Tag Archives: steampunk

September events

We’ve got a lot going on in September and will be out as The Ominous Folk of Hopeless, Maine at a number of events. We will of course also have books with us. If you see us heading your way and want a particular thing – art, books, extra eyes… just let us know.

We’ll have our own flier for the theatre festival at some point. Also at time of posting, the last Gloucester event on the list has some spaces left for traders.

The front of Survivors, so far

Hello, again people (and others)

Here at Hopeless, Maine headquarters we are somewhat plague ridden but still wish to bring you all of the island news that is fit to shout into the ether.

Having finished drawing the page art for the final graphic novel volume, it was time to draw the cover for Hopeless, Maine-Survivors. The concept was Nimue’s (she even posed for it) The island is an ever changing place, but here Sal presents it as caught at a moment in time. This is the first time we haven’t drawn the cover first, but have let the finished (ish) book inform us of what the cover needed to be. Next, Nimue will make it amazing with the colours and we will unveil that at some point in the not too dim and distant future!

Hope, as always, this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

Tom

Head dwelling Spoonwalker.

Hello, people! (and others)

We, at Hopeless, Maine headquarters (There is joke here somewhere, given the title…) are excited to announce the the very maker of the official headwear of the Bishop of Squid, one Tracey Abrahams by name, is in the process of creating a Spoonwalker hat! She has fallen under the influence of the island and plans severa; projects based on the strange fauna of the island. If you’d like to see more of her work (Probably to include updates on the Hopeless, Maine based projects, please visit here.

If you would like a spoonwalker hat of your very own, you can message Tracey via her Instagram page and start a (strange) conversation!

Here are the progress shots you were waiting for!

Hopeless Players

Hopeless Players are now officially a thing!

We took Mrs Beaten’s Literary Salon to the recent Steampunk event in Gloucester. Poet Algernon Lear (Craig Hallam) was coaxed/threatened into performing and survived a set in which bloomers were thrown at him, hecklers demanded dancing girls and critiqued his work, and Reverend Davies found his metaphors improper! 

This was also the first time we’ve had John Bassett performing in public as Reverend Davies, which was really exciting.

We’ll be exploring possibilities for taking Hopeless Players to events, putting on small entertainments with whoever is able to be there on the day. If you’re comfortable improvising within a team and fancy becoming a Hopeless Player now and then, do please let us know.

Equally, if you fancy having some of this chaos – or other forms of chaos that we can provide – at an event, do say!

SpoonWalker Nest

Steampunk maker and creator Andy Arbon is making a spoonwalker nest! It’s a glorious work in progress…

No description available.

Andy tells us… “the spoonwalkers have discovered this long-abandoned cutlery case in the corner of a cellar on the island and made it their home, laying three eggs. The nest is made using spoons in the same way a bird would use twigs, so if you have lost your teaspoons the chances are they are here. The eggs begin to glow green shortly before hatching. Practically this is part finished, I still need to add a mother spoonwalker and make a few improvements to the painting on the eggs.”

We look forward to seeing how this develops!

To find out more about what Andy does, and makes, you can look him up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andy.arbon1

Hopeless in Japan

We’re very excited to be part of an exhibition in Japan this summer – organised by Dr Abbey. Bits of Hopeless will be there, alongside work from our excellent steampunk chums Dr Geof and Jennie Gyllblad. Also other people that we don’t really know.

In honour of this event, Sloth Comics has put together a special edition limited print run of Personal Demons (The first half of The Gathering for UK folk). We’re massively excited about this. It’s hardly normal for a small, indy comic like ours to go on sale in Japan. There’s even talk of doing a larger print run, in translation!

The art of the Game

Hello again people (and others)!

As I write this we are engaged in the process of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new US edition of Personal Demons and also the new Hopeless, Maine Role Playing Game written by Keith Healing and powered by Alan Bahr’s innovative Tombpunk system. Here are some examples of the interior artwork I have done for the game.

This is the culmination of several years’ work (and dark incantations) so I very much hope you will join us.

