Category Archives: Art of the island

From the Gallery

We recently took Hopeless, Maine to Lansdown Gallery in Stroud – it’s our local, and this was our third time showing there. We had art from the final book.

Last time we were in Lansdown, it was obvious when we would be back in the gallery and what we’d be showing. Having shown material from the final graphic novel, it isn’t so clear what we might have in the next Stroud show, or when that might happen. (We will probably be showing much of the same material in Gloucester in the autumn).

My hope is that by the next show, we’ll have an extra visual artist in the mix, new illustrated books and something that is unimaginable at the time of writing this post.

Here’s a little video we made to give you a flavour of this year’s show

Hopeless Children

Art by Connie.

There are young humans in the Hopeless, Maine books, but this was never intended to be a project for children. However, there are children who rock up enthusiastically. Today’s guest art was the work of Connie, who introduced herself to us by throwing her hat at us during our performance at Raising Steam last year. She went on to make Tom and James sing her ‘bum in the bumhole’ song.

Not all children are into pretty and innocuous things. James as a child considered the owl demon from the first book to be cute. Connie, as we can tell from the drawing, also likes things with a lot of teeth. We’re aware of at least one other young human who is a big fan of Drury – our resident dead dog.

So here’s a lullaby.

Go to sleep, go sleep

Your parent is screaming,

The night is so black

And the dead things are dreaming.

Rest your bones and your eyes

And your pointy and sharp bits

Just be quiet, little fiend

Even old gods can have fits.

Dream of teeth, and of blood

And cold water rising

Rend and tear in your sleep

Thrash about, be surprising.

Go to sleep, little beast

Oh you darling small horror

Ceasing your gnashing and wailing

You can rampage tomorrow.


Hello again people (and others)

I’m going to talk about a graphic novel cover again, but I’m also going to talk about the art mischief we got up to with this whole volume.

When Nimue and I pondered what to do for the cover of the Outland edition of Hopeless, Maine -Sinners, we thought of the book as a whole and the visual theme we played with. In Sinners, we borrowed (ahem) from famous iconic paintings and bent them to our fell purpose. Or , looking at it another way, we payed tribute to some of our favourite art and artists from history. So, for example, here is the original painting by John Everett Millais-

…and here is what we did to it, with Mellisandra standing (floating) in for Ophelia.

Pre Raphaelite artists certainly predominated for this sort of treatment but there was also a chapter cover titled Foggy Night.

So, for the wraparound cover for the new hardcover edition we went back to the pre raphaelites. We needed an image that could be tuned to our theme, and that might be recognisable as a source of inspiration. We chose The Magic Circle by Waterhouse-

and turned it into….this.

with Simon in the background, naturally, as Sal with creatures is the theme for the Outland editions.

So…there you have it. Find a copy of Sinners to see what other terrible things we have done, or wait for the Outland campaign for the hardcover edition.

We hope, as always, this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

Survivors cover.

Hello again people! (and others)

It’s a strange and interesting time for us. We are finishing up the final volume of the Hopeless, Maine graphic novel series and this is the conclusion of something that has been a huge part of our lives (Sometimes too much a part of our lives, sometimes not enough) It brings up memories and associations that I could not even begin to list or describe adequately. It’s been woven into the last decade of our lives (plus a bit) inextricably and it’s a big part of how we got together in the first place!

So, finding an image that would feel right to us and also, hopefully, to all of you for the final graphic novel cover was a pretty big thing. We’ve had a theme in the Sloth Editions for the covers. It’s always Sal performing magic of some sort. We needed that element and something that suggested the huge changes and events that take place in Survivors. It was Nimue, of course, who had the concept. Sal, holding the island, And…not in her wrappings. In a simple dress. It was and is, perfect. (In ways you will not really understand until next year when the book is released) Nimue posed for a reference photo (Again, perfect) and I drew it out, putting the island in perspective and surrounding Sal with the eyes that we have seen before. Nimue coloured it, I did a final clean up and reestablishing of the lines, scanned and added some of the magic effects and small highlights in Clip Studio and here we are. I very much hope you like.

I am, as always, hoping this finds you well, inspired and thriving.


The front of Survivors, so far

Hello, again people (and others)

Here at Hopeless, Maine headquarters we are somewhat plague ridden but still wish to bring you all of the island news that is fit to shout into the ether.

Having finished drawing the page art for the final graphic novel volume, it was time to draw the cover for Hopeless, Maine-Survivors. The concept was Nimue’s (she even posed for it) The island is an ever changing place, but here Sal presents it as caught at a moment in time. This is the first time we haven’t drawn the cover first, but have let the finished (ish) book inform us of what the cover needed to be. Next, Nimue will make it amazing with the colours and we will unveil that at some point in the not too dim and distant future!

Hope, as always, this finds you well, inspired and thriving.


Final Pages

Hello people, (and others)

I write this, having drawn the final pages of the conclusion of the Hopeless, Maine graphic novel series. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to describe all of the thoughts and feelings that arise when I type the above.

(edit. I have re-read what I have written. It’s maybe twelve percent of the thoughts and feelings. I’ll try again later and more)

Hopeless, Maine is sort of my life’s work so far. It actually started in a way, when I was in my late twenties with another indie comics series which I will not tell you the name of because you might look it up. Then when I was at a personal low point and living in a transitional homeless shelter, I decided to see if I could bring the project back to life, or hang onto the bits I liked and reincarnate it. Salamandra came to me at that point and the whole story started reforming around her. Fast forward some years to me reading Nimue’s work on line and having the absolute certainty that this was the right writer to tell the story. If you know us at all you will have heard me tell the story of how I asked Nimue to write it and she demurred and I thought I had offended her with my silly comics writing job and it was just because she did not know if she could write comics. Well, as you might have guessed, we worked that out. We worked out a lot of other things too, because I moved here to the UK to marry her. (And she is still far and away my favourite author and…lots of other things!) So, Hopeless, Maine has been a huge part of our life and a big part of how we got together in the first place.

