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 Poetry videos

Craig Hallam, longstanding Hopeless contributor, pallid goth-boi and steampunk gentleman, has written some Hopeless Maine poetry for us…

Here’s the intro

 

Upon arrival in Hopeless…

 

Nightshade

 

Beneath the trees of Hopeless

 

My mind

 

More monsters and Matt

I blogged a few weeks ago about how Matt Inkel first got involved with the film project – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2020/03/06/monsters-matt-and-muppets/

As things started to get moving in the autumn, we went back to him to talk in more detail, establishing that yes, he really was up for this. We talked a lot about different kinds of puppets, how they might be deployed to interact with actors, and what we would need puppets of.

At this point it became clear that child Salamandra would have to be a puppet. Those of you who have read The Blind Fisherman will likely know why, for the rest of you, here come the spoilers…

The central action in the story involves Sal as a baby being thrown into the sea by her father, encountering agents of change, and then being rescued by the fisherman. Clearly we could not throw a small child into water to make this film. Further none of the team has a small child to whom they are not overly attached and people don’t often rent them out on these terms. So, our child character would have to be a puppet.

On the plus side, that means an adult who knows what they are doing is entirely in charge of making that child character do stuff. On the downside, this character is key emotionally and evoking complex emotions with puppets needs thinking about. It’s been a consideration while writing the script.

At some point, when we have funding, Matt will be building both a child Sal, and a sea monster to fight with Seth. How many puppets he makes is probably going to be dictated by funding. There’s scope to have puppets of the same thing at different scales to allow different kinds of scenes to be more easily filmed. Basically, we can go utterly mad with this if the money is there to enable it…

Social Distancing, Hopeless Maine Style

On social media of late we’ve been sharing images from the island and adding a social distancing commentary. It turns out that Hopeless rather lends itself to this. It’s rare that our characters touch each other. Some of this is a period issue – it is a sort of Victorian setting and people were less demonstrative. Some of it is that you never know who will turn out to be an eldritch horror, so it is best not to get too close.

Mistrust of each other keeps our islanders at arm’s length. The grim realities of life have made a lot of the citizens emotionally unavailable. They cope by pretending there’s nothing to cope with. It sort-of works, but Hopeless is seldom a happy place, as the name suggests.

Hopeless residents have the fear of catching consumption, vampirism, lycanthropy and extra tentacles. No one really understands the mechanics for any of these things. It is hard to form, or sustain any kind of involved relationship when you are afraid of the people around you. Being afraid saves lives, for sure, but it also blights lives. There are questions of balance.

In the meantime, we are not recommending you carry a hand of glory as an aid to social distancing, even though it would likely work rather well.

Dr Abbey casts a spell

In the summer of 2019, Dr Abbey Masahiro was at the big steampunk gathering in Lincoln. For a whole host of reasons, we weren’t. Tom had one of his moments (not unlike the stuff he gets up to on Facebook) and arranged to get a copy to Dr Abbey via the fabulous Lyssa Lopez Wain (who we later killed in this blog post).

Much to our delight, Dr Abbey was rather taken with Hopeless, Maine and started talking to us about what we do, and might do. The film project had been languishing on a back burner for some time at this point because none of us knew how to proceed.

As luck would have it, cameraman Gregg O’Neill was at an event with Dr Abbey a few weeks later and it gave them a chance to talk about all things film. There was a conversation about the Blind Fisherman project. Then, later in autumn, Dr Abbey took some Hopeless Maine posters and books to the Tokyo Film Festival to see if there might be a potential market for us. People involved with film festivals around the world had a look at us, and the response was positive.

It lit a fire under us, simply. Dr Abbey cast a spell on the project and we knew we were willing to invest a lot more energy and resources to make it work. The whole tone of the conversation changed, from largely daydreaming to entirely serious. We started thinking a lot more seriously about what and who would be needed to make it work, and everything stepped up a gear.

