Tag Archives: Hopeless

These Our Revels continued.

Hello people (and others) Here we continue the story of how an image from Hopeless, Maine was made real by Nimrod Lancaster Fiona Sawle and  others in the steampunk creative community. Part one can be found here.
On the making of the masks and outfits
Nimrod made one version of his own mask, but two of Fiona’s
The body of each mask was Fosshape but the attached parts around the edge were mainly EVA foam sheet. plus two of his were wooden dowels. For the edge of Fiona’s I used two layers of EVA foam with stiff wire in between to make it stronger and pose-able. The top spike on his was 3D printed as was his medallion. The glass cabochons were painted using nail varnish and then Mod-Podge behind to give strength. The Fosshape was coated in liquid latex and then acrylic paints mixed with latex were applied over that. Fiona made her handbag from scraps of fabric left over from the outfits. The fabrics were sprayed with Dirty Down spray in various colours. The shells dangling from Fiona’s mask were collected from the beach in the Bahamas in February. Nimrod’s mask also has  dangling sharks teeth. Thin black fabric was glued behind the eye and mouth holes. The tentacles are removable for ‘ease’ of storage!

These Our Revels coming to life-part one.

Hello again people (and others)

One of the amazing and inspiring aspects of steampunk is the collaborative energy and what can happen when creative people combine their passion and creativity to bring new things into the world.

This project started because we had long admired the outfits and creativity of Nimrod Lancaster and Fiona Sawle  at steampunk events in the UK. We met them at Steampunks in Space (which happens here)   and gave  a print of this image to them in the hopes that they would adopt it as a costuming project.


They took the print away with them and soon we began getting photos like these…

John Naylor was brought in to assist with the masks . He introduced Nimrod to Fossshape and helped him make the rigid part of his mask.

This is the first part of a series on this stunning project and we will show more progress, the outfits and the unveiling at Sanctuary in the following posts…

 

Child Sal to the Dark Tower Came

Child Sal to the Dark Tower Came is the name of the first Hopeless Maine story I ever wrote for Tom. It happened long before I started working on the graphic novels. There are now three versions of the art for this story and they appear in order below – Tom’s first illustration for my short story, the version in The Gathering and Dr Abbey’s version. The words are new, and mine.

The title comes from a vague memory of reading Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. I don’t really remember the poem, except that it was miserable. The dark tower of this story is really a lighthouse, a light tower once it gets going. It’s an important image in terms of the history of the project. It also feels relevant now, because it comes in the story at a moment of profound loss and despair for Salamandra. It’s about having nothing you can really do, and yet still doing something.

 

Child Sal to the dark tower came

With windblown hair and eyes aflame

The sea and sky call out her name

And life will never be the same.

 

 

Child Sal in boots too loose by far

Led by her ancestral star

None would dare her entrance bar

Deserted tower, door ajar

 

 

Child Sal in loneliness comes in

To empty rooms devoid of kin

And hopes a new life to begin

A home to make, a future win

 

 

Child Sal to the dark tower came

And here in secret hoped to reign

Until her heart comes home again

Across the sea, to Hopeless, Maine.

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.

To ride a surf horse

It is a horse day. Usually tumultuous, the sea is a grey sheen of deathly pallor, and so still. Glass still. Unnaturally so – assuming anything in this place could properly be called natural.

The sky is also grey. This is perfectly normal. The sky is a cold, untarnished steel grey polished smooth and hanging over the sea, each a mirror of the other, passing grey smoothness back and forth into infinity.

In other times and places it is the lively rush of sea foam that gives birth to surf horses. Here, where the usual rules are seldom honoured, horses are most often born in stillness and in silence. They come from the waves that never were. The sea undulates softly with them. Grey explodes into vivid green and vibrant blue. Where colour infects the placid sheet of the poised and waiting sea, the horses come. Proud and wild, ferocious and terrifying. They are like no horse you have ever seen, and yet still they are pure horse; nostrils flaring, flanks powerful, tails flicking water to make brief, unlikely rainbows in the air.

If they come to you at dawn or sunset, catching shards of light from a distant horizon, they may seem more real than anything else. On this island of misty greys and insubstantial, haunting things, the horses in the water may look more substantial and more trustworthy than the uneven sand beneath your feet.

They speak of other ways of being, these horses. They say, in whispers you can almost hear, that if there can be horror, why can there not also be delight? Look into their deep, soulful eyes for the delight they promise. Look into their tooth sharp not so equine mouths for the horror they are capable of. They are beautiful and they are grotesque, between the sea and the sky in this dire and perfect moment.

Catch one if you dare. Rise it in search of dreams. You can never return. Whether you have left the island with them is another question entirely. The sea is vast, and deep, and very cold.

 

Art by Dr Abbey.

Thanks to Potia for the inspiration for this blog post.

What shall we become?

Where are we going?

What shall we become?

While Tom and I are working on the next volume – Optimists, Dr Abbey is revisiting the first books, and there is much plotting.

Hopeless was always manga influenced. If you’ve ever wondered what it might look like as manga, the poster above will give you a small flavour.

We’re on an adventure, and no one knows what might happen next. Especially not us.

