Dreadful Beauty Paperback Out, Showcases Jacen Burrows Providence Art

Jacen Burrows character design drawing for Providence‘s Ronald Pitman – detail from Dreadful Beauty
Dreadful Beauty hardcover cover – art by Jacen Burrows

This trade paperback of Dreadful Beauty: The Art of Providence is in stores this week. The 176-page art book features Jacen Burrows artwork from the extended Moore Lovecraft explorations – from Providence to Neonomicon, The Courtyard, and even Yuggoth Cultures. The book features all of Burrows’ covers, selected pages, and heretofore unpublished character studies.

The artwork is, of course, amazing: detailed, nuanced, and lush – with unerring attention to Lovecraft’s text and Lovecraft’s world.

Dreadful Beauty is all reproduced in black and white. Not to take away from Burrows, but this does, it its absence, draw some attention to the contribution of colorist Juan Manuel Rodríguez. Rodríguez’ colors complement Burrows lines, bringing Providence‘s 1919 world to life. 

Here is an excerpt from Alan Moore’s introductory essay “The Undrawable: Jacen Burrows and the Art of Providence“:

Jacen Burrows is, in simple terms, the finest stylist to emerge from American comics in the 21st century. His art, combining a realistic grasp of space, form and anatomy with the more usually humorous cartoon delivery and precision of the European ligne clair school, achieves a kind of perfect balance that is almost archetypal; makes the style appear somehow familiar despite its bold originality, as if it’s always been there. And indeed, if it had always been there – if Jacen Burrows, born fifty years earlier, had been amongst the ranks of brilliant individualists that formed the classic E.C. Comics line-up, say – it wouldn’t have seemed out of place. The artwork and the atmosphere it conjures have a timelessness, a blindingly apparent mastery that would distinguish them in any era.

See also Facts Providence’s earlier interviews (mid-Providence and Ask the Artist) and essay on Burrows. For Burrows fans following his post-Providence output, check out his recent artwork for Marvel Comics Black Panther and Moon Knight.

Detail of Burrows design for Providence‘s Willard Wheatley – from Dreadful Beauty

2 thoughts on “Dreadful Beauty Paperback Out, Showcases Jacen Burrows Providence Art

    • AAAnd it’s arrived! Spent the morning reading over the introduction and looking through all of Jacen Burrows incredible Lovecraftian artwork. It’s well worth a purchase in itself, (as part of the expensive five-volume slipcase, it may also help justify that price for some readers), containing a nicely chosen selection of interior panels, pages (HPL and Black walking out of the Butler Mental Hospital grounds while the ‘unseen’ extra-dimensional creatures float through the air is particularly effective in black and white), initial character designs and covers from the entire run of Moore’s Lovecraft work with Avatar thus far.
      Moore’s introduction describes the difficulties of approaching this universe in comic strip form, visualizing the entities, weird geometries, and atmospheres in a way that retains a sense of authenticity and quasi-realism, I was intrigued by the mention of a book researched in the course of the series, Claude Bragdon’s Projective Ornament, all to do with fouth-dimensional design.
      A companion piece to the work that’s sure to enrich any full reading or rereading.


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