All posts by Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things.

Hopeless Maine extras

Let’s start with some technical details. It takes about six months of Tom working full time to draw a Hopeless Maine graphic novel. On top of this, I do about 2 hours of work on each page, plus the writing time, so let’s call that 200 hours on each book at least. Now consider how much you think a person needs to earn in a six month period.

If a comic print run is 2000 books, at £10 a pop, the entire run is worth £20,000. Half of this will disappear into the hands of distributors, and bookshops. In the case of direct sales at events, those also have costs. So let’s say that half the money does indeed make it back to the publisher – that’s 10k. The publisher has to pay for the printing, the warehouse storage and the other costs of being a publisher. What remains, pays the wages of the publisher, the artist and the author. It doesn’t add up to a massive heap of beans. It is not possible, in small scale comics publishing, to earn enough to live on, simply. Not for the creators, and not for the publishers.

Some creators and publishers manage this by making comics alongside doing a job. This means the comics are much slower to create, and you’ve got the added pressure of working 2 jobs, or more.

So, that’s the gloomy bit. However, we do manage and we are committed to getting this series finished. One of the things that really helps is the small stream of income I get from Patreon. A bit of predictability goes a long way. I also work an assortment of day jobs as a freelance sort of person, and Tom also takes other paying work, but there just aren’t enough hours in a day for this to be easy. We are both a long way from being bright young things who can work forty and fifty hour weeks without massive consequences.

Right now on Patreon, there’s a new Mrs Beaten story for supporters. https://www.patreon.com/posts/tale-from-maine-29332415  I’ve also been serialising New England Gothic – a prose prequel to the graphic novels. Supporters get new videos before anyone else, and at the glass heron level, we post things out as well. It gives Hopeless Maine enthusiasts more to chew on, and it gives us more money to buy stuff to chew on, which we like. We’ve tried the hungry creator model, and it really doesn’t work for either of us.

If you are able and willing to get more involved, thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts and the hearts of our bottoms.

https://www.patreon.com/NimueB 

Advertisements

The Dustcat Wrecking Ball

Dustcats are generally rather cute entities, prone to floating about and slurping up dust. If a single dustcat feels threatened, it may spew dust at you. Unpleasant for most people, fatal for anyone with serious allergies.

On rare occasions when a large number of dustcats all feel put out, threatened, offended or enraged at the same time, they form a wrecking ball. All the soft bits go in the middle, all the pointy bits on the outside. It looks something like this…

Show me your tentacles

This song emerged as a consequence of a conversation with Meredith Debonnaire. We were talking about what kinds of things people might sing in the pub in Hopeless Maine. The pub in question being The Squid and Teapot.

I firmly believe that no matter how grim and depressing the circumstances, there will always be people who can find something to laugh at. Or be rude about. Humour is how we cope with things, so in a grim environment, it makes sense that some people would be all about the giggles whenever possible.

And so, when we were at Blist’s Hill for The Town That Never Was  (a good place for song writing, I am finding) I put this together…

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the tentacles we have at home!

Spidermilk biscuits

This is a piece that came about because The Keith of Mystery wanted to do a Hopeless Maine Home Companion set at the Stroud steampunk weekend. The original Home Companion had sponsors, including powdermilk biscuits. Tom Brown – familiar with the original – did something disturbing in a Hopeless Maine sort of way.

This recording doesn’t really do justice to the live experience – we had half a dozen people on the groaning, all horribly out of tune with each other. It was truly magical.

The Queer Quilting Bee

Here we have a two page spread from the next instalment of Hopeless Maine, the book that, all being well, will come out in 2020. Our two page spread theme for the next book will be people doing the make do and mend activities that keep life on the island going. Partly to tell a wider story about island life, and partly because we’re interested in promoting these things as a more sustainable way of being in this world.

Rather a long time ago, Tom’s then housemate asked him where the queer characters were in Hopeless. It led us to have a conversation about it – for most characters we just don’t see what’s going on in their love lives, so the queer folk of the island are often invisible. But, we know who they are, and when we get into the prose fiction there should be more space for this sort of thing.

In this image we have several ‘confirmed bachelors’ with all this implies. We have several asexual characters. There’s one character who worries about mis-gendering devices (one day I will finish the prose book she is in, and people will be able to read it…) At the moment we don’t know much about the two women in the foreground, but I think they’re a couple.

The other thing we’re going to do with the upcycling scenes is avoid grouping people in gender stereotypical ways. Where resources are scant, craft skills are essential for everyone, and the idea that some of these things are innately masculine or feminine is not going to be a thing.