Hopeless Seasons

This blog post has been written in response to a reader question about island life. I have a list of questions to work through, but it isn’t that long, so if you’d like to ask something, please do! Hopeless is and always has been a community project, and  we’ll gladly explore whatever anyone is interested in.

Geographically, the island of Hopeless is somewhere off the coast of Maine, and gets something akin to Maine seasons, only it doesn’t really do summer. Summers in Maine can involve blue skies and warmth, but the island is always on the chilly side.  Sometimes, if you look carefully, you can see a distant line of blue on the horizon, out beyond the island’s inherent malevolence. That’s about as good as it gets for islanders.

The best way to tell where we are seasonally is to look at the trees. Not the dead ones. Don’t look at the dead trees. Especially don’t look at the eyes on the dead trees…

We digress.

Hopeless Victims (volume 3) is set in the autumn, and we do have some leaf colour – far more muted than the rest of Maine tends to go in for, but it is there.

The next book – Hopeless Optimists is set in the winter and there is snow on the ground, and Salamandra still isn’t wearing a coat.

Which means that the final book in the series, Hopeless Survivors, will be set in the spring. Because there’s nothing like juxtaposing  extreme peril against signs of new life and hope.

I grew up in a small town on the edge of the Cotswolds. It is the place the rainclouds often first stop when they’re wandering up the Severn River. It is a place that is more often than not under a dark cloud.  On foggy days – and there were plenty of those when I was growing up there – the landscape would fill with mist, turning the hills into small islands. Whether Dursley is quite as cursed as Hopeless I can’t tell you, but the climate is certainly plausible – regardless of whether you ascribe it to demons or not.

Hopeless Folklore

Hello people! (and others) The esteemed Jeffrey Tolbert (Editor and co author of -The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World, has decided to look at Hopeless, Maine and its growing tribe of participants as a topic of study. “an ongoing conversation on the role of folklore and the folkloresque in Hopeless, Maine.” Your participation would be much appreciated.

Topics of interest include the nature/definition of folklore, its connections to place, and the role of digital media in the creation and performance of contemporary folk cultures. We invite you to come and join him and become part of the conversation here- https://folkloresque.net/community/folklore-and-folkloresque/hopeless-maine-folklore-and-the-folkloresque/ You do need to create a log in and password to participate. If you do not get see a confirmation email, check your spam folder (personal experience) This should be very interesting indeed!

Jeffrey happened to us on Twitter last year, we very much like his folkloresque book and he’s been delightful to communicate with. We’ve found his ideas about folklore really interesting and engaging. He’s interested in what people do – in folklore as living tradition, not dusty museum piece. So, very much our sort of chap!

New light on suspicious deaths!

Following on from Mithra Stubbs Item in the paper yesterday, New Evidence has been found that may (or may not) shed new light on the case. You will have to read the note that has been found and come to your own conclusions.
TO BE READ IN THE EVENT OF MY UNTIMELY DEMISE A ‘head injury’ the papers said. My darling Fiona no more died from a head injury than from a broken finger nail. I know this fact because I was able to carefully examine her head at around 09:30 as she lay on the ground under Evangeline Plumage’s sewing machine, still wearing the chartreuse-coloured wig that she had been given by another of Evangeline’s clients, not five minutes later. The client in question was Marine Molly, taxidermist in waiting to the village aquarium, one of the region’s foremost photographers of sewers and Frampton Jones’ half-sister. The broken finger nail in question was really no more than a scratch in the shellac, but it was nevertheless clear evidence that a struggle had taken place, most likely a struggle between Fiona and Molly. After checking for signs of physical injury (of which there were none other than the scratched nail) I carefully stepped into the handbag that Fiona had been carrying and soon discovered that Molly had made away with the bronze key to Fiona’s shoe room. I hastened back to the room myself, entering through the secret staircase from the laundry chute, where I found fourteen pairs of almost identical black court shoes, one pair on each step. When I reached the shoe room I found further evidence of a struggle, this time seven pairs of green court shoes along with four dresses, two pairs of trousers and three skirts; Fiona had clearly been in a hurry to get dressed that morning. The broken clock on the floor suggested she had still been getting dressed at 10:30. I returned to Evangeline’s sewing room (via the Black Swan Bakery for a light breakfast), arriving around 9:15. As the sound of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony from Testimony Albatross’s fish organ filled the air from the nearby church and as the village clock struck 9:00, I became acutely aware of a metallic taste in my mouth and I started to feel unsteady. Tumbling forwards, I pricked my finger on Evangeline’s sewing needle before grabbing a lock of the chartreuse wig on my fall to the carpet. Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. I must find out the true cause of and hopefully prevent Fiona’s demise, to which end am going back to my workshop to continue work on my time travelling shoe machine. To date I have succeeded only in travelling back from an F fitting to an E fitting. If I can travel back from a size eleven to a size ten and a half, then the future of the island will surely lie in my hands. Should my own life come to an apparent end in the pursuit of this objective I implore the finder of this note to seek out the toxicology report on the chartreuse hair and I bequeath my collection of tintype portraits of cats, ferrets and subterranean clowns to the village museum. NR
If you are wondering why the mortality rate on the island is so dreadfully high at present, it is because Nimue has offered to write one hundred obituaries for the early birds from our kickstarter campaign to launch a new line of Hopeless, Maine illustrated fiction. It is ongoing, and can be found here.