Last year I took the leap from occasional creator to running my own business as a professional illustrator, graphic designer and writer – something that took a lot of courage, hard work and determination.
There’s been bumps in the road causing delays in setting everything up, but I’m still on track.
My next steps are advertising myself more, catching up on both personal and professional projects so that I have a clear schedule ahead of me – and most importantly: improving my daily routine both personally and professionally.
All while balancing life as a father and partner, and going back to my part time day job after more than half a year as a stay-at-home dad.
I start the new year with clear goals in mind and a path staked out for turning my business into my primary means of support.
2017 was full of challenges, learning, and new acquaintances and connections. I bought a new apartment with the love of my life and together we built a home for our little family, something which allowed me to finally set up a professional creative work space (no more drawing at the dining room table!) and sort through all of my art supplies.
I’ve connected with some amazing people, both privately and in my business, and they have been a big help and inspiration for me as I move forward with my goals.
2018 will also see the release of Lady Phantom – the vigilante comic book I’m doing with writer Julie K. Taylor – after nearly two years of preparation and hard work.
What did you accomplish in 2017 and what challenges do you anticipate in 2018?
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!
“When you are writing, you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual, and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.” ―Tom Waits
…is just around the corner, Dear Reader, and with it: NaNoWriMo!
If you are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it’s about writing an entire novel in one month – 50,000 words, to be exact – about the lower limit for what can be called a novel – and the abbreviation stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. This year I plan on making an honest attempt to pen down those 50,000 words before November’s end and the end of my 30s – and I do mean pen! Doing this in long hand will bring both benefits and drawbacks:
It will be slower, but I can resist the urge to edit as I go.
I can write anywhere without losing continuity, but it will be more difficult to keep an accurate word count.
I’ll have to lug two notebooks and at least one pen around all the time, but I’ll be able to use any extra time I get!
The past three years I’ve done increasingly worse at NaNoWriMo. 2012 I fell short by about 12,000 words due to stupidly deleting an entire chapter and then coming down with a high fever the final week. 2013 I made a mistake in research which invalidated three quarters of the first 6-7,000 words, and I spent the rest of the month (and then some) stuck in re-research. 2014 I just said ‘fuck it’ and jumped onto the Movember band wagon instead, producing facial hair instead of words.
This year, I come better prepared and more determined.
I doubt 50K will see me through the entire story, and I’m far from certain my notebook will fit even half the words I need. I’m not even sure I can manage to hand-write 1,667 words a day between my day job and the drawing I need to get done.
But at least I will try.
My aim is to keep you up updated on my progress so you can rejoice in my success or take pity in my failure (or vice versa). Really though, regardless of my exact word count I will be further along in a month than I am today.