Providence 11

Providence 11 regular cover - art by Jacen Burrows
Providence 11 regular cover – art by Jacen Burrows

Below are annotations for Providence, No. 11 “The Unnamable” (32 pages, cover date November 2016, released 7 December 2016)
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Jacen Burrows, based on works of H.P. Lovecraft

>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index

Note: Some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there is anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.

General: Basic annotations are up. Comments are open.

Cover

  • The cover depicts an “exit garden” building for committing suicide, based on the Lethal Chamber in Robert W. Chambers’ story “The Repairer of Reputations.” This is the same Bryant Park exit garden where Robert Black’s lover Lily commits suicide in Providence #1 – see P5,p2-4.

Page 1

panel 1

  • The date is not explicit in this issue, but likely to be December 28, 1919. The location is a train from Providence, RI, to New York City.
  • The text “Howard…” is Robert Black talking to Howard Phillips Lovecraft between the events of Providence #10 and #11.
  • “Something…something came to me” refers to Johnny Carcosa, as an avatar of Nyarlathotep, appeared to Black in Providence #10. As Lovecraft’s response notes, the phrase is ambiguous, generally referring to an idea or recollection.
  • The people in the train car in which Black is standing all appear to be normal; contrast with P2.
  • Panelwise, panels 1-4 are a zoom sequence. Moore uses zooms fairly often both in Providence (starting on P1 of #1) and in earlier work (see P1 of Watchmen #1.)

panel 2

  • “My dear Robertus” is Lovecraft’s affectionate nickname for Robert Black. Lovecraft also called Robert Bloch “Robertus” in his letters.

panel 4

  • “Uncle Theobaldus” is based on HP Lovecraft’s pseudonyms, which included Lewis Theobald, Jr., from which he called himself “Uncle Theobald” to his friends in his letters.

Page 2

  • “The Unnamable” refers to Lovecraft’s story “The Unnamable”, as well as perhaps an allusion to the tendency by many critics to exaggerate the degree to which Lovecraft made his horrors “indescribable” or “ineffable.”
  • The train car from Black’s perspective, showing the various supernatural figures from his travels as they appeared in previous issues of Providence. While the characters are all different from those shown in P1,p1, it is worth noting that several of the details are identical:
    everyone seen reading a newspaper in P1,p1 is also reading a newspaper in P2 (except Shadrach Annesley); everyone looking out a window is likewise doing so; the passenger to Black’s left is a little girl with braided hair, there is an empty seat four rows down on Black’s right, etc. The genders all match. Likewise, none of the characters Black sees are deceased.
    Starting clockwise from Black’s hand on the seat in the lower left:

    • Elspeth Wade from Providence #5 and #6. Elspeth is the only character who looks directly at Black.
    • Hekeziah Massey, as she appeared in Providence #5.
    • Robert Suydam (aisle) and Cornelia Gerritsen (window), from Providence #2.
    • Zeke Hillman (aisle) from Providence #3and the resurrected Japheth Colwen/Charles Howard (window) as he appeared in Providence #10.
    • Tobit Boggs (aisle) and his wife Negathlia-Lou Boggs (window) from Providence #3.
    • Two of the bus passengers with the Innsmouth look from the ending of Providence #3.
    • Federal Agent Frank Stubbs from Providence #5.
    • One of the tentacle-faced conductors from the Dreamlands encountered in Providence #8.
    • Unknown figure in trenchcoat and fedora (aisle) – possibly a G-Man from Providence #3 or #5, and Henry Annesley (window) from Providence #8 and #9.
    • Shadrach Annesley (aisle) and Increase Orne (window) from Providence #3.
    • The demon Lilith (aisle) from Providence #2, and Garland Wheatley from Providence #4.
    • Empty seat (presumably John Divine Wheatley) (aisle) and Willard Wheatley (window) from Providence #4.
    • The man-rat familiar Mr. Jenkins (aisle) from Providence #5, unknown figure apparently with gills (window). Jenkins’ tail is visible on and below his seat.
    • Dr. Hector North (aisle) and his companion James Montague (window) from Providence #5, #6, and #7.
    • A ghoul from Providence #7.
    • (Perhaps noteworthy are who are missing: Lavinia Wheatley, Randall Carter, St. Anselm professors, and perhaps others.)
  • The panel border is ruler-straight, indicating paranormal perception. See various instances throughout Providence (beginning issue #2 P15,p3) and Neonomicon (#3 P5-8 and #4 P22-23.)

Page 3

panels 2-3

  • The shift from the round train wheel in panel 2 to the round record label in panel 3 is reminiscent of a cinematic dissolve. This technique of shifting from one round object to the round record label will be repeated several times in the first half of this issue.

panel 3

  • “You Made Me Love You” (1913) by Al Jolson is on a 78RPM record from Colombia. The key lyric is “You made me love you/I didn’t want to do it,” suggesting a love/hate relationship – or an unexpected attraction, which many readers have felt to Lovecraft’s work.
    • Commenter Richard Johnston points out that “you made me love you” might be the literal definition of “Lovecraft”.
  • This record forms a motif for this issue, and might also be seen as a metaphor for looking “outside time” (since while we perceive music in a linear fashion, when recorded on a record it is actually possible to perceive multiple moments at once – although not as music.) The record is a three dimensional object that contains a sort of two-dimensional spiral of time closing in on an inevitable conclusion. The two-dimensional spiral path is only visible from above – in the third dimension. This echoes a lot of Alan Moore’s sense of time and eternalism. Moore explores this theme most extensively in Jerusalem. It is briefly alluded to earlier in Suydam’s pamphlet – see annotations for Providence #2 P31.
    • Commenter Archibald extends this point:
      Providence #10, P25, p2
      Providence #10, P25, p2

      The record itself resembles the layered appearance of Johnny Carcosa in Providence #10: the black grooves, the multi-time element, the spindle hole, the cyclopean eye, and the blueish purple label as the the stellar/cosmic background. Put P25,p2 of #10 next to a panel of the record to see.

    • Commenter matthewkirshenblatt adds:
      Neonomicon #4, P15, p4
      Neonomicon #4, P15, p4

      In Neonomicon Issue #4 … you see Merril Brears looking into the dead fish eye of the Deep One after it lets the SWAT team shoot it down. As she’s looking at her reflection, in that eye, you see that eye surrounded by the dark circular ripples of its eye sockets. It’s also like a spiral around that dim, murky eye. There is, at least from my perspective, an eerie parallel between the Deep One’s eye and the record shown an almost Watchmen Doomsday clock/bloody happy face button style. Also, there is the record, “You Made Me Love You” and its eerie, disturbing implications towards Brears: not that she loves the Deep One that perhaps unknowingly or ignorantly sexually violated her, but the growing life of Cthulhu inside of her R’yleh womb that may or may not be influencing her mind.

    • Note that the 78 makes a gradual 14-image clockwise revolution throughout the issue. The slow rotation of the record indicates the procession of time in the story. (There is a small black “T” mark at 1 o’clock that does not rotate with the rest of the image. It is unclear why that is there.)
    • Commenter Matchman suggests:

      I think the whole issue centres around Black’s ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ moments as he’s dying in the exit garden. When we first see the record on page 3 it’s already playing, which suggests that the train carriage sequence on the preceding pages are Black’s hallucinations – part of the gassing procedure that’s already started before we’ve even turned the first page. There’s no view out of the carriage windows and the train wheel morphs into the record on page 3 panel 2. The events that happen to Black throughout the issue are him mentally retracing his steps to the exit garden as he dies (or progresses) – but are slewed by the nature of his demise and/or his connection to, and perception of, leng. The fourteen images of the record rotating are portraying its final revolution as it, and Black, reach their inevitable conclusion – as with all the events of the issue that have happened concurrently and delivered us to the moment at the end.

  • Panelwise, the panel borders for all the 78RPM images are ruler-straight, see P2 above.
  • Providence #1 also featured an Al Jolson record (P14,p1).

panel 4

  • The birthmarked attendant from Providence #3 P3,p2 makes another appearance.

Page 4

panel 1

  • The camera angle from below makes the buildings seem to loom over Black. The tilted view is known as a Dutch angle, a technique often used to indicate psychological tension or disturbance.
  • The buildings appear to be specific – likely a street (not avenue) in NYC, probably between Grand Central Station and somewhere between Herald Square and the Flatiron Building. (We haven’t found a match – suggest??)

panel 2

panel 3

panel 4

  • Charles, from Providence #1, reappears. He wears the wedding band on the middle finger of his left hand, used as a sub rosa signal for homosexuality.

Page 5

panel 1

  • The picture on the right is of the Brooklyn Bridge.

panel 2

  • “Vera got arrested” refers to Vera, Charles’ lover, mentioned but never seen in Providence #1, P7,p3.
  • “A raid on one of the speaks” refers to a speakeasy, an illicit club or bar that served illegal bar during Prohibition.

panel 3

  • “The strikes got broken” refers to the 1919 Actor’s Equity Strike, from Providence #3, P1,p2 – the last time Black saw Charley.
  • The “Volstead Act” was the law passed by Congress outlawing the sale of alcohol.
  • “Arnold Rothsteins of the world” refers to Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein who was the head of the Jewish organized crime in New York City.

panel 4

  • “There’s no work, not a bit” probably refers to actors and entertainers especially, after the labor strike and the closing of many venues during the first months of Prohibition, but also foreshadowing the Great Depression, though that would not occur until 1929.
  • “I mean, you know what they do. In jail. You know what happens to…” alludes to the violence, even sexual violence, directed against homosexuals in prison.

Page 6

panel 1

  • “I never dreamed it could all turn to such a nightmare” is Charles inadvertently summing up Black’s experience. (Or possibly a misdirected word balloon – should this have been said by Black?)
  • Panels 1 and 2 contrast the image of Black’s uneaten pudding to the vinyl record, marking a transition in time and a similar circle to circle motif as on P3.

panel 2

panel 3

  • There were still horse-drawn carts in New York City in 1919.
  • “Sullivan” likely refers to Sullivan County, NY, which was a source of lump coal since the 1860s.
  • Multiple commenters suggest that the man beating the horse is an allusion to the incident that drove Nietzsche mad.
    • Commenter Ttilly suggests that this may also allude to the man beating a horse in the second plate of William Hogarth’s The Four Stages of Cruelty (the fourth plate of which appears in Moore’s _From Hell_).

panel 4

  • Seen from behind Black, the humans – and motorcar – are exhibiting the time-lapse effect that Black saw with Johnny Carcosa in Providence #10, and which appeared in Neonomicon #4 (P22-23) as describing the “plateau of Leng” level of consciousness, implying part of Black is perceiving time from outside its normal flow. Same as those earlier instances, the panel border here is ruler-straight.
  • The location appears specific – Manhattan, likely somewhere in the vicinity of Herald Square and Bryant Park. (We haven’t found a match – suggest??)