I hope you will join us too in supporting and celebrating two fellow travellers who are bringing their projects to life by crowdfunding. Chandra Free is bringing us a new and shockingly deluxe version of The God Machine (Originally released by the same publisher and about the same time as the first release of Personal Demons) and also Boston Metaphysical Society: The Book of Demons by Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Boston Metaphysical is a fellow traveller and exactly the sort of unspeakably cool steampunk with supernatural elements and heart we want to see more of in the world. So, please become part of these campaigns too if you can!

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

Diswelcome 5. HOSTILE FLORA

I was much relieved when the skyskiff made landfall on Hopeless. I understood that the crew needed to feed their families. If anyone was to blame for the barbarous slaughter I had witnessed, it was rich fools seeking to enhance their natural virility by means of make-believe magic, regardless of the tragic implications. Nonetheless, after having seen the crew unrestrained by any civility whatsoever, gleefully enjoying their brutal work even, I was eager to be rid of them.

“This hee-ah is Lowuh Hopeless, which you’ve been wantin’ to see so badly,” the skipper told me. “We’ll be back in seven days. We’ll wait an ho-uh at the most. In case you decide not to go native, and be wantin’ to retuh-n to the civilised wahld.”

Mewton? I restrained the grin that wanted to form on my face, but thanked him instead, trying to sound as sincere as I could.

The skyskiff had landed in what seemed the middle of a vast plain of mud, with tufts of sickly green vegetation dotted around. Vague shadows in the distance gave promise of higher, more solid ground, supporting far more vegetation.

The air was disconcerting. It was tense, like the sky at home before a thunderstorm, laden with ominous promise, daylight transformed into a weird, gloomy glow though still brighter than the sky here in Hopeless, which mostly resembled a discoloured twilight.

To my left, I could see people, tiny in the distance, crawling over the carcass of a wingless kyte, most likely the one we had hunted like ants scrambling over a juicy caterpillar. They were far away though, and I had my fill of dead and dying kytes for the day, so I opted to head for that promise of mainland up ahead. I could always intercept the inhabitants of Hopeless there, I reckoned, for surely those Hopeless folks would be heading that way too, to get back to wherever they lived.

There was another reason for my choice. Even though Ole Ted had said that a high tide was a rarity here, growing up along the Sussex coast had given me a very healthy respect for tidal movements. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to arrive at just such a rare moment that the tide did come in, and a child could see that a sudden surge of the sea in the middle of this muddy vastness could easily be lethal.  

Every step was a struggle, my boots sinking deep into the soggy underground, sometimes submerging altogether, leaving me knee-deep in the muck. Upon retraction, a foul decomposing smell would be released. The mud seemed to be toying with me, pulling and tugging me down, changing consistency, giving false impressions of shallow semi-solidity, only to then open up and inhale me into its suffocating depths.


Keep moving. Don’t stop moving.

Several times I had to retrace part of my path to more agreeable depths of mud, to seek a route less likely to see me drowned in mud.

I paid little heed to the wildlife, mostly small and buzzing, much as I would expect in any bog back home. I was alarmed several times, when I felt movement below the mud, something long and scaly briefly rubbing past my boots. Twice, fortunately at some distance, I saw thick limbs or tentacles emerge from bog pools for a brief instance, before silently slithering back beneath the surface. Once, I had to use my suitcase to swat something resembling a giant dragonfly, the length of a man’s leg, with rows of shark-like teeth between powerful jaws.

All in all though, my attention was focused on the need to keep on moving. It was disheartening to see that I barely seemed to be making progress towards that higher ground. At times it even seemed further away. My logic overrode the sense of panic at that. I recalled the low tide flats of Camber Sands at home, where your eyes play tricks on you regarding distance. Whether it appeared that way or not, I told myself, I am advancing, slowly but surely.

Battling the mud was exhausting, and at long last I gave in to the overwhelming urge to rest for a moment, just to catch my breath.

It didn’t take me long to begin to learn the mistake of this. A mere thirty seconds after coming to a halt, my skin crawled when I sensed movements around my boots, a great many worm-like tendrils circling, and then spiralling up my legs. I jerked a leg upwards, to see a tangle of greenish, snakelike vegetation slithering up and around my boot. A few kicks shook most of them loose, just in time to change footing, for the other boot, having been stationary all the longer, began to tighten around my calf and foot, squeezed by the mass of slithering strands.

