Category Archives: Views of Hopeless

art, photography, cosplay

The second Time Quake edition

Hello people! (and others)

We now continue(and conclude)  our adventures at Time Quake. Part one can be found here.

Once the Mermaid puppet (which was made by the frankly rather amazing) Lou Pulford , she became the focus of much attention and affection. Here is photographic evidence of this.

Also, we were visited (as you can clearly see) by this utterly splendid steampunk R2-D2 which made friends wherever it roamed (and it roamed everywhere)

We also sang the songs of our people (By which I mean songs of Hopeless, Maine, or songs that would fit in there) Nimue has written a Hopeless, Maine sea shanty (during which I groan disconsolately ) and she is expanding our repertoire all of the time. (because she is amazing like that)

 

During a slow moment on Sunday, Nimue and I sat down and sketched for a bit. (with people watching, which always feels a bit like performing without a net) We had noticed that we had no woodland fauna for Hopeless, Maine and set about to remedy this.

I am particularly pleased with the Goblin Cup. It is a bit like a pitcher Plant in that it waits for things to fall into it and then digests them. With the appearance of people on the island, it became aware that it could easily be mistaken for a cup in the gloom and filled with things that were much to its liking (beer, for instance) Now, we get to imagine what a drunken Goblin cup might get up to! The Small Brown Bird features in the Hopeless, Maine book that Nimue is writing at present. It is an excellent mimic (at the worst possible times) The Tree Creeper has no legs to speak of, but rather long toes. It can not take flight from the ground, and so, must creep up a tree using its toes until it can reach a sufficient hight for take-off.  The Ur deer…I’m still not sure what’s going on there, but i’m sure we will find out in time! I am fairly sure that the Puff Bug has a detachable head.

 

As I said in the first installment, this was an utterly brilliant event and the first of its kind. It will be ongoing, and we can recommend it.

For more information, you might wish to visit, here.

 

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Hopeless, Maine comes to Time Quake

Last weekend, we had a bit of an adventure and brought Hopeless, Maine to Manchester (UK) We are basically hobbits (Eldritch Hobbits, naturally) and can only be lured away from our shire for the most excellent adventures. This was one such. Time Quake was a bold experiment put together by the same people who bring you The Asylum Steampunk Festival.  (Which is the largest, and my opinion, best steampunk event in the world) Thier involvement meant that this experiment was bound to be a success (Spoiler- it was)

We set up as the Hopeless, Maine tourist information stand and prepared to educate the unwary about life on our strange little island off the coast of Maine. We were armed with creatures, books, strange bunting, oddities, and the lovely tourist info posters drawn by the esteemed Cliff Cumber. Also- we had leaflets on island history and a piece by the mysterious Eldrich Bunting, explaining why you should choose Hopeless, Maine as your next vacation destination.  Here are some images from the event. I will be back after, for some more saying things to you.

Hello! I’m back! Wasn’t that fun?

At long last, we got to meet Lou Pulford and her lovely family!She has written some of our favorite Vendetta pieces and has written for the Hopeless, Maine RPG as well and…we are just massive fans of her in general. She presented us the amazing mermaid puppet shown above.

One of the things that draws us to these events is the chance to meet new people, be inspired by their creativity and to see people that we do not get to have time with otherwise. Two of these people are shown above. Dr. Geof is an actual genius and one of the loveliest people in the world at all ever. If you are part of the steampunk community, you are almost certainly aware of him. If you are not aware of him, click that link and your life will be improved. Pictured at the end is Ian Crichton. (sometimes known as Herr Döktor)  Any event is greatly bettered for us by getting to spend time with him. Like Geof, he is a genius and a lynchpin of the steampunk community, also an almost frighteningly charming and engaging chap. He makes things that can barely be believed.

