A most Hopeless diet

The great Hopeless, Maine creature blog tour! (with added recipes…)

Druid Life

When I’m dealing with fantastical settings, I like to know how the practical details work. I think it’s getting the little, mundane things right that is key to making big, strange, magical things feel plausible. I experience this as a reader as well as when writing. I want to know where you go to take a shit, what people are wearing in terms of materials, how they keep warm, or cool, and what they eat.

Hopeless Maine is a lost island. It used to be more connected, and resources used to head its way, but these days, new materials either come from natural resources or wash in from shipwrecks. Recycling is a must. The Hopeless Maine diet is not for the squeamish. Food is in short supply, and you have to be willing to eat anything passably edible that comes along. This is why ‘bottom of the garden stew’ is…

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The Blind Fisherman sees the light of day.

This *may* not be as profound as the title suggests, but it has nice pictures, so stay with me dear reader, just for a while.

blind-fisherman

Hello again people (and others).

As some of you may know, some of Hopeless, Maine has been published before, but *this* time it is being published entire. That means, with the (rather important) prelude-The Blind Fisherman. We’re dead chuffed about that, and about our new publisher, Sloth Comics.

When Nimue and I started this story many years ago, we started in what is now, the middle-ish bit (but closer to the beginning) . Salamandra was already a young adult and looked like this.

sal

Nimue wrote the script for the whole story, all the way to the end. Yes. This story does have a definite end. (Probably) Then, I was invited to be a guest at an anime con in Portland, Maine and I saw the power of the cute, and dear reader, I was moved. (also-hooked) So… as Nimue and I were on opposite sides of the Atlantic at this point, I sent her a message. Could we just… (ask her, if you ever meet her, how much trouble she has gotten into from people asking her, “can you just…?”) Could we, I asked, just have a story that comes before the main story about Sal as a young girl? (I was picturing *big* eyes, naturally) People would fall in love with her, I thought. Nimue said she would write it, so, orderly sort of chap that I am, I drew the cover and sent it to her. (Carts-horses, I’m not very good at the proper order of things) Nimue wrote the story (now called Personal Demons) and included the savaged teddy bear and key I had shown on the cover. (which is not the cover of the published version. I think I drew four different covers for PD. I had more time on my hands back then, apparently) Are you still with me? Good. So, while waiting for a publisher, I had another idea. Something that would have happened before Personal Demons. It was about a blind fisherman, and…things I can’t say without spoiling it for you. I drew it-ten pages of sequential art with no word balloons at all. I sent it to Nimue and she wrote (bloody gorgeous) poetic accompaniment which added layers to the story the illustrations show. The Blind Fisherman, created impulsively and just because we wanted to, is one of my favourite bits of the tale, and now it is part of the whole. Sloth has collected books one and two (Personal Demons and Inheritance) and put the Blind Fisherman at the beginning, where it belongs. The new volume is called The Gathering. Sloth will be publishing the whole series, to the very end. (Probably four or five more volumes. Book two will be out in 2017) You would think we had gone backwards story-wise as far as possible (or reasonable) but, no. We thought it would be good to have illustrated prose that would compliment the comics, so, Nimue wrote New England Gothic, which happens before the events in The Blind Fisherman. Still with me? I’m impressed! New England Gothic is a bit more than one quarter illustrated and will also be coming out from Sloth, in 2017 (all being well)

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

 

 

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Hopeless, Maine-The Gathering

gathering

Hello people! (and others)

This is a big week for us. The new Hopeless, Maine omnibus is being released from Sloth Comics!  It will contain books one and two of the original series plus (in print for the first time) The Blind Fisherman, which is a prelude to the story (and actually pretty important)

If you have been following this blog at all, you will know that this story is a labour of love for Nimue and I and had a role in our becoming a couple and a creative team. It is (on the surface) about magic and strangeness and tentacles on an island, off the coast of Maine, which has been cut off from the rest of the world, beneath that though, it is about how people respond to the little evils. (whether by apathy, cooperation or resistance) It is the story I most want to tell. The prior version was singled out as one of the great books for teens by the American Library Association (Which was a pleasant sort of shock!)

Here are some nice things that people have said about it.

“It’s a curio, some dark gothic dream bottled and painted in shades of night.”
Mark Lawrence Author of the Broken Empire Trilogy and The Red Queen’s War series

“Tom Brown’s artwork is truly unique . . . a strange mixture of manga, and gothic horror . . . a mixture that I would never imagine working , but it does! Hopeless, Maine is something to behold. Nimue and Tom Brown have created something special here, and I think it’s about time for the world to discover Hopeless, Maine. ”

Thomas Sniegoski NY Times best selling author of The Fallen
“There is beauty between these pages. Haunting imagery incredibly depicted by Tom Brown. Words like genius are bandied about too much in the modern world, but with his brushes Brown takes images directly from a writer’s mind and breathes life into them. Who better then to draw out the maudlin grace of Nimue Brown’s world than him? Together they have created a well-named island with a nightmare landscape that travellers like me simply have to return to over and over, noticing some fresh wonder on every visit. Hopeless Maine gets under your skin. It is like an addiction. You just have to go back once more, just one more time, sure that you can handle even the most terrifying glimpse of reality it has to offer. Sometimes you are wrong. Sometimes you just can’t, but that’s okay because the Browns can. They live it so that we might savour it in the safety of our armchair. Hopeless Maine is calling to me once more. I must leave you now…”
I hope (as always) this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

 

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Explaining ‘democracy’ to a majickal-hare…

This is rather pertinent! (with bonus lovely art)

Niff Soup

newyearmatjpeg

“You look,” Matlock griffled, as we waited for appearance of the ‘supermoon’ in his small cottage garden last week,”an oidy bit distracted.”

