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 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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
Craig Hallam, longstanding Hopeless contributor, pallid goth-boi and steampunk gentleman, has written some Hopeless Maine poetry for us…
Here’s the intro
Upon arrival in Hopeless…
Beneath the trees of Hopeless