Open Thread: What Next For Providence?

As we were putting together our preview post for Providence #8, we simultaneously hit on ideas of trying to predict what is still in store for the remaining issues of Providence. There are only four more issues, so where is Black headed? What Lovecraftian lore will he interact with?

Below are some of our predictions. As you can tell from reading below, even the contributors to Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence have somewhat different takes on what is still in store. Add yours in the comment thread below. And enjoy the ride while Moore and Burrows surprise us all.

Japheth Colwen, from Suydam's pamplet in Providence #2 - art by Jacen Burrows
Japheth Colwen, from Suydam’s pamplet in Providence #2 – art by Jacen Burrows

From Joe:

  • Robert Black has to get to Providence, RI – the birthplace and longtime residence of H.P. Lovecraft and the setting of many of his stories – or why would Moore call this series Providence?
  • In Providence, RI, Black will likely interact with Lovecraft mythos that have already been alluded to and/or foreshadowed:
    – Black will visit Federal Hill’s sinister “huge, dark church” prominent in “The Haunter of the Dark.” “Haunter”‘s Starry Wisdom sect are the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente (or Stell Saps) introduced in Providence #2. It looks like the church’s Shining Trapezohedron is the meteor from “The Colour out of Space,” shown in Providence #5 P13,p3. According to Garland Wheatley, the meteor was spirited “off to Rhode Island” by the Stell Saps (Providence #4 P9,p3.) Black may die from a lightning strike as Haunter’s protagonist Robert Blake did.
    – Black will visit “The Shunned House.” The titular house, located at 135 Benefit Street, was mentioned in the closing lines of the Suydam pamphlet excerpt in Providence #2. Shunned House villain Etienne Roulet also appeared in Suydam’s pamphlet, and was revealed to have possessed Elspeth Wade in Providence #6.
    – Black will likely encounter Japheth Colwen who is Providence‘s analogue for Joseph Curwen from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Colwen was shown and described in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2.
  • Maybe at some point, readers will get a look at Suydams’ other pamphlet, also from Providence #2 : Kaballah and the Faust Legend.
  • Lastly, Black should come into contact with H.P. Lovecraft himself. Will they come face to face, perhaps have hot gay sex together, with Black later regaling Lovecraft with his stories of a hidden America? Or will it just be Black’s Commonplace Book falling into Lovecraft’s hands, somewhat reminiscent of the fate of Rorshach’s journal on the very last page of Moore and Gibbon’s Watchmen?

From Alexx:

  • Now that we are past the halfway mark, I think I’m beginning to see signs of what the overall structure of Providence is. Where Watchmen’s structure was dominated by mirror symmetry, I think Providence will turn out to be a repeated arc of rising action.
  • In #1 and #7, Robert Black meets a genuinely friendly individual who hits it off with him.
  • In #2, and seemingly also in #8, Robert Black meets a rather less friendly individual who is a professional occultist and scholar.
  • In #3, Black meets some eccentric middle-class characters who live by the sea. I foresee that #9 will see him visiting Kingsport/Marblehead, probably having a more detailed encounter with “The Terrible Old Man” (who appeared briefly in #2) and perhaps “The Festival.”
  • In #4, Black heads out into the boonies, and meets with scarcely-veiled hostility. If the pattern continues, #10 should see him in New Hampshire, probably encountering an Akeley and/or Noyes analog from “The Whisperer in Darkness.”
  • Issues #5 and #6 are almost a two part story, where Black visits a city which is a major nexus of Lovecraft’s work, and intersects with several different stories, and many characters who act towards Black in an openly malevolent manner. I predict that #11 and #12 will be set in Providence, RI, and will feature Black’s inevitable doom after similarly intersecting with multiple stories and characters. “The Haunter of the Darkhas to appear. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward seems extremely likely, given that we haven’t yet met Japheth Colwen. I would not be surprised to see an appearance of “The Shunned House.”

From Bobby:

  • At this point, I am less interested in which Lovecraft stories Moore will reference than how he will tie them together into his new behind-the-scenes mythology; we’ve already had a hint of the Elder Things from At the Mountains of Madness in the story of Hali’s Booke in Providence #6, and we’ve seen mention of the Deep Ones in several places, notably Neonomicon and Providence #3, but he hasn’t really elaborated on their place in the secret history or cosmology of Providence just yet.
  • Aklo too remains a mystery, and I suspect that Moore will seek to bridge the gap between the cipher-alphabet revealed in Providence #6 and the “inspired” or subconscious language of The Courtyard and Neonomicon. Possibly we’ll see some Aklo inscriptions which fans can then try to decipher – such as the strange manuscripts mentioned in “The Statement of Randolph Carter” and “The Silver Key.”
Providence #1 pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows
Will Robert Black get through Providence without encountering Cthulhu? Providence #1 pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows

What do you think, reader? Is there anything else that has been foreshadowed? Where do you think Black, Moore, and Burrows are headed?

Will Cthulhu show its “octopus-like head”?

What about Shub-Niggurath?

How about something from Lovecraft’s “revision” stories like “The Mound“?

Only Burrows and Moore know.

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23 thoughts on “Open Thread: What Next For Providence?

  1. Probably #8 and #12 will be finished with some excerpts from Lovecraft’s verse, like #4.

    It’s too early for Colwen’s ressurection, but probably Black will meet “Providence” equivalent of Charles Ward.

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  2. I’d like to see something about «The whisperer in darkness» and «The shambler from the stars» (written by Robert Bloch and a prequel to «The haunter of the dark»).