“It’s been a strange time recently out in ‘the Great Beyond’,” I replied, shivering slightly in the cold even’up air. “We’ve had lots of votes on things and it’s set people against one another.”

“Votes?”

I nodded, realising the term was completely new, and some basic explanation to my long-haired majickal friend was necessary.  “It’s when we want to change things. We’re given a choice we have decide with a vote.  They’re counted, and the most wins.  It’s called ‘democracy’.”

Matlock’s lower jaw slowly moved as if chewing on something. “Democracy?”

“It helps us choose. That way, everyone’s involved.”

“Everyone?” he asked.

“Well, apart from those who can’t vote, or who don’t, or are too young.”

“Even if the choice affects them?” Matlock asked, frowning slightly in the…

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When We Are Vanished

Some love for When We Are Vanished by my partner in life and creative madness, Nimue Brown

Signposts in the Mist

42497_original_9dfb889b-31ef-4c08-803a-a044d1cf1a21_largeNimue Brown is a Druid author based in Stroud. I’ve enjoyed a number of her publications on Paganism and Druidry and her Bardic poetry books. When We Are Vanished is the first of her works of fiction I have got my hands on. It is a speculative mystery novel set in a not-so-distant future where hackers have shut down the global computer network to bring an end to ‘war, finance and government’. When the book opens, the system is in its death throes. Job centres, the police force and scientific laboratories are just about hanging on, relying on new ‘cellulose tech’, which has a mind of its own and a wicked sense of humour. And people are vanishing, suddenly, inexplicably, from the outskirts of civilisation one by one…

At the core of the story is a family: a father who has vanished; three sisters at various stages of vanishing named…

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Hope against hate

hope-for-print

Another blog so soon, Tom?

It’s a short one. Mostly a link. There has been a movement among kids literature creators to depict characters with a safety pin to help kids feel less alone in a world that may seem to have taken a lurch to the vile and mean side. Well, Salamandra is on the side of diversity, most assuredly and has a history of interfering with bullying of several sorts. So this is for the young people and the less young people who are encouraged by it.

Adults- it’s our job to make sure that the young people not only feel safe, but actually *are* safe. And that’s young people from everywhere. So for their sake, and ours, please do not support the people who only want the world to work for some people. Use your vote, your voice and your presence when that’s the right thing to do. History is trying to repeat itself, we don’t have to let it. Hello to your young people, from us.

Here is a link to a downloadable – printable version of the image. We encourage you to make as many prints, as you like, for anyone you like. Put it on a mug or…whatever you like. It’s for all of you to do with as you like.

I hope this finds you well and safe.

 

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It’s a dog eat dog world

he_hears_his__late__master_s_voice_by_copperage-d6wpbpb

Hello again people (and others) It’s been a while, for which I apologise.

I’m going to depart, a bit, from my usual subject matter here, or perhaps, talk about art and our work as a way to point to something else, and larger. It’s a commonly held belief that it is a dog eat dog world out there and you have to look out for number one and be ruthlessly competitive in order to survive and succeed. My belief is that this is only true if we participate in this way. Look at the saying, ‘it’s a jungle out there’, for instance. A jungle is a complex web of visible and microscopic interdependence. In that way, it really is a jungle out there, any why should it be otherwise? We’re hardly outside of nature.

Right. This is all a bit philosophical and ungrounded so far, so let me just talk about my experience in the book-comics-publishing industry, and how this has led to other things. Every single thing that has worked out well for Nimue and myself, has been a direct result of friendships and cooperation. I had a short silly period of being a bit desperate and thinking about the money (and myself) first and very nearly harmed (possibly irreparably) one of the friendships and working relationships I’m most proud of. (I still cringe when remembering this) We left a publisher who was driven by sales numbers and competitive strategy (at the top, at least) for one with whom we have a genuine respect and friendship. The creators here talk about each others work on social media and so we cooperatively get our work in front of people. All of the win, right there. (also-more fun!)

Another story- Quite a few years ago, we met (online) the people who make the web-series, Ragged Isle (Don’t worry I’ll link to it in an impending post, because I’m back now, really. We’ve got a lot to talk about in the next few months) We had a mutual admiration as creators and supported and encouraged each other for years. Also I have a friend from Portland Maine (Who owns and runs the Green Hand bookstore there now) Well, Barry, who is the director of Ragged Isle sent me an email out of the blue (ish that’s another story) asking if the rights to Hopeless, Maine were still available for film and stuff. As it happens, for him, they are, and it’s happening and Michelle from The Green Hand is also on the team, and many other people that we love and have wanted to work with for years. This is heaven, in creative terms. Will it be bigger than Batman? No. At least, i’d be shocked, and we are not competing with anything or anyone. We are just focussed on making good things, and making good things happen for the people that we care about (which is many, and also a lot)

I could go on providing examples but you would get bored and stop reading (understandably) Just, please, if you have bought into the either/or,us or them mentality, consider the idea that it might be a dog brings a bone to another dog sort of world. (PS. Nimue points out that dogs don’t actually tend to eat each other very often)

Hoping (as always) this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

 

 

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