Page 7

panel 1

  • Black is placing his journal/commonplace book in an envelope. This echoes Moore’s earlier Watchmen where the ambiguity of the ending hangs on the Rorschach’s mailed journal.

panel 2

  • “Detective Thomas Malone” is a character from Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” who appeared earlier in Providence #2. Some of the last pages of the Commonplace Book are addressed to Malone, as shown in Providence #10, P40.

panel 3

  • Black is posting the package to Malone.

panel 4

Page 8

panel 1

  • The sight of the car (see P7,p4) seems to trigger Back once again. This echoes several Lovecraft protagonists’ post-supernatural-encounter madness, for example, Malone “sudden nervous attack” in “The Horror at Red Hook.”)
  • Panels 1-3 constitute a zoom sequence. This zoom is similar to P1 but sped up.

panels 3-4

  • Again, the panel transition repeats a circular motif. This may be the point where finally firmly decides to commit suicide, as the record is from the suicide chamber.

panel 4

Page 9

panel 1

  • Black sits on a bench in New York City’s Bryant Park (see P12,p1) which appeared in Jonathan/Lily’s narrative in Providence #1 .

panel 2

  • Black’s glasses are notably UN-cracked in this panel (and only this panel). Artistic mistake, or symbolism of some sort? Perhaps a final moment of clarity?

panel 3

  • This is Freddy Dix from the Herald offices, last seen in the dream sequence in Providence #3, last mentioned in the dream sequence recounted in #8.

panel 4

  • “Never thought guys like you had any woes” is possibly a pun on Black being “gay,” which has the meaning of “happy” as well as “homosexual.” Black certainly takes it that way on P10,p1.

Page 10

panel 1

  • “Chickabiddies” is old slang for women. Dix’s diction throughout suggests he is a native New Yorker.

panel 2

  • “I’m queer” is Black finally admitting to someone outright that he is homosexual. Considering how carefully in the closet he has been this entire series, this admission as much as anything else shows how discombobulated and off-center Black is.
  • Panels 2-3 form a fixed-camera sequence.

panel 3

  • “Friday nights when we can’t find a gal, we’d just as soon go with a sissy” is Freddy admitting he is sort of situationally bisexual. The equation of “homosexual” with “feminine” (“sissy”) was common in the early 20th century, where sexuality was strongly understood as tied to gender.
  • “Want some o’ this?” is Freddy passing Black a pocket flask of illegal liquor.
    • This also recalls Robert’s dream recounted in #8, P32: “…I saw that Freddy Dix was standing in the office gazing down at me and looking really sad. He took a flask from his hip pocket and he raised it to me in a sort of toast”
  • Commenter That Fuzzy Bastard suggests “…perhaps relevant that it came from a person for whom Black has never expressed anything but contempt. Black has always been a terrible judge of character.”
    • The dream in #8 continues: “I can remember thinking what a kind, sweet-natured kid Dix was, whereas of course in real life I could hardly stand him.”

panel 4

  • Prissy Turner and Old Man [Ephraim] Posey first appeared in Providence #1. Turner last appeared in a dream-sequence in Providence #3.
  • “Set her up in an apartment what his wife don’t know about” means, in other words, Turner is Posey’s mistress. The apartment provides a place for Turner and Posey’s infidelities.

Page 11

panel 1

  • “I can’t really put it” “into” “words” in a broken speech bubble resembles some of Dave Sim‘s work on Cerebus, and nicely punctuates Black’s inability to really process the mundane news and gossip, as he still grapples with what he has experienced. Since Black identifies as a writer, this lack of words is like another annihilating horror to him. If he cannot use words properly any more, is there any (remaining) purpose to his existence?
    • Commenter Seigor points out that “Robert “the Herald” can’t put it into words (by the way, his last
      word is “words”), but Lovecraft “the Redeemer” can.”

panel 4

  • Black leaves his suitcase behind near the bench. The piece of clothing sticking out of the case again shows the Black’s discombobulation.
  • Panels 2-4 form a fixed-camera sequence.

Page 12

panel 1

  • Black wanders over the same bridge in front of a fountain in Bryant Park that his former lover Johnathan Russell/Lily visited in Providence #1 P1,p3.

panel 2

  • Black visits the same exit garden that Russell/Lily visited in  Providence #1 P5,p2. Is he aware of this symmetry?
Isle of the Dead painting (3rd version) by Arnold Böcklin. Image via Wikipedia
Isle of the Dead painting (1883 version) by Arnold Böcklin. Image via Wikipedia

panel 3

  • The attendant picks out a record, echoing.
  • The framed image on the left is a copy of “The Isle of the Dead” painting by Arnold Böcklin. The painting exists in a few versions; this appears to be the 1883 version. Symbolic in several ways: quite relevant in an exit garden; moreover, can be hinting on R’lyeh which is also an island of dead in certain sense. (Thanks commenter Lalartu.)

panel 4

  • Black picks out “You Made Me Love You” (1913) by Al Jolson again, see P3,p3.
    • In Providence #3, during the dream sequence (P17, p4), Jonathan/Lily said to Robert “You made me love you, Robert, I didn’t want to do it.”
  • This panel scene is a direct reference to Providence #1, P14,p1, where Jonathan/Lily makes their choice.

Page 13

panels 1-3

panel 4

Pages 14-32

These pages intersperse events from the real life of H. P. Lovecraft and his contemporaries with the fictional events of his stories, setting up a chronology that connects the events of Providence with real and fictional history, up to and through the events of The Courtyard and Neonomicon. Much of the information on the various Necronomicons appears to come from Harms and Gonce’s The Necronomicon Files. Panels on these pages (other than the Jolson record) appear to follow a firm chronological order from 1919 through roughly the present day (or at least after the end of Neonomicon, which takes place in an alternate-future 2006).

Page 14

panel 1

  • Thomas Malone receives Black’s commonplace book.

panel 2

  • “I’m afraid there’s news about Susie…” refers to H. P. Lovecraft’s mother Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft died in 24 May 1921. The woman behind him is presumably one of his aunts. This is part of the indication that time is passing in these panels.

panel 3

  • “J-James? James, I’m still…still alive.” – The disembodied head is Dr. Hector North, the scared man is his companion James Montague. This scene appears to be a variation on the ending of “Herbert West—Reanimator.” Lovecraft set these events six years after Flanders – with the enlistment date, that would be the Second Battle of Ypres, making this 1921 or 1922.

panel 4

Page 15

hyperborean_toem-pole
Clark Ashton Smith totem pole sculpture

panel 1

  • On left is the first appearance of weird fiction writer Clark Ashton Smith. The portrait resembles this 1930 illustration.
  • “My Dear Mr Smith:–” is from Lovecraft’s first letter to Clark Ashton Smith, dated 12 August 1922. Smith became a correspondent with Lovecraft, and a collaborator on the Cthulhu Mythos. Aside from fiction, Smith was primarily a poet and is known for his small, sculptures – although these would be produced some years later. The sculptures on the cabinet appear based on several of Smith’s.
  • Samuel Loveman was a homosexual poet, a mutual correspondent of Smith and Lovecraft, whom Lovecraft mentioned to Black in Providence #10 P7,p1.

    moon_dweller
    Clark Ashton Smith moon dweller sculpture

panel 2

panel 3

  • On the left is, apparently, a young Farnsworth Wrightfirst reader for Weird Tales in 1923.
  • On the right is Edwin Baird, the first editor of the magazine.
  • The setting is apparently the Weird Tales offices in the Baldwin Building on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana (though we’ve been unable to match the buildings seen in the window with specific ones there.)
  • Dagon” is the short story by H. P. Lovecraft, first published in 1919 in the Vagrant, where it was read by Robert Black (in Providence #10, P11,p4 and P38); Baird ultimately accepted the story for Weird Tales. (Selected Letters 1.231)
  • “If only he’d type them properly…” refers to how Lovecraft’s first stories were submitted longhand, and were returned requesting they be typed and re-submitted. (Selected Letters 1.229)
  • “I have no idea that these things will be found suitable” is from Lovecraft’s letter submitting his first stories to Weird Tales. Excerpts from this letter were published in the September 1923 issue, and are reproduced in many of his biographies and collections of his tales.

panel 4

Page 16

panel 1

  • First appearance of Sonia Haft Greene, who married H. P. Lovecraft at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York on 3 March 1924. The couple appear in front of St. Paul’s – see contemporary street view.
  • 259 Parkside Avenue” was the Lovecraft’s initial married home address in Brooklyn.
  • “My Dear Aunt Lillian” is Lillian Delora Phillips Clark, the elder of Lovecraft’s aunts.
  • The text of the letter is from Selected Letters 1.319-322.

panel 2

  • The panel depicts the death of Robert Suydam and his bride Cornelia Gerritsen. Their death echoes that of their fictional counterparts in “The Horror at Red Hook“:
    “The ship’s doctor who entered the stateroom and turned on the lights a moment later did not go mad, but told nobody what he saw till afterward, when he corresponded with Malone in Chepachet. It was murder—strangulation—but one need not say that the claw-mark on Mrs. Suydam’s throat could not have come from her husband’s or any other human hand, or that upon the white wall there flickered for an instant in hateful red a legend which, later copied from memory, seems to have been nothing less than the fearsome Chaldee letters of the word “LILITH”.”
    Note that the claw-marks on Cornelia appear to be three-fingered, reminiscent of the “Lilith” entity Black encountered in Providence #2.
  • Lovecraft wrote “The Horror at Red Hook” in 1925 and though he gives no dates in the story, the titles mentioned place the events around that time frame.

panel 3

  • Lovecraft separated from his wife in 1925 when she moved to Cleveland for a job, leaving Lovecraft in Flatbush – not far from the Red Hook neighborhood – in a small apartment on 169 Clinton Street. This would later be where many of the events of The Courtyard and Neonomicon occurred.
  • This panel depicts the same location as P27,p3 below. The panel depictions match the contemporary street view (though not the depiction in Neonomicon #1 P10,p1).

panel 4

  • Thomas Malone beneath the church in Red Hook, watching Lilith cradle the body of Robert Suydam. The scene is reminiscent of one from near the end of “The Horror at Red Hook”: “Satan here held his Babylonish court, and in the blood of stainless childhood the leprous limbs of phosphorescent Lilith were laved. Incubi and succubae howled praise to Hecate, and headless moon-calves bleated to the Magna Mater.”

