome too!