Category Archives: Island News

Hopeless Necessity

If you already have a copy of the Hopeless, Maine tarot set, you’ll probably recognise this image as The Wheel of Fate. It was always intended to be a multi-purpose image, drawn for the tarot set but also as the cover of a book that does not exist.

The book that does not exist doesn’t even have a proper title at this stage. The main character is one Necessity Jones, who is an inventor. There’s a mother of invention joke trying to happen here, but it hasn’t quite hatched yet.

The Necessity project started some time before lockdown and then just… stopped. There were lots of reasons. The problem wasn’t really the project, it had more to do with the author being burned out and depressed and having a hard time imagining there was even any point writing the thing. And so it languished in a notebook, unfinished.

It also didn’t help that I’d tried to set it after the graphic novels with no real idea how anything worked at that point. However, last year, I sat down with Dr Abbey and we wrote a book – Mirage – which follows on from the graphic novels. Thanks to Dr Abbey I now have a pretty good idea about how life changes on the island. 

Necessity herself isn’t that involved with the characters we’ve seen so far. The idea was to dive into more of the details of island life, which the graphic novels don’t let me do anything like as much as I want to. So, there are some spoilers for the series as a whole, but not many.

In theory, Necessity will get her story written and go out into the world at the rate of about 5k words a month, over on Patreon. With luck and a fair wind, she’ll emerge as an ebook first, and then in a thoroughly illustrated form – probably with Sloth Comics.

If you’d like to follow her adventures with machinery, demons, zombies, night potatoes and glass herons, amongst others, wander this way – https://www.patreon.com/NimueB and sign up as a pocket sized dustcat, a steampunk druid or a glass heron – depending on how much you want to pay and how much other stuff you’d like to get.

Much as we love the island, it does not pay us enough to live on. Patreon support helps us afford to pour more time into it while still being able to eat. And to be fair, we like starving in a garrett about as much as anyone else does!

The ghastly fate of Barry Lupin

Barry Lupin had an unhealthy passion for systems. He had come from some distant and exotic land where the natives pracriced such curious rituals as filing. Although ostensibly he spoke English, he dropped strange and arcane words of uncertain provenance into his conversations. Systems analysis. Research protocol. Data retrieval. He spoke these terms with such conviction that members of the Scientific Society who had no idea what he meant felt obliged to just nod their heads respectfully.

The trouble with having a passion for filing paperwork, is that this necessitates having some kind of paper supply. Hopeless has never been a place where paper making has ever occurred in significant quantities. The ‘imports’ available through shipwrecks often leave a lot to be desired for quality and may have already been written on. While Frampton Jones has always supported the Scientific Society, that support has never included a desire to sacrifice his constantly recycled paper supplies for them.

And so it was that Barry Lupin came to the pragmatic decision that he had best paint the walls of his house black so as to be able to write on them with chalk. He was certainly not the first person to go for the squid-based wall blackening, although more normally this would have involved cult membership or occult aspirations. Barry just wanted a viable paper substitute. Thereafter, he was able to plan out his systems, protocols, methodology and other record keeping theories, washing ideas away when he had explored them to their limits and discussing them at length with his bemused friends.

In his tiny, precise handwriting, Barry slowly covered the walls of his home in observations, ordered according to the systems he had so thoughtfully planned. His stairway became a catalogue of dustcat observations. The bedroom he filled with things he had witnessed that defied physics and all of his calculations relating to those circumstances. In the living room he made notes upon the noises he heard around the house at night but could not explain. The first few remarks having been written in jest, he became increasingly obsessed with this subject.

One evening in the early part of winter his friends found him, writing the leter A over and over again across his exposed and painted floorboards. He would not speak to them, and when he had run out of floor he simply continued into the garden. None of them could stop his slow and crawling departure into the woods. Although to be fair, the trio who found him were so confused by his behaviour that they did not greatly exert themselves and instead observed the scene carefully in case future notes were required.

Only later did they explore the house, tracing the relentless ‘A’s back to their point of origin in the phrase ‘the horror, the horror, I am screaming all the time I write this.’

(With thanks to Andy Arbon for loaning us his face!)

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!

Isabelle Myfanwy, unexpectedly deceased

Having been missing for several days, remains of Isabelle Myfanwy were unexpectedly discovered late yesterday, inside a glass heron. Due to the whole issue of being inside a glass heron, there will be no burial, but a memorial service of some sort is expected.

At present, the cause of Isabelle’s death remains unknown. As a 14 year old she is unlikely to have been dismembered by the bird who ate her and should really have lost no more than a hand to a glass heron attack. It seems most likely that her remains were already in pieces before the glass heron ingested her. We may never know the truth.

Doc Willoughby said, “The most likely cause of death is gothicism, which is a frequent killer of young ladies. Isabelle had taken to wearing black clothing and dramatic hoods, which is never a good sign. She was probably hanging about in graveyards, and either got herself exsanguinated, or torn apart by werewolves.”

Doc Willpoughy encourages any other young ladies afflicted by gothicism to call in at his surgery after dark where they can admire his collection of unsavoury things in bottles while he undertakes to cure them of their unwholesome inclinations. I am sure this is as reasonable as it sounds.

Friends of the deceased fear that she may have been taken by the island’s black dog, or indeed a werewolf.

“She always did love fluffy things,” one family member told me. “And some of those werewolves can be really fluffy at this time of year.”

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)