The Lost Library

By Mark Lawrence

book-ghosts

Four walls, black with the memory of the fire that took the roof. Cold now. Even the stink of char is gone, rain-washed into the gutter. The building is haunted, naturally, how could it not be? What ruin that watches the world from dark windows is free of spirits? But the ghosts here are those of books. The phantoms of hundreds. Untold worlds and lives, riveted to ten thousand pages, each letter a black nail pinning to the page mysteries and marvels, all ready to unfurl in an open mind. They died with a crackle and a sigh and their ashes spiralled glowing into the dark skies of an all Hallows eve. Frogmire Morton built this place and filled it with row upon row of leather-clad tomes, wisdom rubbing worn covers with whimsy. Where they came from, and who wrote them, is perhaps as big a mystery as any contained within their many chapters. Why they burned though, that, sadly is no mystery at all. Little is as frightening to those seeking dominion over others than dissenting opinion, and in Frogmire’s small library were a multitude of voices, each page a window onto other worlds and other ‘might be’s. The ghosts of those books rustle here when the wind is still. Their characters walk invisible. They parade and promenade, discuss and discourse. And the children that play here on the black mud floor, with four scorched walls and the sky for a roof, find their imaginations infected with such strangeness that they return time and again. It seems a strange place to find hope. But hope is strange.

(Mark Lawrence is the author of numerous fantastic dark fantasy titles, and if you are somehow unaware of him, please saunter  over to his website and learn more! http://www.marklawrence.buzz/)

The Hopeless Chaffies

Jamie Smart, creator of Chaffy, tells us, “Chaffies are small, innocent creatures, renowned for getting themselves lost in the most unexpected and bewildering places. Usually they’re spotted hiding in long grass or rolling out from under a bed, but these Chaffies went far beyond. Into the disturbing realms of Hopeless, Maine. To be fair, they still seem to be enjoying themselves, at least those that aren’t drowning or being chased by nightmares made flesh. However they got there, and whichever creatures they befriend, we hope they’ll find their way home safely. We doubt it, though.”

 

Hopeless Chaffies by Tom Brown, with colours by Nimue Brown, based on the Chaffies of Jaime Smart. Find more Chaffies here – http://www.findchaffy.com/

Peffa Oidy Witches sighted!

leftwitchdpscomp

Conventional wisdom suggests the sight of a squadron of over 200 airborne witches roaring out of the fog on bright-red, burning vroffa-brooms might make for a most ‘twizzly’ sight. But as this is Hopeless Maine, here we must remember that all convention mostly slithers slowly back into the murky seas of logic that surround the island like an ominous tentacle disappearing under the slooping waters…

The reality, were you ever to be perched on a jetty by the shoreline, your ears pricked by the throbbing hum of the approaching horde – would of course, be arguably different from your expectations.  And here, I’m assuming that you’re rather like the witches in question – a visitor to this most peculiar place, keen to encounter its many irregularities whilst trying your best not to be drowned, eaten – or worse….

So, with these pretexts aside, let us look up into the swirling mists and search the fluffing-white for the witches themselves…

There!

You’ve missed them!

Whole coven just flew right passed you!

….for these black-hatted sisters are far from ‘ordinary’ too. These are the ‘peffa-oidy’ witches from The League of Lid-Curving Witchery’ in Winchett Dale – and like you, they’ve come for a holiday to this most curious of places.

A holiday? Witches?

Listen, it’s not easy being a ‘peffa-oidy’ witch. First, there’s the whole ‘peffa-oidy’ thing – ie: being ‘very small’. Most are little larger than a mouse, some occasionally might rival a small kitten – but only in stature. They’d stroff the kitten, obviously – but probably only after teasing it for a ‘very long time’ in order to get their own back on felines, generally.

Their brooms are often little more than twigs, their hats the size of thimbles – so really to have 200 fly past in the fog and miss them completely is quite the most normal thing to expect…even in a place as tangled and tentacled as Hopeless Maine.