Page 17

panel 1

  • “Young Malone half out his wits. He’s in Rhode Island, recuperating.” refers to the opening of “The Horror at Red Hook” where Malone is resting in Pascoag, Rhode Island.
  • “Why not pass it to the F.B.I.?” foreshadows the events of “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” the dream-sequence in Providence #3, and the backstory about the FBI raids in The Courtyard.
Providence #1 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #1 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows

panel 2

  • The panel depicts the aftermath of “Cool Air”, featuring Mrs. Herrero from Providence #1. This appears to be the scene immediately after the “Women of HPL” variant cover for Providence #1. Apparently, Dr. Alvarez’ first name was Emilio. Lovecraft wrote “Cool Air” in early 1926.

panel 3

  • Presumably this is Lovecraft returning to Providence, RI, in 1926.
  • Commenter Lonepilgrimuk suggests that the sign is occluded to read “prudence” which hints at Lovecraft’s motive for returning. Compare to Providence #9 P1,p1.

panel 4

Page 18

panel 1

  • On the right is a young  August William Derleth who would go on to become a prominent weird literature writer and publisher. Derleth was another of Lovecraft’s correspondents and contributors to the Mythos. Derleth coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos.” After Lovecraft’s death, Derleth and Donald Wandrei founded Arkham House to publish Lovecraft’s fiction and letters.
  • The woman to the left is probably his mother Rose Louise Volk Derleth.
  • “10 Barnes Street” is Lovecraft’s address after he returned to Providence in 1926.
  • “Dear Mr. Derleth…” is the text of this letter taken from Selected Letters 2.63.
  • “You are right in according The Hill of Dreams first place among Machen’s work” refers to The Hill of Dreams (1907), a semi-autobiographical novel by Welsh weird fiction writer Arthur Machen, whose fiction influenced Lovecraft, especially “The Dunwich Horror”.

panel 2

  • “Pitman” refers to Ronald Underwood Pitman, the Providence analogue to Lovecraft’s Richard Upton Pickman who featured in Providence #7. The scene depicted references the end of Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model.” Lovecraft wrote the story in late 1926.
  • The inset photograph is a “photograph from life”; see Providence #7, P26,p4.

panel 3

  • This panel depicts an episode from the childhood of Randall “Mr. Randy” Carver (from Providence #6, an analog for Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter), living out a scene from Lovecraft’s “The Silver Key.” Lovecraft wrote this story in 1926.
  • As commenter Moses points out, Carver/Carter retrieves the key and returns to his ancestral home, where he seemingly travels back to his childhood and, armed both with the key to dreams and some retained knowledge of the future, is able to live his life again in a more fulfilling way.

panel 4

  • The panel depicts Howard and Donald Wandrei, brothers and correspondents with H. P. Lovecraft and other members of the Weird Tales circle. Donald was the writer and poet. Howard was the artist. Donald Wandrei was only 16 when they began their correspondence.
  • “Dear Mr. Wandrei…” is from the text of H. P. Lovecraft’s letter of 11 December 1926, found in Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei 1.

Page 19

panel 1

  • The panel depicts the penultimate events from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, which Lovecraft set in early 1928.
  • “…’ngah’ng ai’y zhro!” is the end of an Aklo incantation. The full formula given in Lovecraft’s story is “OGTHROD AI’F GEB’L—EE’H YOG-SOTHOTH ’NGAH’NG AI’Y ZHRO.”

panel 2

  • First appearance of FBI Special Agent Clyde Tolson (left) and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (right).
  • “Unmanly” implies Black is homosexual.
  • “Maybe even a red” implies that Black was Communist. J. Edgar Hoover was an ardent foe of Communism.
  • “The miscegenation…” (race mixing) is a serious taboo in the United States, and illegal in some places during the first half of the 20th century. Hoover may have mistaken Black’s comments for more mundane miscegenation.

panel 3

  • The panel depicts the death of Willard Wheatley (left). Hank Wantage is on the right holding a flashlight. This reproduces a scene from “The Dunwich Horror”, which was set in 1928:
    “Above the waist it was semi-anthropomorphic; though its chest, where the dog’s rending paws still rested watchfully, had the leathery, reticulated hide of a crocodile or alligator. The back was piebald with yellow and black, and dimly suggested the squamous covering of certain snakes. Below the waist, though, it was the worst; for here all human resemblance left off and sheer phantasy began. The skin was thickly covered with coarse black fur, and from the abdomen a score of long greenish-grey tentacles with red sucking mouths protruded limply. Their arrangement was odd, and seemed to follow the symmetries of some cosmic geometry unknown to earth or the solar system. On each of the hips, deep set in a kind of pinkish, ciliated orbit, was what seemed to be a rudimentary eye; whilst in lieu of a tail there depended a kind of trunk or feeler with purple annular markings, and with many evidences of being an undeveloped mouth or throat. The limbs, save for their black fur, roughly resembled the hind legs of prehistoric earth’s giant saurians; and terminated in ridgy-veined pads that were neither hooves nor claws. When the thing breathed, its tail and tentacles rhythmically changed colour, as if from some circulatory cause normal to the non-human side of its ancestry. In the tentacles this was observable as a deepening of the greenish tinge, whilst in the tail it was manifest as a yellowish appearance which alternated with a sickly greyish-white in the spaces between the purple rings. Of genuine blood there was none; only the foetid greenish-yellow ichor which trickled along the painted floor beyond the radius of the stickiness, and left a curious discolouration behind it.”

panel 4

  • This depicts the FBI raid on the hybrid Deep One community in Salem, echoing events in “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and foreshadowed in Black’s dream in Providence #3 and described in the FBI file Aldo Sax receives in The Courtyard.
  • The bloody-headed man on the right appears to be Tobit Boggs.
  • The FBI agents appear to be based on specific people – suggest??
  • These events take place during winter 1927-1928 according to Lovecraft’s story.

Page 20

panel 1

panel 2

Wheatley profile visible on John Divine - art by Jacen Burrows
Wheatley profile visible on John Divine – art by Jacen Burrows
  • The scene is Providence‘s version of the end of “The Dunwich Horror.” Depicted, left to right, are:
    • John Divine (left) – see Providence #4 P1. Divine is an invisible monster made partially visible by the powder just sprayed on it. Lovecraft’s characters describe it as “Bigger’n a barn . . . all made o’ squirmin’ ropes.” The monster has a “haff-shaped man’s face on top of it, an’ it looked like Wizard Whateley’s, only it was yards an’ yards acrost.” The face is subtle but the forehead, brow and nose are clearly visible in the upper left of the panel. (Thanks commenter MS)
    • Hank Wantage (center left) – see Providence #6 P8,p3.
    • Father Walter Race (center-right) – see Providence #5 P2. Race holds the sprayer described in “Dunwich“: “there’s a powder in this long-distance sprayer that might make it [the invisible monster] shew up for a second.”
    • Another priest (presumably from St. Anselm’s; the use of a young priest and an old priest might be a jest on The Exorcist) who appears to be reading from Hali’s Booke. He is presumably an analogue to the “lean, youngish Dr. Morgan” from The Dunwich Horror.
  • “…O-ogthrod ai’f geb’l…” is an Aklo incantation, though not directly from “Dunwich.” Commenter Lalartu points out that it is from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

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  • First appearance of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Cimmerian, Unaussprechlichen Kultern, and others. Howard is another of Lovecraft’s correspondents and fellow-creators of the Cthulhu Mythos. He is known for his focus on physical development (hence his depiction doing a push-up) as well as his fiction. This particular depiction of Robert E. Howard seems largely inspired by his portrayal by Vincent D’Onofrio in The Whole Wide World.
  • “Dear Mr. Howard…” is the text taken from Lovecraft’s letter to Howard of 14 August 1930, from Selected Letters 3.166.
  • “Let me confess that this is all a synthetic concoction” refers to Lovecraft never having hid the artificial nature of his mythology.
  • “…like the populous and varied pantheon of Lord Dunsany’s Pegāna.” refers to Lord Dunsany, a British lord and writer of fantastic fiction. Lovecraft was quite inspired by his artificial mythology and had the opportunity to hear him read in 1919, which was depicted in Providence #8.

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  • On the left is the first appearance of Robert Hayward Barlow, a young collector and correspondent of Lovecraft’s who went on to become an authority of Nahuatl. He was also homosexual. Lovecraft began corresponding with Barlow when the latter was only 13, although Lovecraft was unaware of Barlow’s age.
  • The woman is probably his mother, Bernice Barlow.
  • Lovecraft moved to 10 Barnes Street in xxxx.
  • “July 25, 1931” – Lovecraft’s first letter to Barlow was actually dated 25 June 1931; see O Fortunate Floridian: H. P. Lovecraft’s Letters to R. H. Barlow 3.

Page 21

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  • The remains of Brown Jenkin discovered in the scene from the end of “The Dreams in the Witch House”. In the story, this occurred in 1931. Providence‘s analogue for Brown Jenkin is Mr. Jenkins, who appears in issues #5 and #6.

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  • This is the ending scene from “The Thing on the Doorstep” with Edward Derby’s analogue apparently being named “Darby,” and spelling the end of Etienne Roulet/Elspeth Wade from Providence #6. This story was written by Lovecraft in 1933.

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  • A greying H. P. Lovecraft talks to one of his aunts.
  • “The Bradford Review and East Haven News has published a review of my fictitious Necronomicon. I suspect some young scamp like Bloch or Wollheim is behind the hoax” refers to Donald A. Wollheim, one of Lovecraft’s correspondents, submitting this hoax, which was discovered by Lovecraft in September 1936. Another of Lovecraft’s correspondents was a teenaged Robert Bloch, who would go on to write Psycho and become a leading horror writer.

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  • On the morning of 11 June 1936, as his mother was succumbing to her fatal illness, Robert E. Howard climbed into his car and committed suicide by shooting himself through the head.

Page 22

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  • On the left is the back of R. H. Barlow‘s head, perhaps not a coincidental resemblance to Robert Black.
  • Lovecraft named Barlow his literary executor in his “Instructions in Case of Decease.” It is not clear when he wrote these instructions, but this meeting would probably have taken place when Barlow visited Lovecraft in Providence, RI in July-August 1936.

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  • H. P. Lovecraft died of cancer on 15 March, 1937, at 7:15 AM at what was then room 232 of Jane Brown Memorial Hospital.

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  • The woman on the left in the background is presumably Annie Gamwell, Lovecraft’s surviving aunt and heir to his estate.
  • In the center is August Derleth.
  • The man on the right is Donald Wandrei.
  • “…nerve of that shrimp Barlow? HPL as good as said I’d be his executor…” refers to how, after Lovecraft’s death, Barlow as the appointed literary executor came and collected his papers to help arrange for their proper conservation or disposal. August Derleth and Donald Wandrei had plans to publish Lovecraft, and managed to secure effective control of Lovecraft’s copyrights through a combination of deals with Lovecraft’s aunt and browbeating, even though legally all rights remained with Lovecraft’s estate. While Derleth and Wandrei were well-meaning in their desire to see Lovecraft published and his legacy preserved, Derleth’s aggressive attitude to control Lovecraft’s material and edge out Barlow helped sour his reputation in later Lovecraft scholarship.
  • “You wait till I talk to Smith! I’ll make sure nobody has anything to do with that runt!” alludes to how, after receiving negative reports of Barlow’s actions regarding the Lovecraft papers, Clark Ashton Smith did cut off communication with Barlow.

