Welcome back to Hopeless, Dear Reader! This, my third installment about the brilliance of Nimue and Tom Brown, is part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering. So hop on and get a glimpse of what Hopeless has to offer!
Hopeless is a strange, gothic island off the coast of Maine, cut off from the rest of reality for the greater part. Hopeless Maine is also a graphic novel series, the peculiar child of Tom and Nimue Brown. Here’s a little taste of island life:
Agents of Change
Residents of the island Hopeless Maine call these creatures ‘creepy and annoying’ when they notice them at all. Agents of Change is more a description of what they are, than anything they’ve ever had said to their ominous absence of faces. The Agents tend to gather in flocks, and mob other life forms. They don’t kill their victims, but anything in contact with them will be affected in some way. They may be the cause of the island’s many oddities.
Cooking instructions: Don’t. Cooking does not cause them to cease being agents of change, you really don’t want to risk what that might do to your innards. A popular ingredient in food for unloved relatives.
Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering
Collecting the first two volumes of Hopeless, Maine as well as The Blind Fisherman, this is one graphic novel you don’t want to miss out on! You can order it at your local book store or comics shop, or buy it online here (with free shipping to most civilized, uncivilized and not-civilized-at-all places around the globe:
Here it is – finally – as promised and teased early last week:
Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering!
“Welcome to Hopeless, Maine. An island steeped in evil—I mean—steeped in history.
Meet Salamandra, an ordinary orphan girl, just one of many other orphans on the island (come to think of it, where did all the grown ups go?)
Sal faces the normal, everyday struggles of growing up in a small town—avoiding fell creatures of the night, trying not to get eaten by the aquatic fauna and mastering her supernatural powers.
Like all young people, Sal can’t wait to get out of her dead-end home. If she doesn’t get out she probably will wind up dead, after all. At least Salamandra has a best friend! It’s a shame that no-one else can see or hear her friend, but then nobody’s perfect are they?”
Created by Tom and Nimue Brown, published by Sloth Comics, and you can buy it online here:
Last week saw the release of a new urban fantasy series, and this week sees a new edition of one of the most interesting comics I’ve come across – Hopeless, Maine by husband-and-wife creator team Tom and Nimue Brown – sees the light of day, released by Sloth Comics.
Now, what is Hopeless, Maine you may wonder? Well, I will do a full feature later in the week, when it’s been released, so for now I’ll just give you a little teaser:
Hopeless, Maine is more than just a name: it is a place (an island, to be exact), a graphic novel series, a wealth of stories (told as well as hinted at); it’s a mythology of it’s own, even. Tom and Nimue have created a wonderful world – one which I myself have really only begun to explore – rich with myth and mystery. Nimue’s writing is really brought to life by Tom’s gorgeous artwork, and together they create a very unique style which really fits the story they are telling. Hopeless, Maine is a creation that stands solid in it’s own right, and the feeling I get from it reminds me of those first forays into the fantastical worlds of people like Ursula Le Guinn, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and most recently Joe Hill. Yes, it’s that good!
In preparation for the launch I had the honour of doing a mini-interview with its creators, Tom and Nimue Brown:
Hopeless, Maine began its life as a webcomic – what were the principal reasons for bringing it to book form?
Tom: It was meant to be printed comics from the beginning, really. We just got impatient waiting for a publisher, mostly, and wanted to get the story out there. First, we started the Hopeless, Vendetta, which was a weekly “newspaper” from the island. This was a lot of fun and we had people coming and roleplaying island residents of their own creation in the comments section. Then, we launched the webcomic with The Blind Fisherman going up all at once and then pages weekly. It helped keep us going, and improved morale, greatly because people were commenting and theorising about the story and waiting for pages. Having the webcomic succeed as it did actually helped us land our first publisher, so it is a thing that I would recommend to people starting out in comics. Webcomics also has a great and vibrant community, and i’m glad we didn’t miss out on being a part of that.
Every creative team has their own unique approach to the work, so what’s the dynamic between the two of you? How does a typical project start, grow and develop?
