Gilt by Association: More Providence Sales Numbers

Providence #3 Px,px detail, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #3, art by Jacen Burrows

The sales figures for August 2016 are in at Comichron, and we’ve updated the Innsmouth Gold page accordingly. There are still a few things in the works here at the Facts blog, but since we have been pretty quiet lately while we wait for the next issue, we thought it might be interesting to briefly talk about the business side of things.

First off, publishing gaps between issues are routine in the comics world, especially with small press publishers. The ability to churn out multiple titles on a monthly (or weekly!) basis requires writers, artists, inkers, colorists, letterers, and editors to work very fast and with a great deal of coordination, and when some of those folks probably juggling multiple projects, sometimes they just don’t make the page per day needed – and that’s without any printer delays. The downside to these lapses is the long wait between issues, which can put off customers (especially on short-run or limited series), and these kind of gaps are usually (although not always) associated with a drop in sales. The drop between Providence #9 (June 2016) and Providence #10 (August 2016) was about 530 copies, or roughly 4% of the direct sales readership; that’s a little less but about comparable to the drop between Providence #6 (Nov 2015) and Providence #7 (Feb 2016), and we’re probably going to see a comparable drop between #10 and #11, just because of how the issues are being spaced out.

Cover for Providence Act 1 Hardcover Kickstarter Exclusive. Art by Jacen Burrows
Cover for Providence Act 1 Hardcover Kickstarter Exclusive. Art by Jacen Burrows

Other factors also come into play. The secondary market for comic books used to be a lot smaller, dominated by specialist sellers like your favorite Local Comic Book Store – the folks you would go to when you missed a back issue and wanted to read what happened. The triple revolutions of collected editions, digital editions, and the internet comics marketplace has substantially opened up the market for “back issues.” Now readers can compare prices and survey inventory from comic stores and independent sellers around the globe; put off hardcopy comics and just get digital copies of any missed issues missed on Comixology or Avatar Press’s web store; or…just wait for the collected edition to come out, so that you can sit down and read the whole thing at once.

The latter is what I suspect a lot of readers are doing. Having missed an issue due to the delays in the schedule, or unsatisfied with the pace and dropped the series, many readers are likely just waiting for it to end so that they can pick up the collected edition…of course, they may well end up paying for it.

Camel Chart for Providence Act 1 Hardcover Limited Ed.
Camel Chart for Providence Act 1 Hardcover Limited Ed.

This is the Camelcamelcamel chart for the Providence Act 1 Hardcover Limited Edition, released in May 2016, tracking the sales prices – minus the more extreme price spikes, which are caused by feedback loops in automatic pricing algorithms used by some Amazon sellers; even so, you can see how the red and blue of 3rd party sellers on Amazon reflects a fairly typical cycle of price spikes and resets. Amazon sold through their inventory around early July, leaving the market at the mercy of 3rd party sellers – which tend to spike and then drift back down, although the asking price in general has steadily risen – which is pretty typical for many out-of-print books on Amazon. The lesson being, if you want the limited edition, you should probably pick them up for cheap as they come out.  Continue reading

Providence Ending Preview Panels Via Jacen Burrows New Twitter

It has been a while since we last posted. Can we blame it on having fun annotating Jerusalem, Cinema Purgatorio and Crossed+100? Perhaps it is more due to a brief lapse in the publication schedule for Providence. The creators and Avatar Press are readying the final two issues, which are reportedly (similar to Watchmen) chock-full of comics, with no more of that pesky Commonplace Book back-matter. Providence 11 is due out in November. Covers have been publicized and Alan Moore has dropped a tiny hint at the content.

Today, though, we are sharing a couple of Providence preview panels via Jacen Burrows’ relatively new Twitter account @Jacen_artContinue reading

Guest Post: Is Providence Moore’s Riposte To True Detective?

By Edward Saul

Providence #11 Portrait variant, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #11 Portrait variant, art by Jacen Burrows

Excitement abounds for we enthusiasts of Alan Moore, HP Lovecraft and Weird Fiction, as the crashing denouement to Providence looms overhead. Considering that the exact release date for Providence #11, let alone #12, is aptly unknowable, now is the prime time for speculation. Such speculation should not, of course, be limited merely to theorizing on what happens next, but could also stretch to the overall motives and meanings behind the series, and how that might predict what happens next.

This can be logical and precise, based on the evidence presented; those of us eagle-eyed readers, for instance, had by the release issue #3 or #4 realized that Prof. Alvarezs comparison of Robert Black with that other Herald reporter who found Dr. Livingstone was subtly foreshadowing Blacks inevitable encounter with Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Equally, it is also possible that such theories become outlandish, echoing the excesses of 9/11 truthers in their drawing together of thick black lines between distant, disparate dots. Or, rarely, there might be a happy medium between the two.

I put it to you, fellow readers: Providence isnt just about Lovecraft, his fiction, its meanings and its impact. Its also a riposte to True Detective Season 1.

Stay with me here.

Continue reading

SWIM Podcast: Moore on Lovecraft and a Hint About Providence 11

Alan Moore by Daniel P. Carter - via Instagram
Alan Moore by Daniel P. Carter – via Instagram

There is an excellent two-part interview with Alan Moore up at the Someone Who Isn’t Me podcast hosted by Daniel P. Carter. Alan Moore completists will be interested in listening to the entire interview: part 1 and part 2. Moore discusses consciousness, Jerusalem, magic, the Northhampton Arts Lab and much more. It includes quite a bit on H.P. Lovecraft, and even a reveal of some of what is in Providence #11.

