Welcome to Hopeless!

The Hopeless Vendetta started life as the newspaper for a fictional island. These days, the site is a mix of fiction, whimsy, and news about other Hopeless, Maine projects. 

Hopeless, Maine is a haunted island off the coast of America. It first put out its tentacles as a graphic novel series. The project now includes a live performance team – The Ominous Folk of Hopeless, Maine, a role play game, tarot deck, prose fiction, music, puppets, costumes and a film project. Check out the static pages for further information on those.

I’ve made a Hopeless Handbook to help people orientate themselves. Hopeless is a large, many tentacled entity lurching in at least three directions at any given time.

If you have questions the handbook doesn’t currently answer, please wave, and answers will be forthcoming.

The Hopeless Vendetta started life as the newspaper for a fictional island. These days, the site is a mix of fiction, whimsy, and news about other Hopeless, Maine projects. 

Our secret lives

There is a version of me who wears a hat and goes out to take care of the pigs. There is a version of me who does not. Two lives, two selves, swimming in and out of focus. Whichever version of myself I am, the other life seems to be a dream. Perhaps there are other dream lives I forget.

Yesterday I dreamed that I was at The Crow and I ordered the breakfast special and it turned out that I was the breakfast special and everyone was eating plates of me. I ate me, too. Is this real? Is this one of the lives I lead? No one else has ever admitted to being on a breakfast menu.

It seems preposterous to me that I could ever be human. All those fingers. The shoes. 

Tomorrow when I wake up perhaps I will be a pig herder dreaming of being a breakfast. Perhaps in truth I am really a breakfast and sometimes I imagine that I am an owl man. Perhaps none of these things are real and you are dreaming me in your own desperation.

A Brief History of ‘The Old Colonel’

mortal remains
In December 1907 a 475 foot, seven-masted steel-hulled schooner, The Thomas W Lawson, went aground off Annett, an uninhabited island a few miles from the Cornish coast, with the loss of seventeen lives. On board were Fifty-eight thousand barrels of paraffin. Yes, honestly. Fifty-eight thousand! If you don't believe me, look it up.
 "What," you may justifiably ask, "has any of this to do with Hopeless, Maine? "
In all honesty, the simple answer is, not a lot. However, by coincidence, some years later, an almost identical tragedy occurred when a similarly large vessel, the 'Stanley Downton', came to grief on the rocks around Hopeless, carrying a far more agreeable cargo. On that day over fifty-thousand barrels of malted barley were delivered to the grateful inhabitants of the island, and, luckily, one visionary knew exactly what to do with every last drop.

Those who have followed these tales from their earliest days may recall that Colonel 'Mad Jack' Ruscombe-Green, and his faithful batman, Private Bill Ebley, gallant survivors of the Great War, had set off to cross the Atlantic in an open boat. They were hoping to emulate a feat, completed some years earlier (but from west to east) by two American-Norwegians, Frank Samuelsen and George Hasbo (related in the tale 'Jolly Boating Weather'). Fate, it would appear, had other ideas for Ruscombe-Green and Ebley; rather than making a triumphant arrival in New York harbour, as planned, the pair fetched up on the unforgiving shores of the island of Hopeless, Maine.
It was a full year or so later that Ruscombe-Green, 
almost uniquely, escaped the island, aided by the Passaquamoddy trader, Joseph Dreaming-By-The-River-Where-The-Shining-Salmon-Springs. Bill Ebley by this time had developed a fondness for a certain Constanza Gannicox and elected to stay on Hopeless, where he not only raised a family, but - more importantly, some might argue - founded the much revered Ebley Brewery. 

