Category Archives: Hopeless

Hopeless Maine Stories

Hopeless, Maine - New England Gothic & Other Stories ebook by Keith Errington,Brynneth Nimue Brown

If you backed our kickstarter a few years ago, you may already have copies of New England Gothic or The Oddatsea. You may have since managed to acquire one at an event. But, maybe you didn’t, and maybe this has left a gaping hole in your bookcase…

Much to our delight, Outland entertainment (who are publishing American editions of the graphic novels) are also publishing the prose fiction. It comes out in August and is widely available from book selling places, including…

In the USA…

Kobo (ebook version) https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/hopeless-maine

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hopeless-maine-keith-errington/1139080560?ean=9781954255128

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Hopeless-Maine-England-Gothic-Stories-ebook/dp/B098GWBBHW

And in the UK…

Hive – https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Keith-Errington/Hopeless-Maine–New-England-Gothic–Other-Stories/25936608

Wordery https://wordery.com/hopeless-maine-keith-errington-9781954255128

Bookshop – https://uk.bookshop.org/books/hopeless-maine-new-england-gothic-other-stories/9781954255128

(Also Amazon in the UK, but, other places are less likely to spend your money on going in to space).

And here, for your delectation, is Nimue reading a bit of New England Gothic

Hopeless Maine in Japan

The limited edition print run of Personal Demons has arrived in Japan!

Dr Abbey with the Sloth/Japan personal Demons, somewhere in Tokyo!

At this point, we’re looking at three potential Japanese shows this summer! There’s a limited edition print run for the first one, and if that sells out, we may well be looking at proper Japanese versions, possibly even in translation – although Dr Abbey has to sleep at some point and we don’t want to entirely wear him out!

Here’s a celebratory Sloths in Okinawa that our publisher Nic did for the first show, which happens in July.

Hopeless in Japan

We’re very excited to be part of an exhibition in Japan this summer – organised by Dr Abbey. Bits of Hopeless will be there, alongside work from our excellent steampunk chums Dr Geof and Jennie Gyllblad. Also other people that we don’t really know.

In honour of this event, Sloth Comics has put together a special edition limited print run of Personal Demons (The first half of The Gathering for UK folk). We’re massively excited about this. It’s hardly normal for a small, indy comic like ours to go on sale in Japan. There’s even talk of doing a larger print run, in translation!

A spell for divination

Take a fish. What sort of fish it is, matters. It is as well to understand the nature of the fish.

Put the fish onto The Plate Of Divination. The fish will tell your fortune.

If you have chosen a fairy fish, it will not simply tell you of the future. It may help you create the future.

If you have used the wrong sort of fish, it may attempt to eat your head. It is best to be ready for this eventuality.

Do not, under any circumstances, use the head of a mermaid.

Even if you are a fish, it is not a good idea to use your own head. However much you worry about the future, your head is not the answer. Use anything except your own head.

But obviously, don’t use blood. You know what happens to magical items when you use blood.

Wash everything carefully afterwards.

We knew you thought you knew better. You were supposed to use a fish. Now look at you. This is what happens when you don’t read your occult texts properly.

(Sea dragon and fish divination spell by Nimue, based on an idea by Dr Abbey).

The Hopeless Maine family strikes again

There are many truly lovely people who have, one way or another, thrown themselves into the tentacled embrace of Hopeless, Maine.

It would be fair to say that we’ve had a tough few months. As many of you know, Tom had a stroke back in December – he’s recovered well but it was scary at the time. Nimue has been ill a lot – nothing so dramatic, but ongoing adventures in pain and weariness. And so it was that some of the wider Hopeless Maine family gathered together and did a lovely thing to cheer us up.

This was apparently the brainchild of Nils Visser – who you will have seen a lot of here on the blog with his glorious Diswelcome series. He pulled a fabulous team together to make this happen. He’s a fine chap, and responsible for inventing Snugglepunk. Or possibly Smugglepunk.

There’s Professor Elemental doing the music, aided and abetted by Tom Carunana. We love the Prof, and the video features some of the art Tom’s done for him over the years.

Bob Fry is a longstanding supporter and spoon fancier, also an essential part of Nimue’s Wherefore project.

Herr Doktor once went so far as to make a spoonwalker. He’s also widely believed to be a deity of the steampunk pantheon.

