Tag Archives: tarot

Hopeless Necessity

If you already have a copy of the Hopeless, Maine tarot set, you’ll probably recognise this image as The Wheel of Fate. It was always intended to be a multi-purpose image, drawn for the tarot set but also as the cover of a book that does not exist.

The book that does not exist doesn’t even have a proper title at this stage. The main character is one Necessity Jones, who is an inventor. There’s a mother of invention joke trying to happen here, but it hasn’t quite hatched yet.

The Necessity project started some time before lockdown and then just… stopped. There were lots of reasons. The problem wasn’t really the project, it had more to do with the author being burned out and depressed and having a hard time imagining there was even any point writing the thing. And so it languished in a notebook, unfinished.

It also didn’t help that I’d tried to set it after the graphic novels with no real idea how anything worked at that point. However, last year, I sat down with Dr Abbey and we wrote a book – Mirage – which follows on from the graphic novels. Thanks to Dr Abbey I now have a pretty good idea about how life changes on the island. 

Necessity herself isn’t that involved with the characters we’ve seen so far. The idea was to dive into more of the details of island life, which the graphic novels don’t let me do anything like as much as I want to. So, there are some spoilers for the series as a whole, but not many.

In theory, Necessity will get her story written and go out into the world at the rate of about 5k words a month, over on Patreon. With luck and a fair wind, she’ll emerge as an ebook first, and then in a thoroughly illustrated form – probably with Sloth Comics.

If you’d like to follow her adventures with machinery, demons, zombies, night potatoes and glass herons, amongst others, wander this way – https://www.patreon.com/NimueB and sign up as a pocket sized dustcat, a steampunk druid or a glass heron – depending on how much you want to pay and how much other stuff you’d like to get.

Much as we love the island, it does not pay us enough to live on. Patreon support helps us afford to pour more time into it while still being able to eat. And to be fair, we like starving in a garrett about as much as anyone else does!

Hopeless Tarot

We’ve had early sightings of Hopeless Tarot recently as sets from the kickstarter move out into the world. Thanks to Bob Fry for sharing photos with us.

Art on the cards is a mix of existing Hopeless material, plus new pieces especially for the set. The tarot part of the project is entirely down to Laura Perry –who approached us a while ago to suggest the idea. Laura had already done a really interesting Minoan Tarot set which you can find over here – https://www.minoantarot.com/

Our suits are crows, tentacles, flames and night potatoes!

You can order sets directly from Outland https://outlandentertainment.com/work/hopeless-maine-tarot

Aces from the tarot deck

The Queen of Crows

The Queen of Crows came into existence because, thanks to Laura Perry, we have a crows suit in the Hopeless, Maine tarot deck. The image of her is based on me. This led me to an idea for a song and that song is part of this year’s Hopeless, Maine show.

If you’d like to hear a recorded version, I’ve put that on Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/NimueB

Like most people in comics, we aren’t rolling in money. Patreon support helps keep us viable, and at the moment it’s the only predictable income we have! Life is an adventure. Being able to afford more time for Hopeless and no needing to chase paying gigs so much means more Hopeless things can happen.

The Queen of Crows

When you are broken

The queen of crows will come to you

The shattered last remains of you 

And all the empty places will be feathers.

When you are bleeding

Your life released into the dirt

When all you know is shame and hurt

Nothing else remains but bones and feathers.

When you are dying

Her darkness is your last embrace

Your only comfort is her face

Her gaze upon your bones, the touch of feathers.

When you are silent

She puts her beak between your lips

And from your throat the crow caw slips

You scream and in her gaze are bones and feathers.

When flesh falls from you

And all your life is stripped away

She comforts you in your decay

You are falling screaming bones dressed all in feathers.

When they forget you

And all your truth becomes their lies

The world seen only through her eyes

You are peaceful you are drifting, you are feathers.

And when the light within you dies

The crow queen comes to take your eyes

And when your soul has lost its grace

The crows will tear into your face

And when your heart can beat no more

The crows will find you on the shore

And when your life is torn away

The crows will come to make you stay

And when your breath you cannot bear

The crows will feed on your despair

And when your mortal time is through

The queen of crows is born anew.

The Queen of Flames

Randall Middlestreet was unique among Night Soil Men, inasmuch as none before him had retired. As has been mentioned previously in ‘The Vendetta’, Randall voluntarily hung up his bucket at the age of fifty-five, giving up both his job and the cottage at Poo Corner to his young apprentice, Jarvis Woodchester.
While the role of Night Soil Man is very far from being glamorous, it has its fair share of danger and excitement. Few can wander over the island at night as safely as he does, protected as he is from predators by the malodorous atmosphere which surrounds him at all times. It is this nocturnal freedom which allows him to see sights and wonders that others are denied.

Randall was well into his second pint of ‘Old Colonel’ and holding court in the snug of The Squid and Teapot. The small band of regulars were always happy to listen to his yarns. This is not to say that they necessarily gave these stories any credence. His accounts of encountering ghosts, demons and various fantastical figures would sometimes stretch their credulity but Randall always insisted that every word was true. Nobody really cared, for what could be better than sitting before a roaring fire, in the company of friends and listening to a good tale told well.

