Pantheon Variant Covers

Avatar Press likes to use variant covers to promote its series, particularly short-run limited series like Moore’s; besides their artistic merit, several of these covers have more to say about the contents of the book than readers might think.

Note that, especially for many Dreamscape and Pantheon variant covers, the variant cover subjects depicted pertain to Lovecraft fiction, but not necessarily to the events depicted in Providence comics.

Providence #1

Providence #1 pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #1 pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows

With the cephalopod-like head surmounted by a spider-like array of eyes and rudimentary wings or fins on the back, this may be intended to be a depiction of Cthulhu from “The Call of Cthulhu“:

If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background.

Commenter Troy Leaman suggests:

#1 is definitely Hastur…at lake Hali.

Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,

Jacen Burrows said on Twitter: “The first issue was Hastur. But I wanted it to also just be a stand in for all things “Lovecraftian”.
 — Jacen Burrows (@Jacen_art) April 7, 2017 ( https://twitter.com/Jacen_art/status/850456339465687042 )

Providence #2

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Providence #2 pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows

The cover portrays the “Lilith” creature from Providence #2, based on the entity from “The Horror at Red Hook.” Notice also the three parallel claw-marks on the nearest rock, a reference to the creature’s passing in the issue.

Providence #3

Providence #3, Pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #3, Pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows

The eponymous “Dagon” from Lovecraft’s story of the same name.

Providence #4

Providence #4, Pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #4, Pantheon variant, by Jacen Burrows

The globules or spheres suggest this is a representation of Yog-Sothoth, as described in “The Horror in the Museum”:

Imagination called up the shocking form of fabulous Yog-Sothoth—only a congeries of iridescent globes, yet stupendous in its malign suggestiveness.

Providence #5

Providence #5, pantheon cover, Jacen Burrows
Providence #5, pantheon cover, Jacen Burrows
Dark Young from
Dark Young from “S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters”, by Tom Sullivan

A depiction of Shub-Niggurath, or more likely one of her Dark Young, fairly similiar to the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game art for the same.

Providence #6

Providence 6 Pantheon variant cover
Providence 6 Pantheon cover, by Jacen Burrows

Jacen Burrows confirms this is a depiction of Clark Ashton Smith’s toad-like entity Tsathoggua, though it lacks that critter’s bat-like characteristics. “Definitely intended to be Tsathoggua, I just couldn’t get fur to look good and stuck to the toad aspect. 4:34 PM – 3 Apr 2017″

Providence #7

Providence #7, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #7, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Possibly a depiction of Azathoth, the “Nuclear Chaos,” surrounded by its demon pipers.

Providence #8

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Providence #8, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Probably a bust of Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, from Lovecraft’s story of the same name. (Thanks to commenters Blackpill, MS, and Lalartu for pointing this out.) Compare with this surviving bust of Hypnos from the British Museum:

Hypnos, from Wikimedia Commons.
Hypnos, from Wikimedia Commons.

Providence #9

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Providence #9, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

This appears to be Yig the Father of Serpents who appears in “The Curse of Yig” by Lovecraft with Zealia Bishop.

Providence #10

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Providence #10, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts Johnny Carcosa, who appears in Moore and Burrows earlier Lovecraft stories and comics The Courtyard and Neonomicon. See annotations for Neonomicon #1 P15,p4.

Providence #11

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Providence #11, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts the High-Priest Not To Be Described from The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

Providence #12

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Providence #12, Pantheon variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts the giant Cthulhu with “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” Deep Ones swimming.