The Hopeless Maine Scientific Society

Those of you who followed the kickstarter obituaries last autumn may have noticed the presence of The Hopeless Maine Scientific Society. Membership of this organisation is generally a death sentence, and this picture, of the four key members, gives you some sense as to why!

This is a two page spread from the next Hopeless Maine graphic novel, and like most of our two page spreads it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. It is a peek into island life. What we’re doing in addition with these two page spreads, is to feature actual people who have played a key role in the Hopeless Maine project. And while these dodgy scientists may be the kiss of death on the fictional island, in real life they are hugely important to us.

Going left to right…

The young man setting fire to the tablecloth is my son and heir, James Weaselgrease (his steampunk name, not his real name). James is central to our song-based performances, and this is his second time in a comic. If you look closely, there’s a much younger him on a two page spread in The Gathering.

The gentleman holding the tablecloth is Robin Treefellow Collins, who is responsible for the hairy coffee, and who has written a number of ‘Daphne’ stories for this blog.

Next up, a justifiably worried Keith of Mystery, aka Keith Errington, who is responsible for Hopeless Maine prose novel The Oddatsea and without whom we would never have managed a kickstarter. He is an organisational force to reckon with. He’s also performed with us, and is responsible for the Hopeless Maine Home Companion, without which there would never have been a Spidermilk Biscuit song!

Finally, breaking the fourth wall to stare at you from the right of the image, is Keith Healing (whose title I won’t mention as he didn’t get the most dignified nickname). Keith is responsible for the Hopeless Maine roleplay game – an epic attempt at taking the madness of Hopeless and turning it into a coherent and playable system without sacrificing anything much of the magic and mystery.

What Tom does on Facebook

Some of the most important developments in the Hopeless Maine project as a whole have been due to what Tom does on Facebook. It shouldn’t work, and yet somehow, it does. I put it down to how alluring he is. I say this based on having been entirely lured, back before Facebook existed, when Tom was in the habit of doing his thing in yahoo groups.

Having decided that a Hopeless Maine silent movie would be a cool thing, Tom posted on Facebook to see who wanted to make that happen. I don’t think there are many people for whom this would be a viable way of developing a project, but there it is, this is his super-power.

In a very short time frame, two key people stepped up to say that yes, they would be up for that.

One was Gregg McNeil – who I have blogged about here. https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/the-glorious-work-of-gregg-mcneil/ we met him through Steampunk events, and were smitten with his tintype photography. Gregg knows about period film and cameras and was keen to get involved.

The other person to step forward was Walter Sickert, of the Army of Broken Toys, offering to do the soundtrack. We love Walter’s work. Further, this is someone with experience doing scores. It’s Walter’s music that you hear in the background to this video –

A vote of confidence from two people who know what they’re doing far better than we do. It was a powerful moment. It took us from ‘this is a lovely idea’ to ‘this could work’. We started talking to each other a lot more seriously, and Tom spent a lot of time talking to Gregg. It was around this point that we realised a hand wound camera would be the heart of the project. This would be our key magical item, moving forward. All we had to do was find one that works…

Shipwrecking on Hopeless, Maine

The fog by night is darker, deeper, shrouding everything. No stars shine through, no moonlight glimmers. All sounds are muted, colours dim, here is no hope here. No hope at all. Only cold and damp malevolence.

On the mist shrouded, grave dark sea, a boat shatters its hull against the malice of rocks. Hungry water sucks the living down, until only one remains, kept afloat by a large tea chest and drifting towards dawn and the shore.

James Weaselgrease shipwrecks on the shores of Hopeless, Maine. A man of science, he is in no way prepared to deal with all the folklore and songs of the supernatural. He’s even less prepared for the island’s ghosts, and other uncanny residents!

We’re shipwrecking at Festival at the Edge this summer, all being well, with a new Hopeless Maine project and an hour long performance. More about the festival here – https://www.festivalattheedge.org/

Monsters, Matt and Muppets

We met Matt Inkel at Asylum in Lincoln back in 2018. He was sporting a fetching Steampunk Ghostbusters backpack of his own making, and we got chatting about what he does as a maker with his Arcane Armoury hat on. This was just after we’d started looking at old, silent films, so the timing was perfect.

