Hopeless, Maine by Tom and Nimue Brown

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.  Each week I can’t wait to be immersed in Salamandra’s story, actually feeling disappointed when I’ve reached the end of the latest page.  Nimue and Tom Brown have created something special here, and I think it’s about time for the world to discover Hopeless, Maine. ”

–Thomas E. Sniegoski (The Fallen)

The Skinny

Hopeless, Maine is a YA gothic fantasy graphic novel series by Tom and Nimue Brown.  The first graphic album is in progress at www.itisacircle.com with sister prose novels already complete.  Hopeless, Maine is a wide-ranging cross-media property easily adaptable to any venue.

Thomas and Nimue Brown share a love of gothic decay, poetry, wild landscapes and strange creatures. They have been collaborating for years, brought together initially by a publishing house.  In the summer of 2009 they launched The Hopeless Vendetta – a weekly newspaper charting life on the fictional island of Hopeless.  The webcomic (in the same setting) commenced that autumn at www.itisacircle.com.

The Browns are collectively influenced by Robert Holdstock, Neil Gaiman, Lord Dunsany, the pre-Raphelites, folklore and the modern druid tradition.  Goth and steampunk also turn up in the mix, as does anything else they run into.  Both have worked separately in their respective fields.  Tom has created book covers for Joe Pulver and others at Hippocampus.  Nimue writes poetry as Brynneth Nimue and other fiction under a pen name.  They are at their happiest and most creative when collaborating; inspiring and challenging each other to test abilities and ideas to the limits.

You have eyes to see the creative brilliance in this stunning work.  And the heart to feel the passion.  Turn the page, let your fingers lead you to the rhapsody.

–Joseph S. Pulver (Chaosium, Blood Will Have Its Season)

The Style

Hopeless, Maine blends the robust pacing of manga with the mesmerizing visuals of Gothic Victoriana.  Think Myazaki meets Mignola or Gaiman meets Gorey.  Stunning architecture and panoramic landscapes greet the eye as readers enter a captivating horror-fantasy world where the macabre and bizarre are the norm.  Tentacles slither in the shadows, witches live next door, and these are the normal parts of Hopeless!

It grabs your eyes with fishhook vengeance…a feast for the eyes that is carefully prepared and slow cooked all week.  This is a world full of magic and fantasy with dark themes…written as if Tim Burton lived on Sesame Street.  The dark and unique fantasy world created here carries a child-like innocence in every panel.

–Chris Nitz, Comics Are Evil

The Story

Trapped on an island off the coast of Maine, the people of Hopeless find life a little darker and more dangerous with every day that passes.  The number of orphans rises continually, but who can say what happens to their parents?  Plenty of the bodies are never found.  This is not the stuff of happy, careless childhoods, it is instead fertile ground for personal demons.  In Hopeless, the demons are not always abstract concepts.  Some of them have very real teeth, and very real horns.

The island has been isolated for a very long time.  Partly because of being small and forgotten, partly because the rocks and currents do not encourage visitors, Hopeless is surrounded by fog and overrun with nightmarish creatures, from small things with tentacles to demons and vampires.   It’s a peculiar place.  Here, almost anything can happen, from the weird and unsettling to the darkly funny. With a cast of freaks, nutters and the odd power crazed psychopath, life in Hopeless is seldom dull.

Hopeless is also about who you choose to be.  The tale is a protest against apathy, and against the small evils that everyone takes for granted.  The worst monsters frequently aren’t the ones with the obvious teeth – who are merely dangerous by nature – but the apparently ordinary people who choose to do hideous things.

Its palette is dark and sumptuous, and its style, while taking on influences from animé and manga, truly feels unique.  Personally, I can’t wait for more!

–Kelly Melcher, Fandomania


Hopeless has a build-in audience with readers of YA gothic fantasy the likes of Spiderwick Chronicles, His Dark Materials, and Carlos Luis Zafon’s The Prince of Mist.  Hopeless has also found devoted followers in fans of steampunk, goth culture, and manga the likes of XXXholic, Helsing, and Goth.

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