The Perilous Life of a Reviewer

A warning here (lavishly illustrated with photos) from the frighteningly brilliant Nils Visser. It may be wise to prepare to defend yourself (and your book) before sitting down to read Hopeless, Maine. Nils is the author of Amster Damned, (which I loved!) among other things, also,  he is apparently handy with a cutlass.

 

“Upon my first attempt to mind me own business and settle down for a good read of Hopeless, Maine SINNERS, I was blissfully unaware of the dangers posed…ere I knew it a slithering serpent with many rows of razor-sharp teeth materialised and attempted to snatch the graphic novel away from me. Fortunately, I’m skilled with a cutlass, and sliced the dastardly creature into sushi. I was given no chance to recover, however, as a first tentacle wrapped itself around the book, announcing the appearance of a far more dangerous creature. All I can say, never try to wrestle with an angry octopus. I have retreated, but have vowed: I’ll be back!”

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The Blue Emperor

A patchwork of bricks undulate in smog

the houses and inns connected by arteries of alleys

Walls sag like tired frogs sat in grime and bulge from years of swallowing

In between the amphibious buildings that eat people whole is a man a cobalt dragonfly

his hood up a hole and no face sleeves connected at a chest no outline of legs when he glides

A rag child said two claret dots inhabit the dragonfly’s shroud

This the only statement that was said aloud but whispers chatter in cupped palms and over drinks

since shutters sealed when patrons leave as a weary bird calls and light wheezes through sky

In the darkest blue speckled with stars streets are glossed black and cherry

as human-flies pop no fists connected or intoxicated braying just echoes of thick snoring

In the grey when fish fill noses port stains dry on the road tasting like rusted pig salt

Investigators finger the outlines squatting in corners writing a profile on bleached yellow paper

Children push at thighs to spot guts but there are no gizzards no sliced hands or spoiling innards

just a spattering of puddles saturated in stonework crannies that insects stick to like seeds in jam

No victims just a switch of people to pools on mouldy cobbles

The Blue Emperor flutters on a headline before being washed down gutters

Handymen scrub watching every seagull shadow stains not cleaned just passed to skin

The thin and sick vagabonds that don’t know tricks chant and pray in warped corners

Ankles poised to kick a bolted hatch when the dragonfly hovers and silk flows

On a pub door fingernails dig and oak is scratched and split

Watch at two for a dragonfly

If it stops in front say goodbye

To loved ones embrace and sound a bell

The Blue Emperor is where you dwell

Pray Pray Pray

For a light to mark the day

and a good sea wind to take his wings away

The Blue Emperor by performance poet Ziggy Dicks (welcome to the island, Ziggy!)

Art by Tom Brown

Book Review: Hopeless, Maine: Sinners by Tom and Nimue Brown

FIRST review of Hopeless, Maine-Sinners!

Meredith Debonnaire

hopeless maine sinners cover shows woman standing in flying boatHello, traveller.

This review will contain spoilers for Hopeless, Maine: The Gathering which I have reviewed here. You have been warned! This is your final warning! Don’t go below this line unless you are okay with major spoilers for The Gathering!

We return to the island of Hopeless. Some time has passed. And Owen, who left the island at the end of The Gathering, returns. In the nature of these stories, he is now expected to have all the answers. Which he doesn’t, although he does have a nice earring and better hair.

This time around, there is something in the air of Hopeless. Perhaps it is getting into people’s heads, or perhaps people are simply very good at building their own hells. One of the wonderful things about the worldbuilding here is that it could be either, or both, and the story would still work. There…

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Hopeless Sinners and Other Oddities. 

Hello, again people (and others).

If you have ever had a book launch or attended one and are not Neil Gaiman or JK Rowling you will know that they tend to be sad affairs rife with disappointment and stale snacks.

For this reason (among others) we have decided that we will not ever, ever, do that to ourselves or our friends ever again-ever (at all-ever) Besides which, despite our gloom tinted work, we are generally in favor of fun. (I hope you were sitting down for that) So, we thought, what’s fun then? Pubs. Pubs are fun. Music is fun. Having our friends in a pub with music and stories and poetry would almost certainly be fun. So, basically a party. (well, our sort of party, at any rate) Some of our favorite people have agreed to perform including Martin Pearson (of the Squid and Teapot), Meredith Debonnaire who has written some of our favorite pieces for the Vendetta (and introduced singing snails to the island) and Madeline Harwood, who is one of the best singers in the world. (she *may* be singing about….Dustcats) also Robin Collins! (Who brought us hairy coffee and other wonders) and two Keiths! One who created the Hopeless, Maine RPG, and another you have not met yet who is quite simply one hell of a writer. A Cup of Tentacles will sing songs of the island and songs evoking it. Massively Chuffed to say that local poet- Gary Death will be performing his Vendetta poem cycle also. This…is going to be a great deal of our sort of fun.