This ends part one of the Time Quake vendetta. We hope (as always) this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

Hopeless, Maine is leaking (part 1)

Hello people! (and others)

I was looking at some photos a friend had taken recently not far from where we live in the UK and they were very…Hopeless, Maine-ish.  This lead me to wonder if in fact our strange island (Hopeless, not the UK. Erm) was not perhaps leaking out into the rest of the world. I logged onto my social media accounts and asked for evidence if that was indeed the case, and apparently, I was not wrong.

Our first evidence came from not far away (from us) These photos from Gary Lea establish the theme for this first installment, which is to say, trees.

Look at this tree. This tree is clearly surrounded by spirits and fed on unwholesome things.

Then we move closer… what are these strange danging obscenities?

Let us be brave (or foolish) and move closer still. Are those…eyes? Yes, undoubtedly hundreds of tiny eyes. *shudders*Hopeless, Maine has come to Gloucestershire.  There can be no doubt.

 

While we are on the subject of trees, Cliff Cumber (artist extraordinaire and all around excellent chap)  Bravely stood still long enough to capture this image of an eye in the trees in Maryland.

I am pleased to say that he lived to pass this along to us and tell the tale.

 

So, if you have you seen the hideous evidence of Hopeless, Maine leaking out into the rest of the world, comment here. This will no doubt be an ongoing exploration…

 

Arrival

Why do we do things we’re not supposed to?

The label on the bottle was clear enough; ‘Do not open’.
There didn’t seem anything particularly interesting in the bottle, just sand, a couple of small pebbles all topped up with a lot of rather murky water. I shook it and something metallic bounced against the glass. I peered closely at the contents and through the swirling cloud of liquid dirt I could see a spoon. The bowl section was partly buried in the sand, the handle resting against the side of the bottle and then, just for a split second, I saw it. There was something written on the front part of the handle.
I squinted, as though that would make any difference. It was no use, the water was just too grim – so, I uncorked the bottle. I could swear I heard a young girl giggle. I looked around, but I was alone on the shingle beach. I looked up; the sunny day had begun to darken as a light rain started to fall.
I emptied the contents of the bottle onto the beach as the rain fell harder. I picked up the spoon and washed it in a nearby rock pool. The words etched onto the handle became clear.
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
A chill ran down the back of my neck. I dismissed it as a lucky raindrop. I felt nervous. I don’t know why, I’m not usually a nervous person, but the message on this spoon just spooked me. I dropped the spoon back into the dirt, firmly replaced the cork and threw the bottle as hard as I could into the Atlantic Ocean.
A fitful night’s sleep followed. I just couldn’t get that message out of my mind. On the rare occasions when sleep did take over there were visions of forbidding granite cliffs and a dense fog muting every colour.
I awoke early the next morning with a sense of doom enveloping me. I walked back down to the sea front to try and clear my head. The clouds had become darker and the rain was descending in vertical sheets as the waves swarmed around my boots. A dull clunking sound made me look down; it was the same bottle I had picked up yesterday.
Again I heard laughter, but this time something else – the sound of someone sobbing. It was only the faint, ghost of a sound, but I know I heard it. The crunching of footsteps on the shingle made me look around to see who I shared the beach with.
No-one. I was completely alone.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” a girl’s voice giggled.
I twisted around to see a thick fog rolling in from the ocean. But fog doesn’t talk, does it? There was definitely no-one else around. The message on the spoon must have spooked me more than I realised. The fog swarmed everywhere and within minutes I could hardly see my own feet. The laughing got louder.
“It won’t be long now,” the voice giggled.
“Who’s there? Show yourself,” as if I could see anything in this pea-souper.
More laughter.
“What’s so funny? Why are you laughing?”
“You’ll see. Not long now.”
“Not long to what? Where are you?”
“You’ll see.”
I tried walking towards the voice, but I was effectively blind. I stumbled forwards, my hands bracing my fall onto the sand.
Sand?
This is a shingle beach, there isn’t any sand for miles in either direction. My hands dug in and clenched into fists. It was definitely sand. That wasn’t the only thing that had changed, the sea had got louder. No longer the gentle lapping motion of water on the pebbles, but now the giant crashing of waves against rocks. There are no rocks for miles.
No rocks and no sand.
I rubbed my hands together and could feel the sand smoothing down my skin. The freezing rain ran off my hair and dripped onto the sleeves of my coat. How can the rain be so cold? This is the middle of July. I looked up and thought I could see the fog thinning out.
“Almost there now,” the giggling voice seemed to mock me.
“Who are you?” I demanded. “Where are you? Show yourself.”
“Let him go,” a second voice moaned.
“No,” said the first voice, “this is fun.”
As the fog thinned into a mist I could see two young girls standing in front of me. One, slightly taller, had a mischievous smile on her face, the other tears trickled down her cheeks; both had a wan, jaundiced complexion. The mist seemed to dull the colour of their clothes, if they had any colour to begin with. I looked past them. Granite cliffs towered high into a dark green sky.
“Where is this place?” I asked
“You’ll like it here, given enough time,” said the taller one, the mischievous smile slowly replaced by a more sinister expression. “And you’ll have plenty of that.”
“It’s not fair,” said the second girl. “You should let him leave.”
“It’s too late for that,” said the taller girl.
“This isn’t the beach I walked onto,” I said. “Where am I?”
“This is Hopeless,” the tall girl smiled.
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s where you are. The island of Hopeless, Maine.”
“No, I can’t be in Maine. I can’t have crossed the Atlantic in only five minutes.”
The taller girl giggled again, “You haven’t crossed the Atlantic silly.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
“It makes perfect sense. You opened the door and came in.”
“What door?” I shouted, my anger starting to boil over. “Where am I?”
“When you uncorked the bottle it began. It didn’t matter that you threw the bottle back, you couldn’t stop it. You’re here now and you can’t leave.”
“Where’s ‘here’?” I asked, even though the awful truth dawning on me.
Both girls pointed to the top of the cliffs. Through the swirling mist I could see it. A huge metal sculpture arcing into the sky. Except, I knew it wasn’t a sculpture. The shape was the same and the engraving was the identical; ‘You shouldn’t have done that’.
“That’s impossible,” I croaked as the taller girl started laughing.
“The bottle is green,” said the other girl, “the same colour as the sky.”
“You mean I’m inside the bottle?”
They both smiled.
“You’re on the island of Hopeless Maine,” said the sad one, “and you can never leave.”