After the event, Tom and Matt continued chatting online. He expressed an interest in making Hopeless Maine stuff and this led us to the Salamandra’s Key project – Matt made a version of the key Salamandra has in The Gathering. You can find out more about that over here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/salamandras-key/

One of his keys ended up in the award winning Case of Good Fortune – and more of that story over here should you feel so moved. https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/the-case-of-good-fortune/

One of the things Tom and Matt have in common, is a love of Jim Henson. Hence me sneaking muppets into the title! Matt talked about his experience with Jim Henson’s creature workshop and how cool a Hopeless Maine film would be. Tom of course had a series of muppet-moments.

At this stage it was just a bit of shared daydreaming. The kind of conversation where you go ‘wouldn’t it be lovely if…’ But, this is often where serious projects come from – those idle speculations that at first seem too preposterous to take seriously. And so you keep playing with them because it’s just messing about, and before you know it you’ve set your heart on a Hopeless Maine silent film with puppets and live action.

And so it was that Matt Inkel joined the film project before there even was a film project. He will be making puppets of some of the island creatures, and of course the sea monster whose fight with The Blind Fisherman is a key part of this little story.

You can find Matt Inkel’s Arcane Armoury on Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ArcaneArmoury

Mister Adams probably died last year

How long Mister Adams has been dead, no one is entirely sure. His haunted house attraction was without a doubt the least popular commercial enterprise the island has ever seen, and as no one visited it for months, his body has remained there, unremarked for an embarrassingly long period of time.

I don’t think any of us truly understood why Mister Adams felt the need to build a haunted house attraction. It’s not like we’re short of actual haunted houses. He put a startling amount of work into creating from scratch the kind of creepy, mouldering environment that occurs naturally all over the island.

The only known visitor to the Haunted House was Weevil Chevin, who said “It was great, it was just like my old gran’s house before she went mad and burned it down.”

It was Weevil who found the body, having gone back for a second visit. He thoughtfully removed Mister Adams from the property and summoned Doc Willoughby, who is quoted as saying, “I don’t know why you bothered, you don’t need a trained professional to see that this man has been dead for quite some time.”

Weevil told me that what impressed him most on his second visit, was how the bloody handprints on the wall still looked fresh and were damp to the touch. “Tasted like blood and all. Dead impressive.”

 

(This death is a nod to the work the real life Mister Adams did for the This House is Not Haunted video, and is a belated addition to last year’s obituaries. We’re sorry it took so long to find his body!)

Cat, Greta and Hopeless

What prompted us to think that making a Hopeless Maine black and white filmA Hopeless Film was a good idea? Let me tell you a story…

It started at Pagan Pride in Nottingham, in the summer of 2018. We stayed with Cat Treadwell, which was a wonderful thing to get to do. She was having a bit of a clear out, and we came home with a box set of Greta Garbo DVDs.

My maternal grandmother was a great fan of Greta Garbo, so this had pushed some nostalgia buttons for me. Garbo was one of the few actors to make the transition from silent films to talkies, and some of the films in the box set were silent.

Watching these films together, Tom and I were struck by the technical similarities between comics and silent films. There’s less space for text in a silent film, making the interplay between what’s done as an image and what is words closer to comics than to modern film, I reckon. Facial expressions are super-important in both forms, and often more stylised than naturalistic.

We spent a lot of time talking about all of this, initially just because it interested both of us. We were wondering what we could learn from silent films that would help us as comics creators. Somewhere in those conversations, Tom said something to the effect that he thought The Blind Fisherman would make an excellent black and white silent movie in the style of these period pieces. I agreed, and at the time that seemed to be the whole of it.

But of course it wasn’t.

So we feel it is entirely reasonable to hold Cat Treadwell responsible for being the catalyst that started this whole idea. You can find Cat’s Hopeless Maine story here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/threads/

And find Cat here – https://druidcat.wordpress.com/