Category Archives: Hopeless inhabitants

Marieanne McAvoy’s dustcat hat

Cat hat, dustcat hat, cat on a hat that’s where she sat

And the dustcat of course was round and fat

In the hat, with ears like a bat having eaten the dust

That she licked from the mat, 

With a tongue like a tube, like a trick like a twist

It’s a dustcat hat it’s a joke it’s a trap 

And its heavier now than a regular cap

But a regular cap won’t

Give your face a lap with a long tube tongue

That can suck and rasp

And you gasp and you writhe as it licks your face

The hat’s cleaning you, such a big disgrace

For what is dust but bits of skin

That are dead, that are dry, that are flakey thin

What a dustcat wants is a dusty snack

And your skin is fresh but it won’t hold back

Not this hat, not this dustcat hat on your head

In your face, clawing down your spine

Eating skin, dead skin maybe yours maybe mine

It may not be cute, it might be an attack

But you won’t like a cat who is feeling a lack

Any lack at all it’ll be in your face,

With its teeth and its paws and its feline grace

What were you thinking, did you dust this place?

Now that cat in your hat has to eat your skin

Though it looks quite fat this cat feels so thin

And you won’t put it off with the scent of gin

And you won’t get away though you try and you pray

It’s a cat hat, dustcat on your head

And it may eat your face if it thinks you’re dead.

(With thanks to Marieanne for the prompt!)

Your heart in her hands

There is a certain pleasure in causing them pain. To seduce and betray, to see how much they will suffer before it becomes unbearable to them. Until they beg her to stop. She does not stop, unless it is to prolong the torment.

Melisandra has never found it difficult to make people fall in love with her. Perhaps the hunt would be more compelling if it called for more effort. They fall so easily, into this insane and vulnerable state. It is a mystery to her, she has never felt for herself whatever it is that possesses them, but watching the process is entertaining.

A man can wake into absolute love, and crumple into utter despair in a matter of a few hours. She holds their hearts in her hands. Often this is not a metaphor.

Compulsion is something she does understand. She has been into the sea enough times, enthralled by the unspeakable ones who dwell there. Hunger, she understands perfectly. It is the softness that fascinates her. The wide eyed adoration that insists on seeing her as more than a beautiful monster. They are wrong, of course, but it is a curious experience seeing herself misreflected in their eyes. Melisandra has always enjoyed her own reflection, however distorted it may be.

The hunt is never truly satisfying. The hunger never leaves. No matter how she draws out the process, and regardless of any new variations she brings, it is never enough. In the end the bright eyes dull. The adoration is reduced to blood on her skin and entrails between her fingers. There is no substance to it. No matter how she pulls them apart, she cannot possess what she inspires. It slips from her grasp, perhaps before the dying breath. Their hearts are always mute in the end, and only so much flesh after all.

For Science!

I first discovered the Hopeless Maine Scientific Society back when I was working on the obituaries. And for those of you who weren’t reading the Vendetta then, let me explain. We did a kickstarter, with obituaries as a perk for the first 100 backers, so I spent an autumn killing people here on the blog. Fun times!

It turned out that the Scientific Society had a high mortality rate for some reason. Hopeless may not be a good place to live if you have a profound attachment to rationalism, confidence in conventional physics and an interest in biology that cannot accommodate random detritus posing as life forms.  Further, the pursuit of reason, across a misty cove towards a jellyfish woman, is not a pursuit that tends to end well.

The above image shows some of the gentlemen of the Hopeless Maine Scientific Society, and features in the Optimists volume. All of the gentlemen featured are, in the loosest sense of the term, real. On the right hand side, we have Keith Errington and Keith Healing, both of whom are heavily involved in all things Hopeless. On the left we have James Weaselgrease and Robin Treefellow. These two anarchic scientists will be involved with the Hopeless Maine online festival as they attempt to recruit new members for their society.

Hopeless in Space!

We took a little bit of Hopeless, Maine to Steampunks in Space, at the National Space centre in Leicester.

To our utter delight, Nimrod and Fiona came along in their These Our Revels costumes!

And here we have Lyssa Lopez Wain, whose image features in the Optimists volume. She’s also Queen of Night Potatoes in the tarot set!

And here’s Mélissa Delteil with her fabulous Annamarie Nightshade picture, also featured in Optimists.

Hopeless Players

Hopeless Players are now officially a thing!

We took Mrs Beaten’s Literary Salon to the recent Steampunk event in Gloucester. Poet Algernon Lear (Craig Hallam) was coaxed/threatened into performing and survived a set in which bloomers were thrown at him, hecklers demanded dancing girls and critiqued his work, and Reverend Davies found his metaphors improper! 

This was also the first time we’ve had John Bassett performing in public as Reverend Davies, which was really exciting.

We’ll be exploring possibilities for taking Hopeless Players to events, putting on small entertainments with whoever is able to be there on the day. If you’re comfortable improvising within a team and fancy becoming a Hopeless Player now and then, do please let us know.

Equally, if you fancy having some of this chaos – or other forms of chaos that we can provide – at an event, do say!