In the year of 1724, the month of July was unbearably hot. I sometimes wonder if it was the heat that induced a madness in me. Since I arrived on this forsaken island we have washed up on many shores. I have seen bridges span the widest rivers, buildings touching the clouds and dozens of poor, unfortunate souls have become my unwilling companions. I smile now as I think of the time I uncorked the bottle and I thought that was how I ended up here. It wasn’t. With the bottle came a note, written by the tall girl. It was the story of how she came to be in the bottle. I didn’t tell you that at the beginning because you may not have read this far.
Tell me, what colour is the sky?

 

This dark and lovely tale of Hopeless, Maine was penned by none other than the esteemed Mr. Symon A Sanderson, Author of the Steamside Archives.  Art by Tom Brown (and it is not the first time we have worked in this configuration!)

Daphne finds the Mirror

There was a door at the back of the morgue Daphne had never opened before. That day she opened it she found herself staring down a cold dank passage that seemed sunk in the earth. She’d never been afraid of the dark. The morgue was a gloomy place and even outside it the daylight was reluctant to go beyond the same washed out layers of grey. Daphne knew the dark was her friend, but this dark beyond in the dank passage she could sense was not her friend. But she’d opened the door now. Down she trod sometimes looking behind herself to see the vague greyish outline of the doorway becoming more and more distant. The passage was cold with a kind of suffocating deathliness. Daphne came into a chamber at the end. Up in its walls were small slits in the stone letting in meagre light, but enough to see the great stone plinth in the middle of the chamber upon which lay a wooden box. Who put this down here? She thought as she looked at the wooden box. As her fingers went over its surface she had the strange feeling that it was carved with uncanny signs and sigils that slithered and scarred its grain. Daphne thought they were probably like those funny old markings she saw in other places in the morgue and sometimes outside. In the air at that moment she heard demonic whisperings and sibilant imprecations as if they were telling her to put the wooden box down. She told them firmly to mind their own business; this was her morgue and not theirs. When she opened the box she found wrapped up in musty corpse-cold silk a peculiar object. After a moment of holding it by its carved ivory handle that was attached to its roughly oval flattened head she realised what it was: a looking glass or mirror like she’d seen once at a fancy shop down in the town.

