Category Archives: Island News

Once upon a Hopeless, Maine

Being some words from The Keith of Mystery

When is a children’s book, not a children’s book? Why, when it’s a Hopeless, Maine children’s book of course.

One of the things I love about the world of Hopeless, Maine is its dark sense of humour. To be honest, I am not a big fan of straight horror, but horror with a twisted sense of fun – yep – that will get me every time! And I love playing with genres, tropes, memes, and subverting people’s expectations – which is basically what the world of Hopeless, Maine does.

And it’s that world, along with its creators Tom & Nimue Brown, that I find endlessly inspiring – responsible for generating so many bonkers ideas in my brain – usually late at night, and sometimes after beer!

So at some point, I was playing around with these random ideas and it occurred to me that the very opposite of the dark, frightening world of Hopeless, Maine, would be a happy, cheery, children’s book.

And then I thought – but what would a Hopeless, Maine children’s book be like? Well, clearly not like any other children’s book, that’s for sure! The idea led to some words, and once I had the story, I felt that I had to realise it in print. Fortunately, when I told Tom and Nimue about it they loved it – I distinctly remember Nimue’s reaction to it, which was to tell me I have a wonderfully warped and twisted mind.

The concept required something new in the way of an illustrative style from Tom – but luckily, he has worked on children’s books before – so he had a style in mind – at least for the beginning of the book. And his drawing, along with Nimue’s colouring, are perfect – wonderfully sweet and darkly dangerous, all at the same time.

I can’t tell you much more – that would give away the plot! But expect a story that starts all nice and fluffy and gradually becomes darker and more demonic!

The book Once upon a Hopeless, Maine is available to order from our Tales of Hopeless, Maine store.

And here’s a little taste of what’s inside…

Hopeless Ghouls

We’re in the exciting process of developing a Bestiary for the Hopeless Maine role play game. This is work being led on by Keith Healing. We are of course collecting up all the strange things that go by in the background, and working out a bit more about the mechanics of what they do and how/if they might hurt a person.

It means that new discoveries are also being made. Apparently we have ghouls. This isn’t a great surprise on a gothic island with a lot of cemeteries where food is often at a premium.

We’re also experimenting a bit with how art will work for this book. Here we have a ghoul drawn by Tom and inked by me.

Hopeless, Maine returns to North America with Outland Entertainment

Hello people! (and others)

We can now reveal that Hopeless, Maine is returning to North America with Outland Entertainment! The first two volumes will be printed and released soon, along with illustrated prose novels by Nimue Brown and Keith Errington and the Hopeless, Maine RPG is in development and may well be out at the same time. Here is the press release! 

Cover art – collaboration between Nimue and myself.

Mister Adams probably died last year

How long Mister Adams has been dead, no one is entirely sure. His haunted house attraction was without a doubt the least popular commercial enterprise the island has ever seen, and as no one visited it for months, his body has remained there, unremarked for an embarrassingly long period of time.

I don’t think any of us truly understood why Mister Adams felt the need to build a haunted house attraction. It’s not like we’re short of actual haunted houses. He put a startling amount of work into creating from scratch the kind of creepy, mouldering environment that occurs naturally all over the island.

The only known visitor to the Haunted House was Weevil Chevin, who said “It was great, it was just like my old gran’s house before she went mad and burned it down.”

It was Weevil who found the body, having gone back for a second visit. He thoughtfully removed Mister Adams from the property and summoned Doc Willoughby, who is quoted as saying, “I don’t know why you bothered, you don’t need a trained professional to see that this man has been dead for quite some time.”

Weevil told me that what impressed him most on his second visit, was how the bloody handprints on the wall still looked fresh and were damp to the touch. “Tasted like blood and all. Dead impressive.”

 

(This death is a nod to the work the real life Mister Adams did for the This House is Not Haunted video, and is a belated addition to last year’s obituaries. We’re sorry it took so long to find his body!)

Hopeless Lonely Hearts

With Valentine’s Day safely behind us, it is time for those less fortunate in love to creep out of the shadows, at least for long enough to wave a hopeful tentacle. We’ve had some great submissions, names of the wonderful, infamous people who sent each contribution are in brackets – if you don’t know them, look them up!

 

If you’d like an option on responding to future things of this ilk, follow us on facebook or twitter.

 

And now, without further ado, onto the latest from the Hopeless Maine Lonely Hearts column….

Travel writer/warlock seeks companion for walks on beach, reading sessions and constant reassurance that the little green abomination with a lisp sitting on her shoulder is real and she’s not going insane oh gods why won’t it go away why why. Non smoker preferred.

(Francesca Dare)

 

Lonely mortician seeks introvert for quiet nights in, surgical practice and possibly more. GSOH and own surgical kit a must!

(Charles Cutting)

 

Melancholic poet seeks occult practitioner for stargazing and beachcombing. Romantic aspirations and love of dustcats a must.

(Craig Hallam)

 

Priestess seeks Worshippers. Bring appropriate offerings to the waterfront at the rise of the Full Moon. Next of Kin details required.

(Cat Treadwell)

 

Man, 45 GSOH seeks woman/man/cyborg for long walks in the attic, light animal experimentation and occasional explosions. LIKES: orang-utans, tannin, occasional explosions. DISLIKES: Coffee, men with banjos and/or moustaches.

