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.
Since its writing, the hairy coffee has become a thing of legend, and turns up in other projects.
Like the hairy coffee, Hopeless Maine is an alive sort of thing. It gets its tentacles into people’s heads, and spreads its ideas about, often without Tom or I being involved in any direct way. In many ways we feel like we don’t own the island – it certainly owns us. Sometimes it whispers strange things to other people.
If you’ve been affected by the contents of this blog and have something Hopeless you need to share, just let us know. We’re here to support people who have been driven slightly mad by the fictional island, and glad to share any fresh, or slightly-unfresh and mouldering discoveries anyone makes.
Some years ago, we had the strange experience of outing Hopeless in an art gallery as part of the local book festival. I made some very random things for that! One of the things I made was a collector’s case of moths. The moths were of course all works of fiction and no actual moths were hurt in the process. I invented quite a few moths for the island – some of which I still remember because I rather liked them.
The poisoned Druid moth was made from mistletoe, so was sort of a joke, because of me being a Druid.
The granny’s shroud moth was large and pale, and I like to imagine them flapping about disconcertingly at windows late at night, and being especially horrible to pick out of spiderwebs.
The greater and lesser git moths are the sort of moths who eat clothes, and other household items.
Thinking about the moths this week has led me to realise that we haven’t given much thought to bats on the island, so there are bats going into the bestiary for the role play game.
Here’s a video from the art gallery. The moth case is at around the 10.30 mark…
I’ve been messing about a bit with self-portraits this week, and this is my Hopeless take on me.
Clearly I am some sort of eldritch abomination! Obviously, I have tentacles. I’m not sure why I’m a lamp stand from the waist down – It could be that I was a trial run for Mrs Beaten. I imagine that I have been left in a dark corner of a largely forgotten room, but if people approach me I will tell them terrible things.
What would you look like as an island resident? We’re always open to art, and to cosplay, so if you’re a resident with the time and inclination to send us something, we’d love to share it. If you don’t have direct contact with us already, just leave a comment and we’ll pluck your email address from wordpress and drop you a line.++++++++++++
Balthazar Lemon is the father of Melisandra, grandfather of Salamandra. He shipwrecked on the island of Hopeless Maine as a young man, and took up inventing. He’s rather good at this – having built the lighthouse, restored the church organ, and undertaken assorted other strange and wonderful projects.
He has what appears to be a weird fish fetish. This may have a great deal to do with Salamandra’s missing grandmother, who was a mermaid and who swam away when she got bored.
Balthazar is a significant presence in Hopeless Maine: Inheritance (the second half of The Gathering in the Sloth Comics publications). He also features in prose novel New England Gothic, and remains an influence on the island through his creations.
Balthazar is the embodiment of eccentric invention. It is also his considered opinion that all the best projects have a bucket in them somewhere.
We’re in the exciting process of developing a Bestiary for the Hopeless Maine role play game. This is work being led on by Keith Healing. We are of course collecting up all the strange things that go by in the background, and working out a bit more about the mechanics of what they do and how/if they might hurt a person.
It means that new discoveries are also being made. Apparently we have ghouls. This isn’t a great surprise on a gothic island with a lot of cemeteries where food is often at a premium.
We’re also experimenting a bit with how art will work for this book. Here we have a ghoul drawn by Tom and inked by me.
Dustcats are native to the island of Hopeless Maine. It is said that they started out as misty, insubstantial beings who became solid only after eating people’s faces. It is also said of them that they only eat the faces of people they really liked and that it is a great honour if, after your death, a dustcat decides to snack on your visage.
Dutcats are floating, playful things. Their main diet is not in fact faces, but dust, and their long tongues slurp up their food. They like libraries especially. However, you can see from the teeth that dust is not the only thing that might go into their mouths.
Probably best not to let them into your bedroom at night – we have no idea how they tell if you are dead. No one wants to wake up to find one of these chewing their nose.
First and foremost, we are massively excited to share with you the new cover art for Hopeless Maine Inheritance.
This will be the cover for the new Outland edition of this book. This may be a tad confusing, so, explanations….