But what was a mirror doing hidden away like this? More demonic susurrations flurried about her though this time they were threatening not annoying. They tugged at her hair and clawed at her shabby dress. Daphne had enough of this. Wrapping the mirror up in its silk she walked out the chamber, and carried on until she was at the door again. When she’d shut that heavy stiff hinged door she stood there catching her breath and listening to her heart beating. She looked at the mirror again. Her hands ran over its face and then knew it was like a frozen lake of ice that reflected no light only swallowed it endlessly into its black abyss. No use to her though, what would she need this bauble for? There was something about the mirror though that seemed to be tugging at the cracks of her soul. The more she held it the perfection and flawlessness of its design seemed to get at her. Daphne frowned feeling that if this was a person they were not welcome any longer to stay in her morgue.

‘This is my morgue do you hear?’ she said aloud, though of course she realised the mirror didn’t hear because it was a mirror. Or at least it seemed so.

To make this clear she walked to the morgue doors and pulled one ajar. Outside she looked at the mirror again. A wan shaft of light caught on its yellowed ivory handle and mirthlessly showed the crooked undecipherable signs cut into it by a long forgotten and heathen hand. Daphne looked into the mirror as out of its ice-bound crevasse a strange flickering grew like a lonely candle coming closer and closer. She found herself gazing not at her reflection but of another girl with sparkling blue eyes, skin white enough to be almost bluish, sharp cheek bones and yellow hair. In that moment Daphne understood what the demons had been trying to tell her: But too late. She felt a sudden cold searing flash of pain in her hand holding the mirror. The blue eyed and yellow haired girl smiled. Then her face was gone. Daphne dropped the mirror on the ground and ran back inside the morgue.

‘Thank you for setting me free again you are very kind, do you want to freeze the world with me forever and forever in the fimbulwinter?’ the girl was there smiling and smiling.

Written by Robin Collins
Art by Tom Brown

Hopeless, Maine-sister communities

Hopeless, Maine can be a lonely sort of place.

Over time it has become cut off from the rest of the world and is beset with all manner of dire circumstance. (and there is no actual coffee, or, for that matter, tea) It may be a comfort for us to know that Hopeless has sister communities around the world. These are places that have similar problems, challenges and all manner of strangeness. It may be a comfort to us, but the residents of the island remain unaware of their counterparts. (and can not import actual coffee)

This first sister community is very closely related indeed, and the first that we discovered. I am speaking of Ragged Isle, the award-winning web series produced by Barry Dodd and company. It takes place on an island off the coast of Maine. They found us online in the early days and we are great friends and admirers. In fact, one panel of the graphic novel pictures a boy reading a book called “Ragged Isle” and there is a scene in the web series that shows a book called “Hopeless, Maine” Also- we are in the credits! The whole series can (and should!) be watched from beginning to end here. (and you will not have to endure the cliffhangers like we did when it was being produced) Additionally, Erik Moody (Deputy Dan, in the series) appears in a series of two page spreads in the next volume of Hopeless, Maine.

The next is Tantamount, which is being blogged by Meredith Debbonaire. (We are a great fan of her writing and she has contributed one of our favorite pieces to the Hopeless, Vendetta and has brought singing snails to the island.)  Tantamount, is another place where one can arrive, but it is difficult or impossible to leave. Also- it is strange and wonderful. Here is an example-

Headlines in Tantamount, January 1st
The Tantamount Herald
Surprise triumph of Heathens over Anglo-Saxon forces in History Battle: all time losses! Story on p2
Tantribune
Auspicious end to the year with ascendance of local choir, photos on p12
Oakshade Primary shock at first year in Battle: headteacher statement here!
The Tantamount Life
Journalist spots big cat on towpath – cat was wearing a cravat and bowler. Are cats no longer fashionable? p9″

You will now want to know more, and you can, by going here.