There have been a lot of challenges and times when I wondered if I would live long enough to finish the series. There have been times when, honestly I wondered if I should. Drawing comics is a very time consuming way to not really make a living for most of us in the industry. So much of my life in the intervening years has been spent behind a drawing board and not doing other things, I think I have been a bit of a workaholic but it’s difficult to tease out the necessity from the choices. I do know though, that though i’m glad and proud to have finished it trough all of the doubts and publishing complications, I’m also really glad to say that this is the last traditional graphic novel I will ever draw. I’m an illustrator now, with a life and so many things that I want to do and people I want to spend time with. Adventures, love…that sort of thing!

Hopeless, Maine will continue so don’t worry about that. (If you were worrying about that) The next instalment is already written and we will be playing with illustration formats. (it will be lavish) We will be doing more Hopeless, Maine music and performance and there is the RPG and the film to produce and more ways for our tentacles to spread. There is just a better chance you will get to actually see me out in the world now, really.

Thank you so VERY much to everyone who has been with us on this very strange journey so far, and we hope you will stay with us for the next chapters.

And here is a picture of Nimue having coloured the final two page spread for the series!

Survivors – 2 page spreads

Each chapter of the graphic novels starts with a two page spread. In those pages we show a wider view of the island, and suggest something of another story. For Optimists (vol 5 in the Sloth editions) we’re exploring werewolf life.

This is a two page spread at the pencils stage. In this book Nimue is using oil pastels on two page spreads for greater colour intensity and because they suit the big dramatic landscapes better than the pencils do.

You can order Hopeless, Maine graphic novels from UK bookshops and comic shops. Places that sell books online will likely sell them to you. A number of sites have the book on pre-order – HiveThe Portobello BookshopBlackwells, Bookshop.orgBook Depository Foyles and Waterstones

Optimists (vol 4) is out at the end of March – not long to go now!

Optimists – Chapter Covers

The theme for the chapter covers in Hopeless, Maine, Optimists, is creatures. Teaselheads, spoonwalkers, moths, dustcats, builder-squid and an ur-deer all feature. It’s good to get to focus on them a bit.

The spoonwalker is nesting, and we get to see what colour baby spoonwalkers are! The teasleheads demonstrate critical stages of their curious life cycle. We have a dustcat wrecking ball – when dustcats are alarmed, they hold each other’s tails, meaning all the sharp bits go on the outside. Small angry cartwheels are more normal, but a full blown wrecking ball is a thing to behold – ideally from a safe distance! 

The ur-deer is a shy woodland creature, slightly alarming to behold. Mostly harmless. May attempt to run up you if you corner it, which you do not want it to do. The moths are mostly poisonous, annoying and likely to eat your underwear. There are quite a lot of moths in this volume, because we got a bit excited about them, and they are pretty, so long as they don’t bite you, and you don’t bite them.

Chapter 5, as presented above, involves builder squids. These were somewhat the fault of Dr Porridge, and live in a freshwater lake somewhere in the middle of the island. I have stories about them. I rather like the idea of squids making things.

Hopeless, Maine: Optimists is the fourth volume in the Sloth Comics editions of Hopeless, Maine and comes out at the end of March (2022). These are most readily available in the UK and can be ordered from bookshops and comics shops. Places that sell books online will likely sell them to you. A number of sites have the book on pre-order – Hive, The Portobello Bookshop, Blackwells,, Book Depository , Foyles and Waterstones – currently Amazon doesn’t have anything useful going on, but that’s ok, you probably weren’t going to shop there anyway 🙂

Photography on Hopeless, Maine

Some background first. The Hopeless Vendetta, aside from being the name of this blog, is also the name of the island’s newspaper. By ‘newspaper’ I mean gossip sheet hastily printed on recycled paper. Frampton does the whole thing – he is journalist, photographer, printer and paper recycler. At times he’s also the man in the street shouting about how newspaper should not be taken into privies because he needs to recycle it.

When we started this blog, it ran as the island’s newspaper in parallel with the comics, which were then a webcomic. Much has changed since then. Back in the day, I (Nimue) wrote as Frampton Jones, and Tom did the illustrations that were, in theory, the photographs Frampton had taken. How exactly Frampton got from photos to print I never asked, because I was afraid to.

However, we’ve got a period photography expert in the team, so I asked Gregg McNeill from Darkbox Images what the options would be. He said…

“Depending on the level of technology Frampton has access to, he could make photolithographic plates for printing in the paper. Before that, a photograph would be etched onto an engraving plate by someone who was adept at reproducing artwork. There were also carved wooden plates that would be used. In 1880, the first halftone reproduction of a photograph appeared in The Daily Graphic in New York. Halftone uses a series of dots of various sizes to reproduce an image. The halftone process is talked about here:

The engraving process was the earliest way to get a photograph into a paper using the classic letterpress type machine like a Heidelberg press.”

So now we know! And for further interest, it turns out that Tom has run a Heidleberg press, which is a whole other story.

If you’d like to see the island from Frampton’s perspective, do check out the stretch goal involving A Semblance of Truth

And you can find Gregg and Darkbox over here –

And a still life, Hopeless themed, by Gregg below…