> Go to Moore Lovecraft Annotations Index

31 thoughts on “Pantheon Variant Covers

  1. Has someone ever seen a picture of one of the entities described by Algernon Blackwood in the end of The Willows? (very recommendable short story, beloved by Lovecraft, I think).
    I’d like to see a representation but haven’t found any anywhere, just one like humans :s

    Because for what I remember, I imagine they could have some similarities to these Dark Youngs from the Roleplaying game…

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  2. I’m agree with previous two commenters – #8 indeed looks like Hypnos. HPL wrote the story with the same name (and at the end there was a portrait sculpture of this deity, too),

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  3. Taking a look back at these covers (which are great), it’s hard not to wonder about the relationship between the mythos god and the contents of the story within. With some, the connection is obvious, with others it seems to be more about the themes of the issue, and with others I’m stumped!
    In #1 there’s a lot of talk about the hidden reality of dirty little secrets just under the surface of america, and what would happen if they rose up to greet us – a great metaphor for Cthulhu. check.
    2-4 are no-brainers, 2 and 4 actually show up in their issues. Less about themes and more about concrete monster gods (though i’d wager theres still a thematic argument to be made).
    #5 is where it starts to get a little confusing, as Shub-Niggurath is all over the place in Lovecraft and one of the less defined “deities”. It shows up in Dreams in the Witch House, but no more prominently than The Whisperer in Darkness for example. If i had to venture a guess, I’d say there’s a correlation between Shub and satanism/witchcraft (The Black Goat, as it’s also known, is a very witch-culty symbol), which ties it closer to Dreams in the Witch House. But why not the cloven hoofed satanic Black Man avatar of Nyarlothotep from that story? answer: probably saving nyar for the three-lobed flying horror of the final issue.
    #6 has me completely stumped. What is the correlation? Even if it IS Bokrug, what does Doom that Came to Sarnaath have to do with anything in this issue!? We gotta get Jacen Burrows to settle this.
    By #7 it seems the connection is less concrete and more thematic. #7 opens up and it’s all about the kernel of chaos at the heart of the world- the word “chaos” is uttered on the third page, and in bold even. hence azathoth, though azathoth is not mentioned at all in Pickman’s Model.
    #8 Hypnos makes a lot of obvious thematic sense for this one, even if Hypnos never showed up in a Carter story. We’ll have to see about Yig, and how he relates to the story inside his issue.

    Anyone have any fresh ideas about #6?

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    • yeah… since you ask(ed) – the significance of #6: an old, very powerful deity watches us balefully and gloats in its own power… this is how monsieur roulet views himself/humanity i am sure

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      • ah well… that i could not say! but the giant frog (whatever/whoever that is) seems creepily sexual in its own way too… again highly appropriate given roulet’s proclivities…

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    • … for that matter you steered clear of mentioning the overtly sexual-in-a-very-warped-and-mutated-way qualities of the pantheon cover for #4!

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      • VERY true! I was considering adding this exact thought but I was running long haha! horrifying/somehow sexual, true to the themes of the issue for sure!

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    • As for Yig and #9 – probably a topic of monstrous children. In “The Curse of Yig” woman gone mad and gave birth to snake-like children – in #9 we see “mad” Sarah Susan Lovecraft hating her son.

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  4. The first is def NOT Cthulhu. Cthulhu has wings, arms legs… I believe Jacen B said it was his notion of Hastur- but not positive… I would think 2,3, and 4 are Lilith, Dagon and Yog Sothoth as has been said. Shub Niggurath is never physically described in Lovecraft- so the version seen in the Field Guide is totally made up- and I don’t think it should be copied and passed off as relating to HPL’s fiction at all. The Big Toad…. ya got me there- not Tsathoggua I shouldn’t think, but…Yes to Azathoth and Hypnos- and I think Yig is more likely the man from the story, covered by (and bitten by) a jillion snakes rather than Yig itself. I believe The Mound describes Yig more as a giant snake- but with appendages, I think!

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    • i think you might be thinking of the Weird Pulp cover for #1, which is definitely Hastur.

      I think we all know what Cthulhu traditionally looks like, but i’d be pretty surprised if that wasn’t a Burrows/Moore reinterpretation there. I mean, as the most oversaturated Lovecraft story/”character”/idea who wants yet another drawing of Cthulhu looking exactly as we’ve seen him for decades? I think there was an effort to make it more weird and creepy than we’re used to. I’m open to other opinions, but Lovecraft (or anybody else to my knowledge) certainly never described Hastur looking like…that.

