Category Archives: Art of the island

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

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

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 Plotting

We are indeed, plotting, and at the moment, the plotting looks a bit like this –

At the moment, Tom and I are working on Optimists – the penultimate book in the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series.  Next year we will be making the final book in the series – Survivors. Our plan from this point had been to stop doing graphic novels – Tom has just had his sixtieth birthday, and comics are labour intensive the way he draws them, and the decision was to move into smaller pieces and more illustration.

Note the use of the past tense.

Right now we’re not sure what the plan is, but experiments are under way and I’ll post updates as we have them. Which is likely to be soon, because one of the implications here is that we might be able to work a lot more quickly on some things, while giving Tom time to really dig in with the more elaborate illustrations as we go.

We might be able to have the best of many worlds, with time for the kind of art Tom does, and more of a manga style for Hopeless some of the time, and enough time to tell more stories.

We’ve known for some time now that Doctor Abbey would be more involved with Hopeless Maine as we move forward. We’re still figuring out how that works, and we’re collectively excited about the possibilities.

 

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.

Hopeless Optimists

So here we have it – the next Hopeless Maine book cover, for the penultimate book in the graphic novel arc. We don’t know what happens after the final book and will worry about that when we get there.

At no point in the story itself does this image get explained. I thought I’d do that here, for the reading pleasure of those of you (you know who you are) who like to ponder the details.

Here we see experimental occultist Salamandra O’Stoat making protective magical glass for the light on her lighthouse. You will see some of this glass magic going on in Optimists, but not at this location. The reason she’s doing this, is to create a light that will drive back the fog. Or The Fog, if you prefer.

The colours of this owe to a version of Hopeless that pre-date my involvement. During one of those rare periods of his life when Tom overcame his fear of strong colours, he did a version of the lighthouse with complex rose designs in stained glass windows. He wasn’t working to deadline then and hadn’t thought about having to draw that design repeatedly. So this is a nod to that, without the nervous-breakdown inducing potential of the original design.

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…

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… )

Cover art reveal

Hello, people (and others)!

Sorry we’ve been a bit quiet. I’ve been working diligently on the page art for the next graphic novel volume and Nimue is doing roughly twelve thousand* things all at once.

*rough estimate, she is a blur, so it’s tricky to count.

Hopefully, this will make up for it, a bit. Here is the cover art for VICTIMS (Volume three of Hopeless, Maine) I gave a bit of background about the decision process on the subject matter when we posted the cover art at drawing stage, so I won’t get into that here. I *will* say, that this is the best, strangest, most touching, funniest script so far. You know when you are watching an anime series and the first season is all pretty straightforward and largely what you would expect and then the following seasons drops you into the deep end and play with all of your expectations and turn up the emotions and conflict? Yes, that. That’s pretty much what’s going on with the rest of the series.

Here is a thing wot I wrote to go to the distributor for the listing of Victims-

“Welcome back to the fog-shrouded island of Hopeless, Maine- an island cut off from the world and lost in time. It’s been busy here since you’ve been away! We all knew that werewolves would show up on the island eventually. I mean, there are vampires (that cough), ghosts and all manner of things that go bump in the night (and occasionally around noon, for no particular reason) well, they’re here now. Salamandra and Owen do their best to cope with this new danger to island residents while investigating a new rash of disappearances. Masked, cowled cultists have begun to make themselves known, and the vampires are about as much help as usual. Salamandra struggles with the disembodied presence that surrounds the island and continues to speak to her alone. Owen receives a new position (which he definitely does not want) and Drury the undead dog cavorts across the island. This is the most eventful volume yet, with greater insight into the main characters, and a generous helping of dark humor.”

Pretty good, huh?

So here, without further ado, is the cover art, hand coloured by Nimue. The text is a temporary version, our publisher will make the design all shiny and put the Sloth Logo on and such. Also-look closely and see if you can find the key in the image. That’s a thing that showed up in The Gathering, and we will have more to say about that soon… Hope you like!

In which we make a book cover

Hello, people! (and others)

Rather a lot has been going on behind the scenes here, and this will no doubt lead to rather a lot more things and we shall be busy, and will hopefully keep you entertained. My focus at the moment is the art for the NEXT VOLUME OF HOPELESS MAINE (pardon the shouting. Bit excited.) The next book will be called Victims (this is because originally the series was to be called “Hopeless” rather than “Hopeless, Maine” so the titles were all playing on that. So, the next book would have been called Hopeless Victims, but our old publisher insisted on Hopeless, Maine and now all of our clever plans lie in ruins on the floor. (not really, just going for sympathy there)

Normally. I draw the cover art before we start the page art at all, but we thought we’d try something different this time and get a better sense of the book and then do the cover. All of the covers feature Salamandra doing some sort of magic (the keen-eyed among you will have noticed) So, as Nimue and I were walking and discussing possibilities, Nimue said: “I have an idea, but it’s a bit silly”. I knew we were onto a winner at that point. We have not shown Sal doing fire yet really, so Sal looking epic while heating a kettle for tea was the perfect solution. This means we get to include magic, devices, Sal and perhaps most importantly, tea. Here we are at the pencil stage.

Nimue has just started on the hand colouring and we will be passing the finished thing to our lovely publisher (Sloth!) before long. All being well, Victims will be in your hands, claws or tentacles late spring/early summer. I’m greatly enjoying drawing the page art and being more collaborative with Nimue on the art as well as the story is an absolute pleasure!

Until next time, I hope this finds you all well, inspired and thriving.