Melisandra dances

Melisandra is the monstrous mother of Salamandra, the main character in the Hopeless Maine books. Sometimes these things are just who and how you are – Melisandra’s mother was probably a mermaid, and not the nice sort of mermaid…

 

Dancing with Kali,

Goddess of my missing mother

Ocean gone, abandoning mother

Lover of death and mayhem.

They say I look like you

Only with fewer scales.

I look like you

But my teeth are not so sharp

No amount of staring at my face

In mirrors gives me a word

Of your truth, your wisdom

No taste of your own life

Except the taste of my own flesh.

I look at my daughter,

Who is not me, not me

Not me at all, not mine

And I would devour her.

What else is there,

Mother dear, would you

Have eaten me yourself if you stayed?

I dance with Kali

Who understands the horror

Of motherhood

How is can swallow you up

If you let it.

 

(art by Dr Abbey, text by Nimue)

Hopeless Optimists – an update

Hopeless Maine volume 4; Optimists, has been delayed. We’ve been affected by the virus and the book will be out later than intended. Sorry about this!

Part of the issue is that Sloth is not a big publishing house, and like much of the independent comics market, depends on events to sell books. With all events cancelled, things have been hard for Sloth. It’s not been a good time to invest money in printing a new book.

As creators we’ve also been hit. We lost work – although thankfully not all of it, but enough that it has impacted on us. Unhelpfully for Hopeless, Tom is the one who has had more paying gigs come in, and it’s made more sense to take those and let Hopeless wait a bit.

We are a fair way into Hopeless Maine Optimists. It should be out early next year when we hope there will be more scope for taking it to events. After that we have one more book to go to complete this narrative arc, and hopefully that will be a bit less affected by the state of the world!

What happens after Hopeless Survivors, is an interesting question. We don’t quite know at this point, but pondering is under way. We had thought Survivors would be the last Hopeless graphic novel – they take Tom about 6 months and they don’t pay for six months of full time work, which is challenging for us as a household. However, there may be entertaining and time efficient ways of keeping on making comics, and we are exploring that at the moment and seeing where it takes us.

Annamarie Nightshade as seen by Dr Abbey and by Tom.

Hello people and others!

If you have been following the blog, you will know that we are working with the altogether amazing Dr Abbey on a (growing) number of projects. Here is an amazing complex and utterly gorgeous design of Annamarie Nightshade in his style. The scan does not do it justice entirely as there are touches of silver and gold that catch the light as you move the piece. Below this is  an earlier drawing of Annamarie by Tom Brown for contrast.

More of this to come, and news of further collaboration. Please stay tuned!

Hoping, (as always) this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

 

Annamarie

annamarie_nightshade_colour_by_copperage_ddgutm0-fullview

Millicent Crabbe lifestyle vampire

I have a project on at the moment to produce a volume of Hopeless Maine poetry.  I’m going to feature a lot of background characters as I think that would be interesting – people who aren’t named in the comics. Over to Millicent…

I wanted the glamour

To be pale, seductive, beautiful,

To exert irresistible attraction

Upon my almost willing victims.

I wanted better clothes

A place to belong, mystique

To be noticed, for a change.

To be noteworthy, exciting

Give me the velvet dresses

Narrow waist, heaving bosom,

Give mt the dainty feet

In truly unreasonable shoes

Free me from the mundane squalor

Of my life, liberate me

From my boredom with myself.

It all seemed so easy.

The mud under my cracked nails

My sunken cheeks, lank hair

And dirt ruined clothes are not

What I sought. I did everything.

Where is the dark magic now?

Why does the blood not satisfy?

Hungry all the time, and still

The same wretched, unalluring self

No sensuous transformations here

A child of the night, perhaps

But still, frustratingly

Not invited to any decent parties.

Hopeless, Maine through the eyes of Kenichi Tsukuda

 

 

 

Although Hopeless, Maine has not been released in Japan, Kenichi Tsukuda was introduced to our strange island by Dr Abbey. (Whose  amazing art and words you have seen here before) Not having read the books yet, he made this image of Our story becoming a Japanese Anime. The image shows an orphan witch and Nao Kumi, and the creatures that might be found on the island of Hopeless, Maine. It’s always exciting to see how other people are inspired by our story, especially views from other places.

Kenichi Tsukuda

The uncanny death of Annamarie Nightshade

Hopeless Maine gets inside people’s heads. This is a story about a story…

Merry Debonnaire was one of the many people who was not best pleased about what happened to Annamarie Nightshade. She dealt with this by writing into the original story and adding a second layer that changes everything. If you’ve not read that story, you can find it here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/annamarie-nightshade-is-going-to-die/

Last week I sat down to look at this story, because we are intending to do something very exciting with it (more on that soon, all being well). I thought I’d just have a look at the original pages and lift some of Reverend Davies’ dialogue because I needed more dialogue than Merry had included.