“It was May-eve when it happened, years ago now. I was up by Chapel Rock when I first heard the music,” began Randall, taking a sip of beer. “Faint, to begin with; no more than a whisper on the breeze. I thought that old Iron Mills had started his fun fair up in the middle of the night. Then I saw the lights. They were winding down the path from the Gydynaps. From where I was standing – and I was a good distance away – it looked like a procession of people, all carrying flaming torches. Not ordinary torches either; the flames were all colours. And they weren’t constant. It was as if, one by one, they were flickering out, only to reappear a few seconds later. Either that, or they were Will O’the Wisps; that’s what they looked like to me, but I knew they weren’t. You all know what I’m like; if there’s a mystery to be solved, I’m there. I just couldn’t help myself, I had to get closer to see what was going on. The torchlight procession seemed to be heading towards the town, so that is where I
Randall took another generous swig of beer then sat in silence, staring into some hidden space that only he could see. His audience became restless.
“Go on… what happened next?”
It was Ebeneezer Gannicox, the distiller, who broke the silence.
“What did you see Randall?”
“Well, as the procession got closer, I could see exactly who – or what – they were. What they weren’t were people carrying torches. They were flames. Living flames of all colours. Flames that flickered and danced, flames that died and then burst back into life. And all the while they followed… well, you should have seen her.”
Randall emptied his glass, laid it on the table and watched happily as it was immediately replaced with another foaming pint.
“She didn’t walk, she danced… danced through the empty streets of the town to the music of the hurdy-gurdy that she carried. Of course, I had no idea then what the instrument was called. I’d never seen anything like it, or her, before or since. She was a vision! Her hair was as red as fire itself and what I thought were feathers in her hat – well, they weren’t feathers, they were flames.”
Randall paused for a moment to allow his listeners to digest the scene.
“Suddenly,” he said, “the music changed. It became quite unearthly. I couldn’t help but notice that, as she turned the handle, the instrument lit up. Coloured sparks flew from every bit of it. I was totally in thrall of this lady. I could not move. Then she did the most wondrous thing. She somehow attached her hurdy-gurdy to a street-light and as she played, as she wound the handle, every light in the town burst into life. They glowed brighter, far brighter, than they ever had before. And the music… oh, what wonderful music. I don’t know how long I sat there but it must have been hours, for the skies had started to pale. It almost felt as if she was summoning the sun to rise. We don’t often see a good sunrise on Hopeless but this one…” Randall left his sentence hanging in the air.
“It was so bright I was dazzled. I had to squint to see the lady as she turned towards the east. With the dancing flames following her, the strange cavalcade seemed to disappear into the glowing ball of the sun as it rose from the sea. I just sat there, sat for ages, totally mesmerized by what I had witnessed.”
Randall took another draught of ‘Old Colonel’ and fell silent, once more staring into that distant place that only he could see. The company knew that they would get no more out of him that evening.

It was late. Almost everyone had gone home and Betty Butterow was shooing out the last stragglers. She had floors to mop and tables to clear before she could leave. Only Bill Ebley remained. At eighty years of age he was one of Hopeless’ oldest residents. This gave him a dispensation to stay late, as Betty always insisted on walking him home.
“What did you make of Randall’s story?” she asked him as she mopped the floor around his feet.
Bill thought for a moment before replying.
“In 1915 I was in the trenches in France,” he said, adding, “we were in Mons.”
“There were a lot of stories flying around at the time, stories about apparitions, phantom armies and whatnot. Some even thought that there was an angel fighting on our side but I didn’t give any of it much credence. Still don’t. I did see something – someone – once, though and she sounds very much like Randall’s lady. I’ve never told anyone else this, not even the colonel, in case I’m thought to be mad. Maybe I witnessed what some of the others did, the ones who talked about the Angel of Mons. But the woman that I saw was no angel – I’m sure of that. She suddenly appeared, dancing through the mud and corpses on the battlefield as though it was a village green at Whitsun. There were shells and bullets screaming all around, yet she was totally unharmed and as far as I could tell, unnoticed by most. There was something deep and powerful, something elemental, about her; I thought that I was hallucinating. You hear about men going mad in the trenches. I was certain it was happening to me. Then one day, a year or so later, when I was on leave, a French gypsy offered to read my fortune. I was sceptical but when you never know if you’ll be alive from one day to another, where’s the harm? So this gypsy pulls out her tarot cards – the rummest pack I’ve ever seen – and swipe me, she drew a card and there, plain as day, is the Lady’s picture, just as I had seen her and exactly how Randall has described, to the tee.”
Bill got to his feet and pulled on his overcoat. He looked at Betty and added, almost as an afterthought,
“Apparently she’s known in the tarot as The Queen of Flames.”


Art by Tom Brown- Permission to use the likeness of Genevive Tudor graciously granted by herself.