Prior to Bill's contribution to the quality and quantity of alcohol available, the art of brewing on the island had been, to say the least, somewhat hit and miss. Both The Squid and Teapot and The Crow had enjoyed mixed success with their home-brewed ales, having depended greatly upon whatever raw materials the tide brought in. With the arrival of Bill, who hailed from several generations of British brewers, closely followed by rather a lot of malted barley, things changed considerably. By my calculations, if the barrels had been mere little firkins (which is unlikely) the haul would have been about five hundred thousand gallons. If, on the other hand, they had been full sized barrels there would be somewhere in the region of two million gallons of malted barley at Bill's disposal. As I said, rather a lot. The future of brewing on the island looked decidedly good. 

It would be wrong to trace the fortunes of the Ebley Brewery without making some reference to the Gannicox Distillery. It was Constanza's brother, Ebeneezer, who originally founded the distillery. At first it relied upon the brewery for most of its barrels but as the years passed the roles reversed. An appreciative clientele were not slow to point out that beer which had matured in casks previously used for spirits acquired greater depth and flavour. So enamoured was Bill with the enhanced quality of the brew that he called it 'Old Colonel', in honour of his erstwhile commandant. 

 "That takes some believing," said Seth Washwell, when he heard the story. "Fifty thousand barrels? How did they get that lot ashore?"
 "Maybe they didn't need to," said Philomena Bucket, who had never questioned the veracity of the account. "After all, it was a big ship that ran aground. It didn't necessarily sink."
 Seth thought about this, then said, triumphantly, "Ah, but what about the crew? If the ship didn't sink they probably survived and would have stopped any looting."
 "Better not to ask," said Philomena, mysteriously. "It all happened a long time ago."
 Seth was not satisfied. 
 "And you're telling me that Old Colonel is still being produced from the malted barley that turned up all those years ago?"
 " Why ever not? " said Philomena, sharply. She was tiring of the conversation, and had work to do. 
 "If you don't believe me, ask Mrs Middlestreet. After all, Ariadne is the owner of the Ebley Brewery."
 She saw genuine surprise on Seth's face.
 "Didn't you know? Her grandmother was Mildred Ebley, Bill's only child. Mildred married Isaac Lypiatt, whose family had run The Squid for years. Ariadne is, or was, the last of the Lypiatts."
 "So that makes Constanza Gannicox her great grandmother... and Mrs Middlestreet has connections with the brewery and distillery. Norbert must be her cousin. Why didn't I know that?" said Seth, shaking his head.
 "Because you're too busy mooning around that French girlfriend of yours," grinned Philomena.
 Seth reddened.
 "That still doesn't explain," he said sulkily, "how they got fifty thousand barrels ashore, and where they put them."

Drury had been lying quietly in the corner, listening intently to their conversation. He wagged his bony tail. He had been there when it had happened, and had seen it all. Unfortunately for Seth, he wasn't telling. 

Starry Grabby Pie

Starry, grabby pie

With tentacles green blue and grey

To warm you on a Hopeless day

The sky eyes know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills

Sketch the trees and the tentikills

Catch disease and winter chills

In eldritch colours corrupting my hand

Now I understand

What you tried to feed to me

How you suffered for your pantry

How tentacles bring insanity

They would not stay still, they don’t know how

Perhaps we’ll eat them now.

Starry, grabby pie

Sea monsters that we must erase

Swirling pie filling in violet haze

Reflect in sickly splatters in the loo

Colors changing hue

Unstable horrors we’ve consumed a few

Hopeless faces lined in pain

Cannot be soothed by what the chef has planned

Now, I understand

What you tried to feed to me

And how we suffered your insanity

You just wanted to be free

We would not listen, then we had a row

We will not listen now

(With all due apology to Vincent.)

Lights in the darkness

You may have wondered about the lamps. There is no grid on Hopeless, Maine. There are no gas pipes, and since the end of the trade in oil pressed from giant oceanic gnii, there hasn’t been much in the way of reliable lamp oil, either.

Of course any dead thing that washes up on a beach can be rendered down for oil, if you’ve the stomach for it. When the choice is make and use hideous corpse oil, or sit in the dark wondering what it is that you can’t see… well, it’s surprising how attractive those dead things can become. Thanks to the tides, dead things are mostly what wash up on the shores of Hopeless.

