With the release last week of the hardcover edition of Providence Act 3, any readers who were waiting can now read the full 12-issue series. Act 3 collects issues 9 through 12. The Jacen Burrows cover features Robert Black in front of a snowy Bryant Park exit chamber. The back cover image is from
As with Act 1 and Act 2, the Facts Providence team was eager to look through the new collection, and to see where we could spot differences from the individual issues. We had submitted our list of nitpicks to the publisher, Avatar Press. They corrected pretty much of all of the easily-fixed minor errors that we had pointed out. It appears that only the errors in the body of the comic have been updated, and none of the ones in the Commonplace Book back matter.
Below are a couple of excerpts from Moore’s 7-page introduction:
In my own case late childhood infatuation had, by my self-conscious middle teens, been tempered by increasing unease and abhorrence with regard to Lovecraft’s politics and many prejudices. Less defensibly, I had been cowed by the authoritative critical pronouncements of such disapproving commentators as both Wilsons – haughty Edmund and iconoclastic Colin – and in viewing Lovecraft through their unforgiving lens perceived him as merely a clumsy writer, burdening each clause with adjectives and archaisms, far too fond of indescribability, of final paragraphs delivered in a hyperventilating torrent of bug-eyed italics. Later, on the slopes of young adulthood and perhaps more confident in my opinions, I reread his storied and revised my view to one that once more favourable and more condescending. I saw Lovecraft now as a wild talent, one whose genius lay in transmitting his own sense of overwhelming cosmic terror to his audience despite his literary limitations. Not until embarking on a sixth decade that Lovecraft, for all his senescent affectations, would not reach did I revisit those steep lanes and jutting steeples, armed with vital insights gleaned from the continually expanding field of Lovecraft scholarship, only to find the fiercely individual and innovative prose stylist that I’d previously failed to see.
His general xenophobia was of course still present, along with his poorly reasoned and romantic veneration of the English aristocracy, but those could be viewed with greater understanding (albeir not greater sympathy) in the revealing context of his place and time and circumstances. Lovecraft’s supposed literary defects, on the other hand, turned out upon closer inspection either not to exist or to be misapprehended virtues. The most serious abuse of adjectives and repetition of last-paragraph italics are not in fact to be found in Lovecraft’s work but in that of his devotee and ‘posthumous collaborator’ August Derleth, who, while almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping his late mentor’s name alive, would with his clumsy ventriloquial interventions do much to delay his hero’s literary recognition, turning passing quirks into compulsive cliches. In Lovecraft’s own narratives the adjectives extended in pursuit of that which is beyond description ultimately stand exposed as an ingenious strategy disorienting and unsettling the reader by giving a list of entities that Great Cthulhu doesn’t much resemble, or declaring that the Colour out of Space is only a color ‘by analogy’. On examination, Lovecraft’s touted flaws seem instead to be careful tactical considerations.
The deployment of archaic vocabulary – Domdanie, nepenthe, eidolon and necrophagous, a sesquipedalian torrent – looks on second glance like an attempt to make the very medium that he expressed his stories through, the English language itself, into something creepy, unfamiliar and alienating.
This week Avatar Press released the first collected edition of ProvidenceAct 2, which reprints Providence issues 5 through 8. The cover features Robert Black in front of the Witch House that featured prominently in issue #5. The back cover reprints a detail of Elspeth Wade from issue #6’s Women of HPL variant cover. The collected edition is currently only available in hardcover, for a $21.99 cover price. For covers and other details of collected editions, see this page.
As we did with the initial Act 1 collection, and as only hardcore Moore-Lovecraft nerds are wont, the Facts team looked over the new edition to see if we could find any differences from the individual comics that the hardback collects. Mostly we were looking to see if any of the minor errors that we had spotted (and recorded on our nitpicks page, and reported to Avatar Press) had been corrected.
Pretty much all of the easy to fix nitpicks have been corrected – though it appears that only the ones in the body of the comic have been updated, and none of the ones in the Commonplace Book.
The Kickstarter campaign also has a dozen more variant covers for Providence #12, with previously unused art. There are options for inexpensive digital editions to very high-end editions signed by Moore and Burrows.
At the time of this posting, the campaign has already far surpassed its $8,300 goal, with more than $40,000 pledged. The high-end limited edition autographed, remarqued $599 package is already sold out, but there are still plenty of packages to choose from for the discerning Providence reader.
Next week, March 29, 2017 (update: looks like it may be the week after: April 5), Providence #12 will be available. After Moore and Burrows’ The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Providence it feels a bit like the end of an era. Moore’s text version of The Courtyard first saw print in 1994. Lovecraftian elements appeared in several of Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stories. 2010 saw The Courtyard‘s future spun into four issues of Neonomicon. Then, from 2015-2017, Neonomicon‘s world stretched into so-far-eleven prequel issues of Providence. Alan Moore has hinted that he also has another brief Lovecraftian comic coming in the near future.
For Providence issues two through ten, Facts in the Case would preview what our contributors expected was coming next, and especially what Lovecraft stories appeared very likely to form the basis of each issue.
For issue 12 the upcoming themes are not so clear.
In many ways, Providence #11 completed the circle: Black’s journey – and Providence itself – returned to the point where it began in issue #1, and then skips forward to pick up where Neonomicon left off when it ended. While we’ve been treating Providence as a kind of prequel, there have been hints all along that this wasn’t quite the case.
As Sax, Brears, Perlman and Barstow – all characters from The Courtyard and/or Neonomicon, have popped up toward the end of Providence #11, it probably makes sense to go back and read through The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Providence to see where we are heading. A very pregnant Brears appears on the Women of HPL variant cover for issue 12.
This post will feature some speculation on what might be ahead – and invite readers to comment on how Providence might end up. Continue reading →