Each chapter of the graphic novels starts with a two page spread. In those pages we show a wider view of the island, and suggest something of another story. For Optimists (vol 5 in the Sloth editions) we’re exploring werewolf life.
This is a two page spread at the pencils stage. In this book Nimue is using oil pastels on two page spreads for greater colour intensity and because they suit the big dramatic landscapes better than the pencils do.
The theme for the chapter covers in Hopeless, Maine, Optimists, is creatures. Teaselheads, spoonwalkers, moths, dustcats, builder-squid and an ur-deer all feature. It’s good to get to focus on them a bit.
The spoonwalker is nesting, and we get to see what colour baby spoonwalkers are! The teasleheads demonstrate critical stages of their curious life cycle. We have a dustcat wrecking ball – when dustcats are alarmed, they hold each other’s tails, meaning all the sharp bits go on the outside. Small angry cartwheels are more normal, but a full blown wrecking ball is a thing to behold – ideally from a safe distance!
The ur-deer is a shy woodland creature, slightly alarming to behold. Mostly harmless. May attempt to run up you if you corner it, which you do not want it to do. The moths are mostly poisonous, annoying and likely to eat your underwear. There are quite a lot of moths in this volume, because we got a bit excited about them, and they are pretty, so long as they don’t bite you, and you don’t bite them.
Chapter 5, as presented above, involves builder squids. These were somewhat the fault of Dr Porridge, and live in a freshwater lake somewhere in the middle of the island. I have stories about them. I rather like the idea of squids making things.
Hopeless, Maine: Optimists is the fourth volume in the Sloth Comics editions of Hopeless, Maine and comes out at the end of March (2022). These are most readily available in the UK and can be ordered from bookshops and comics shops. Places that sell books online will likely sell them to you. A number of sites have the book on pre-order – Hive, The Portobello Bookshop, Blackwells,Bookshop.org, Book Depository , Foyles and Waterstones – currently Amazon doesn’t have anything useful going on, but that’s ok, you probably weren’t going to shop there anyway 🙂
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.
So here we have it – the next Hopeless Maine book cover, for the penultimate book in the graphic novel arc. We don’t know what happens after the final book and will worry about that when we get there.
At no point in the story itself does this image get explained. I thought I’d do that here, for the reading pleasure of those of you (you know who you are) who like to ponder the details.
Here we see experimental occultist Salamandra O’Stoat making protective magical glass for the light on her lighthouse. You will see some of this glass magic going on in Optimists, but not at this location. The reason she’s doing this, is to create a light that will drive back the fog. Or The Fog, if you prefer.
The colours of this owe to a version of Hopeless that pre-date my involvement. During one of those rare periods of his life when Tom overcame his fear of strong colours, he did a version of the lighthouse with complex rose designs in stained glass windows. He wasn’t working to deadline then and hadn’t thought about having to draw that design repeatedly. So this is a nod to that, without the nervous-breakdown inducing potential of the original design.