John Bassett can be held responsible for Steampunk Stroud, and is also part of the Hopeless Maine film team, wearing many different hats for that one. All in one stack, obviously.

Cair Going is a gorgeous person and we were there when she was crowned as Queen.

Bill Jones can teach you how to grow Victorians in your garden. You may have seen his work in Private Eye.

Lou Pulford has written for this blog and performed with us in public places and has the best tentacles.

Susie Roberts sings with A Cup Full of Tentacles – the performance side of Hopeless – when we’re allowed to go out and do unspeakable things in public places.

Deep gratitude to you all, for being in our lives, for being so relentlessly lovely, and for making us cry over this video. You are all splendid and we wish we could hug you all.

Hopeless Moths

Some years ago, we had the strange experience of outing Hopeless in an art gallery as part of the local book festival. I made some very random things for that! One of the things I made was a collector’s case of moths. The moths were of course all works of fiction and no actual moths were hurt in the process. I invented quite a few moths for the island – some of which I still remember because I rather liked them.

The poisoned Druid moth was made from mistletoe, so was sort of a joke, because of me being a Druid.

The granny’s shroud moth was large and pale, and I like to imagine them flapping about disconcertingly at windows late at night, and being especially horrible to pick out of spiderwebs.

The greater and lesser git moths are the sort of moths who eat clothes, and other household items.

Thinking about the moths this week has led me to realise that we haven’t given much thought to bats on the island, so there are bats going into the bestiary for the role play game.

Here’s a video from the art gallery. The moth case is at around the 10.30 mark…

Hopeless Role Play

As a young human, I played a fair few role play systems and it was a significant part of my life. One of the normal features of a role play game is that the world is… well… world sized. The setting you game in is usually as large as your imagination is willing to invest in.

A role play game set on Hopeless Maine is clearly a very different kettle of fish (or tentacles). It is, by any definition, a rather small setting. You could walk across it in a matter of days, and one of the features of the island is that it is very hard to leave it and go elsewhere. It is a tiny reality of its own, full of weirdness, but it is not really how most role play worlds function.

But, small can be beautiful. Small can be really intense and there’s not much scope to run away from the consequences of your actions. Everything you do as a player on Hopeless will stay round to haunt you – probably in a literal sort of way. You can’t just leave town and move on if things don’t go well, or you’ve nabbed the treasure or made an enemy. Outside of town, beyond the farms it is difficult to survive, which is why people mostly aren’t living there.

Hopeless as a role play setting is really good for intense scenarios. It lends itself to mysteries and murder mysteries. If you’re looking for a setting where your characters will have to make long term relationships with NPCs, this is for you. If you’re looking for situations where people have to think and role play rather than dungeon crawl, Hopeless works well. It’s not going to be the right setting for anyone who wants to spend their time slaying monsters, grabbing treasure and hooking up with pretty NPCs. But, if you like your gaming experiences to be weirder, more gothic and with more focus on the role play, this could well be the ideal setting for you.

The Hopeless Maine role play game has been a work in progress – and largely the work of Keith Healing – for some time now. We will have some significant news for you soon, we think, which is why I’m dangling this teaser-tentacle today. Also, the cover above is the old cover, there will be a new cover soon…

Life with spoons

What did spoonwalkers do before there were spoons on the island? Their bodies are soft, their tentacles might otherwise be used for dragging their delicate flesh over the cold, hard, unforgiving ground… Clearly this is no way to live. Although, it is easy to imagine that their mournful faces are somehow the consequence of generations of soft bodies dragged mercilessly over the island’s harsh terrain.

Before the spoons, there were sticks. Of course the island has a lot of sticks, so you might wonder why a creature would give up such a plentiful supply of stilts in favour of scavenging for spoons. But spoons tend to be of a size with each other. The spoonwalkers cannot break sticks to get the right length, and finding a really well matched set of sticks, like in weight and length, is no easy task. And then, those perfect sticks will not last. The island is a damp place. Water will inevitably get into the wood and the wood will rot and when you are running for your life, a suddenly breaking stick can be the death of you. Spoons do not break, and many a spoonwalker has escaped being eaten by a glass heroin for just this reason.