Nimue: There’s an ongoing process of passing things back and forth, and bouncing things off each other. So, we don’t have a specific system, we talk about things, we wave ideas at each other. A lot of the best ideas come when we aren’t deliberately looking for them – when we’re out walking, particularly. We try not to spend too much in-bed time talking about work, but early on that happened more than it should have done. We both tend to get excited about /obsessive over whatever we’re working on, so the bigger issue is often holding boundaries so the projects don’t totally take over our lives! A big part of what makes us work as a creative team is that we are both excited about each other’s work, excited to see what the other one does with an idea or where it goes, so we throw things at each other in a really unstructured way and just let it happen. It’s a very fertile way of working, but it depends on high levels of trust and being on the same wavelength, and always being willing to let go of things to accomodate the other person’s vision when they’ve got the better idea.
Tom, you don’t ink your artwork – which gives it a unique, almost visceral style that I really admire – how has that changed the way you approach colouring?
Tom: Yes, i’ve fallen away from ink as a way of finishing art. I did the first two page spread for Personal Demons in rendered pencil and have not looked back, since. For colouring, well, in the early years of Hopeless, Maine I just used a very limited palette and saved the saturated colours for magic and emphasis. Brightly coloured pages would not have suited the story. All of this was done in digitally. Later i discovered that textures gave an organic and aged quality to the art. For Book two (Inheritance) we were living on a narrowboat with limited electricity so I used watered down acrylic transparently over the pencils to save on computer colouring time. From book four and onwards (and on the cover art for The Gathering) Nimue is doing the colours with posh coloured pencils over the roughs and i’m doing the finished rendering on top. (This is resulting in the best looking art so far, I think!)
Finally, who would you say are your greatest inspirations?
Nimue: Shared inspirations – Hayao Miyazaki, Clive Barker, Ursula Le Guinn, Margaret Atwood, Robert Holdstock, and many others. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasms in common, I think that’s part of why we’re so much on the same wavelength. It’s not just famous people – we are part of a fantastic circle of creative folk locally, and in the wider world through the internet, and they inspire us and keep us going, and we hope we do the same for them. Landscape and big skies are always a source of inspiration for us, we go dancing and bat watching, and we play music together and all sorts of things. We’re always looking for things that lift, engage, inspire us that we can share and immerse ourselves in. Both of us find being exposed to other people’s creativity – whether that’s on deviantart, or a story telling session, some else’s book, or a gig… that feeds us, and it makes us both want to keep doing the things.
Thank you Nimue and Tom, for taking the time to answer my questions.
There you have it, Dear Reader – I will post again as soon as Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering is available. The book is a re-release combining part one and two (Personal Demons and Inheritance, respectively) along with some new material and – for the first time in print, I believe – The Blind Fisherman. I can’t wait!
There’s a new Urban Fantasy book series out, bringing the myth of King Arthur into the modern day. This is a very ambitious project, involving a whole group of excellent authors – including a few of my personal favourites.
Check it out:
Art by Lou Harper
Not all legends are make-believe…
Three years ago, Jessie “the Berserker” Noble was at the top of the MMA fight game, a world-title contender with a brilliant future ahead of her. Then the visions started and her world came crashing down. Hard. Now Jessie’s a shadow of her former self, taking no-holds barred fights in the underground circuit to earn just enough to buy the drugs she needs to keep the horrible things she sees at bay.
When a man named Dante Grimm tells her she’s the modern incarnation of a champion of old and that she and her soon-to-be companions are desperately needed to hold back the darkness to come, Jessie thinks he’s as insane as she is.
But Grimm’s far from crazy. There is a battle coming the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in centuries, a battle against a foe straight out of their worst nightmares.
And for them to succeed, Jessie going to have to dive deep into the heart of the very thing she’s been running from all this time – her visions.
Arthurian myth meets urban fantasy in this new series from Rowan Casey!
Twelve New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors – Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, Annie Bellet, Jon F. Merz, Pippa DaCosta, Robert Greenberger, William Meikle, Steve Lockley, Hank Schwaeble, and Nathan Meyer – have come together under the pen name of Rowan Casey to create a modern re-imagining of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sure to please fans of urban fantasy and Arthurian legends alike!
Launching in November 2016, the Veil Knights urban fantasy series will be published under the pseudonym Rowan Casey and will feature a new volume detailing the exploits of one of the knights every month through summer 2017, when season one of the series comes to its stunning conclusion.