Balthazar is one of the island’s more successful inventors. No doubt his greatest achievement is having built a lighthouse, mostly from the bones of a massive sea monster. Balthazar tries very hard to be a scientist, but often finds he is an accidental occultist who has almost no idea how any of that side of his work… works.

Lamps being such good and useful things, people tend to adopt them and try to work out how to keep them going. The one powered by hurdy gurdy mercifully doesn’t need you to actually play a tune. Several are uncomplicated enough to just need oil of some sort. There’s one you have to wind by hand, and one where a weight drops on a chain. The one that was supposed to gather daylight and release it again at night somehow mostly gathers moths, and feeds on them. It is probably best to stay well away from that lamp, in case it gets ideas.

La Danse Apache

“A young man like you ought to have better things to do than sitting in here and drowning his sorrows.”

Philomena Bucket cast a not unkindly gaze over the dishevelled figure of Septimus Washwell. He had been in The Squid and Teapot, moodily brooding over a tankard of Old Colonel, for much of the day. He was not being a nuisance or taking up precious space; the inn was virtually deserted. It just irked the vivacious barmaid to see one so young seemingly give up on life so completely.

“Well, what can I do?” lamented Septimus. “I’m no scholar and dad won’t let me anywhere near the sawmills. He reckons I’d be short of an arm before the day was through… and he’s probably right.”

Septimus’ father, Seth Washwell, had been proprietor of the Washwell Sawmills and Joinery ever since a slightly rusty, and worryingly large, circular saw blade had washed up on the island of Hopeless, Maine. With a little ingenuity that married the salvaged drive belt from a capsized steamer with half a bicycle, a contraption was constructed, as outlandish as any devised by William Heath-Robinson. With relatively few mishaps and positively no fatalities, Seth soon had the blade spinning in the most alarming fashion. Being a pragmatic man, he figured that it was fine for those who chose to work for him to risk life and limb, especially limb, but not one of his own flesh and blood. He had fathered seven sons and had no wish to reduce that figure to six-and-a-half.

“You must be able to do something,” insisted Philomena. “Everybody has a skill of some sort. You might just have to search about to find what yours is.”

Septimus jerked his head and pointed to the bruise on his cheek and a purpling eye.

“I guess that this is what I’m good at!” he said, angrily. “I can brawl with the best of them. And for every black eye I’ve ever received, one of the Chevins has two.”

“Ah, you’ve been fighting with them Chevin lads again,” said Philomena. “So this is where your doldrums are coming from. What was it this time?”

“Caspar Chevin was badmouthing Mirielle…” he replied, a slight flush reddening his face.

“Badmouthing Mirielle? One of Les Demoiselles? And why would that be your problem?” Philomena allowed herself a brief pause, during which one could almost hear cogs whirring and pennies dropping into place.

“Oh, I get it,” she said at last, a grin on her face. “You have a crush on Mirielle. Does she know?”

“Of course not,” said Septimus. “How could she? I can’t even speak French to tell her. Besides… “

“Besides nothing!” interrupted Philomena, “Her English is as good a yours, so that’s no excuse. There’s always a way, if you’re keen enough. Les Demoiselles have been giving dancing lessons to some of the girls at the orphanage. There’s no reason why Mirielle shouldn’t teach you a few steps.”

“I can’t dance,” protested Septimus. “And… the Can-Can? Really?”

“If you can fight you can dance,” exclaimed Philomena. “What have you got to lose?”

Ever since the dance troupe, Les Demoiselles de Moulin Rouge, had found their tour of North America permanently terminated by a shipwreck off the coast of Maine, they had practised their art to the bemused residents of Hopeless at every opportunity. The five young ladies had at first shocked, then delighted the islanders with their saucy, high-kicking routine, performed to the strains of Offenbach’s ‘Infernal Galop’ (or the Can-Can, to most of us) played on the beloved and venerable Edison-Bell phonograph. Les Demoiselles were always happy to share their skills with any who wished to learn.