Oh, and if you do see them (most likely settled in a flock upon the boughs of an obliging tree in night’s early hours) back away slowly…peffa-peffa-slowly – for they never sleep, they only pretend…

(If you need more Peffa Oidy Witches in your life – and we think you do – then have a look at Phil and Jacqui Lovesey’s work over at http://www.matlockthehare.com/)

Local Woman Takes The Plunge

artistLOCAL WOMAN TAKES THE PLUNGE AND OPENS GALLERY OUT ON GEEZO’S BIGHT

Local artist, Fuschia Van Der Hvergulmir, has taken the plunge and opened a gallery out on the small bay known as Geezo’s Bight which is situated on the northern coast of Hopeless.

The designer, who has previously had her work exhibited in the town hall, makes jewelry and ‘objets d’art’ from items that she discovers in the pit near Geezo’s Bight.

‘I’ve been exploring the pit for a few years now’ Mrs Van Der Hvergulmir told Frampton Jones of the Vendetta ‘ I used to beach comb but that became problematic when an albino seal (at least I think it was a seal) got very territorial and took to chasing me away every time I went down to the beach.’

‘Then I discovered the pit when out for a walk with my husband and our dog, Pepper. I still haven’t got to the bottom of it yet!’ She laughs.

Mrs Van Der Hvergulmir said that she and her husband Glenn thought long and hard about opening her own gallery given the current bleak economic outlook, but decided she would regret it if she did not at least try.

‘I’m really excited’ she said.

“I’ve had a really positive response – fellow businesses have been particularly supportive – and so far we have had five customers since we opened our doors three months ago.’

Mrs  Van Der Hvergulmir has built a workshop at the back of the gallery so she can make jewelery while being on hand for customers.

The jewelry and ‘pieces’ themselves are somewhat hard to describe given the strange quality of the materials used. This reporter particularly liked a crouching figure made from a sort of crumbly pumice stone entitled ‘Lier-in-wait’ and also a necklace made of a dark viscous substance that gives off a dull brown radiance.

The Van Der Hvergulmir Gallery produces one-off commissions, including engagement rings and is open to the public on Saturday between the hours of 1.00pm to 3.00pm.

(This Vendetta contribution was written by Charles Cutting, of http://charlescutting.com/ author and illustrator of the most excellent graphic novel – Kadath. Art on this piece by Tom Brown.)

Salamandra and The PLM

These two fabulous dolls were made by Sabrina Beckstead and sent to us. Which gives me an opportunity to explain The PLM a bit.

sal-and-plm

In the first volume of Hopeless Maine, we never name the creepy blonde girl. In the script she’s The PLM – The Poor Little Me. Her name, and her very existence owe to a song by Eliza Carthy – Me and Poor Little Me. I started wondering what a Poor Little Me would be like as a separate entity, and thus the PLM was born.

Thank you Sabrina for the awesome crafting, these two dolls have cheered us on darker days and are a constant reminder of why we are doing this stuff. And yes, they do normally live in our mistletoe.

Join our Vendetta

The Hopeless Vendetta launched some years ago as an accompaniment to the Hopeless Maine webcomic. We had time to spare, and the idea of a weekly newspaper for the Island of Hopeless Maine, running alongside the webcomic, appealed. Of course with the webcomic uploading at a rate of 2 pages a week, the time didn’t always match up very well, but no one minded.

A thing happened, and it was a thing we had not anticipated. People started joining in. They gave themselves Hopeless-style names and characters and started posting comments. Island life expanded, and we were very excited about this.

Then work pressures, and life pressures, and living on a boat and having no electricity or internet most of the time pressures took over, and that extra post and extra drawing per week became too difficult, and we left the Hopeless Vendetta to languish.