Do you like the flavour and texture of meat but feel conscious about the environmental impact, the ethical issues, or the health risks? Why not look beyond meat:
(note: this video is a year old, the company has since launched several more products)
Now, I haven’t had the fortune to try out any of the Beyond Meat products myself yet, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on. If we can make meat products that are more nutritious, better for the environment, without taking the detour via raising and feeding an actual animal, is there any reason not to?
The rate of animal consumption is still rising and humanity has never eaten so much meat and killed so many animals as we do today and to top it off, the meat industry treats animals horribly. Things need to change, for the sake of our whole existence.
There are several companies out there who are on the cutting edge of creating vegetable-based proteins that are nearly indistinguishable from actual meat products – check them out, and if you see them in your grocery store buy them and try them!
We owe it to ourselves and to the planet.
Check out these companies and initiatives and follow their progress:
Directed, cut, filmed & edited by Lucas Peña
Music: Sounds Like Moving
Label: 100 Songs
This song means a lot to me.
I first heard it about a year ago, at an intimate gig here in Stockholm, and it instantly spoke to me. I was still struggling with a lot of things in my life, trying to deal with the darkness both in myself and in others, and the theme, lyrics and strong performance just cut straight into my heart. It takes a lot for me to cry at a concert, but that performance brought tears to my eyes.
Since then I have seen him perform the song about half a dozen times, and it remains one of my absolute favorites.
Depending on the literary circles you find yourself in you may or may not have heard of Dorothy Richardson, but I’ll hazard the guess that most of you haven’t read her.
Dorothy was born in Abingdon on May 17th, 1873. Before her 23rd birthday she had lost her mother to suicide and her father went bankrupt – young Dorothy moved to Bloomsbury to work as receptionist and assistant in a dental office. During the next decade she associated with several writers, european exiles and political radicals – including the Bloomsbury group – becoming a supporter of feminism, socialism and vegetarianism. During this time she had a brief affair with H. G. Wells, getting pregnant by him and suffering a miscarriage. This seemingly gave her the final push toward becoming a writer, and between 1908 and 1914 she published several reviews, essays and journalistic pieces in the SaturdayReview, as well as two books on the Quaker movement.
In 1915 she published Pointed Roofs, the first part of her literary masterpiece ThePilgrimage, and became one of a very small group of authors – along with Proust, Joyce, Woolf and Faulkner – who forever changed the literary scene by creating modernist literature.
Richardson’s The Pilgrimage was the first literary work to be described as stream of consciousness writing – though the author herself objected to the term, preferring to call it “inner monologue'”, and even said her work wasn’t a novel at all. In 1923, Virginia Woolf said that Richardson “has invented, or, if she has not invented, developed and applied to her own uses, a sentence which we might call the psychological sentence of the feminine gender.” and today The Pilgrimage is considered a feminist classic as well as one of the first modernist novels.
The semi-biographical work spans 13 novel-length parts, published with decreasing frequency from 1915 until 1967, when the final unfinished part she had been working on up before her death was published. It features a protagonist (modeled after Richardson herself) uncomfortable with the established femininity of nineteen century England, who explores the city whilst also crafting her own identity somewhere between the feminine and masculine, using the posibilities offered by the big city to further her cause.
For years, Richardson supported both herself and her husband, Alan Odle – a bohemian artist 15 years younger than her – mainly on freelance work for periodicals.
Iaia of Cyzius – also known as Marcia Varronis – was a Roman painter and ivory carver active sometime in the around 100 BC.
Not much is known about her. Pliny the Elder mentioned her in his writings and she was one of 106 women featured in De mulieribus claris (aka On Famous Women – the first collection in Western literature devoted solely to biographies of women) written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the 14th century.
Iaia was born in Cyzius and remained unmarried her entire life (Pliny states she remained a virgin, but let’s be realistic here – he couldn’t have known that and neither can we). She was known for her portraits of women, including a self portrait created with the aid of a mirror and a large panel painting of an old woman.