It was a thoughtful Septimus who made his way unsteadily from The Squid that evening. Dancing was one thing… but the Can-can?

A week or more passed before Philomena saw Septimus again. He had gone to The Squid to see if he could raid the attics for some unwanted clothing. She had to admit to herself that he looked much happier than he had previously. Maybe he had really taken up dancing, or dating, or even both. Time would tell.

“GRAND THANKSGIVING CONCERT – ALL WELCOME” read the poster. This was unusual. The islanders of Hopeless rarely celebrated Thanksgiving, mainly because no one had much reason to be thankful for anything. However, a celebration of any description was always welcome, especially if the Edison-Bell phonograph was to be involved; its wax-cylinders were treated with all the regard usually reserved for holy relics. Even Drury, the skeletal hound, became excited when he heard the strains of ‘Molly Malone’, and, since the arrival of Les Demoiselles, the ‘Infernal Galop’.

As expected, the Town Hall was packed to bursting. The audience had a good idea what the night was likely to provide, but it didn’t matter. There was free Starry-Grabby pie available, a generous amount of Old Colonel flowing and enough yellow light from the candle lanterns to lend the proceedings enough good cheer to warm the heart-cockles of the melancholiest spectator.   

Most evenings of this sort would end with a rousing rendition of ‘Molly Malone’. By now the song was so well-known and loved that there was hardly any reason to play the wax-cylinder anymore; the strangulated tones of the Irish Tenor being completely drowned by a great wave of voices that displayed more enthusiasm than musical ability.  And so, after the final strains of the Infernal Galop had died away, and Les Demoiselles scurried off, with much squealing and swirling of satin, and enthusiastic applause, an expectant hush fell.  This, traditionally was when ‘Molly Malone’ would be played; the wax-cylinder changed, and with it the mood of the evening. The audience cleared their collective throats, bracing themselves for a few sentimental ‘Alive-alive-ohs’. Instead, to everyone’s consternation, a different tune emanated from the great brass horn of the phonograph – Valse des Rayons, again by Offenbach – as one of Les Demoiselles placed a placard against the wall, bearing the legend ‘APACHE’. As most islanders had been stranded on Hopeless for all of their days, the word meant nothing, but Philomena, a little more worldly than most, began to wonder if arrows would be flying through the air at any moment.

“They’ve got it wrong,” she thought to herself. “I think it’s more likely to be Passamaquoddy around here.”

To everyone’s surprise, Septimus Washwell swaggered on to the stage, resplendent in baggy trousers, flat cap, red neckerchief and a collarless shirt. From the other side swept in Mirielle in a short skirt, slit to the thigh. She stamped her feet in mock anger, and they met in the centre of the stage. There was an audible gasp (mainly from Septimus’ mother) as he pulled his moody partner roughly to him and gave her a hearty kiss, full on the lips. This was unexpected, but when he thrust her away at arms-length, and appeared to hit her, sending her skidding across the floor, howls of rage issued from the auditorium. Even Drury growled. It took a reassuring wave from Mirielle to let the audience know that this was all part of the act. Happy that all was well, they settled down to watch a dazzling display of mock-violence, energetic dancing and nothing short of gymnastic dexterity, as Septimus swung Mirielle between his legs, over his head, and spun her about like a rag doll, then tossed her to the floor. There he callously lifted her elegant leg and mimed striking a match on the sole of her shoe, to light a non-existent Gauloise (this gesture would have been so much more effective had he actually possessed a real match and cigarette, but this was Hopeless, so they had to make do).  To the satisfaction of the audience, Mirielle quickly regained her feet, hit Septimus around a bit and left him lying on the ground, where she made a point of stepping on him as she left the stage.

