It may be a bit of a cheat plugging something I’m heavily involved with as a favourite thing for Steampunk Hands Around the World, but bear with me. There’s considerable justification for me claiming Tom Brown as a favourite thing. Favourite to the point of marrying him. He’s also a significant percentage of how I came to Steampunk in the first place (the other percentage being attributable to Professor Elemental).
When I first met Tom, through a publishing house many years ago, he was writing and illustrating Hopeless Maine by himself. I was entirely smitten – it was strange, gothic, moody and a bit Victorian in look. Tom wandered more deliberately into Steampunk, having always been attracted to things Victorian, but not until recently, aware there’s a whole movement. I trotted along behind, and here we are. Of all the projects I’ve worked on since then, Hopeless Maine stands out as a favourite thing for me. Tom eventually persuaded me to write for him – I was reluctant because I’d never written comics and had no idea how to do it. A long period of close collaboration, and all the wider conversations around it, and we ended up with an emotional attachment that took me across the Atlantic to visit him, and later, him across the Atlantic to live with me. I owe a lot to Hopeless Maine.
Which brings me round to the important matter of Sloths. Sloth Comics have now gone public on their slog, with the news that they are picking up Hopeless Maine. We’ve known this was happening for a while, but there’s nothing like a big public declaration of intent to get things moving. When our relationship with the first publisher – Archaia – fell apart because they’d been bought out by bigger and more commercially orientated Boom Studios, we looked around for someone cool. We liked Sloth as soon as we saw them – they publish comics that aren’t obvious, and formulaic looking. They also make very high quality books, and we’re looking forward to seeing Hopeless with that much better page print quality.
We’re not Sloth’s first Steampunk project, either. Happily, this move puts us alongside Francesca Dare and her glorious Penny Blackfeather, http://www.pennyblackfeather.co.uk/ (this comic I really like, its funny and full of unexpected things) the link will take you to the webcomic. Another canny female lead with a slightly dappy male sidekick, we suspect Salamandra and Penny would get along fairly well. Sloth also have Steam Hammer – an alternate history with a Scottish hero and a Victorian Britain that’s been overrun by steam powered Americans. I haven’t read it, but it looks good. Then there’s The Ring of the Seven Worlds – steampunk and studio Ghibli influenced. There are other non-Steampunk titles too, and I have some reading to do to catch up. It’s great moving to a house and feeling excited about everything they do.
I’ve popped the new cover in this blog – it’s for the omnibus edition that will bring volumes one and two out in the same book, with some other things that haven’t been seen before, and then we head for book three. This is the first Hopeless Maine piece where Tom and I have collaborated on the art – he does the lines, I do the colours, he does the magic and the photoshoppy bits. I can’t claim it as a favourite thing – it was an absolutely terrifying thing, but likely means I’ll be more involved in the art for future books.