Page 23

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  • Building of the first domes over major cities, as seen in The Courtyard and Neonomicon, and suggested in Providence #5 P14,p3.
Cover of
Cover of “The Outsider and Others” (1939, Arkham House) – art by Virgil Finlay

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  • Derleth (right) and Wandrei (left) are shown with a box of The Outsider and Others (1939), the first collection of Lovecraft’s stories in hardback from the specialty press Arkham House that they founded.

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  • On the left Rheinhart Kleiner and on the right Frank Belknap Long, two of Lovecraft’s friends and correspondents. They were both members with Lovecraft of the Kalem Club in New York. Thanks for keen-eyed commentator Ross Byrne.
  • “Grove Street Bookstore is asking for copies of the Necronomicon and Ludvig Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis” refers to the ad ran in the 7 July 1945 issue of Publisher’s WeeklyDe Vermis Mysteriis was created by Robert Bloch, but the Latin title was provided by Lovecraft.
  • “The Old Gentleman” is one of Lovecraft’s nicknames.
  • Above Long’s head, you can make out the torch and crown of the Statue of Liberty.
  • In the background of the window, you can see the gridwork and frame of the protective dome.

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  • The prone figure is R.H. Barlow. On January 11, 1951, Barlow died of an overdose of pills in Mexico City. He was afraid of being exposed as a homosexual.
  • The man on the right is probably William S. Burroughs. (Thanks, commenter Andrew L, who adds “He was in Mexico City when Barlow was there. It is my understanding that they were acquainted, and Barlow introduced Burroughs to Lovecraft’s work.”.)
  • The “Dear Allen…” text is taken from a letter from Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg, The Letters of William S. Burroughs: Volume I 77-78. Burroughs would go on to make use of elements of the Cthulhu Mythos – especially Frank Belknap Long’s “The Hounds of Tindalos” – in some of his fiction.

Page 24

Cover of xxx
Cover of Mark Ownings’ 1967 The Necronomicon: A Study – image via leonardshoup.com

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  • “This Mirage Press book is a study of, like, the real Necronomicon.” refers to the 1967 Mirage Press publication of The Necronomicon: A Study by Mark Owings as a large side-stapled paperback.
  • The record cover leaning against the cabinet appears to be the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
  • No, none of these people are a young Alan Moore.

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  • Watkin’s Books is a real-life London Bookstore.
  • The young man is carrying Kenneth Grant’s The Magical Revival (1972). The quotations are taken from the book, where Grant set up a table of correspondences supposedly showing parallels between Crowley’s magickal system and Lovecraft’s fictional one. Grant’s work also appeared in Neonomicon #2.
    • Commenter Kelly Sheehan suggests that the man carrying the Grant book is English author and critic M. John Harrison. There is a noted physical resemblance. At this time, Harrison would have been 27 years old and living in London.

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  • On the right is L. Sprague de Camp.
  • On the left is probably George Scithers, founder of Owlswick Press (thanks to commenter Don Simpson – yes, that Don Simpson).
  • “At Owlswick” refers to Owlswick Press’ 1973 publication of Al Azif. It it consisted of an introduction by Lyon Sprague de Camp (an archaeologist who would go on to become a prominent writer in the fantasy field), followed by indecipherable text.
  • “It’d be a break from researching the helpless neurotic.” refers to Robert E. Howard. De Camp wrote the first biographies of both Lovecraft and Howard, which for all of their research were flawed by de Camp’s efforts to psychoanalyze both men, finding faults with their writing style and labeling them neurotic.

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  • On the left is Jorge Luis Borges, an internationally famous and influential Argentinean writer, translator, essayist, and poet. Borges was a fan of Lovecraft.
  • The woman on the right may be María Kodama, Borges’ personal assistant in later life. By this time, Borges was completely blind, and dictated his work.
  • The quotes are taken from Borges’ “There Are More Things” (1975) from The Book of Sand. The story is dedicated to the memory of H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Commenter Brian J. Taulbee has some insightful things to say about why Moore may have chosen to include Borges in particular.

Page 25

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  • The scene at The Magickal Childe (then known as the Warlock Shoppe) in Brooklyn where the Schlangekraft Necronomicon was conceived in the late 1970s. As detailed in The Necronomicon Files, this version of the Necronomicon is essentially a Sumerian magical text with the names changed and many of the “protective” measures removed or altered. The figure on the left is Herman Slater, who owned The Magickal Child. The figure on the right is presumably Peter Levenda, who authored it and subsequent works. Because Levenda used the pseudonym “Simon,” this is often known as the “Simon Necronomicon” (or, derisively, Simonomicon).
  • “Culp’s Necronomicon” – A version of the Necronomicon produced as a fanzine for the Esoteric Order of Dagon’s February 1976 mailing
  • Commenter bombasticus: Noted Childe employees of the era retort “the store was never that clean.”

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  • The man on the right is William S. Burroughs (see P23,p4 and P26,p2), who reportedly visited the Warlock Shoppe as their Necronomicon was being published. Elements of the Schlangekraft Necronomicon (1977) including “Kutulu” appear in his novel Cities of the Red Night (1981).

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  • These are presumably police or FBI agents. The Simon Necronomicon was issued in a cheap paperback format by Avon, after which it has never gone out of print. The cheap paperback can be seen in the hand of the officer on the right, bearing the sigil designed by Khem Caigan. The Simon Necronomicon has appeared in connection with two separate murders as described here, as detailed in The Necronomicon Files.

Page 26

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  • The Simon Necronomicon‘s elaborate cover was part of a special edition for the book – see P25,p2 above.
  • “People say some of this stuff actually works” is true. Some occultists today, like Warlock Asylum, believe in the validity of the Simon Necronomicon as a grimoire.
  • On the right appears to be a young Leonard Beeks, the proprietor of the Whispers in Darkness shop in Neonomicon – see issue #2 starting P8,p3.
Front cover of The Starry Wisdom
Front cover of the 1994 The Starry Wisdom

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  • William S. Burroughs died 2 August 1997.
  • Commenter Ross identifies the man discovering the body as James Grauerholz, Burroughs’ literary executor.
  • The book (back cover showing) on Burroughs’ chest is The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute to H. P. Lovecraft (1994), which contained Burroughs’ “Wind Die. You Die. We Die.” and Alan Moore’s “The Courtyard” (original text short story). This might be considered an author cameo.

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  • The scene depicted refers to the 1998 murder of Shevawn Geohegan by Glen Mason and his accomplices, as described in The Necronomicon Files as “The Necronomicon Squat: The Horror at Santa Monica” 206-208:

    […] Mason tied and gagged Shevawn, after which he strangled her and left her body in a sleeping bag in the squat’s basement, surrounded by Satanic graffiti, inverted pentagrams drawn in blood, and corpses of sacrificed animals. It was here that the police found her body two days later.

    Further details about this case can be found in Murder In A Santa Monica Squat. Thanks to Matthew Kirshenblatt for the clarification and link.

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Page 27

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  • Various real-life Cthulhu paraphernalia, including a Miskatonic U t-shirt, Cthulhu fish magnet, several plush Cthulhus, a Ctulhu nesting doll, Pop! bobblehead Cthulhus, and an assortment of roleplaying and board games, including the Call of Cthulhu and Arkham Horror.

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  • On the right is FBI director Carl Perlman, Aldo Sax’s superior in The Courtyard. Perlman also appears in Neonomicon.
  • This panel precedes the events of The Courtyard, which covers the hunt for the “head-and-hands killer.” These events therefore occurred around 2004.
  • “[Detective Thomas] Malone” and “Red Hook,” mentioned in Courtyard, are from Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” – see Providence #2 and P14-18 above.
  • “The waterfront raid,” mentioned in Courtyard, is from Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” It is depicted on P19,p4 above.
  • The photograph in Perlman’s hand is the same that was faxed to Aldo Sax in The Courtyard.
  • First appearance of Gloria.
  • “This book of jottings” is Black’s commonplace book.

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  • This is Aldo Sax, protagonist of The Courtyard (also appearing in Neonomicon) visiting 169 Clinton Street in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn (the same location shown on P16,p3 above).
  • “Mitzvah” is Yiddish for “commandment,” here used in the sense of “kindness.” Sax is antisemitic, but knows Perlman is Jewish.
Neonomicon #2 New York Comic Con variant cover, by Jacen Burrows
Neonomicon #2 New York Comic Con variant cover, by Jacen Burrows

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  • After the events of The Courtyard, when a deranged Sax cuts off Perlman’s hand; compare with the Neonomicon #2 New York Comicon Variant Cover.
  • “…G’Harne yr g’yll gnaii, y’nghai mhhg-gthaa ep uguth…” is Aklo, and a variation of Sax’s ending ramble from The Courtyard.
  • G’Harne is a prehuman city in Africa in the Mythos writings of Brian Lumley, and source of the G’Harne Fragments.

Page 28

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  • On the bed is Carl Perlman, identifiable by his prosthetic hand.
  • Standing is Merril Brears, protagonist of Neonomicon. This scene – the exact dialogue – is shown on P2 of Neonomicon #2.
  • The pictures on the wall are perhaps old movie stars – but who?

panel 2

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  • This panel takes place soon after the end of Neonomicon, likely late 2006 or 2007.
  • In the middle is Agent Barstow.
  • On the right is apparently Agent Fuller, seen in Neonomicon #1 P10,p2 and Neonomicon #4, P9, p1.
  • “Haven Psychiatric Facility” is the Haven Secure Psychiatric Institute from Neonomicon #1, where Aldo Sax and the three other head-and-hands killers were incarcerated.

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  • Leftmost is Merril Brears.
  • To Brears’ right, identifiable by the mark on his forehead, is Aldo Sax.
  • The other three are presumably the other head-and-hands killers.
  • The dead guard is notably missing a hand.
  • Commenter Phil Smith points out that this is similar to some plot developments in Promethea, where as the Apocalypse starts, a female protagonist frees several prisoners (including an ex-FBI agent) from a holding facility.