The applause was rapturous. People stamped their feet and clapped until their hands were sore. Septimus and Mirielle were called back for four curtain calls. Much to the delight of Les Demoiselles, this looked as though as it might become part of their routine, as it had in Paris. It had certainly been worth hanging on to the Valse des Rayons wax cylinder.

Philomena smiled to herself. Septimus had at last found his true calling and, bizarrely, had become an honorary Demoiselle de Hopeless Maine.

Authors note: La Danse Apache (pronounced, in the French way, Ah-pash) evolved in the early part of the twentieth century in the bars frequented by the young members of the Parisian street gangs. These gangs were named after the North American Apache Indians, because of the savagery shown to their enemies. 

Whatever happened to Barry Lupin?

If you do not know his strange tale, wander this way… https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2022/09/02/the-ghastly-fate-of-barry-lupin/ or take your chances plunging headlong into this fresh madness, with no sense of how it all began. We do not promise that one approach is better than another.

When obsession takes hold of a person, anything can happen. In Barry’s case, the need to convert his inner screaming into the written word carried him far from his home. The ground slowly ate the knees out of his trousers – a horror he would have felt keenly in normal circumstances. Unnatural beings came to gaze upon his process, and judged it to be weird, and crept away again just to be on the safe side.

The trouble with sharing stories such as this, is the way people form opinions based on them. It is through tales like these that people come to associate science with the inevitable collapse into madness. These are not good examples to set. Inevitably, some hopeful soul will attempt to emulate the madness in the hopes of growing closer to the spirit of science. This also happens with poets and is why, every now and then we get unfortunate outbreaks of people standing dramatically on cliff edges gazing mournfully out to sea. A project that begets both broken bones from disastrous falls, and appalling verses.

Fortunately for us, the next stage in Barry Lupin’s curious tale breaks slightly with the stereotype of the scientist driven mad by elder gods. It involved the kind of breakthrough we can only hope to find in our own lives. Members of The Scientific Society eventually picked up and followed the trail of relentless screaming Barry had inscribed into the ground. We found him, slowly circling an ominous dark altar deep in the woods. His scream died in that place, no doubt a person can pass through horror and into some state beyond it where screaming all the time just isn’t enough any more. 

Instead, Barry stood, transfixed by horror, frozen by it and rooted to the spot. After some deliberation, we just picked him up and carried him back to his home. Our current working theory is that a sufficiency of tea will eventually cure him.

(With thanks to Andy Arbon for the loan of his face)

Defining a demon

Lamashtu is in many ways the classic witch’s familiar. You’ll find him hanging out with Annamarie Nightshade in the graphic novels, and he also plays a role in New England Gothic. He looks like this not because it’s a fair representation of who and what he is, but because this is what’s expected.

Quite a few things on Hopeless, Maine work in this way, because reality and magic alike are affected by belief and intention. People tend to see what they expect to see.

There’s a case for saying that the island is full of demons. It depends on how you like to define things. If you’ve read Personal Demons (which is in The Gathering) you’ll have met the rather self announcing owl demon. Part of the point with that story is that the obvious demon probably isn’t the only demon. They don’t always turn up looking the way you expect them to.

Evil often isn’t self announcing. Usually, the people perpetrating it firmly believe that they are, in fact, the good guys. If you’re reading the graphic novels, this is a line we’ve explored extensively through the character of Reverend Davies. It would be fair to say that the Reverend always feels like he’s acting for the best and doing what’s right, but sometimes he’s alone in those beliefs and his actions are, in practice, hideous.

A Hopeless Cynic

Septimus Washwell gazed miserably into his beer. Things had not been going too well for him lately, and it felt that just about everyone on the island was against him.

“People make me sick!” he declared. “There is not a soul in the world who will do anything to help someone else.”

Philomena Bucket stopped clearing the table and stared at the young man with raised eyebrows.

“Why, that’s a terrible thing to say,” she admonished. “There are plenty of people on Hopeless only too willing to lend a helping hand. Take Mr Middlestreet, for instance…” Philomena waved a hand in the general direction of the bar, where Bartholomew Middlestreet was pouring a draught of Old Colonel into a tankard.