Reverend Davies is with us

We have a longstanding habit of borrowing people’s faces – partly because creating individual background characters can be hard work. Partly because including people we like in the project is always a lot of fun.

Reverend Davies was not based on any real people. However, he’s going to be in the silent film as a character, and this means an actual person will be playing him. That will be John Bassett, who has also done a lot of work developing the script and sorting out practical stuff alongside Tom.

This wasn’t planned as a photo shoot. we just realised that real people who were featured in the art would be coming in, and then realised that as Mr Bassett was in the building, we could get him to pose with Reverend Davies…

Mermaid Tales

Young Salamandra by Tom Brown.

The Mermaid Grandmother

Ancestry is very much part of the Hopeless Maine story. The Jones family claims to descend from pirates, while the Frog family show every sign of having originated in Innsmouth. The island celebrates its Founding Families. 

Unlike most of America, Hopeless was not occupied prior to the arrival of settlers from further afield. In local indigenous languages it is referred to as The Place We Go When We Are Young And Trying To Prove Something. There are four tribes associated with the Maine area and I’ve tried to be careful around both honouring their existence and not putting this story on to them. The island is a silly place to live, and local people know that. The founding had everything to do with white capitalist exploitation of resources, and since the resources went away, has mostly been populated by people from shipwrecks.

On her father’s side, Salamandra is descended from one of the founding families – The O’Stoats. This is a family with a long tradition of murder, and unpleasant occultism, often combined. Her father – Durosimi, is present in the graphic novels and you can find her paternal grandfather in New England Gothic. The grandmother on this side is a significant absence and I might seek out her story at some point.

Salamandra’s mother, Melisandra, is a bit of a psychopath and we also see her in the graphic novels. We meet Balthazar – Melisandra’s father, but her mother has also existed as a significant absence. I’d suspected for a while that she might be a mermaid.

This year we started looking at the mermaid grandmother in earnest. Her name is Alraune – which is German for mandrake. Dr Abbey named her as part of the project we’re working on together. So far, we have one image of her, although clearly there will be more, and it will be interesting to see more of her mermaid form as we progress. It’s also been interesting exploring the dynamics between three generations of magical women, none of whom really get on with each other.

Alraune by Dr Abbey

Jellyfish women

Jellyfish women grow from the head down. These creatures begin life as regular jellyfish, with eggs growing into larvae that swim about for a bit and eventually find something to attach themselves to. They feed and grow as anonymous looking tentacled things. These eventually tuck their tentacles in and become small sea creatures. Feeding continues. Feeding and growing. So much feeding. Eventually the jellyfish bell and tentacles start to develop. And sometimes, the bell has a face.

Why certain jellyfish develop human-seeming faces is a bit of a mystery. If the jellyfish survives, it will continue to feed and grow – specifically growing downwards until it takes the form of an adult human female – often wearing a large and elaborate dress. This is clearly because the jellyfish woman incorporates the bell tent of the regular jellyfish form. It may just be an uneasy coincidence that this form exists.

When the jellyfish woman has feet, she finds a location where the depth is just right, and attaches herself to the sea floor again. Once this has been achieved, a jellyfish woman can in theory live forever. The sea depth is vitally important – no more than the head and shoulders of the jellyfish woman should be exposed by low tide. However, it is vital that the head at least is exposed as this is key to how the adult jellyfish woman feeds.

The ability of jellyfish women to learn and deploy human speech is another of their many mysteries. It is theorised that they are psychic and either draw the language from the head of a potential victim in order to speak, or project their words into the human mind. 

The jellyfish woman will use either seduction to lure a victim, or will try to persuade them that she is a normal human at risk of drowning. Once the victim enters the water, the jellyfish woman uses the poison in her tentacles to further entrap her prey. She consumes small amount of blood, but her poison is addictive and causes victims to voluntarily return, craving fresh hits. Feeding over an extended period, coupled with the impact of the poison, will kill the victim.

Who’s a good boy?

Drury is a good doggo. He knows this in his bones, and is sometimes confused when people find him scary. Granted, he’s a large pupper and he knows he isn’t supposed to jump up at people, but he gets excited. 

Exactly when, or how, or why Drury turned out the way he did is a bit of a mystery – especially to him. In essence he was just a dog who was very into being a dog. And he was so enthusiastic about being a dog that when bits of him stopped being a dog, he didn’t really pay it much attention. He just kept bounding about. 

He must have been more alarming during the period when his softer tissues were retiring. It is unlikely that he noticed much about this, but a lage, decaying dog is not the cute floof most people want to see, much less be enthusiastically licked by.

Perhaps he belonged to a night soil man, who would not have noticed the smell. Perhaps his owner was a necromancer – deliberately or accidentally, and loved Drury too much to let him go, even when bits of him started falling off. Perhaps he was conjured into being with the intention that he be awful and terrible, but he just continued being far too much of a dog for that to work out properly.

As a bone creature, one of Drury’s particular hobbies is finding things to dangle out of his mouth that function like a tongue. He also likes to bring people presents, as with the illustration above. He knows he is a good boy, and no amount of screaming will ever persuade him otherwise.