If you are in the area, please do come and join us. If you are not, there will be photos!

Hoping, as always, this finds you well, inspired and thriving

Mrs Beaten is sick of your drama

Today I tried to speak with Frampton Jones about the exceptional presentation of his shirt collars. He was clearly not interested in my opinion which disappointed me. I assumed that a man with a good collar standard would also have more elevated manners. He was in a hurry to be elsewhere and did not handle this with grace.

People are so self involved. It’s always all about them. Here I am, trying to make positive changes for the good of one and all, and no one can even make the time to listen to me. Do they not understand how much better life would be if everyone had presentable collars? Do they not see the social and moral benefits of decent laundry? They do not.

Instead, they are always focused on some drama or another. A shipwreck. The fear of vampires. A barn on fire, a mysterious death… Do they not understand that the only way to deal with a crisis is to pretend it is of no great significance? It is the height of bad manners to press the details of one’s immediate suffering onto another human being who many then feel under some pressure to respond to it. Why can they not suffer quietly and make more effort to keep up good appearances? Where is the dignity that hides hunger and misery behind a neatly laundered curtain and puts a nice floral arrangement on the table when there is no food to put there?

I cannot decide whether this is a form of madness, or a form of laziness.

The Aunties

There are many strange and inexplicable things on the island, most of which you wouldn’t want to meet on a dark road at night, or even in weak sun at noon. There are weird beasties, worrying fogs, and innocuous-looking birds that scream. There are things that have been around as long as the island. And there are also things which have, perhaps, been around longer…

You might know them as the Agents of Change, or the Ocular Ones, or even the Aunties. Personally, they refer to themselves as Mildred, Ludmilla and Gertrude. They spend a lot of time floating around in saltwater, glaring at anything stupid enough to try eating them.

Their story, or at least a version of it, goes something like this: the island appeared. It came from somewhere. Ludmilla says it rose out of the ocean, Gertrude says it emerged from the fog, and Mildred says there was a geological phenomena involving an underwater volcano. All three agreed that it was messy and inconvenient, and for some time (a century or so) the Aunties were quietly outraged and considering how they might get rid of this lurking growly thing.

It was Gertrude who pointed out the persons.

“Well,” said Ludmilla, “I don’t know what they think they’re doing here. It’s not as if they’ll survive.” and she blinked her three eyes furiously.

“I don’t think it’s their fault,” Mildred warbled, “there’s bits of shipwreck everywhere.”

“Well that’s what you get when you sail ships close to mist-covered cursed places,” harrumphed Ludmilla.

“Oh the poor dears, they are trying,” trilled Gertrude, “look, they’re building things.”

“Bet they don’t even last a century,” said Ludmilla, and, after a pause, “That’s no way to go about building a house.”

The Autnies watched. They had a lot of eyes, after all, and the island couldn’t exactly get rid of them (even though it wanted to). It became clear that the island wasn’t letting its people go anywhere either.

If asked who started helping first, the Ocular Ones would shift and point tentacles and say things like: “I can’t very well go letting them eat that muck no can I?” or “Built his house right next to a soft spot in reality; of course I moved the whole thing!” or “Help is a strong word really, I just move resources around.” And if doing all this happened to remind the island who had been there first, well, that was merely a happy coincidence.

They did notice that, after a while, there were rather a lot more sea-beasts, some of whom thought that snacking on the Aunties was a valid life-option. The island, it seemed, was not happy with their meddling. Ludmilla, Gertrude and Mildred knew how to deal with fanged beasties though, and if they meddled a bit more and kept an eye on that nice young fisherman, well, all was well wasn’t it?

And then there was yet another beastie, sinking into the water.This beastie was different. This beastie wanted to change. And change was what the Aunties did.

Mildred made sure the nice fisherman found the now baby and took it home, and the three of them together made sure it would be mostly people-shaped. And then the Ocular Ones settled in for an interesting few years keeping an eye on the newest inhabitant.

“After all,” said Gertrude, “we’re almost like her parents now.”

“Hrrrummph,” said Ludmilla.

“Oh hush,” said Mildred, “we’ll miss all the interesting bits if you don’t quiet down.”