Times change… the webcomic has gone, we’re published by Sloth Comics, and the Hopeless Vendetta stirs and shifts in a way that may cause some people to think of dead and dreaming elder gods…

One of the things that hasn’t changed, is the way in which people are moved to create Hopeless things of their own. It’s one of the things I love most about this project – I came in as a collaborator, so I know all too well the lure of the island, its strange inhabitants and moody possibilities. I love it that other people respond as I did and want to get involved.

And so, the Vendetta shuffles a bit, dust falls from its ungainly form. Life, or something that resembles life, returns.

We’re going to be using this space once again to explore the life of Hopeless Maine beyond the graphic novel series. We’re throwing it open to anyone who wants to share – art, music, stories, poems, cosplay, creations of any sort and shape that capture something of life on a haunted, troubled sort of island in a cold, cold sea.

Wave your tentacles if you want to get involved.

A most Hopeless diet

We’ve been out and about… waving our tentacles in the ether

Druid Life

When I’m dealing with fantastical settings, I like to know how the practical details work. I think it’s getting the little, mundane things right that is key to making big, strange, magical things feel plausible. I experience this as a reader as well as when writing. I want to know where you go to take a shit, what people are wearing in terms of materials, how they keep warm, or cool, and what they eat.

Hopeless Maine is a lost island. It used to be more connected, and resources used to head its way, but these days, new materials either come from natural resources or wash in from shipwrecks. Recycling is a must. The Hopeless Maine diet is not for the squeamish. Food is in short supply, and you have to be willing to eat anything passably edible that comes along. This is why ‘bottom of the garden stew’ is…

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Book Review: When We Are Vanished by Nimue Brown

Some appropriate love for When we are Vanished by Nimue Brown (My partner in life and creative madness)

Meredith Debonnaire

When We are Vanished by Nimue Brown, art by Tom Brown

No corpse.

This is a book with serious depth. I am already fifty pages into my second read of it, because I just know that there are things I didn’t quite get the first time round. When We Are Vanished is a beautiful, quietly kaleidoscopic piece of work. It has the feeling of a fever dream just before waking, when sleep logic and waking logic meet for a few moments. It also has a wonderful, sometimes sharp sense of humour that runs through the entire book and that had me chortling to myself at more than one point.

The story is set in a world where computers stopped working. In fact, all silicon-based tech is now useless. Most of the plot takes place some years after this has become the norm, and everything is crumbling away and being reclaimed by nature. The remaining people soldier on through the new…

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The day I swapped ‘crime’ for a ‘majickal-hare’…

Here is a thing that will more than reward your time! (We are ‘Saztaculous Matlock Folk’, you will not be shocked to hear)

Niff Soup

writedeskConfession: I’ve killed people. Sometimes meticulously, sometimes casually, nearly always brutally and most probably unnecessarily.  Worse – I made money from it, initially felt overjoyed by the simple thrill of opting out of ‘the rat race’ with this new, exciting and often ‘sought after’ lifestyle.

‘Sought after’?  Allow me to explain…  Twenty-years ago I was a crime-writer, and had a series of what were termed at the time ‘psychological thrillers’ or ‘why-dunnits’ published by HarperCollins.  The theme was ‘suburban bleak’.  Living on the outskirts of London, I was able to swap the daily commute into the capital for a fictional ‘life of crime’. I was in my early thirties, blinded by the dubious lights of success and just about able to scrape a living by simply doing what I enjoyed the most – writing.

Friends at the time were envious, some wrongly assuming I was somehow fabulously wealthy (I wasn’t…

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Dusting off our tentacles

 

 

 

We have slept for a while.
Dark things dreaming.

Now we stretch, unfurl,
Unravel and recall.

Just a little bit hungry,
We are most fond of you.

Come and play with us.
Stay for tea.

For we are returning
As the year wanes

With plots anew,
Our tentacles resplendent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hopeless Vendetta rises from the dead this Autumn. Keep an eye on this page as we shake off the dust, for there is much afoot and we have plans for you.

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.