There is also the shiny factor. You will never see a spoonwalker with dirty spoons – at least you won’t unless it is at that moment fleeing through mud from something that means it harm. Spoonwalkers lovingly polish their spoons, using leaves to clear away dirt, licking the spoons and rubbing them to make them shine. There isn’t much on the island that naturally shines with the lustre of polished cutlery. It appears that the spoonwalkers have fallen in love with shiny metal.

And so, if you wake at night and hear a soft ‘zee-boo, zee-boo’ sound from within the darkness of your home, it is likely the sound of a spoonwalker who has stolen one of your socks and is huffing gently to itself as it polishes the spoons you will never see again.

(This was written for a rather exciting thing Gregg from Dark Box is doing – a Hopeless Maine project that has drawn in other Hopeless family members… watch this space…)

Hopeless Family

The Hopeless Maine family is large, sprawling, and wonderful. We have so many awesome people getting involved in all kinds of ways to make the island ever more weird. We love you. You make it all worthwhile.

In 2019, we didn’t go to the enormous steampunk gathering in Lincoln, but Lyssa did, bearing a copy of The Gathering to put into the hands of Japanese film producer and wizard Dr Abbey. He was rather taken with it, and a conversation developed from there.

We fell in love with him. Emotionally, creatively. Tom and I were enraptured by his ideas, his perspective, his energy.  Over the months he became more of a part of our lives and we talked, ever more seriously about what we might do together. If you’re a regular here, you will have seen bits of that going by.

In July, he came to us from Japan and for some weeks he has lived with us, drawing, talking, sharing ideas. There were a lot of ideas, and most of them are things we simply can’t do without him. We were daring to dream large there, for a while, and to imagine a future for the series beyond the story arc we already have planned. Abbey drew a number of images that clearly belong further along the timeline of some characters than I was expecting to go.

This is a picture Tom did of the three of us before we had met in person. It was drawn as a statement of intent, a small act of magic to move us in the direction we wanted to go. It’s Abbey doing his Durosimi face – he’s a tricky person to catch with one image. How he looks depends a lot on whether he is serious or clowning, or truly happy, or deep in concentration. He usually wears glasses, his hair is far crazier than any image really captures.

I’m posting it now as a statement of intent, an act of hope and dedication. This week has not gone well. There are times in life when you have to choose between dreams and being sensible. When you protect your heart, or keep it wide open no matter the cost. There are times when all you can do is choose whether to step away, or keep trying and hoping.

Hopeless, Maine is a project built fundamentally out of love and a willingness to try unlikely things. It is at heart a project about hope. It’s always been a community project, and we’ve always held doors open and enthusiastically encouraged anyone who wanted to play with us. It’s who we are, and what we do.

At this point, we have no idea how anything might work out with Dr Abbey. We don’t know what options we even have.  It feels like everything is hanging in the balance.  So we do what we always do. We keep moving as best we can. We keep hopeful.  We want the heart of this project to be three people, not two people. We want future projects where Dr Abbey has his hands on the paper. We want to take the larger, crazier dreams and make them real.

This is what we’re for, as a project. This is what the story is about – both in real life and in the graphic novels. What people do when they love each other, and do not give up, no matter what.

Hopeless Optimists – an update

Hopeless Maine volume 4; Optimists, has been delayed. We’ve been affected by the virus and the book will be out later than intended. Sorry about this!

Part of the issue is that Sloth is not a big publishing house, and like much of the independent comics market, depends on events to sell books. With all events cancelled, things have been hard for Sloth. It’s not been a good time to invest money in printing a new book.

As creators we’ve also been hit. We lost work – although thankfully not all of it, but enough that it has impacted on us. Unhelpfully for Hopeless, Tom is the one who has had more paying gigs come in, and it’s made more sense to take those and let Hopeless wait a bit.

We are a fair way into Hopeless Maine Optimists. It should be out early next year when we hope there will be more scope for taking it to events. After that we have one more book to go to complete this narrative arc, and hopefully that will be a bit less affected by the state of the world!

What happens after Hopeless Survivors, is an interesting question. We don’t quite know at this point, but pondering is under way. We had thought Survivors would be the last Hopeless graphic novel – they take Tom about 6 months and they don’t pay for six months of full time work, which is challenging for us as a household. However, there may be entertaining and time efficient ways of keeping on making comics, and we are exploring that at the moment and seeing where it takes us.