Hopping from foot to foot, kicking wildly to escape the snare of Hopeless flora, I failed to see that tiny shoots of the stuff had appeared from the mud, to spiral upwards and then form a web around the bottom of my suitcase. Looking that way when the stuff began to tug at my suitcase hard enough for me to feel it, I saw thicker tentacles reaching up to get a firmer grasp on the suitcase. What followed would have seemed to any spectator as an absurd tug-of-war. Continuing to change my footing to kick away the relentless entanglement of my feet, I pulled at one half of the suitcase, sometimes winning, and sometimes losing the struggle with a local plant.

Whilst the thicker strands were engaged in our jester-esque tug-of-war, the smaller tendrils continued to explore their intended prize. Displaying far more intelligence than any species of vegetation known to me, they worked out how to unspring the clasps of my suitcase, and it snapped open, its contents scattering towards the ground. Immediately, all the plant’s tendrils and tentacles released whatever they were clinging onto, to all dive onto the loose items of clothing and toiletries, the separate elements of the plant wrestling with each other in their haste to lay claim to my belongings.

My boots and legs thus released, I beat a hasty retreat. I chanced one quick backward look to see that all trace of my belongings was gone, apart from my suitcase, but that was being pulled beneath the mud before my very eyes. I wondered with a wry smile what need a mud plant had for men’s shirts, or my pyjama bottoms. However, the thought of my razor in the grip of those persistent and apparently intelligent tendrils, was less cause for amusement.


This time I kept moving beyond pain and back again , until I had reached the higher grounds, where the ground’s consistency resembled the resistance of a wet sponge, and how mightily solid that felt!

Diswelcome – Upper Hopeless

UPPER HOPELESS

The Skyskiff was much the same as Free Traders use back in Sussex. It was open to the elements, barring the small engine house at the stern, with two small funnels rising from its low roof. The steam engine within powered the propellers, one each attached to outriggers on either side of the stern. An oblong inflatable was rigged to two low masts, and there were dorsal, caudal and pectoral sails attached to booms operated from the deck.

The craft was crewed by six men, all wearing oiled canvas breeches and anoraks. After hauling aboard my suitcase and a knapsack, which the innkeeper had kindly filled with ample provisions, I was kitted out in one of the protective suits as well.

“Expecting rough weather?” I asked.

I got the village-idiot-said-something-numb look, which the locals seem to reserve for outlanders or flatlanders as they call them.

“Expectin’ wildlife,” the skipper told me, with a knowing grin.

“I see,” I said, not understanding at all.

I waved at Ole Ted as we took to the sky, engine thudding erratically, propellers whirring, and plumes of smoke spitting from the funnels.

“He’s something else,” the skipper said. “Ole Ted is.”

“How did he lose his eye? And leg?”

The skipper chuckled. “Old Ted was a kyte huntah, just like us. Best skippah in Mewton by fah. Then one of the kytes he netted put up a scrid of strugglin’.”

It began to dawn on me that the skies over Hopeless might be fraught with potential hazards, and I hoped that the skyskiff crew would descend to the safety of the ground within a reasonable time. Whatever they were up to high over Hopeless wasn’t really any of my business. I needed to find Salamandra, and as far as I knew, she was mostly groundbound.

§ § § § §

The sky was clear, apart from that strange cloud formation I had noted the day before. The dark band hadn’t shifted an inch since then, it appeared to be oddly stationary. When the skyskiff headed straight towards the murky mass, I began to wonder if the dirt-coloured gloom was somehow related to Hopeless…

§ § § § §

The crew seemed content to ignore me, and I was familiar enough with skirring a skyskiff to know how to stay out of their way. Leaning over the railing, happy to rediscover the sheer thrill of riding the wind, I hummed a song from home.

Oh my love, you have a cosy bed

Cattle you have ten

You can live a lawful life

And live with lawful men

I must make do with nothing

While there’s foreign gear so fine

Must I drink but water

When France is full of wine?

As we approached the band, it began to assume a more distinctive shape, it’s upper half forming expansive landscapes, the dark clouds billowing up to form high ridges and towering peaks, between which were broad valleys, glens, or ravines. Ere long we were skirring through this surreal scenery, the helmsman taking care to stay clear of the various cloud formations. It all looked remarkably solid, even though I knew the mighty mountain ranges were naught but unsubstantial illusions.