Playing with Folklore

Some Hopeless Maine insights for you…

Druid Life

One of the things I like to do with the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series, is play with folklore. Here’s an example- the entirely traditional Mari Lwyds in a clearly non-traditional setting.

The Welsh Mari Lwyd tradition involves exactly the kit you see with horses skulls on poles and trailing costumes to cover the person holding the pole. You then go to houses and/or pubs for riddling fights.

When people migrate, they take their culture, folklore and beliefs with them. How that plays out can vary – it can mean that sometimes what the disaspora hold is an older form of the tradition than what develops elsewhere. People away from home can be more focused on keeping their traditions unchanged. Sometimes the opposite happens, and the tradition is influenced by what else is around, or evolves to suit the circumstances. Clearly, both trajectories are equally valid.

Playing with folklore in…

View original post 82 more words

The Fog Song

The fog by night is darker, deeper, shrouding everything,

No stars shine through, no moonlight glimmers,

All sounds are muted colours dim, there is no hope here,

No hope at all, only cold and damp malevolence.

 

Dawn comes queasy grey to light another joyless morning,

Cold light without colour lacks the power to warm my heart,

I’d dream of something better but I don’t know how to picture it,

There is no hope here, no hope at all.

 

The world is bleak with apathy, too willing to accept it all,

The empty listless life, the sunless mournful days and night terrors,

Fear becomes your companion, familiar and cruel,

There is no hope here, only poison in this world.

 

The chill within my bones has been with me most of my life,

If I ever knew true warmth I forgot about it long ago,

There is no salvation and no heroic rescue,

When the monsters are inside you, there’s no hope at all.

 

(The Hopeless Fog Song features in the opening to The Gathering. It does have a tune and I have sung it in public. The image is from Hopeless Maine Victims, out this summer.  Any conclusions you may wish to draw from the juxtaposition are entirely up to you… )

Hopeless Mechanics

What is the relationship between Hopeless Maine and the rest of reality? It’s a question I’ve been asking on and off for about fourteen years, and neither Tom nor I has known the answer…. until now!

It came to us as we were discussing the stories Keith Errington has written for the island, and how his 19th century is so very different from the 19th century Martin Pearson depicts in his Squid and Teapot tales. At this point, the question of what gets to be ‘canon’ and what isn’t becomes really important. There are a lot of people playing with the island in different ways. Some of these explorations will be published, some will start to look more official than others.

Generally, when people get themselves and their stories to the island, it’s all fine. Hopeless talks to them – we’ve had to steer Martin away from important plot points he’d found without any input from us. Keith’s adventures took him into a space that no one has seen yet but that we’d already depicted for the next graphic novel. This happens a lot, and is why we’ve never felt much need to steer people around what they can and can’t do on the island. The island itself takes care of all that.

What’s tricky is where people launch from – their off-island reality. There’s no two ways about it, you don’t all come to Hopeless, Maine from the same time and place. The answer, clearly is to accept that and run with it.

My other fiction is full of unstable and shifting realities. I have decided they are all compatible, and the result goes like this…

Hopeless, Maine is a rare fixed point of stability in an unstable and shifting multiverse. It is thus easier to get in than get out, because if you try to get back and don’t connect with where you came from, there is resistance. Hopeless is, in its own funny way, pretty stable and there is consensus about what happens to new arrivals. And there is no consensus about where and when they came from and how historically accurate, or steampunk or other their starting point was, because they’ve all come from different points in that unstable and shifting universe.

It amuses me greatly to think of Hopeless as something solid and reliable.

Mrs Beaten’s Beast

I have complicated feelings about men. Horror, naturally, for they are despicable beasts and I know only too well what they are capable of. Fascination, because they are so alien, so incomprehensible. Their facial hair. The state of their collars. The noises they make.

I have noticed how powerful these forces are, how horror and fascination combine to draw you in. How these inclinations can bring you to offer yourself up to the indignity of horror and fascination.

He is a man of mystery. The first time I saw him, his gloveless hands were stained a dark and ominous red. I felt it then – the thrill of repulsion, the power of disgust. What had he done? And to whom? If I paused and gazed for long enough, would I draw his eyes? Would I discover by most unwholesome means the true nature of his stained hands?

On subsequent investigations I noted similar marks on his clothing. I wondered so long if he smelled of blood that this morning, I was overwhelmed by my own, most bestial compulsions. I deliberately stumbled into him outside The Crow.

He smells of beetroot. Not of death. Not the heart aching smell of old gore on a woollen jumper. I may never smell that again in all my life. Beetroot does not have the same effect upon me. It does not call forth suppressed memories.

But still, the man is a beast, and one stain is very much like another.