    Another possible structure:

    I (Cool air) – II (The horror at Red Hook): New York
    III (The shadow over Innsmouth) – IV (The Dunwich horror): Massachusetts
    V (The dreams in the witch house) – VI (The thing on the doorstep): New Hampshire
    VII (Pickman’s model) – VIII (cycle of Randolph Carter): Massachusetts
    IX (The case of Charles Dexter Ward) – X (The haunter of the dark): Rhode Island
    XI (Past? Dreams? Another planet?) – XII (Future?) – ?

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  3. I initially thought, like Joe, that the series would end with Lovecraft somehow coming into possession of the Commonplace Book, but that seems a bit too straightforward and Watchmen-esque. It could very well still prove to be the case, but I’m also willing to entertain the notion — and don’t ask me how this would work, but never underestimate Moore’s ability to do the seemingly impossible — that either Black has been Lovecraft the whole time or that he, perhaps, becomes him. Somehow.

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    • I dunno, Lovecraft was born in 1890, so was 29 in 1919. Black seems about 23-ish. Obviously they don’t look alike, is it possible some eldritch nightmare could turn a ginger into a brunette? Actually only seen HP’s picture in black and white, what colour hair did he have?

      I realise these are a bit thin and meaningless. The two seem to have very different personalities though, HP being a hypochondriac and very depressive, Robert being naive (past the point of credibility!) and basically cheerful. He doesn’t enjoy thinking about weird things. He’s very innocent.

      The two men don’t have a lot in common, and it would be a bit pointless, really. Plus eventually HP has to start meeting publishers, people who may well already know Black, at least by sight.

      I dunno, HP could get hold of this information through some mental transference. Or soul-transference! But again, their personalities aren’t similar. But the existence of the Commonplace Book surely means HP has to get hold of it, why else would he keep such a detailed, over-long diary?

      Actually a problem with the Commonplace Book, is it’s shortage of actual information. It’s just Robert’s dozy impression from each encounter, completely missing the point and detail of everything that happens. To write the “truth” of it into fiction, HP would end up having to imagine most of the details of what actually went on. Hector North’s zombie-raising went right over Robert’s head. Robert’s seen a lifetime’s worth of the real world’s underside, and not realised any of it! Gotta wonder how the useless sod got by as a reporter. Gotta wonder how he managed as a gay bloke, with no sense for nuance or hidden meaning.

      This is actually a big weak point, now I think of it. The book would be useless for HP to base his mythology on! There’s no mythology in it!

      Perhaps Robert has a long-past-due realisation of everything, THEN he’ll have something to tell HP. This hopeless naivety can’t go on for the whole series.

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  4. whoah, covers for #9 throwing a monkey wrench in here!

    Looks like we’re headed for Providence sooner than expected, with The Shunned House itself featuring prominently. Part of me has been thinking along the same lines as Alexx, that we were headed for a looping structure, maybe hitting Vermont, Marblehead, but that may not be the case anymore…

    I sure hope this doesn’t mean we’re forgoing Kingsport!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Also throws out the theory that 7-12 covers will show interiors rather than exteriors!

    Any guesses what other buildings/structures/rooms could be featured on the remaining 3 covers?

    The old Starry Wisdom Church is surely #12, right?

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  6. I think the choice of locations for the covers, in terms of exteriors vs interiors, is mostly about which kind of scene represents the character(s) visited. There’s no special building associated with Pickman or Carter hence the views of their studio/parlor best suggests them— whereas the Whateley house, Witch House, Church, Harbor and others are most emblematic of the folks featured in the books.The closer we look the more we see but we sometimes see things that may not really be there! If you know what I mean!

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    • I’d argue that Henchman Street is the Pickman’s Model equivalent of any of those exteriors, it’s a real world address (mentioned in the story) that could have been portrayed easily from the exterior, just as #1 did for Cool Air. Lovecraft actually does a lot of describing of the seedy, real-life North End neighborhood in that story, whereas say #4’s Wheatley house is really just a made up composite based on the story rather than a real address.

      But yeah, I don’t recall Carter having a specific place so that makes sense for him obviously

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      • Good point about Pickman. I’m mainly suggesting that the covers don’t necessarily have to follow a pattern of exteriors and interiors. I think they choose the scene most evocative of the character and story rather.

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      • I getcha Pete! And it wasn’t my theory per say but I will say there seemed to be a pattern of evocative wide-angle exteriors devoid of human life, focussed on a specific building. Broken pretty jarringly (in a good way!) with #7, a strikingly boxed-in, claustrophobic image of an interior, no windows, focussed on an object and a very human tableau instead. Not complaining of course, but it’s curious what with having the real Pickman exterior readily available!

        The pattern’s back with #9. Maybe in the end, it’s just a Boston thing. or a Dream World thing.

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      • Interesting thing about the apartment on Henchman Street–I walked over there just after #7 came out, and he’s got it on the opposite side of the street! This seems a bit too sloppy for Moore–what with the ease of google maps etc. So, is there a clue in this? Something about mirroring?

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  7. Well, even though Randall Carver is being introduced…I still believe that Lovecraft will play the Carter role to Black’s Harley Warren.
    And that the monster who kills Warren is none other than Johnny Carcosa/Nyarlathotep/The Haunter of the Dark himself…who has been hinted this entire series.

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  8. I dont’ think this will happen, but I wish it would – the action moving down to Louisiana and the stuff talked about in “Call of cthulu” as a big action climax, while also facing the biggest real-life horror 1910s america had to offer with the Cthulu cultists getting railroaded by Jim Crow racism. Not enough space left in the story to make it down there I suppose, but it sure would put a pretty neat bow on a lot of Moore’s themes.

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