When we started doing Hopeless Maine graphic novels, we were published by Archaia and two volumes came out with them – Personal Demons, and Inheritance. The covers for those editions look like this…
When we were re-published by Sloth, we and the publisher took the decision to put those two initial volumes out as a single title – The Gathering – to make it easier to crack on and get the rest of the series moving. So, if you have a book that looks like the cover below, you’ve already got Inheritance and Personal Demons. And if you are the kind of completest who needs all the versions, we’re really sorry, we did not mean to do this to you.
As a young human, I played a fair few role play systems and it was a significant part of my life. One of the normal features of a role play game is that the world is… well… world sized. The setting you game in is usually as large as your imagination is willing to invest in.
A role play game set on Hopeless Maine is clearly a very different kettle of fish (or tentacles). It is, by any definition, a rather small setting. You could walk across it in a matter of days, and one of the features of the island is that it is very hard to leave it and go elsewhere. It is a tiny reality of its own, full of weirdness, but it is not really how most role play worlds function.
But, small can be beautiful. Small can be really intense and there’s not much scope to run away from the consequences of your actions. Everything you do as a player on Hopeless will stay round to haunt you – probably in a literal sort of way. You can’t just leave town and move on if things don’t go well, or you’ve nabbed the treasure or made an enemy. Outside of town, beyond the farms it is difficult to survive, which is why people mostly aren’t living there.
Hopeless as a role play setting is really good for intense scenarios. It lends itself to mysteries and murder mysteries. If you’re looking for a setting where your characters will have to make long term relationships with NPCs, this is for you. If you’re looking for situations where people have to think and role play rather than dungeon crawl, Hopeless works well. It’s not going to be the right setting for anyone who wants to spend their time slaying monsters, grabbing treasure and hooking up with pretty NPCs. But, if you like your gaming experiences to be weirder, more gothic and with more focus on the role play, this could well be the ideal setting for you.
The Hopeless Maine role play game has been a work in progress – and largely the work of Keith Healing – for some time now. We will have some significant news for you soon, we think, which is why I’m dangling this teaser-tentacle today. Also, the cover above is the old cover, there will be a new cover soon…
Durosimi O’Stoat is Salamandra’s father in at least some senses of the word. But not all of them. He is obsessed with magic, and power and the quest for more of those things. No bargain is too dangerous, no spell too twisted, no pact unthinkable.
What did spoonwalkers do before there were spoons on the island? Their bodies are soft, their tentacles might otherwise be used for dragging their delicate flesh over the cold, hard, unforgiving ground… Clearly this is no way to live. Although, it is easy to imagine that their mournful faces are somehow the consequence of generations of soft bodies dragged mercilessly over the island’s harsh terrain.
Before the spoons, there were sticks. Of course the island has a lot of sticks, so you might wonder why a creature would give up such a plentiful supply of stilts in favour of scavenging for spoons. But spoons tend to be of a size with each other. The spoonwalkers cannot break sticks to get the right length, and finding a really well matched set of sticks, like in weight and length, is no easy task. And then, those perfect sticks will not last. The island is a damp place. Water will inevitably get into the wood and the wood will rot and when you are running for your life, a suddenly breaking stick can be the death of you. Spoons do not break, and many a spoonwalker has escaped being eaten by a glass heroin for just this reason.
There is also the shiny factor. You will never see a spoonwalker with dirty spoons – at least you won’t unless it is at that moment fleeing through mud from something that means it harm. Spoonwalkers lovingly polish their spoons, using leaves to clear away dirt, licking the spoons and rubbing them to make them shine. There isn’t much on the island that naturally shines with the lustre of polished cutlery. It appears that the spoonwalkers have fallen in love with shiny metal.
And so, if you wake at night and hear a soft ‘zee-boo, zee-boo’ sound from within the darkness of your home, it is likely the sound of a spoonwalker who has stolen one of your socks and is huffing gently to itself as it polishes the spoons you will never see again.
(This was written for a rather exciting thing Gregg from Dark Box is doing – a Hopeless Maine project that has drawn in other Hopeless family members… watch this space…)