“That man is generosity itself,” she said. “He’ll help any waif and stray who turns up on his doorstep, and they can take anything they need from the attics, just for the asking.”

“He’ll have some ulterior motive,” growled Septimus. “Look at you… sure, he’s given you a roof over your head, but I bet that in return he expects you to be working all hours of the day and night to keep this place going.”  

An angry flush came to Philomena’s normally pale cheeks. She was fond of Bartholomew and his wife, Ariadne, and would not hear a bad word said about either of them.

“You are such a cynic, Septimus Washwell,” she muttered through clenched teeth, then strode away before she could say or do something that they both might regret.

Seth watched her leave, and turned her words over in his head.

Cynic? He had no idea what that was. As words go, it didn’t sound like too much of an insult, but he felt that he ought to find out. After all, it might allude to something really bad, in which case it would be a useful word to throw at someone the next time he was having an argument.

But how was he to learn what it meant? Septimus knew all about dictionaries, but he could not recollect having ever seen one, much less looking inside. He also knew that there were books stored in the attics of The Squid and Teapot. Books that no one wanted. As far as Septimus was concerned, no one was likely to want a dictionary, and what was it that Philomena had said? People could take whatever they needed, just for the asking. Well, if Bartholomew Middlestreet was as big-hearted as Philomena reckoned, then this was his opportunity to prove it.

“Find a dictionary? Of course you can,” beamed Bartholomew, when Septimus asked to look at the books in the attics. “It’s good to see you’re out to improve yourself. Your dad would be proud of you.”

It was true. Seth Washwell, founder of the Washwell Sawmills and Joinery, was an extremely practical man, but totally illiterate. It would have pleased him greatly to learn that his seventh son was inspired to look within the covers of a book.

Cynic. Septimus traced his index finger under the definition in the dictionary, mouthing the words as he read..

‘A person who believes that people are moti… moti… (whatever that word is) by self-interest’.

“Of course I’m interested in myself. Why wouldn’t I be? I can’t see that’s what she meant.” he pondered. “It’s hardly an insult.”

Further down the page was a second definition, which simply said.

‘A member of a school of ancient Greek philosophers.’

“That must be what Philomena was talking about when she called me a cynic” he decided. “It might actually have been a compliment. I wonder what they did?”

He made his way from The Squid deep in thought. Who, on the island, might be learned enough to tell him how he could be like the Cynics? Durosimi O’Stoat, maybe.  He would certainly know, but Seth Washwell had always warned his children to keep well away from Durosimi. People who had got too close had been known to disappear.

It was just at that moment that he spotted Philomena, her usual wan pallor restored. Not being the world’s most sensitive soul, Septimus had no idea that he had upset her earlier.

“What did you mean when you called me a cynic, Philomena?” he asked.

“That’s for you to find out,” she snapped, and continued walking, still not having quite forgiven him for annoying her earlier.

“That’s what I was trying to do,” he muttered, stepping into the street.

“Watch where you’re going, young man!”

Reverend Davies glared at him angrily and gestured towards the pile of books scattered on the ground.

“If you must daydream, do it where you can’t blunder into people. Now help me pick these books up.”

“Sorry Reverend,” said Septimus, “but I wasn’t daydreaming. I was thinking how I could find something out about Greek philosophy.”

“Really?” exclaimed the Reverend, in surprise, then added, “maybe I could help.”

Reverend Davies had never been renowned for his altruism, but was always keen to expound on anything which might impress his listener. The fact that his knowledge of the classical world could be comfortably inscribed on one side of a bookmark (and, indeed, was) would not prevent him, however, from holding forth.

“I wanted to know about the Cynics,” said Septimus, hardly believing his luck.

“Ah yes, the Cynics… the Cynics…” said the Reverend, frantically dredging his mind for whatever scraps of information might be lurking in its depths.

