A long time ago, on a continent far, far away… (“Tom,” I hear you ask, Is this going to be another one of those stories where you give us a lot of backstory, then bring us up to date and point us at a thing?” Yes, dear reader. Yes it is. And, congratulations on being one of the voices in my head) Right. Where was I before you interrupted me with your uncannily accurate prediction? Ah yes. A continent far, far away. That would be North America, the US in particular, and even more specifically, the state of Maine. (Portland, if you must know) As I now live in the UK, that’s pretty far away. I was, at this time, just making my attempt to get back into comics as a creator. These were lean, difficult, lonely times. I had a story though, and I *really* wanted to tell it. The story was (at this point) called New England Gothic. The central character (Salamandra) seemed, to me, far too real to be imaginary and I was ( as I still am) bloody minded and I was going to do this, one way or another. Also, at the same time, I was sending my portfolio around, looking for illustration work. A publisher picked me up, gave me a job, and put me in contact with the author of the book in question. I joined the author’s internet group, where I read, in instalments, the novel- Breathing In A Stone House. I fell in love with the writing, utterly. It was haunting and deeply atmospheric and just…brilliant. I then began correspondence with her, to talk about the cover for her book and a fast friendship started. I recognised a kindred spirit immediately (we talked about trees, among other things) I knew, this had to be the writer for New England Gothic. I summoned up the nerve and asked her to write it. (she was already reading and enjoying the story) She…did not respond enthusiastically. I was certain that this was because she was a serious, extremely talented English author and I was approaching her with a scheme to write a comic. (this turned out not to be the case, and her version of this part is rather different!) The author under discussion here is now known as Nimue Brown (The last name provides a bit of a spoiler here) She did eventually agree to write my (now, our) story and it was exactly as I thought it would be. She understood Salamandra in a much deeper way than I did and what she came up with was strange and deeply enchanting. Also, she had a genius for dark humour.
Our friendship continued to grow and deepen over the years, and working together on this story and other things brought us closer all the time. Reader, I fell in love with her. I moved to the UK, and we married and I am now even more in love with her (which is saying a great deal) I am also, frequently in awe of her.
New England Gothic became Hopeless,Maine and the first two books were published. Book one was picked as one of the great graphic novels for teens by the American Library association.(!!!) I finished the art for book three, (Sinners) anticipating the same schedule of one volume a year would continue (more or less) This turned out not to be the case, as there were some large changes at the publishing house. So, our story is back in our hands,(our decision) and, in order to share it with the people who have been waiting for the rest of the story, (and those who are new to these strange shores) we have teamed up with the lovely people at Nerdbong to continue publishing Hopeless, Maine as a webcomic. Book three is beginning serialisation now and the entire first chapter has been posted. There will be weekly updates until the end, and then..well, book four I expect!
I offer you, dear reader, a formal invitation to return to Hopeless, Maine. (or, if you have not been here before, to visit us for the first time) It is not recommended to walk the shoreline after dark. Salamandra sends her regards.