It was then that I discovered that a scene I was sure we’d put in Sinners, was not in the graphic novel. Cue massive household panic and flailing. We had those pages, they were in the webcomic and they definitely exist and somehow we hadn’t got them into the graphic novel. Sorry about that! Thankfully the story still makes sense without them, but they were important.

When I saw Merry, I asked her if she’d read that story when it was in the webcomic. She hadn’t. She’d written her story, neatly weaving it into a scene that SHE HADN’T ACTUALLY READ!!!

This happens around Hopeless Maine projects far more than is reasonable.

Hopeless Maine – it will posses you.

The immodest afterlife of Miss Calder

Clothes are much more reliable than the idea of clothes.

What is presence? Memory and the idea of self. Who we think we are, or were, or should be.

When a person is calm, it is easy to remember what was considered proper. The correct fall of drapery. What to hide, and what to cover and what to walk through this world pretending does not exist.

When you do not have a body it is oddly difficult to remember what of a body you were supposed to have, and what of a body is not meant to be seen.

Having feelings makes it all so much harder. Feelings without a body make so much less sense, because feelings belong to the body that no longer exists. With feelings, it is harder to concentrate and so I do not always remember what of my body should make itself known. More often bone than breast, but it is all equally indecent in its own way. It is easy to reveal too much and the afterlife lacks for privacy.

Feelings and thoughts – these are the most real things. I clothe them accidentally with memory, with my resting bones and half recalled face, with the idea of clothes and a lingering desire to uphold the kinds of standards the living would appreciate.

Does my skull trouble you more or less than my nipple? I cannot ask, it would be one immodesty too far. One indecency too many. I know this. I just cannot, for the life of me remember why it was so important. Why one shred of memory is more indecent than another.

These are just ideas about who I used to be, but the living are fragile and a human body is such an ephemeral thing.

 

Art by Dr Abbey.

To ride a surf horse

It is a horse day. Usually tumultuous, the sea is a grey sheen of deathly pallor, and so still. Glass still. Unnaturally so – assuming anything in this place could properly be called natural.

The sky is also grey. This is perfectly normal. The sky is a cold, untarnished steel grey polished smooth and hanging over the sea, each a mirror of the other, passing grey smoothness back and forth into infinity.

In other times and places it is the lively rush of sea foam that gives birth to surf horses. Here, where the usual rules are seldom honoured, horses are most often born in stillness and in silence. They come from the waves that never were. The sea undulates softly with them. Grey explodes into vivid green and vibrant blue. Where colour infects the placid sheet of the poised and waiting sea, the horses come. Proud and wild, ferocious and terrifying. They are like no horse you have ever seen, and yet still they are pure horse; nostrils flaring, flanks powerful, tails flicking water to make brief, unlikely rainbows in the air.

If they come to you at dawn or sunset, catching shards of light from a distant horizon, they may seem more real than anything else. On this island of misty greys and insubstantial, haunting things, the horses in the water may look more substantial and more trustworthy than the uneven sand beneath your feet.

They speak of other ways of being, these horses. They say, in whispers you can almost hear, that if there can be horror, why can there not also be delight? Look into their deep, soulful eyes for the delight they promise. Look into their tooth sharp not so equine mouths for the horror they are capable of. They are beautiful and they are grotesque, between the sea and the sky in this dire and perfect moment.

Catch one if you dare. Rise it in search of dreams. You can never return. Whether you have left the island with them is another question entirely. The sea is vast, and deep, and very cold.

 

Art by Dr Abbey.

Thanks to Potia for the inspiration for this blog post.

What shall we become?

Where are we going?

What shall we become?

While Tom and I are working on the next volume – Optimists, Dr Abbey is revisiting the first books, and there is much plotting.

Hopeless was always manga influenced. If you’ve ever wondered what it might look like as manga, the poster above will give you a small flavour.

We’re on an adventure, and no one knows what might happen next. Especially not us.

Hopeless Food

What do people eat on the island? It’s not a great place for growing crops. The cows are small. The chickens are psychopaths and may well turn out to be demons. You can eat the sea life but only if it doesn’t eat you first. There are potatoes, but their eyes glow and they will try and run away. The fungi…. just no…

who knows how your meese will grow?

Sometimes things wash ashore from wrecked ships. You might want to eat those. And weevils are high in protein.

The preferred cooking technique is to cut things up very small, and hope for the best. What the eye doesn’t see, the stomach might or might not grieve over.

One of the key features of Hopeless Maine cookery, is the agent of change. But don’t eat them, the consequences are unpredictable. The wise cook adds agents of change to pretty much anything, and waits around in the hopes of getting something a bit more edible.

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.