Category Archives: Art of the island

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, like..living. 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, Bookshop.org, 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: ted.photographer.org.uk/photoscience_halftones.htm

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 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hopelessmaine/hopeless-maine-2-inheritance-by-tom-and-nimue-brown

And you can find Gregg and Darkbox over here – https://www.darkboximages.com/

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

Hopeless Inheritance

The evolution of a book cover….

and so it begins
drawing complete
with colour!

Inheritance is the second half of The Gathering in the Sloth Comics editions of Hopeless, Maine. In the original Archaia editions these were two separate books, and Outland, our American publishers is also doing them separately. These will be large, hardcover editions and so new covers were in order!

Archaia dumped us after two books (boo, hiss…..) but that’s ok because Sloth have been awesome to work with and Outland are shaping up well.

Copies will be available from places that sell books, but there is also a kickstarter in the offing…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hopelessmaine/hopeless-maine-2-inheritance-by-tom-and-nimue-brown

Survivors in progress

We’re currently working on Hopeless, Maine – Survivors, which will be the last graphic novel in the series, wrapping up this story line.

It’s probably also the last graphic novel we (specifically Tom and Nimue) do, unless someone other than Tom is overwhelmed by the desire to draw comics pages. It’s such time consuming work.

It isn’t the last Hopeless Maine story, it’s just that we’re moving into other ways of sharing island life. There will be more books and more art.

Here are some pencils in progress. As Tom keeps saying on social media ‘I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about here.’

The Queen of Crows

The Queen of Crows started life in the tarot set – designed by Laura Perry.

When Tom drew her, he based her on me, and he’s since made me a Queen of Crows headdress to wear to events…

It struck me that she’d make a good basis for a song, and to help me figure out how to do that, Dr Abbey also drew her…

And when the light within you dies

The crow queen comes to take your eyes.