Page 29

The church on the cover of Providence #2 appears in Courtyard and Neonomicon as Club Zothique. Art by Jacen Burrows
The church on the cover of Providence #2 appears in Courtyard and Neonomicon as Club Zothique. Art by Jacen Burrows

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  • The church on the screen is the one in Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook,” and which Robert Suydam operated from in Providence #2 and which housed Club Zothique in The Courtyard and Neonomicon.
  • “A form of plasma or ball-lightning…” is the Tree of Life manifestation of Yog-Sothoth, as seen in Providence #4.
  • On the right is Carl Perlman, identifiable by his prosthetic hand.

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  • “…the book that Carl wanted.” – Calling back to Robert’s dream recounted in #8, P33: “…a defeated-looking man in middle age who may have had a withered hand or something… appeared to be tearing a book to pieces.”

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Page 30

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  • The man is Black’s attendant at the exit garden, back in late 1919 or 1920.
  • The panel repeats the setting from P18,p2 in Providence #1.

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  • “The Stars Are Right” is a reference to Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”, where the Old Ones would come again “when the stars were right.” Otherwise these look to be hipster Cthulhu cultists with their plush crucified Cthulhu and t-shirts.

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  • Black in the exit garden in 1919-20 as the music ends.
  • The panel repeats the setting from P18,p3 in Providence #1.

Page 31

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  • The exit garden in winter in 1919-20, apparently at twilight or dawn.
  • The panel repeats the setting from P18,p4 in Providence #1.

Page 32

  • The creatures are nightgaunts, Lovecraft’s personal dream-terrors, last seen in Providence #8.

Back Cover

From H. P. Lovecraft’s “He.”

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283 thoughts on “Providence 11

  1. Maybe it was apparent to everybody, but I love how this issue dovetailed into a classic set-up.
    An older man, with an inkling of what’s going on, with a magic book set on stopping things.

    You even seen the predecessors to Carl Perlman in the montage: Wantage and the analogue to the narrator of “Case of Charles Dexter Ward”.

    Also, in Providence #8’s journal entry Robert has a premonition-dream where a man with a ruined hand looks defeated while holding a book with violet writing. Which is clearly Perlman now.

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    • yeah re-reading the #8 dream sequence it makes basically perfect sense as a reflection of Black’s journey towards facilitating the apocalypse at this point. There’s even a reference to running into Freddy Dix, who offers a toast from his hip flask, and seems strangely sympathetic and agreeable (when in waking reality Black dislikes him). But who/what is the “negro child” wearing a tuxedo and smoking a cigar? He already runs into a guy with a yellow cloth over his face, so probably not another reference to nyarlothotep/carcosa…

      Does this mean Perlman’s destined to fail? I’ve been wondering if Perlman and gang are headed to Marblehead, or maybe back to Providence?

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      • Maybe the Negro Child was Al Jolson from the Jazz Singer? Otherwise I feel like the annotation about it being from some other fiction is probably right.

        I don’t believe that it means that Perlman is destined to fail…just that Perlman is going to be gutted by the outcome. Even if he succeeds, it’s hardly uncommon for a Lovecraftian protagonist to come out of a story not wanting to put a pistol in their mouth.

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      • While the child might reference someone yet to be seen, and may appear in the final issue, I suspect he is a manifestation of Nyarlathotep. Carcosa appears to Black as Nyarlathotep’s avatar or aspect, and he also is dressed in evening wear.

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    • The “negro child” might be a couple of layered references by Moore to (1) Nyarlothotep (2) Flip from the Little Nemo comic strip (3) Baron Samedi… overlapping them all to indicate the parallel texture underlying the story he’s writing and how it maps to other characters, stories, myths.

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    • Oh, bingo! I never would have seen that. Also, draws parallels between “love-craft” and “witch-craft”, when you think of all the songs that have someone falling “under your spell”, etc.

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  2. Thank you–there were several things in here I’m better for knowing.

    Note that Lovecraft’s apartment at 169 Clinton Street is not in Red Hook; it is a mile or so further north in Brooklyn Heights, which is at least one full neighborhood away. That might not seem far, but in a densely packed city, it’s quite a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe a bit off-topic, but there is something I don’t get about the idea of block-time.
    If block-time is a massive, with nothing “moving” why does we feel that we’re moving through the block?
    If consciousness – whatevet that is – is moving (through the block), then the block of spacetime is not really static, is it?
    Or is there something else going on i Leng I have missed?

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    • My way of imagining it is to think of time as a pathway which my consciousness is “walking” along. The stretch of pathway far ahead – that is to say, the future – already exists, even though I haven’t reached it yet. The stretch of pathway behind me – the past – remains in place even though I’ve already traversed that bit.

      The pathway itself, in other words, remains unchanging and complete, no matter which point along it my consciousness happens to be occupying.

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  4. wow… phew… worth the wait *or what*?

    thanks guys, you did a sterling job (more than ever!) of getting such detailed annotations up in such short order. this site has become first port-of-call ( = for me, and for many of us, as you can see!) – and as for the comic, this is just an amazing issue, i spent most of monday just reading it and reading it; some observations about time will follow, once i have got them coherent (initial attempts to do this proved borderline-unreadable..!)

    in the meantime… i am not convinced that RB ever makes it to the exit garden – or even to the park bench: i think the sight of the car triggers such a violent reaction that his mind immediately gives way, and takes him off to – to a diginified and speedy exit, bringing him closer at last to lily after first unburdening himself. i don’t think his physical body is actually there at all… i suspect the “repaired” lens is there precisely to suggest this…

    … but i still don’t know what to expect from #12 – beyond fast-encroaching fungi and eldritch madness, of course… i have long since given up trying to second-guess the master and am content just to savour the damn thing as it is delivered! whatever happens next i am sure it’ll be pretty amazing (though previous “moore apocalypse” outcomes have not always been fully satisfying – but he’s really putting everything he has learned into this one)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, that is how it seems.
    But that recuires that consciousness is something different from the rest of the universe, I think.
    Some magical wagon in the physical roller coaster universe.
    The way I understand it, if you place your consiciousness at a point in block-space, where it/you has been before, you would think/feel exactly the same as before.
    You can’t change the path, as everything is locked. Because your brain is part of block time.
    But then why are we feeling time move?
    That is off course no problem in fiction, but I heard an interview with Moore explaining it as a real theory.
    Maybe I just think it makes the whole story a little less exiting.
    Anyhow, looking foreward to the conclusion.
    Black wrote in his last notes, that there maybe a way to prevent whats being prepared. That must mean something.

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  6. I believe there is a specific reason why Moore included a cameo of Jorge Luis Borges in this issue. While it is true that Borges wrote a Lovecraftian short story as a tribute to HPL, so have many, many other influential authors.

    Instead, I think Borges has a cameo here because another of his short stories, “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” explored the same main theme that the Courtyard/Neonomicon/Providence cycle is exploring: The influence of language and belief upon reality.

    In “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, a centuries-old conspiracy of scholars has labored for generations to complete a complete encyclopedia of a totally invented, fictional world called Tlon (which is itself merely the fantasy setting of the literature and stories of a Middle Eastern country called Uqbar, which they also invented out of whole-cloth). The chief and most interesting characteristic of Tlon is that as a reality, it is completely mutable, and the inhabitants of Tlon don’t use nouns and have no concept of discrete entities or points in time (whether their language evolved in this way because their reality is totally mutable based on how they choose to experience it, or their reality became this way because of their language, is open for debate). Wikipedia describes the totally-mutable nature of this reality as the ultimate expression of the subjective idealism philosophy of George Berkeley, who questioned whether a thing can truly be said to exist if it’s not being perceived (Berkeley settled on the presence of an all-seeing omnipotent God to stabilize reality, a feature that Tlon notably lacks).

    The rubber hits the road in Borges’ story when, upon completion of the complete Tlon encyclopedia, people around the world start becoming obsessed with it. They begin speaking in the languages of Tlon, telling stories only about Tlon, etc. Eventually our reality begins to actually retroactively dissolve and become Tlon itself, suggesting that Berkeley was largely correct in his assertions, but that it was the collective human consciousness and not God that kept everything coherent; once humanity decided to believe in something else collectively, the old order faded away.

    Sound familiar?

    I’d argue that the Courtyard/Neonomicon/Providence cycle is in part a commentary on Borges’ story, with a darkly funny twist. If the Great Old Ones are becoming/returning because of our collective belief in them, then as in Borges’ story, we actually are living in Berkeley’s world of subjective idealism with the exception that we, not an omniscient God, are holding everything together. The Yuggoth to come, though, will be a perfect expression of subjective idealism, because it will have an omniscient entity perceiving and underpinning all of reality: Cthulhu.

    P.S. – Even the languages of Tlon are suggestive along these lines. An example in the story, “hlor u fang axaxaxas mlo,” would mingle nicely with Aklo.

    Liked by 4 people

    • This is an incredibly eerie parallel. When Tlon’s hemispheres are described, the idea of the noun either doesn’t seem to exist or is interdependent of each other. In the southern sphere, there are only verbs like Alan Moore’s version of the Plane of Leng: everything always being in motion, always doing, and being after-images of each other. It is David Hume’s “necessity not necessarily” or how causation is a major assumption to make and things and actions may not be as related to each other as we might like to think: perhaps being a non-Tlonian delusion,

      Then there is the northern side of Tlon that creates nouns as art by combining together a series of adjectives and descriptions before dissolving that noun, that logos, back into the arbitrary ether where concepts of passing time and distance go. It feels like Aklo with its attempt at a totality of space-time and tenses.

      it also feeds into the idea of existence being a consensual reality between sentient beings and how if the logos of that shared reality is changed or dissolved (i.e. no longer believing in a start, an origin, or a god) it unravels everything and creates a plurality of different realities instead.

      By the way, I have heard of Borges’ short story but I never had the excuse to read it until you mentioned it in the context of Providence. So thank you for mentioning this and I agree that it is more than just the occasional Lovecraftian tribute that probably compelled Alan Moore into giving our friend Jorge Luis Borges a nice guest appearance as the memetics of the Kitab reach their inevitable fruition: these Yuggoth fungi growing over the decaying pieces of the old reality, these new cultures and other growths,

      Liked by 1 person

      • And actually, what Borges and Moore describe here is very deconstructionist: the changing of the logos, a retroactive erasure or changing of time due to the alteration of human consensus to challenge and destroy the entire pre-existing structure — rewriting it — while making something new. Maybe this is how the ends of universes and big bangs occur: in cycles like the sleeping Great Old Ones and their perception over all things.

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    • About the similarities of Aklo language and that Tlon language, perhaps it has to do with the fact that Borges was also a huge admirator of Arthur machen. He even included “the three imposters” in the collection “biblioteca personal” a series of books highly recomended by Borges.

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  7. Hello everybody.