In part 1 (minute 34:15) Moore describes the leap from pre-linguistic awareness into modern human consciousness, which he calls “the entire haunted palace” echoing the Edgar Allen Poe story The Haunted Palace which lends its title to Providence #10.

In part 2 (starting at minute 43:35) Moore speaks at length about Lovecraft, and offhandedly reveals something about Providence #11. Below is a partial transcript:

Carter: I’m going through Providence at the moment. It’s made me go back and read Lovecraft again, which I hadn’t done. I got into his work when I was really young – just in really silly ways as well. I’d found out about him through liking Metallica. They have a couple of songs: The Call of Cthulhu and The Thing That Should Not Be. Also through the role-playing game. Then started reading his work. I only read The Courtyard and Neonomicon fairly recently, after getting into Providence. It started making me look into other things like Kenneth Grant saying the idea that there was some kind of link between Lovecraft –

Moore: That Lovecraft is intuiting something –

Yeah. Which is essentially going back to something we said initially about how art is created. Where does art come from? Where does writing come from.

It’s a valid idea, I guess. It’s just that Lovecraft was such a fierce rationalist. Now I know Kenneth Grant gets around that by saying “ah – he didn’t know that he was channeling these things that are real.”

I think it’s more complex than that. The thing is Lovecraft came up with all these things purely out of his own imagination. They had enormous resonance because Lovecraft was almost an unbearably sensitive barometer of, what I suppose you might call American dread.

He was frightened about everything. He was awkward with women. He was frightened of immigrants – or despised them – if there’s any difference; but also, other than these average middle class fears of his time, Lovecraft was reading science magazines, and he understood the revolution that was going on in science: how Einstein had practically undone the whole of humanity’s conception of where it stood in the universe. And had re-written a lot of the basic rules of the universe.

I think Lovecraft was initially horrified by Einstein, but then came to absorb his theories and probably to understand them. It seems that he has understood and he’s taken them on board. So what Lovecraft’s fiction was reflecting was that we existed in a hostile random universe – well, not so much hostile but completely oblivious. A universe so vast that we were reduced to the tiniest, most insignificant speck – in a remote corner of this infinite blackness.  Continue reading

Lovecraft and Moore on Display at L.A. County Art Museum Guillermo Del Toro Show

View of LACMA’s Guillermo Del Toro exhibition, including life size figure from Pan’s Labyrinth. Photos by Joe Linton

It is not directly related to Providence, but there is plenty of H.P. Lovecraft and even a bit of Alan Moore at the L.A. County Museum of Art’s Guillermo Del Toro At Home With Monsters exhibition on display now through November 27.

The show travels to the Minneapolis Institute of Art next year February 26 through May 21, 2017 and then to the Art Gallery of Ontario from September 30, 2017 through January 7, 2018.

Guillermo Del Toro is, of course, the director of numerous fantastic and horrific films. He is also big fan of both H.P. Lovecraft and of comics.

The exhibition displays visual art, sculpture, films, props, comics and other objects, primarily from Del Toro’s personal collection. This is topped off by some similarly-themed artwork from the museum’s collections.

I did not expect to see any Alan Moore, but, among a lot of original comics art, there are two framed From Hell pages, but Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.  Continue reading

Visiting the Home Studio of Providence Letterer Kurt Hathaway

Providence letterer Kurt Hathaway's at his workstation. Photo courtesy Hathaway
Providence letterer Kurt Hathaway at his workstation. Photo courtesy Hathaway

It turns out that I don’t live that far from Providence letterer Kurt Hathaway’s suburban Los Angeles home studio. I asked and he was willing to let a fan drop by to see the inner sanctum where Providence and many other comics are lettered.

When I arrived, Hathaway was in his garage tinkering with a rolling camera track that he plans to use on a film project. He brought me into his modest lettering studio, mostly a desktop with two large monitors. The room is decorated with numerous shelves of action figures including G.I. Joe, superheroes, cowboys, and more. There is also plenty of artwork, on display and in files, both by Hathaway and other comics artists he has worked with.

Shelves of action figures in Kurt Hathaway’s studio. Photos by Joe Linton, except where specified otherwise.

Continue reading

Open Thread: How Will Providence End?

A snowy suicide chamber on the cover of Providence #11 – art by Jacen Burrows

With Providence #10’s shocks receding and great new covers for Providence #11 released today via this Bleeding Cool article, we don’t have long before Moore and Burrows’ series concludes. The future, or maybe the past, is looking pretty cold and bleak for our struggling protagonist Robert Black.

Providence 11 Women of HPL variant cover - art by Jacen Burrows
Sonia Greene on the Women of HPL Providence 11 variant cover – art by Jacen Burrows

We’ve been inundated with comments – which we really do enjoy and appreciate, and definitely use to fill out our annotations. For right now we are keeping the comments closed on the Providence #11 annotations page and we’re hoping that our readers will comment on this post with speculation on what will happening next. The week issue #11 comes out (it looks like November) we’ll open the comments for that page.

Alan Moore seems to sometimes telegraph what’s coming next, but still manages to surprise and keep readers guessing. Just how badly have we all predicted the series in the past? Most of us have been proven wrong as soon as the next issue is released. See our earlier prediction threads:

p.s. If you’re looking for more Providence insights, see where we recently published the remainder of questions and answers from Jacen Burrows’ Ask the Artist interview. Read the excellent revealing interview here. Burrows stated that he is interested in responding to some more questions as the series concludes. Add your questions as comments on the interview page.