Wednesday, May 23, 2012


For interested parties, here's a snippet from my morning emails.

I will be spending 1 hour in class each week and 2 hours each week one-on-one with an instructor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (the same place that defines the rules for Hebrew). In a year's time I imagine I will be the only Hebrew-speaking-cartoon-making-Mormon on the planet. In two year's time, I will be but one of many, I hope.

Interesting fact for the day:

Did you know that Hebrew was not a spoken language 150 years ago? 

It's true! It died as a spoken language a few centuries after the time of Christ. (Coincidentally, it was the same century the Bible was formally organized--4th Century CE). Talk about losing your national identity. It was artificially revived in the 1880s. It has only been in the last 100 years that anyone but Bible scholars knew the language.

Another page down...

Another page down!

A have a ton of news...but it can't be released yet. I know--cruel!! But in the meantime...anyone out there able to take a PSD and turn it into a website? It's not a super complicated process, but to do it clean requires some know-how. Even volunteering to consult and/or review my code would be nice. Thanks in advance for the help!

Hope that doesn't spoil the surprise...  ;)

Take care y'all! See you next week! The next month or so is kind of the calm before the storm--all I have to say is stay tuned! I'm working hard and I think you're gonna love it! This comic is gonna happen!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Blog Template

The new header for the blog. This is what I was trying to do a year ago when I started the project but I wasn't good enough!

I just updated the blog template to a different style. As it turns out it wasn't displaying properly for Chrome users and it was also really hard to post/comment/share/subscribe. This new template is equally clean but solves all of those issues. So please feel free to comment now! We have over 11000 page views and I'm hoping to double that by the end of the summer. Help me out if you can! I will do my best to respond to comments and questions promptly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Sometimes I think the creative process should be called the "tried everything that didn't work" process. I just spend a LOT of time on this page. I wonder now-and-again if I made the right decision in going with the highest quality possible for the artwork...but every time I think about making it anything less than top-notch, I hear: "Is that what you see in your head, Mike? Is that the quality you would want to see Bible stories for kids?"

And the answer is that's not the quality I want to see.

So here's my offering for the week:

It started out in the storyboard version pretty humbly, like most panels do:
You may have noticed the "Bar and Grrrills." If you pronounce it aloud you can hear the pun if the visuals doesn't cue you into it. This late-night bar doubles as a less-than-savory night club, of which there are many in Jerusalem at 600 BCE (at least, my version of Jerusalem). Solomon's is the king of night clubs, and they make their wealth in every filthy way possible. I don't like them. Don't go there or you'll be in big trouble! Not only that, but Jeremiah would be very disappointed in you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Hi everyone! I've been very busy this last week so this week's post is educational in nature.

I mentioned awhile back that I had started learning Hebrew. This is true. I already know the alphabet by heart! But the interesting thing is, Hebrew as we know it today is not the Hebrew that prophets wrote or spoke in much of the Hebrew Bible. There are many layers of depth to the language (just like English, think Middle English, Shakespearean English, modern English) but the important distinction to know for From the Dust is that the language of their day is most appropriately called Paleo-Hebrew. This is not the same Hebrew that the Hebrew Bible as we now have it was written in. If you were to learn what we now call "Biblical Hebrew" you would actually be learning a different dialect than Paleo-Hebrew, at least on the written side of things. Just how different is hard to say until I learn it, but visually we can compare the alphabets fairly quickly:
Thus, Jeremiah, Lehi, and others would not have written in the alphabet on the left, but rather the one on the right. That said, I think the language itself remained at least identifiably the same in terms of speaking (just like we can understand Shakespeare today though it's been 400 years) over the course of much of the Bible (at least the period called Classical Hebrew, aka Biblical Hebrew).

The change happened largely during the Babylonian captivity when what few Israelites remained learned Aramaic and changed the Hebrew alphabet accordingly, presumably during the redaction (organizing) of the Hebrew Bible. The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet is based on the Phoenician's alphabet. They were the peoples that lived in the promised land prior to the Israelites.

We will be utilizing the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet for design purposes in From the Dust, and will turn it into a calligraphic, beautiful script, inspired by Hebrew and Arabic calligraphy. In the artwork we create we will have many messages that kids can "decode." Some might be scriptures, but most will simply be a part of the artwork. For example, I already have some ideas for borders, etchings, and other graphic design elements that could be enhanced with Hebrew names, symbols, and more. I am hoping to achieve a "Lord of the Rings"-like feel  with the beauty, grace, and quality of the artwork, but with a uniqueness that celebrates the ancient feel of Biblical cultures, as well as the scriptures themselves. We have several cultures to re-create for the comic and the languages will be an important part of that. If you contrast Paleo-Hebrew with Biblical Hebrew, for example, it is a strikingly similar contrast as Tolkien's Elvish vs Dwarven, the one organic and the other rigid. This contrast will make for some very beautiful artwork, I think.

Readers of From the Dust will naturally become familiar with the look, feel, and sound of Hebrew. People that want to will have plenty of opportunity to learn it. In fact, let's start our learning now with one very important word:

I've contacted the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and hope to take classes with them someday, but this year I'm short the $1k I need to do so, so until the time I am able I will continue the study on my own.

Here is a sample of Paleo-Hebrew from Bridges for Peace, "Your Israel Connection." It's taken from an inscription discovered in Hezekiah's tunnel.

See? It looks similar to Elvish:

Ok it's arguable, but there are definitely some similarities. Contrast it with these:

Biblical Hebrew:
Tolkien's Dwarven Runes:

Cool huh? If Graphology has any credibility (and I'm not saying it does) it definitely would appear that the cultures from which those two Hebrew alphabets resulted were very different from each other. It could, however, just be the difference between script and print, the same as in modern English. But I think the disparity is greater than just that.

Cursive vs Print

I can't wait to talk to a professional about this. I have all kinds of questions about it!

Also interesting is this diagram (from Bridges). I will research it further when I get the chance. From the several sources I have read it appears that Hebrew's origins may have been pictographic in nature.

**Please note by posting these I am not accrediting the sources!** I am by no means qualified to make those types of judgments...yet.

More artwork next week! I will actually make the artwork this time rather than talk about making it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Long Day's Work

This is why I love comics. This page was a beast, but I conquered him! Take that blank sheet of paper!

I started work at 8:30am and it is now I guess that's something like a 16 hour workday? This image took me about 8 hours--a lot longer than typical pages. I made a lot of mistakes and had to rework it. Also, sometimes you don't really know what it needs and so you have to kind of play around for awhile.

This makes 7 consecutive pages I've completed. To see them all in order go here. I hope it gives you a little bit of an idea of what the rest of the comic--including the war scenes and army shots--will look like!

Also, I have about 7 more pages in the works. Slowly and surely we will conquer all of them!!!!