Aside from ivory engraving and regular painting, Iaia specialized in encaustic painting – a technique where color pigment is mixed with hot wax, which allows the artwork to be both painted and sculpted at the same time – applying the hot wax with a cestum (a sort of spatula) and brushes. The technique was used at the time to color marble sculptures and produce paintings on wooden panels.
Reportedly, Iaia’s hand was faster than that of any other painter and this, as well as the high quality of her works, ensured that she was paid more than most other celebrated painters of the time.
Sadly, no works attributed to her survives to this day.
This week’s installment of my important women series unusually holds three women. It was not my intention to begin with, but as I was researching the one I initially chose the two others appeared on my radar. Since all three of them did more or less the same thing I figured one post for all of them would have to suffice. Please do not see this as them not being important enough to get their own entry – they are – see it as a bonus.
I’m sure all of you have heard the name Rosa Parks, but perhaps you aren’t aware that there were several other black women (and one man) who did pretty much the same thing, long before she did.
In 1944 Irene Morgan, 27-year old mother of two, was on a Greyhound bus headed for Baltimore when she refused to move to the segregated section. Interstate bus travel was supposed to be non-segregated, but certain states still enforced segregated seating within its borders – a practice which caused several problems as passengers could be rearranged during their travel, possibly several times.
In Middlesex County in Virginia, Morgan refused to abide by the local laws and the bus driver stopped the bus and summoned the Sheriff. When he tried to arrest her, Irene Morgan first tore up the arrest warrant and then she kicked the Sheriff in the groin. With the Sheriff nursing his family jewels, the Deputy tried to pull Irene off the bus, so she fought him as well. She was convicted, pleading guilty to resisting arrest but refusing to plead guilty to violating Virginia’s segregation law. She was fined $100 dollars and appealed her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This resulted in a landmark 6-1 ruling in 1946, when the Supreme Court ruled that state law enforcing segregation on interstate buses was illegal.
But in the south, states refused to follow the ruling.
On August 1st in 1952, WAC private Sarah Keys sat in the white section on a Carolina Trailways bus pulling into Roanoke Rapids in North Carolina. A new driver took the wheel and demanded private Keys to give up her seat to a white Marine and move to the colored section of the bus. Keys refused.
In response, the driver emptied the bus and transferred the passengers to another vehicle, preventing private Keys from boarding. Keys was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, and fined $25 after spending the night in jail. Refusing to accept the verdict, Sarah Keys brought the case to the attention of the NAACP. The resulting court battle lasted three years, and was brought to the Interstate Commerce Commission who ruled that the Interstate Commerce Act prohibited segregation:
“We conclude that the assignment of seats on interstate buses, so designated as to imply the inherent inferiority of a traveler solely because of race or color, must be regarded as subjecting the traveler to unjust discrimination, and undue and unreasonable prejudice and disadvantage…We find that the practice of defendant requiring that Negro interstate passengers occupy space or seats in specified portions of its buses, subjects such passengers to unjust discrimination, and undue and unreasonable prejudice and disadvantage, in violation of Section 216 (d) of the Interstate Commerce Act and is therefore unlawful.”
The ruling was made public one week before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus.
On March 2nd 15 year old Youth NAACP-member Claudette Colvin was heading home from school on a Capital Heights bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was sitting at the front of the colored section, but when the bus became too full she and the rest of the people in her row were ordered to give up their seats to the standing whites. This was in accordance with the local segregation laws, but Colvin refused to get up. Even when police came to the scene, the 15 year old student refused to move, and she was carried off the bus and arrested, reportedly yelling ‘He has no civil right…this is my constitutional rights…you have no right to do this.’
Colvin and four others from the bus were involved in the resulting court case, which went to the U.S. Supreme Court on November 13, 1956. The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that bus segregation in Montgomery was unconstitutional, and a week later they ordered Alabama to end all bus segregation.
After the incident, Colvin was deemed a troublemaker. She was not considered as suitable as Parks to serve as a front figure for the NAACP, which is why everyone has heard of Rosa Parks and not of Colvin, who was the true catalyst for the ruling.
Claudette dropped out of college largely because of how she was treated in her community and eventually moved from her home town to Bronx. She stayed in New York – working as a nurse and never marrying, raising her two sons alone – and still lives there today.