    First of all, I would like to apologize for writing english so poorly, but I wanted to thank you all for you amazing contributions to Alan Moore’s Providence. I love the site and I do admire the hard, awesome work behind it. You guys are extraordinary, I always check the annotations and comments after reading each issue. It woudn’t be the same without you all.

    Alert!! Possible spoiler ahead

    Could Robert Black be Cthulhu’s ‘father’?

    I’m sorry if it’s been written before, I couldn’t check all previous annotations today, but I have this theory I would like to share with you. After your clues, and reading again issues 8 ‘The key’- rightly named so- and 10, and 11, it seems to me very likely that Robert Black could be indeed something more than a simple Messenger to the Redeemer, and could perfectly be responsible of Cthulhu’s conception, in more ways than one, turning him in that creature’s ‘father’. This theory would get Robert a principal role in the remaining issue, despite his death, and would explain Nyarlatholep ‘extracting’ the seed from ‘poor’ R. Black in issue 8. Just after that event, the deity could ‘travel’ throught space and time -and comics- in a manner only an Old One could achieve, and find its way to Brears’ R’lyeh in Neonomicon, fertilizing her with Robert’s sperm. Such a good use of that shocking blowjob scene…

    It just makes so much sense to me. Please remember the ‘Hail Mary most pure […] kiss me’, conversation in Carcosa’s visit to Brears? Nyarlathotep would play some kind of Holy Spirit, so to speak. After that, Dagon smelled her piss and discovered that she was pregnant.

    We all know Moore’s traditions of easter eggs, surprises, U turns and clues. Well in advance, every member of Stella Sapiente is delighted with Robert presence, Roulette gets his own sample of Black’s sperm, Robert B. reveals in his issue 8 dreaming sequence “she told me we shared a hotel […] she was suggesting i was her offspring’s father, and THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE”…. Hahaha, kudos for Moore. Poor Robert, I can really understand he finished totally insane.

    By the way, what a marked contrast to see Brears embracing her destiny, while Robert tries to scape from it throught suicide.

    What do you think? Does it make any sense to you? What does it mean to Lilith, Robert, Brears, the Stella Sapiente and the end of the world as we know it?

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    • That is an interesting theory. I actually read that part about Robert’s dream sequence with a woman demanding he take responsibility for their child not too long ago while doing some research. Of course, this could be figurative or metaphorical: as Alan Moore, Providence, or even dreams go.

      But why would Carcosa … see, here’s the thing. The Deep One was the being that impregnated Brears. Of course if we go with divine conception (read Johnny Divine and the Wheatleys and Yog-Sothoth using the Old Man as its tool to conceive in his poor daughter), Carcosa could have used the Deep One to recreate Cthulhu, but what difference would Robert’s genetic material even make at that point?

      Lovecraft, you can understand. He was the successful result of the Redeemer Ritual that the Wheatleys failed to do properly. But Robert Black, for all he is the Messenger, is just a human. Even if he was eventually going to have that “Innsmouth” look, in that he was another descendant of the Deep Ones, why make it all so convoluted?

      The Deep One was not Dagon. Not from what I could see. It was a Deep One, though what is also interesting is that according to Boggs it is generally easier to create human/Deep One hybrids with human men and Deep One females, or hybrids themselves. Human women generally don’t survive the birth of a child given to them by a Deep One male. But, again, Carcosa using the Deep One and somehow passing on Robert’s sperm seems very convoluted.

      I just think that Brears, or the dream-version of Brears was talking to Robert figuratively: that he started the intellectual and spiritual process and the series of events that led her into that situation that exposed her to the cult that took her and forced her to be the Deep One. He is more the instigator of the situation that took her to that terrifying point than physically involved. Of course, there could be more at play here.

      But it is something very fascinating to think about. Thank you Tachu S.

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      • You’re welcome. Very interesting comments. So many loose ends for last issue!

        So… why a blowjob? Hali becomes a stellar everlasting gas lake… and all Robert gets is a brief and nasty oral sex performance? Why not a t-shirt? What kind of reward is that? He’s the Messenger, for Cthulhu’s sake!

        Nyarlathotep visits him. Stars, wisdom, epiphany, old women praying in that church…
        There is something more going on, I think.

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      • Oh I think Robert’s reward isn’t over yet. Always this room. Always this place. Always this moment. I think we have only seen one angle of that moment before we can appreciate the eternal totality of it.

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      • If we’re interpreting Robert’s ‘reward’ it could be that it is meant to be metafictionally appropriate for the medium in which he originated.

        Moore, a champion of the comics medium as its own distinctive artform, has often epsoused that one of its key features is the ability of the reader to easily flip between moments by turning back a page, either to relive an emotional experience or search for hidden symbolism (as distinct from movie adaptations, which up until more recent years have primarily been a format which the audience is dragged through, quickly, in one direction, without space to turn back and annotate).

        What better fate for a comic-book addition to Lovecraftian lore than being forever frozen in a comic, unable to fully appreciate the meaning of his sufferings the way that his ‘readers’ can – especially when that character is an aspiring writer himself, who would have courted such readers with his own work?

        Always this room. Always this place. Always this moment. Always this page. Always this panel.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Those are some really fascinating and excellent thoughts. That metafictional slant reminds me of some thoughts I had, too, about Alan Moore’s Miracleman and what he thought about his world and by extension what Alan Moore may have thought about the comics medium that he was influencing in doing so:

        https://matthewkirshenblatt.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/a-hesitant-hero-or-the-pause-before-the-precipice-alan-moores-miracleman-and-virgils-aeneid/

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      • Robert’s “reward” puts me in mind of Tarkovsky’s STALKER, a movie about (inasmuch as it’s “about” its plot) three men journeying to the center of The Zone to enter a room. Once you enter the room, when you emerge, your deepest wish will be granted. However, this may not be what you wish for! One character tells the story of a man whose brother died. So he went to the room to ask for his brother back. But when he emerged, he learned he had won a big bag of money. Confronted with the knowledge that he wanted a bag of money more than his brother, he killed himself.
        Similarly, Robert has spent the whole series seeking answers, but he gets distracted from them any time there’s a hope of getting laid. So there’s a nasty bit of character description here, with Carcosa basically telling him that he always wanted a blow job more than he wanted to write a masterpiece.

        Liked by 3 people

      • That is a really excellent parallel. Getting what you wish for, as opposed to what you *say* or want to *believe* you wish for. In this case, it seems as though desire is a non-Euclidean nightmare and it more hearkens to Clive Barker’s idea: that what you fear is what you ultimately, deep down, desire the most. That realization can destroy you or … turn you into something else entirely.

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    • This is a a very interesting theory indeed! I had a similar idea prior to Providence #10, in which I supposed that Robert Black himself would be turned into the Deep One that fathers Cthulhu and then is imprisoned by the cultists in Salem for another 80-odd years. And with Black’s fate revealed in Providence #11, that idea is pretty thoroughly sunk.

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    • I am similarly hoping that Mr. Black has not completely fulfilled his role. After all Providence is his story.

      As you’ve noted his powers may go deeper than simply that of messenger. If he is indeed the analog for Hermes then he is a boundary crosser, brings Persephone (Lily?) out of Hades, is often noted as the father of the great god Pan (Cthulu?) but is also a consummate trickster often siding with mankind rather than the gods.

      We might still see a surprising turn of Yuggothus interruptus.

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      • Just a thought here. I wonder if that moment with the intact lens of Robert’s
        could be more symbolic than anything else?

        Perhaps when Robert’s talking to Dix at that moment when his lens is intact if that might represent one last moment of clarity on Robert’s part? Just connecting with someone he knows as well as coming out of the closet just then by admitting that he’s gay maybe?

        Of course by this time something like that is a too little too late for our Messenger and he’s on a downward spiral leading to his suicide, thus that crack in his glasses reappearing after Dix leaves and he leaves his suitcase by the bench there and goes on over to the suicide chamber.

        It’s just a thought, Myself I really don’t believe that Moore could have possibly overlooked that intact lens and there has to be more to That crack disappearing and then reappearing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Remember that Brian Eno (of whom Moore is a big fan) said “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” The un-cracked glasses might be an error in the art, yet ALSO have symbolic significance!

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  8. I find the note on them John-Divine panel and the use of the younger priest somewhat unfitting.
    According to the story, the third Professor with Armitage and Rice was “youngish” and “lean”.
    Seems more in line with that than the Exorcist.

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  9. Page 20, Panel 2 – the young priest should be the Providence version of Father Francis Morgan, from the Dunwich Horror. Father Morgan’s analogue never met Robert Black and I didn’t find any name similar to “Morgan” being mentioned in issues 5 and 6.

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  10. Number 11, page 24, panel 3: person on the left probably George Scithers, Owlswick Press founder.
    Page 30, panel 1 & page 31, panel 2: Agents Barstow & Fuller taking the commonplace book to agent Perlman in Page 33, panel 4, and page 34.

    (Scithers also published a book of deCamp’s articles, which I did artwork for.)

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  11. I may have one a fact discrepancy with one of the annotations:

    “The scene depicted refers to the 1998 case of Kim Calder and Glen Mason, who murdered Shevawn Geohegan, as described in The Necronomicon Files as “The Necronomicon Squat: The Horror at Santa Monica” 206-208:[…] Mason tied and gagged Shevawn, after which he strangled her and left her body in a sleeping bag in the squat’s basement, surrounded by Satanic graffiti, inverted pentagrams drawn in blood, and corpses of sacrificed animals. It was here that the police found her body two days later.”

    According to a 1999 article “Murder in a Santa Monica Squat,” Kim Calder was interviewed after the fact about her fiend Shevawn’s murder:

    “”She was an individual, and she wanted to test the limits of everything,” said another of Shevawn’s friends, Kim Calder, 16, who drifted to Santa Monica after running away from her Nevada home. “She was so passionate about everything. A situation that was trivial was like the end of the world for her.”

    You can find it here: http://www.laweekly.com/news/murder-in-a-santa-monica-squat-2130964

    The passage referred to in this annotation from The Necronomicon Files states that Mason had other accomplices, going as far as naming them:

    “Aided by Dennis Ronald Scott, and Elizabeth Ann Mangham, Mason tied and gagged Shevawn, after which he strangled her and left her body in a sleeping bag …”

    I am not sure if this has been pointed out already, or if there are other sources, but I just thought I would be sure.

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  12. There is one image that stays with me now that I’ve reread Neonomicon. In Neonomicon Issue #4, or Part Four as I have the trade paperback, you see Merril Brears looking into the dead fish eye of the Deep One after it lets the SWAT team shoot it down.

    As she’s looking at her reflection, in that eye, you see that eye surrounded by the dark circular ripples of its eye sockets. It’s also like a spiral around that dim, murky eye. There is, at least from my perspective, an eerie parallel between the Deep One’s eye and the record shown an almost Watchmen Doomsday clock/bloody happy face button style.