“They were most interesting… most interesting…” Reverend Davies always repeated himself when he was stalling for time.

“As I recall, they were led by a fellow named Diogenes, who, interestingly, chose to live in a barrel. And the Cynics eschewed luxuries,” he said finally, totally exhausting his store of knowledge on the subject.

Septimus opened his mouth to say something else, but the Reverend said, hurriedly,

“Well, I must go. I can’t stand here all day gossiping. Things to do. And watch where you’re going in future.”

With that, the Reverend bustled away with his books, before the young man could ask any more questions.

 “What I need is a barrel,” Septimus thought to himself.

“What sort of barrel are you after?” asked Norbert Gannicox. “I’ve got firkins, hogsheads, tuns, puncheons, kegs and butts. They’re all past their best, mind. No good for storing liquor anymore.”

The old barrels were stacked at the back of the Gannicox Distillery. Most of them were a century old, or more, and all had seen good service over the years.

“I don’t want to store liquor,” replied Septimus. “I just need something big enough for me to live in.”

“You can’t live in a barrel,” said Norbert.

“Dodgy Knees did. Reverend Davies said so. And he chewed luxuries.”

Norbert shook his head in disbelief.

“Okay. You can have a barrel, by all means,” he said, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.  The biggest I’ve got is a tun. That holds about two hundred and forty gallons.”

“Will that be large enough?” queried Septimus.

“Should be,” said Norbert. “My old dad drowned in one of those. In his own booze, too.”

“And do you have any luxuries for me to chew, like Dodgy Knees did?”

Norbert gave him a withering look, which needed no explanation.

I have no idea for how long Diogenes lived in a barrel, but Septimus lasted exactly eight days. This is unsurprising, as the climate on the island of Hopeless, Maine is far less agreeable than that enjoyed by the people of Greece, ancient or modern. A miserable mixture of rain and fog, coupled with thirst and hunger, conspired to end his Cynical aspirations forever. Ironically, it was Bartholomew Middlestreet who found him, and rolled the barrel, with Septimus inside, back to The Squid and Teapot, where he was put in a guest bed until he recovered.

“That would be the same Bartholomew Middlestreet who you accused of having an ulterior motive for helping people,” pointed out Philomena Bucket.

“I was wrong,” admitted Septimus. “But I’d love to know how Dodgy Knees survived, when I couldn’t.”

“It must have been all of those luxuries that he was chewing,” said Philomena.

Why are there so many graveyards?

Candles at the O’Stoat Crypt

Those of you who read the Hopeless, Maine graphic novels will likely have noticed that there are a lot of graveyards on the island. More graveyards than make any kind of immediate sense in relation to the apparent population size. There are reasons for that, of course.

Some of the reasons are geographical. There are a lot of places where the soil is thin. Bury the dead in shallow graves and hungry things will dig them up. No one likes seeing the partially eaten remains of their dead loved ones. It’s not even that much fun when it happens to people you don’t like. There’s also the problem that sometimes you bury people in shallow graves and they get up out of them. Therefore sometimes graveyards are small because they run out of useable land.

Of course there is halfway decent farmland on the island. Most people prefer not to put people into the soil where they intend to grow food crops. There is a story about how this is where night potatoes came from in the first place. It’s as well to think carefully about what you plant.

Some of the graveyards are just practical. They were the first bit of suitable soil nearest the pile of bodies. Usually the pile of bodies are on a beach and have washed in from a shipwreck which is why small clifftop cemeteries are so common. Dead people are one of the island’s major imports, thanks to the tides, and malevolent local magic. No one wants to go hauling dead strangers across the countryside and not everyone wants their beachcombing ruined by dead people. There are arguments over this, because there’s nothing like a shipwreck for bringing massive crabs onto the beach looking for food, and crabs in turn, are tasty. Still, the general consensus is that using human corpses as crab bait is a tad uncivilized.

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.