We met Matt Inkel at Asylum in Lincoln back in 2018. He was sporting a fetching Steampunk Ghostbusters backpack of his own making, and we got chatting about what he does as a maker with his Arcane Armoury hat on. This was just after we’d started looking at old, silent films, so the timing was perfect.
After the event, Tom and Matt continued chatting online. He expressed an interest in making Hopeless Maine stuff and this led us to the Salamandra’s Key project – Matt made a version of the key Salamandra has in The Gathering. You can find out more about that over here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/salamandras-key/
One of his keys ended up in the award winning Case of Good Fortune – and more of that story over here should you feel so moved. https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/the-case-of-good-fortune/
One of the things Tom and Matt have in common, is a love of Jim Henson. Hence me sneaking muppets into the title! Matt talked about his experience with Jim Henson’s creature workshop and how cool a Hopeless Maine film would be. Tom of course had a series of muppet-moments.
At this stage it was just a bit of shared daydreaming. The kind of conversation where you go ‘wouldn’t it be lovely if…’ But, this is often where serious projects come from – those idle speculations that at first seem too preposterous to take seriously. And so you keep playing with them because it’s just messing about, and before you know it you’ve set your heart on a Hopeless Maine silent film with puppets and live action.
And so it was that Matt Inkel joined the film project before there even was a film project. He will be making puppets of some of the island creatures, and of course the sea monster whose fight with The Blind Fisherman is a key part of this little story.
You can find Matt Inkel’s Arcane Armoury on Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ArcaneArmoury
The Blind Fisherman is a sequence of illustrations and poems that you can currently find at the front of Hopeless Maine, The Gathering.
Before we get any further, I’d like to mention that the fisherman in question matches the legal definition of ‘blind’ in that he has significant sight impairment, not total blindness. This is most usually the way of it. Some of the things he does in the sequence have a magical component to them which is why he binds his eyes – it’s just better not to be distracted by looking.
This sequence began life the autumn we launched Hopeless Maine as a webcomic (back when we were itisacircle.com). We’d started this Hopeless Vendetta site already while we were waiting for technical stuff on the webcomic. Tom wanted to launch with something a bit special, and also he is slightly masochistic, so he did this series of images telling a story. At the last minute he realised he wanted an extra image and sat up all night just before the webcomic launch! Not something I can recommend, but we weren’t living together then so getting him to go to bed was a good deal more difficult.
The words followed the images. I was painfully inexperienced around comics at this point, and working with a forgiving webcomic format, not the harsh realities of the printed page. If I was doing it now, I would be thinking from the start about how the words might fit and be big enough that a middle aged person like myself might be able to read them! One of the pieces in the set pre-dates the art, and was written as a song in my late teens. It was such an uncanny match that I felt I’d been moving this way all along.
The Blind Fisherman wasn’t in the Archaia editions, but Nick at Sloth was happy to give it a home when Personal Demons and Inheritance combined to be a single volume. It also meant we had something extra in there, which felt good. So at that point, that we had got an eccentric combination of art and words into the front of a fat comic was the extent of our aspirations.
Tune in next week for another instalment as I try and explain the curious journey of going from this initial body of work, to making a film.
Readers, we have a delectably crazy project on the go and have got to the point where it feels like talking about it may not jinx it!
We’re going to make a Hopeless Maine film.
At time of writing this is a project with no funding. It does however have a script, and most of the team in place to make it happen. We have some ideas about funding. However, if you have a magic money tree and were wondering how best to deploy it, we’re here to help you!
From here on in, I’m going to be blogging regularly about how this all goes. There’s quite a lot of backstory to tell, so I’ll be working my way from the beginnings of this idea forward. It’s not been a smooth path at this point, and all things considered, it’s not likely to be smooth in the future either.
While all of the team members are experienced professionals, only some of us are experienced professionals when it comes to film making. Tom and I are the least experienced in all of this. There is a great deal to come where we’ll be depending on the knowledge, skills and cunning of the rest of the team. Beautiful people that they are, they have enough faith in us and enough enthusiasm for Hopeless Maine to give this a go. I’ll be talking more about who does what as we go along – my fondness for telling a story means I want to introduce the key characters as they enter the plot. That said, if anyone wants to ‘out’ themselves that’s fine by me!
So, if that wasn’t quite bonkers enough, here’s what we’re planning. We want to make a silent movie, on a period camera, with a soundtrack. There will be puppets and actors. It will be based on The Blind Fisherman (the series of poems and images at the start of The Gathering). If you’ve read The Blind Fisherman, you will know that it doesn’t really suggest a smooth translation into film, which is part of the fun of it. We don’t want to make a film version of something we’ve already done in the comics. We want to go somewhere new.
Thank you for joining us on our latest madcap adventure, and watch this space for the story as it unfolds…
This is a video taken at the start of our gallery exhibition in Lansdown, Stroud, as part of Stroud Book Festival. There are lots of the kinds of small creatures you find in rock pools and on the corners of pages, plus Hopeless Maine arts and crafts, and a tiny domestic scene…