(Professor Elemental)

 

Indian exch. witch offers Walpurgisnacht carpet pool York – Harz Mountains. Imperial Persian carpet, 12 places. Departs: York Minster Central Tower 28/04. 1st come, 1st serve. Contact Aaliyah Baba, scry/orb, open astral channel btw 12.00-01.00. Fee: Soul Secrets, Lover’s Vows.

(Suna Dasi)

 

Mild mannered maniac seeking companionship, 1969 vintage, original body (with modifications), full service history, test drive advised. NO TIRE KICKERS. The ideal candidate would need large bumpers or airbags, and go from 0-60 in less than 8 seconds.

(Ian Crichton)

 

Perfectly Normal But Lonely Single F, 40 y.o but with the body of 18 y.o.[stored safely in the freezer], own transport, seeks like-minded individual for good times, long book shop visits and romantic Staring Into The Void. Living preferred but vital status negotiable for right person. Must look good in riding boots and share sense of pedantry. No slime wasters.

(JJ Bannister)

 

Mature gentleman with GSOH and both original hips seeks very patient companion for experiments in unwearable clothing. Human preferred but some exotic ancestry not necessarily a problem. Must be warm blooded and breath air. No fish.

(Nimrod)

Helke Jonkman’s fateful map

By Frampton Jones

Helke Jonkman had not, it turned out, even intended to be on this side of the Atlantic, but is not so very good with directions. And of course sometimes directions here are complicated. We’re so used to the way paths come and go. There are places you can only ever reach at the full moon, doors that only open in winter, graves that are only properly visible at twilight – if you’ve been here a while, you likely already know this. It bemuses newcomers and of course there are always people who are confused by directions that include questions of time, or wind direction.  Perhaps as island people we are more used to thinking about tides, and places that are sometimes unavailable.

The shortage of reliable maps has always been a problem, but how do you map that which changes? Being someone who struggled with directions, Helke became one of the few people to ever try and map the island, in all its oddness.

Helke has gone, but the maps remain. One map could never be enough. There are paths painted in silver, and one marked with a note that it requires blood to walk it. There are paths on these maps that I have never seen myself and would not venture down.

I speculate that there is also a missing map; the one Helke took along on that final journey. The one that tracks the route into whatever mystery occurred, two weeks ago. The map from which Helke may well never return.

We none of us know what might wait for us in the trees, in the darkness, in the silvery trail of moonlight we have never seen before. The unknown is always so alluring, but seldom treats anyone kindly.

John Kokkonakis embraced the darkness

By Frampton Jones

I always have to remind myself that a love of darkness in a shipwrecked resident is not the same as a love of darkness in someone who grew up here. It takes newcomers a while to realise that the beloved velvet darkness of home, with all its charm and whimsy, is not to be found here. Our darkness is full of teeth and eyes, and hunger.

The shift from one calendar year to another generally causes fights. At the moment, the most popular choices of date for next year are 1837, 1896, 1924 and 2215. This is why our consensus about the year recently has gone 1846, 1923, 1860 with last year rather confusingly being 1492. We all keep our own calendars in practice, it may be best that way. And so last night we passed from one calendar year to another, and some of us felt the need to get drunk and punch each other over this, as is traditional.

John Kokkonakis apparently felt the need to celebrate midnight outdoors. I’ve seen this before, and it seldom goes well. People who expect the darkness to be full of merry bells and neighbourly good cheer are always disappointed. Sometimes, I rather suppose the darkness embraces them, instead.

Knowing John’s birth sign, I shall have to re-write the horroscopes for this year, as I firmly believe the prediction of death by nostalgia in the night was meant for him. We’ll just have to see what’s in store for the person most likely to die, who shares his birth sign.

And so we have another obituary in which the departee always claimed to have been born in what I consider the future, and whose year of death is equally impossible to pin down. Years are cruel, unreasonable entities, we should not trust them, and it is clearly unsafe to try and celebrate their capricious comings and goings.

Mark Goodman’s unquiet heart

By Frampton Jones

Last Christmas, Mark Goodman gave me his heart, still beating, and contained in a beautifully decorated box. I was, as you can imagine, rather troubled by this. The next day, I showed the heart to Doc Willoughby, who said he would take it away and examine it. Mark turned out to be rather upset about this, and later retrieved his heart, making it clear that he intended to give it to someone else.

I saw Mark this morning, looking pale and with distinct bite marks on his throat. He also seemed dazed and at first did not appear to recognise me. I was concerned, but did not initially associate this with the strange business of his heart and what he did with it last Christmas. I tend to forget all about Christmas unless reminded.

When he collapsed in the street, I went to his aid. I was able to get him into the shelter of Jed Grimes’s store, where he raved for some time. I can give you only an approximation of his words.  “I gave it to someone special,” he said. “I thought this was someone I could rely on, but I was wrong. Fooled again. But it’s worse this time.”

I managed to ask if this was about his heart. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” he said, “I thought you were a responsible sort of person.” If only he had explained to me what he wanted me to do with it! I am still mystified. It was hardly a romantic gesture, it was a bleeding organ in a box that had no business still beating whilst being in a box. I was more than a little disconcerted at the time and would have benefited from some guidance.

Whatever happened to Mark’s heart this year proved fatal, this Christmas has killed him. I admit to feeling deeply disturbed by the whole experience, a kind of personal Armageddon, a sense that some heavy, blunt object has been whammed into my own innards.