Category Archives: Hopeless inhabitants

Balthazar Lemon – a love story

Sometimes, people ask Balthazar Lemon about the mother of his child. He lies to them. He has never bothered to keep track of these lies and does not worry about what anyone else thinks. It’s not about misleading people. There are things too precious to share or speak of and he simply does not want to explain.

They met in the sea, of course. Balthazar spent his early life in boats and has never felt at ease on dry land. There’s something troubling about the way it keeps still, and you cannot see through it. The lighthouse he built was the closest thing he could get to a boat on a coast that eats boats, and eats anything that was in the boats.

Alraune came from warmer, kinder seas than these. A shallow sea, rich with kelp beds, sea grass and eels, and full of secrets. It was a good sea for diving, and for testing diving suits and devices. In those days, Balthazar had been obsessed with staying underwater for as long as he could. Pipes connecting him to the air were always at risk of damage, or could get him trapped. Carrying air made it hard to sink, and there was never enough of it. He thought about gills a lot in those days.

The mermaids fascinated him, apparently able to breathe in air and in water, but quite unlike the humans and fish they resembled. As far as he could tell, they tolerated him, and perhaps found him amusing. Sometimes he tried to talk to them, but their language was like no human speech he had encountered. It sounded more like dolphin, and he had not learned to speak with dolphins. By the time he was twenty, Balthazar could talk about tools and engines in an unreasonably large number of human languages. He had yet to find a language in which he could not persuade someone to sell him alcohol. Mermaid words were a bit more elusive.

So they didn’t really talk, at first, and it was a long time before he learned her name. He swam, or sank, of half drowned himself trying to get diving helmets to work. She watched, effortless in the water, clearly finding him entertaining. Balthazar had never enjoyed being laughed at before. It was, inevitably, a rather peculiar sort of romance.

(A collaboration between Nimue and Dr Abbey, with art by Dr Abbey)

Durosimi

He picked a bone up under the lighthouse.

It had been used as candle stand.

He noticed a name carved.

Old language

He has a human candle at home.

Melting fat with old bones

Fire on dead hair

Scarlet flame from eye holes.

And spiders

Spiders are eating skulls

Spiders’ nests make a skull chain.

Durosimi grows eight legs

and laughs at himself.

It is a bone black magic.

*

(Text by Dr Abbey, image by Tom and Nimue.

If you’d like to spend more time with Durosimi and his spiders, there’s a 4.5k short story for everyone who backs the kickstarter – if we hit our first stretch goal. The piece above and the short story were written in parallel, and it is thanks to Abbey that the story has so many spiders in it! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hopelessmaine/hopeless-maine-the-graphic-novel-by-tom-and-nimue-brown/)

Crustacean improvisation

leaving the scene of the crime.

The hermit crabs have not been told

Of how one end a reed should hold

They do not know to cut and dry

And knowing nothing, do not try.

The flute is narrow, it is so

And down it one large crab might blow

While keenly others play their roles

And scuttle forth to block the holes.

They long for music on the beach

A washed up band lies in their reach

Pray do not tell them as they roam

About the shipwrecked whole trombone.

Portrait of the author as an eldritch abomination

I’ve been messing about a bit with self-portraits this week, and this is my Hopeless take on me.

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Clearly I am some sort of eldritch abomination! Obviously, I have tentacles. I’m not sure why I’m a lamp stand from the waist down – It could be that I was a trial run for Mrs Beaten. I imagine that I have been left in a dark corner of a largely forgotten room, but if people approach me I will tell them terrible things.

What would you look like as an island resident? We’re always open to art, and to cosplay, so if you’re a resident with the time and inclination to send us something, we’d love to share it. If you don’t have direct contact with us already, just leave a comment and we’ll pluck your email address from wordpress and drop you a line.++++++++++++

Balthazar Lemon

Balthazar Lemon is the father of Melisandra, grandfather of Salamandra. He shipwrecked on the island of Hopeless Maine as a young man, and took up inventing. He’s rather good at this – having built the lighthouse, restored the church organ, and undertaken assorted other strange and wonderful projects.

He has what appears to be a weird fish fetish. This may have a great deal to do with Salamandra’s missing grandmother, who was a mermaid and who swam away when she got bored.

Balthazar is a significant presence in Hopeless Maine: Inheritance (the second half of The Gathering in the Sloth Comics publications). He also features in prose novel New England Gothic, and remains an influence on the island through his creations.

Balthazar is the embodiment of eccentric invention. It is also his considered opinion that all the best projects have a bucket in them somewhere.

Alicia Poe – a Hopeless Ghost

I am the ghost of the girl you killed

Over and over when you silenced me

Every time you deprived me of peace

Told me to be nice, say nothing of anything

That is not nice even as it happened to me.

I am the ghost of the girl not allowed

To cry in the night, in pain, in fear.

Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about.

I am the ghost of the woman you killed

Over and over, when you denied me

The right to be myself, to have my feelings

When you shut down my thoughts,

Ignored my needs, turned my pain

And my despair into irrelevant nothing.

Locked me in the house for my own good

Then in the attic since I could not be trusted

To act in my own best interests.

Saying only you knew what was right for me

Only you could say what was good and proper.

You said nothing is more tragically romantic

Than the untimely death of a beautiful

Young woman. And how you smiled

When you said that to me.

I am the ghost of the woman you killed

And I have all the time in the world

For my revenge.

(Art by Dr Abbey, poem inspired by the art, and a bit of a snarl at Edgar Allen Poe, who really did say something to the effect that the death of a beautiful young woman was the only real subject for literature)

Jed Grimes

Jed Grimes runs the Hopeless Maine hardware store. However, sourcing on Hopeless is a bit haphazard. People who make stuff tend to want to sell or trade it themselves. Mostly what Jed sells is stuff he has scavenged, and he’s a really good scavenger. He also plays the long game. When a ship flounders off the Hopeless coast, most people are out there looking for exciting things they can use or eat straight away. Jed takes home bits of wood, and nails.

He’s really into nails.

Jed is also the sort of person to take a length of heavy ship’s rope and pick it apart for usable threads. He’s almost as much into string as he is nails.

If you’ve read Hopeless Maine: Victims, you’ll already know a few other things about Jed. His life is complicated, but, no spoilers for the people who haven’t got that far.

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.

James Weaselgrease and the bear

The above image comes from The Gathering. The young man on the right is a very young James Weaselgrease (to use my son’s steampunk performance name). He is the child in this story who Salamandra rescues and to whom she gives her bear.

 

James Weaselgrease and the bear

 

She gave me this small toy bear

Torn, battered, restored with care

Softness in my open arms

Best of magic, best of charms.

 

Old toy bear to ward off fear

Wonky face and sewn up ear

Damaged but not yet destroyed

Comforting, my spirits buoyed

 

Courage with a messy face

Saved, repaired and full of grace

Saw who I could choose to be

Found the hope to uplift me.

 

Nights are long and dark and grim

Demons tear us limb from limb

Days are cold and grim and grey

Much to steal your life away.

 

Even in the darkness, light

Find the means to live and fight

Fill this time with something good

Do the best, the most we could.

 

In each tiny action seek

Kindest ways, protect the weak

Every chance there is for joy

All your wits and strength deploy

 

She gave me this bear to hold

Ease my fear and make me bold

Do for others what I can

And this is how my work began.

 

Image at the top by Tom Brown, poem by Nimue, bear by Dr Abbey.