      Honestly barely any of the “pantheon” are described in any real detail in the actual Lovecraft stories, so I think Burrows is sometimes drawing from the expanded Lovecraft universe for these. As a Lovecraft purist i too have torn feelings but whatever, if he’s gonna draw the incomprehensible entities I like that they’re not just pulled out of his ass, they’re actually based somewhat on a collective understanding of said entities.

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    • Also, in hindsight, the backdrop of the #1 cover is the distant planet/other dimension/future earth/whatever mentioned by the mad arab Yazid (as copied down by Black) in the #6 commonplace book. Twin suns (one sicklier than the other), mist, rain etc. Further confuses the matter.

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  5. Esteemed MS- I only thought of Hastur cause I thought I remembered Jacen saying that, but perhaps I got that wrong. I defer to you on that. And I don’t think HPL ever mentioned Hastur more than once did he? So there’s totally nothing at all in the fiction to base an image on… But I still don’t think the thing in Providence is Cthulhu- again, just my thought- perhaps time will tell. As for collective understanding… I don’t much like the idea that somebody dreams something up out of whole cloth and calls it Shub N. or whichever and then people collectively decide that it’s now definitive and somehow “accurate” and must be adhered to. But as an artist, you gotta draw SOMETHING sometimes, I totally get that. I have a conception of Shub N. in my upcoming edition of THING ON THE DOORSTEP from PS books. And I totally made it up, and don’t propose it is or should become definitive in any way. But I did not feel I needed to follow the three legged tentacled whatzis that appeared in the gaming book. The freedom to interpret is half the fun with Lovecraft. He describes Wilbur Whateley in excruciating detail but leaves his brother very nebulous. He always gives you something and leaves something to the imagination. Fun stuff.

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    • Well I agree, I wouldn’t want Burrows to take everything right out of an RPG manual that some random person thought up in the 90’s. but if lovecraft hadn’t made that silly-looking sketch of Cthulhu there’d be a lot more room for interpretation on that one too.

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  6. Notably, Carcosa is depicted as blue-eyed – in The Courtyard (coloured edition) and Neonomicon he was brown-eyed.

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  7. Given how Carcosa is literally melting into the darkness, and that he seems to be standing on the upper floors of the Starry Wisdom church, they’ll probably be bringing out his ‘Avatar of Nyarlathotep’ elements.

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  8. Hold on, what’s the cover of Issue #1 again? Now that we know what Cthulhu looks like in Issue #12, the thing on the cover of #1 is something entirely different. I had thought it was Hastur earlier, but Carcosa uses that name for the meteorite.

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    • “I figured all of the gods can probably alter their appearances as need be, sliding from one aspect to another” (c) Jacen Burrows, “Ask the Artist” interview. So both of them are possible candidates, I guess. Don’t forget that Neonomicon’s depictions of Cthulhu and Father Dagon are different from Providence’s ones.

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      • Good point from the Jacen Burrows interview, but even with that in mind I’m not convinced I’m looking at Cthulhu, what with the twin suns of Carcosa above. For that matter, the Cthulhu from Neonomicon doesn’t look all that different from the Cthulhu on the Pantheon cover and is recognizably the same being, even if the “Dagon” entity looks pretty different.

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      • The point was, Hastur easily can be both tentacled being from #1 cover and trapezohedron entity from #10, for gods are shape-shifters. Say, trapezohedron is sort of “projection” of Hyades dweller.

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    • Given the lack of wings and such, my theory is that it is a still fetal Cthulhu.
      Look at the red sky…much like the red that characterized the inside of Merril Brears’s womb in Neonomicon.

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  9. #1 is definitely Hastur…at lake Hali.

    Along the shore the cloud waves break,
    The twin suns sink behind the lake,
    The shadows lengthen
    In Carcosa.
    Strange is the night where black stars rise,
    And strange moons circle through the skies,

    Liked by 3 people

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