    Also, there is the record, “You Made Me Love You” and its eerie, disturbing implications towards Brears: not that she loves the Deep One that perhaps unknowingly or ignorantly sexually violated her, but the growing life of Cthulhu inside of her R’yleh womb that may or may not be influencing her mind.

    I’m not sure if someone already pointed this out, or if it’s reaching, but it’s just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another interesting thought: Christianity’s earliest symbol was the fish. The Deep One hybrids had the Friends of Oannes, a Babylonian water deity with some fish characteristics. If you really stretch it, the dead fish eye that Brears looks into can almost be like an earlier symbol of the Providence Issue #11 record which is a more modernist interpretation of space-time.

      There is also that eerie idea that Brears, a real human being, finds herself captured in the gaze of a supposedly fictional being: a nice foreshadowing of what Robert Black is flat out told by our lisping friend Johnny Carcosa: that he and everything are literature, fiction, and messages of the Great Old Ones. If you look at the Plateau of Leng as a state of mind between dream and reality and see the after-images of beings constantly in motion, constant verbs, it’s also like everything in that dead yet not dead gaze, that real but unreal perspective, are living words and language writ large Or something to that effect.

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      • Additionally, the fish symbol was not just a design cue fro early Christians but a “secret handshake” for sussing out your compatriots. I have read research suggesting that upon meeting a stranger, one could divine their religious leanings by drawing half the fish arch in the sand, should they complete it, you’d know you were in the company a brother in Christ.

        The symbol originates in the letters of the Greek word for fish, ichtys, used as a hide-in-plain-sight acrostic for “Iesous CHristos Theou Yios Soter.” In English “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, The Savior.” Here again we have words, and the manipulation of them, bringing concepts to life.

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      • This is also not to mention the fact that a symbol like the crucifix isn’t even something Christianity created. When you look at the symbol, it is two lines representing different ascribed principles intersecting. You can even ascribe psychogeographical elements to the symbol such as the place where leylines meet on a certain part of the land. It’s similar in principle to the swastika and the pentagram that we see in various cultures and Providence.

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    • Awesome to see that my comment got included as an annotation. Thanks Facts Team.

      One thought I had, reviewing what I wrote here today and light of everything we know now, is that it’s very fitting that we are looking at Merril Brears through the dead fish eye of the Deep One: in that murky reflective surface, it’s as though her humanity reality is less real than the one that even the dead Deep One represents.

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  13. HO! HO! HO!

    According to Bleeding Cool yesterday, PROVIDENCE #12, the final issue, is solicited for March 2017 (another three month wait)! Hurrah!

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/12/21/final-issue-alan-moores-providence-avatar-press-march-2017-solicits/

    BTW – PROVIDENCE #10 was released August 10th. That means it would be approximately seven months between #10 and #12. PROVIDENCE #1 was released May 27 2015. So the whole 12 issues would clock in at approximately 22 months – or two months short of two years. Ouch!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been debating whether or not to include a comment like this, but one thing I like about Providence is how it manages to touch upon the racism, prejudices and genuine alien horror in the Lovecraftian mythos while, at the same time, managing to humanize those elements and somehow make them all the more horrific for it.

    Ruthanna Emrys’ “Litany of the Earth” humanizes Innsmouth through a female Innsmouth camp survivor’s perspective while retaining a lot of the mythos and Elizabeth Brear’s “Shoggoths in Bloom” really bring the concept of racism and using other living beings to fulfill a goal from a black male point of view.

    But one story that really gets to me, even now, is one by Grant Morrison: “Lovecraft in Heaven.” I first read in in Lovely Biscuits, but I also know it was included in both versions of The Starry Wisdom. Aside from existing in the same anthology of stories as William S. Burroughs “Wind Die. You Die. We Die,” Alan Moore’s “The Courtyard” and “Recognition” respectively, “Lovecraft in Heaven” is impressive because of its similar but different take on Lovecraft’s relation to the Great Old Ones.

    In “Lovecraft in Heaven,” Lovecraft is dying and feeling as though the Great Old Ones he created are attempting to leave his body: his very being. He has delusions and dreams that mix all of his mythos together and play on sexuality and death. In the end, you can read the story as him accepting these parts that he had been so afraid of, and yet so fascinated throughout his entire life: transcending the human part of himself and becoming his ontological self: possibly Yog-Sothoth as the Key and the Gate looking down at his scared “half-human” self that can only see his eye and not his grin.

    It’s different in Providence, obviously. Merril Brears is the one physically carrying a Great Old One in her womb while Lovecraft carries them all as cancer inside of his stomach. But the Great Old Ones manipulate both into allowing them to be born, Yog-Sothoth is Lovecraft’s “spiritual” father in Providence and thus making him half-human, and it becomes clear that space-time is more than linear, and part of a greater literature in both texts,

    I know that Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have had a less than cordial history with one another, and I have my doubts that “Lovecraft in Heaven,” despite being part of the same anthology could have influenced Alan Moore, but they are a really interesting parallel with one another: starting from a similar premise or strain and evolving into different cultures.

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    • I find the Moore/Morrison debates to be pretty entertaining, but perhaps a bit overblown. Something the fan base eggs on more than the anything. Morrison is clearly a big fan of Moore’s work, and is teasing him over the image of being the end all of comics writer’s. That said they both have a deep interest in meta-fiction, perceived reality and breaking the 4th wall within their works. I highly doubt Moore isn’t familiar with the Morrison story in a book he included in his own fiction. I hope he isn’t truly as dismissive of Morrison’s work as he claims or else he’s missing out of some great stuff he’d probably enjoy.

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  15. I just noticed that on pg. 23 panel 4 the notations are looking for the name of the man on the right of the frame, watching the deceased R.H. Barlow. I have always assumed it was William Borroughs. He was in Mexico City when Barlow was there. It is my understanding that they were acquainted, and Barlow introduced Burroughs to Lovecraft’s work.

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  16. Initially I was disappointed that the various Lovecraft Character analogues shared the same fate as their fictional counterparts until it hit me, but allowing Black to gather their stories and pass them on to Redeemer, they have as Johnny said surrendered their stories to providence, divine will, the cosmic writer of fate and destiny, they have essential surrender their free-will and passed from real people into fiction and hence their fate, their endings were out of their own hands. Notice how in Roberts commonplace book he thought that Roulet/Wade should be punished horribly for what he did to Black? Lovecraft wrote his story based off that and so Wade/Roulet basically got what they deserved. By wanting to get close to Black and pass on their stories yo the Redeemer they opened themselves up/surrendered themselves to providence aka God aka Lovecraft.

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    • That’s a great take on it. I was also confused as to why the various Mythos figures that Black met all essentially died/whatever in the exact same ways that Lovecraft wrote about, which shouldn’t have been possible, but your explanation makes a lot of sense.

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      • Plus it would explain how the From Beyond situation is missed in this issue,in the previous issue Lovecraft said that’s Blacks meeting had inspired him to write From beyond so it presumably accured off screen already.

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    • Not only did these figures, who kept themselves alive for the sole purpose of seeing the Redeemer Prophecy fulfilled, sacrifice their existences to the great literature that is the subconsciousness of the Great Old Ones they also turned over all of Earth, humanity, and reality back to the Dreamers: making everyone become the fiction that they really are. That is how I see it anyway.

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    • I don’t know if they all get a choice in how their end comes. Many of them might not even know it. Hekeziah Massey probably does, seeing all of time. But if that’s what happens, it’s what happens. Fits in with Alan’s view of “solid time”, everything’s a fait-accompli, which we move through a slice at a time.

      It means the characters had no choice but to meet Robert, and to die as they did. They were just following the plan, which will-have-already-happened once Yuggoth overwrites reality. Hm these nested-time sentences are quite inelegant to write, if only there were some words that better describe them…

      If they are aware of how they each eventually die, then it’s a choice between taking that deal, or never coming to exist at all. That’s if they have free will. And since they actually do exist, proved by their being there, then I suppose the point’s proved.

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  17. It’s not really a blowjob that Carcosa gives black. The orifice involved is not a mouth. Robert is rewarded in an appropriate way given his deed with young “Ward” in the steeple; he is rewarded according to what he likes- but in a horrific and shocking way. The horror of the orifice being in Carcosa’s face is another twist that Moore throws into this amazing series. Seems to me anyway.

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    • Yeah his mouth looks a bit like the melted bumhole of some unfortunate chap who stood too close to the fire in nylon underwear. But I don’t think defining homosexuality as “likes bumhole” is a fair or grown-up way of looking at things. Robert likes cute guys, it doesn’t mean he’s literally attracted to any anus-looking orifice, wharever cosmic horror it comes attached to.

      I know comics fans are supposed to be a bit sheltered, but come on, this is Alan Moore, don’t let him down!

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      • That’s what makes the horror effective; it’s a humanoid nonhuman forcing on a human what it and/or a bunch of other nonhumans think a human would enjoy sexually.

        I think I read it as an anus-mouth too, but mainly because of Johnny Carcosa’s resemblance to Arseface from Preacher.

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      • The Carcosa “reward” was based directly on what Robert did to “activate the magic” in the steeple. Carcosa says “the servants are rewarded in accordance with their accomplishments” right before the deed. So “likes bumhole” is not really the issue, or what I was saying.

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      • Robert had sex with a human being. He didn’t fuck a disembodied bumhole. It’s actually a pretty offensive way of looking at gay people.

        You don’t expect heterosexuals in fiction to all end up having their mind taken away by a giant vagina, do you? Your saying “He is rewarded according to what he likes” basically makes him out to be an anus fetishist, and all gay men along with him. It’s a very childish and ignorant way of looking at gay men.

        I’m almost never offended by anything like this, and I certainly don’t make it my business to find things to shout “homophobia!” about. But really. He shagged young Howard. In his bum, yes. But a disembodied bumhole, or one implanted in JC’s face, isn’t “according to what he likes”.

        There’s more to sex than simple holes, and it takes more than that to produce the Orgone. The other example of Orgone-raising is in Neonomicon, and there it’s an every-way orgy. I get the feeling that heterosexual-vaginal-intercourse-for-the-purpose-of-reproduction might well not raise much of a flicker. It’s lust and human imagination that brings the blue light. Not holes and poles.