 

The last (and we are embarrassed to have just recently discovered it) is Night Vale. Night Vale can not be described, it must be experienced. (and we are well and truly hooked) You have probably known about it for years but if you are like us and needed direction, here they are. Go…here. (and for the love of all that is good, do not approach, look at, or even think about the dog park)

 

A note regarding the art here- this is a piece which will be the center bit of the cover art for the Hopeless, Maine RPG by Keith Healing, and also serve as The World card image for the impending Hopeless, Maine tarot deck which is by Laura Perry. We work with very cool people.

 

As always, I hope this finds you well, inspired, and thriving.

 

Finding Hopeless, Maine

Finding Hopeless, Maine

Come in, dear traveller! I hear you are looking for directions. Yes ,yes, sit down. Now, you want to get to Hopeless, Maine. Are you sure?  You’ve been warned about it, yes? The witches, the eldritch terrors, the night potatoes… Alright, alright, I can see that you are a stubborn and headstrong sort, who will not be dissuaded. Not even if I tell you that most people are desperately trying to come the other way? Well it was worth trying. Now let me think; directions to Hopeless Maine. Hmmmm.

Well there are a lot of different paths, yes, and they tend to shift. I can’t guarantee that you’ll arrive safely. Or arrive at all. So here, dear traveller, are three ways of getting to Hopeless Maine that will probably succeed. You have been warned…

1) Collect all of your best spoons, and lay them out in the centre of your bathroom. Lock the door. Nail it shut. Turn the light off.  Watch the spoons. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait until the walls start crawling and you can hear things skittering. Wait. Do not take your eyes off the spoons. Wait. Bite your nails to the quick, sing, mutter; do what you must but keep your eyes on the spoons; everything depends on this, dear traveller. Sooner or later, a creature will arrive. It will take the spoons. If you are lucky, it will dance a slow and mesmeric dance. Watch. The. Spoons. When the creature leaves, you must follow it. Try to avoid looking at anything other than the spoons; the sight of the creature itself has been rumoured to cause madness and soul-deep tea cravings.

2) Contrive to find yourself shipwrecked while carrying the following in your pockets:

  • One month’s worth of nail clippings (yours or someone else’s)

  • A single baby tooth (any species)

  • A very sharp fishhook

  • A small bottle of rum

  • A turnip

  • Red shoes

  • A memory stolen from an elderly relative (must be an actual relative, although if you are lacking in these a memory borrowed from a badger and an ivory hairgrip will substitute well)

It is preferable to be shipwrecked on a night with a moon. Once shipwrecked you must follow the moon. So long as you have not lost any of the listed accouterments, you will find a road of moonlight to walk along. There will be beings, dear traveller, that demand tolls. Be very, very careful about what you give up; I heard a tale about a venturer… Well, you are so set on going and I would hate to dissuade you. What happened? Well, she traded the wrong thing to the wrong guardian, you see; the outcome was not pretty.

3) On a windy day, with the sun shining and clouds scudding over the sky, build a labyrinth. It need not be a large one, but the materials must be light. Walk it, turning back in every time you exit. If the wind changes the labyrinth, do not correct it. If the technique is working, you will find yourself walking in smaller and smaller circles, and getting quite dizzy. There will be a quite unseasonal mist, and a sound best described as a choir of snails trying to sing. Keep on walking, around and around and around… Side effects of this route include ending up somewhere else entirely, although they are likely to be more pleasant places than the intended destination.

Now, are you still sure you want to go?

This set of directions ( or love letter to Hopeless, Maine) was penned by the (frankly bloody amazing)  Meredith Debonnaire. You can (and should) find her blog here.

Art by Tom Brown