The skipper joined me. “This hee-ah, is Uppah Hopeless.”

“Upper Hopeless! So the island lies below?” I asked eagerly.

One of the crewmen quipped: “You can tell the scribblah is a smaht fellah. I’d have nevah guessed that.”

“Well it ain’t Japan or Iceland below our keel,” the skipper said. “That should be about as cleah as the cause for yellah snow.”

I watched a creature emerge from behind a foul cloud. A bulbous head the size of our skyskiff, with multiple eyes so large they should have been terrifying to behold, but there was a merry twinkle to them, and they conveyed so much amiable warmth that it made the creature appear endearing, like an old childhood friend come out to play. I felt an urge to get nearer, to reach out for it, and stroke its salmon coloured skin.

I pointed. “Is that a kyte?”

The skipper’s eyes bulged. His mouth fell open in horror for a moment, before he regained his composure and shouted: “CHOUT! CHOUT!! SKYSTINGAH ON THE STAHBOAHD BOW. EVADE! NOW! NOW!”

“Evah-body HANG ON TIGHT!” the helmsman bellowed in response.

He spun the helm, and I clutched the railings tightly with both hands. The skyskiff lurched to port.

“FULL SPEED AHEAD!” The skipper hollered.

“Aye-Aye, Skippah! Full speed ahead!”

I looked astern, to see that the skystinger had now fully emerged from its cloudy concealment, revealing a long trail of pink tentacles, writhing in a most obscene manner. The creature’s giant eyes had lost all sense of implicated kindness, narrowing as they beheld our attempt to manoeuvre away, the look in them now one of chilling malevolence.

The skystinger followed us in pursuit, but to my relief, seemed unable to match our speed. One of the longer tentacles rose high in the air, before whipping in our direction. To my horror I realised that we were in reach of the tentacle’s furthest extremity.

“CHOUT!” a crewmember shouted. “INCOMING TENTACLE!’”

“SHIELD!” The skipper commanded. “SHIELD!”

“Aye-aye, Skippah! Shield!” The helmsman spun the helm again, and the skiff lurched once more, this time keeling over so far that we had to hang on for dear life.

The incoming tentacle now swept towards the copper-plated bottom of the hull. I braced for the shock of impact, but it never came. Instead, there was an insistent staccato, as of hail stones striking a window.

The skyskiff straightened out again, engine chugging at full speed, and fast moving away from the skystinger and its fearsome tail of tentacles, including the long one which had so nearly swept us all off the deck.  

I rushed to the side and looked down along the hull. It was peppered with dart-like quills, the size of a porcupine’s, but far tougher because they had punched right through the copper sheeting. Most were firmly embedded, but a few hung partially loose, and I could make out ridges of vicious barbs.


I reached out for one of the quills, but a crewmember grabbed my arm.

“You don’t want to be doin’ that, Mistah,” he said. “They-ha’s poison in them barbs, one tiny scratch and you’s as dead as a Tommyknocker.”

I quickly drew my arm back up, feeling foolish and out of place. “I can’t wait to get to the ground, away from these confounded skies,” I confessed.

The crew man laughed. “Suh-ely somebody told you Uppah Hopeless is by fah the safest paht of the island?”

I stared at him. He laughed again. I recalled the haunting cries from the sanatorium the previous night, and for the first time, began to doubt the wisdom in seeking Hopeless.

§ § § § §

These Our Revels part three -Darkbox.


Next to last in the series of These Our Revels, which started with a concept  from Hopeless, Maine and has been brought into the world by a concerted creative effort lead by Fiona Sawle and Nimrod Lancaster.  This stunning eerie photo was taken by  Gregg McNeill of Darkbox Photography during the Sanctuary event.

Gregg has this to say  about this plate-

” I love this plate. Exposure time was a trim 4 seconds because it was taken out doors, under a marquee, so lots of ambient soft UV light. It’s only the second time ever I’ve made portraits outside at an event. ”

There were additional challenges due to the weather conditions that day, and their Marquis  nearly blew down overnight.

Steampunks in general, and our people in particular are absolutely bloody amazing.

Darkbox Photography have a patreon which can be found here. Please do support their work!