And they turned mobile eyes back towards the island, waiting…

Written by the entirely amazing Meredith Debonnaire. (We are fans of her work, obviously. She writes about Tantamount, which is probably a sister town with Hopeless, Maine. You can also find Angel Evans right about…here)
Art-Tom Brown

The Squid is resting, the Teapot is Silent

It’s Tuesday, and regular blog followers may have noticed the absence of a Squid and Teapot post. For more than a year now, we’ve had Tuesday contributions from Martin Pearson, exploring the history of the island. Hopeless has been much enriched by his contributions, and intermittently terrified of his puns.

Martin is currently taking a break. There is only so much time a person can spend on the island before this becomes necessary. Unlike actual islanders, people who visit from this reality can leave, but don’t always manage to, so breaks are good and necessary.

But this isn’t one of those. No. Rather than take the opportunity to flee for safety, Martin is pondering an even more elaborate tangle with the island’s tentacles. A top secret tango that we’ll probably cave in and start telling you about sometime fairly soon.

In the meantime, Tuesdays may get used for other things. There’s a great deal going on in Hopeless Maine right now, both in the imagined life of the island, and the rest of world stuff where the island gets made. Or drops its fruiting bodies into people’s brains, as may be closer to the truth.

Huge thanks to Martin for his Squid and Teapot contributions. We wait with curiosity to see what he does next…

Mrs Beaten’s Guide to body shaming

Other people’s bodies are questionable. Are they pleasing to the eye? Are they acceptable to the nose? Has proper effort been made in attiring the body and hiding the flaws? Is the body sufficiently modest in its presentation? To fail in any of these regards is shameful.

I feel it is my duty to point out to ugly people that they are ugly, and to tell fat people that they are fat. Does a person know they have awful pox scarring on their face if no one mentions it? Does a person understand the impact of having had all of their teeth removed from their mouth via punching if no one takes it upon themselves to explain? Of course not. They might start imagining that other people can tolerate such appearances and that who they are is more important than how they look, and frankly, that will never do.

However, I consider it the height of bad manners when someone feels entitled to make comment on my own appearance. I am so obviously a model of visual propriety and acceptable symmetry. A person who finds reason to criticise how I look can only be wrong, and it is ill mannered in the extreme to make incorrect criticisms in this way.

 

Try harder, for pity’s sake.

Hopeless, Maine-The Town That Never Was?

 

The Eldritch Hobbits have left the shire once again. This time in the company of the rather brilliant Keith Healing. We all journeyed to Blists Hill to the steampunk event- The Town That Never Was. This was the best imaginable setting for a steampunk weekend, being reconstructed Victorian town at a site that was important to the industrial revolution in England. The timing was perfect for us, as we had both a new volume of Hopeless, Maine to inflict on an unsuspecting world, and Travels in Hopeless (the Hopeless, Maine RPG) to show off and see what a collection of steampunks might think of it (Spoiler- There was much cooing and general excitement)

Copies of the latest volume of Hopeless, Maine (Sinners) came from our publisher (Sloth Comics) just in time, and happily on Nimue’s birthday! As we got to set up in the Boys Brigade Hut, we were able to bring lots of art and artifacts from the island and set up a bit of an exhibit. The people who put on the event, and the people attending, were all perfectly lovely and really the whole experience was pretty much all that one could possibly ask for. We may have also encountered the Cthullhu’s Witnesses who are clearly fellow travelers!

To round off the first day, we had a visit from  Genevieve Tudor and Allan Price! Genevive is pictured at the back of Sinners playing a Punked Hurdy-Gurdy (Which Gen may be learning to play in real life soon, partly because of this drawing. A normal Hurdy-Gurdy that is) This art is also for the impending Hopeless, Maine tarot deck which is in the works. Genevieve will be the Queen of Flames in this instance. We do not get to see the two of them nearly as often as we would like. (though we are making plans to address this!) I *think* it was their first steampunk event and I expect that it will not be their last. If you are one of the seven or eight people who do not yet know this, Gen is the host of the entirely excellent radio show – Genevive Tudor’s Sunday Folk on BBC Radio Shropshire. If it is not a regular part of your week (as it is ours) this can be addressed! You can listen anywhere in the world by clicking on this here link right….here.

 

Oh! Yes. And if you would like a copy of the latest Hopeless Maine, you could go here– (Or from your local comics shop if you are in the UK)

 

Until next time, I hope this finds you all well, inspired, and thriving.

 

 

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.