Category Archives: Art of the island

Japanese Salamandra

Those of you who have read Volume 3 – Victims – will know there’s a silly bit where Owen and Salamandra are going to a party. Salamandra has always been good at illusions and likes messing about with appearances, so she dresses them up. I was vague with the script, suggesting that Owen’s might be more silly and less flattering. Tom decided to give Salamandra a distinctly Japanese look.

This caught Dr Abbey’s imagination, and below is his take on Sal in her party gear.

Of course it raised questions – not least being why Salamandra chooses to look this way at this moment.

There are outside the story reasons – that this is an aesthetic Tom likes, and that he has always wanted to appeal to a Japanese audience is most of it. Manga has been a big influence on Mr Brown and there’s a desire to offer something back. Also, this is how Tom does things – he draws whatever arrives in his head and then someone else (usually, but not always me) has to work out how that makes any kind of sense.

So, why is Salamandra inclined to look this way? Has she seen an image like this in a book? Was there a dream, or a scrying experience? Is there a slightly disturbing doll of her mother’s somewhere, wearing just this attire?

I don’t know. Maybe you do. If you are the person who knows how this story goes, please do get in touch and tell us!

Young Salamandra

This week we bring you another Dr Abbey art.

There is an extra story to tell with this one, and on this occasion it is more about the materials than the image. That textured paper was my grandmother’s. I inherited her art equipment, and had quite a stash of paper and oil pastels that were hers. It’s been good putting the paper to use, and I’ve wondered repeatedly what she would make of this process. Hopeless is very different from the kind of art she used to do.

I’m fairly sure that some of the colouring materials used in this were from Dr Abbey’s family as well, and that it is a meeting of people in a rather magical way.

These Our Revels part three -Darkbox.


Next to last in the series of These Our Revels, which started with a concept  from Hopeless, Maine and has been brought into the world by a concerted creative effort lead by Fiona Sawle and Nimrod Lancaster.  This stunning eerie photo was taken by  Gregg McNeill of Darkbox Photography during the Sanctuary event.

Gregg has this to say  about this plate-

” I love this plate. Exposure time was a trim 4 seconds because it was taken out doors, under a marquee, so lots of ambient soft UV light. It’s only the second time ever I’ve made portraits outside at an event. ”

There were additional challenges due to the weather conditions that day, and their Marquis  nearly blew down overnight.

Steampunks in general, and our people in particular are absolutely bloody amazing.

Darkbox Photography have a patreon which can be found here. Please do support their work!

These Our Revels continued.

Hello people (and others) Here we continue the story of how an image from Hopeless, Maine was made real by Nimrod Lancaster Fiona Sawle and  others in the steampunk creative community. Part one can be found here.
On the making of the masks and outfits
Nimrod made one version of his own mask, but two of Fiona’s
The body of each mask was Fosshape but the attached parts around the edge were mainly EVA foam sheet. plus two of his were wooden dowels. For the edge of Fiona’s I used two layers of EVA foam with stiff wire in between to make it stronger and pose-able. The top spike on his was 3D printed as was his medallion. The glass cabochons were painted using nail varnish and then Mod-Podge behind to give strength. The Fosshape was coated in liquid latex and then acrylic paints mixed with latex were applied over that. Fiona made her handbag from scraps of fabric left over from the outfits. The fabrics were sprayed with Dirty Down spray in various colours. The shells dangling from Fiona’s mask were collected from the beach in the Bahamas in February. Nimrod’s mask also has  dangling sharks teeth. Thin black fabric was glued behind the eye and mouth holes. The tentacles are removable for ‘ease’ of storage!

These Our Revels coming to life-part one.

Hello again people (and others)

One of the amazing and inspiring aspects of steampunk is the collaborative energy and what can happen when creative people combine their passion and creativity to bring new things into the world.

This project started because we had long admired the outfits and creativity of Nimrod Lancaster and Fiona Sawle  at steampunk events in the UK. We met them at Steampunks in Space (which happens here)   and gave  a print of this image to them in the hopes that they would adopt it as a costuming project.


They took the print away with them and soon we began getting photos like these…

John Naylor was brought in to assist with the masks . He introduced Nimrod to Fossshape and helped him make the rigid part of his mask.

This is the first part of a series on this stunning project and we will show more progress, the outfits and the unveiling at Sanctuary in the following posts…

 

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.