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  18. I’m not sure if anyone else has commented on how the events of this issue compare and contrast with the ending of Watchmen. There the contents of Rorschach’s Journal are about to be shared with the wider world and we are left to imagine what will happen next. A giant tentacled monster from another dimension revealed to be a fiction.
    In Providence we see Black’s experiences interpreted by HPL and then amplified and distorted by a network of writers and readers. Black’s Commonplace Book also becomes a key source of Intelligence for various Agencies in the following years. Yet Black doesn’t encounter anything like Cthulhu on his journey and is presumably an addition of HPL – so will He prove to be a work of fiction as well – and will that make any difference to his incarnation?
    Additionally I wonder to what extent Moore is reflecting on his own experience of seeing his ideas amplified and distorted in comics and the wider culture – with comic books embracing gritty realism in the years after Watchmen and ‘V’ masks eventually becoming the ubiquitous choice of contemporary protestors. As Robert James Lees says in ‘From Hell’: “I made it all up, and it all came true anyway.”

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    • there’s a lot about the central, Commonplace Book handoff idea that doesn’t make any sense at all to me when thought about for any significant length of time. Lovecraft apparently never had another original idea for the rest of his career, choosing instead to reinterpret every one of Black’s entries that he read one week in 1919 and call it his own… though, I guess Call of Cthulhu is all his still? and apparently he nails a lot of details that Black was totally unaware of when writing. and the implied ritual that resulted in his birth? guess it was designed to produce a florid pulp writer who would die of stomach cancer in his 40’s? if one didn’t know that much about Lovecraft, i could see him being a pretty anticlimactic “redeemer”. in order for all this to kind-of-work you really have to buy that Lovecraft’s fiction was a super powerful force of nature in pop culture (which… is it? it seems more niche than world-shaking)

      All this i was afraid of by issue 6 (and it all came true anyway!), and it’s almost been a fun and wild enough ride to forget these qualms, but when you get meta like this you’re begging for nitpicking!

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      • These are all fascinating points. But Whisperer in Darkness, Mountains of Madness, Call of Cthulhu, etc – I think HPL did pretty well on his own. Although Black does outline CoC in the COmmonplace Book, doesn’t he?

        To be fair to Moore’s construction this is a different world than our own and one where Lovecraft’s impact on popular culture is more on the level of a Tolkien (or a goth Milne) than his niche in our reality, although in our reality said niche does grow and grow as other “more literary” figures from the same period fade. The big difference: In their world the collective imagination and mass media wills Cthulhu into existence. In ours collective hysteria and mass media manifests Trump.

        I wonder if Lovecraft’s writing of the tales of the Whatelys and Charles Dexter Ward are what cause the events in that reality to go down the way they do, rather than HP getting details he could not witness so right. All those beings were waiting for someone to finish their stories for them, isn’t that part of what Wilbur and Hekeziah explain to Black?

        the notion that one read through the Commonplace Book gives Lovecraft enough stimulant to his imagination to create his body of work may be a tough swallow, but that’s where magic has to come in, right? If he was literally bred to receive that knowledge then just one look could be all it takes to send him on his destiny, and as the years pass who knows if he even fully remembers where some of ideas came from?

        As far as the Redeemer dying of cancer in his 40s, at least he wasn’t torn to shreds by a dog(s) in his weird tentacled puberty. And, as JC says, “the universe doesn’t care”. The work apparently gets done. It is strange that Lovecraft gets no reward is a la Yazid’s place in space and Black’s tough swallow. Seems like Lovecraft is the lynchpin and all he got was a lousy diet. And oh yeah the legacy, for whatever that’s worth when/if reality inverts. Maybe we see his “reward” in 12.

        One does wonder how avid weird fiction reader Carver reacted to seeing his stories and dream quests related in such detail by an author he followed, but maybe he assumes Black told them to HPL and maybe Lovecraft silver keyed him back into his childhood before he read Statement of RC (and HPL never published the Dream Quest in their lifetimes.)

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      • it’s true, the inclusion of the suicide chamber and the popularity of The Cats of Ulthar band in the future do establish this as a different universe I guess, even though all the details of our own universe’s 1919 are recreated so painstakingly. I do know i’m being a little bit pedantic, on purpose, but…

        okay, but by that logic, i have even more problems! Firstly, the Roulets, Wades, and Colwens of the world existed before Lovecraft, before Black, etc. There’s a time-loop or echo-chamber thing happening, but they want to “make an impression” on Black, so that he will write about them and therefore HPL will do the same, not so that their “endings” will be written (they all come to horrible ends, so why), but so that they’re written into existence in the first place/willed into existence by dreaming Cthulhu? it doesn’t make much sense as I’m typing it but that was the impression I got from the whole post-selection “dreaming-itself” angle. And I didn’t just mean HPL got their endings strangely right, he gets even their pasts bizarrely accurate without much help from oblivious Black. besides, what effect would HPL writing some pulp stories about them around the times of their deaths have unless he has some strange godlike powers totally undemonstrated for the length. I get that it’s all about how writing and language=magic, but it still seems a little…untethered.

        And sure, those three stories you mention are great, but two of them are fairly late in his career, and i mean, come on. I think my “he plagiarized his whole career” comment still stands!

        Some of this i’ve been thinking all along, some came as I was re-reading that pre-#11 Moore interview where he talks about how he thinks the idea of HPL “intuiting” or channelling a real pantheon of gods as being a bit silly. Then goes on to explain how the fake neonomicon has real power because of what it represents. make up your mind AM!

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      • Well, considering that all time happens at the same time or whatever the wza-y’ei, who’s to say that HPL didn’t write the back stories based on the Commonplace Book and then those characters came to life for Black to find in the world for him to write about in his Commonplace Book so HP could be inspired by the Commonplace Book to create them? The fact that he “gets the back stories right” when he could not know them implies that his imagination and then the collective will of people who read the stories and drew the pictures and played the board games and bought the toys created a reality in both directions that was waiting for someone to discover and then eventually messenger into existence. So if HPL plagiarized his whole career he plagiarized it from himself, just like Cthulhu dreams himself into existence.

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      • haha filth yes! you nailed it, from my perspective. i think that’s just what’s going on. and it still doesn’t make a lick of sense! head-spinningly complicated. but what Lovecraft fan could complain? the bridge metaphors surely have a lot to do with this whole concept. and of course there’s still another issue to sort it all out.

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      • Well, some Lovecraftian entity ate my reply to this old conversation from my phone after asking for my Blog password. So let me try this again. :p

        It is possible that the reason the suicide gardens and city domes actually exist in this timeline is because the temporal recursion that is happening, that reverted the human bubble of reality back into Yuggoth in light of Issue #12, was happening for some time. Perhaps it started with Robert W. Chambers’ stories, or it influenced Robert W. Chambers’ stories: or they influenced each other. Hence the recursive temporal loop. Perhaps the Colwens, the Wards, and the others were the result of Lovecraft’s stories changing reality, or reality influencing stories or — let’s face it — they all come from that constant ever-present that is part of Alan Moore’s adoption of eternalism.

        Remember Carcosa’s words from Issue #10: “Always, this instant. Always, this room. Always this happening, without cease.”

        Who is to say that Yuggoth, the Mi-Go Aklo word for Providence, hadn’t been retroactively created as a process or a series of different creative evolutionary steps.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I just reread your comment right now, lonepilgrimik while going through the annotations on this post again. Do you think Lovecraft began to wonder if those things he was writing about, that the inspiration he got from Black, was real? Or so the annotation above seems to hint upon with the word “prudence.”

      Then, there is another part of the comment that you made that reminded me of something. It is with regards to Alan Moore possibly “reflecting on on his own experience of seeing his ideas amplified and distorted in comics and the wider culture – with comic books embracing gritty realism in the years after Watchmen and ‘V’ masks eventually becoming the ubiquitous choice of contemporary protestors.”

      I wrote a post on my Mythic Bios a few years ago called “A Hesitant Hero or the Pause Before the Precipice: Alan Moore’s Miracleman and Virgil’s Aeneid.” There is this one panel at the end of Alan Moore’s run of Marvelman/Miracleman where Miracleman is staring out with his glass of wine and the last caption is “Sometimes I just wonder.”

      I make the speculation that, in this one panel, there is almost this meta-commentary on Miracleman looking at his own decisions in creating a utopia with his powers with Alan Moore possibly realizing, on some level, that he has just changed superhero comics forever by introducing revisionism to the genre and possibly the North American comics industry. He and Frank Miller are credited with bringing gritty realism and deconstructionist ideas to the superhero comic genre. It’s just like Aeneas from the Aeneid having this one moment of hesitation and realizing that once he kills Turnus, there is no turning back: Rome will happen. Virgil says something in that moment. Perhaps Alan Moore was saying something back then. Perhaps, as you put in Providence, through Lovecraft he is saying something right now. It wouldn’t be the first time a writer or creator bordered on prescience: especially with regards to their art.

      You can find the link to my article here if you, or anyone else is interested in checking it out: https://matthewkirshenblatt.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/a-hesitant-hero-or-the-pause-before-the-precipice-alan-moores-miracleman-and-virgils-aeneid/

      Liked by 2 people

  19. It’s interesting how relatively … short Lovecraft’s lifespan as one of Yog-Sothoth’s children actually is. I wonder if Willard and John Divine Wheatley would have suffered a relatively “premature” lifespan due to their combination of potentially incompatible genetic and dimensional material.

    It is interesting, and it’s probably been pointed out already by another commentator that Willard is drawn by Jacen Burrows, and possibly others before him, to have furry legs I believe: recalling the idea of satyrs and in particularly the title of Arthur Machen’s classic “The Great God Pan.”

    Maybe that was why Willard, if we go with his analogue Wilbur Whatley, wanted to destroy reality or release dear old Dad Yog-Sothoth fully into this world: because he did suffer from accelerated aging and maybe was only meant to exist for a short while to fulfill his goal. Lovecraft himself, in Providence, wasn’t a “bootleg Redeemer” like Willard and his brother, and probably “made” properly enough to “pass” as a full human with subtle guidance from his grandfather and the Stella Sapiente: but still possessing an unfortunately shorter lifespan: albeit for what others might have believed to be a plausible reason (unless of course the doctors involved in diagnosing Howard were also members of, or working for the Stella Sapiente and covered the *real* cause of his death.

    I also suspect that Lovecraft will also get his reward for being the Redeemer: if he hasn’t already received it. It’s only fair if Khalid, Ambrose Bierce, and Robert Black have been given such gifts by the Great Old Ones.

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  20. Initially I was comparing Number 1, page 14, panel 3 with Number 11, page 13, panel 2 to jokingly make a nitpick: the pattern of veins in the marble walls has shifted–the vein pattern in the alcove to (reader’s) right of Jonathan in Number 1 is directly behind Robert in Number 11. This must be a rare flub by the colorist, who has really been doing an outstanding job throughout the series.

    But silliness aside, the comparison is somewhat thought-provoking…Jonathan appears very deliberate, being well dressed down to his spats, with composed body language (hands on his knees, looking upward…). Robert looks impulsive (hands on chair arms…). Maybe Jonathan made an appointment while Robert was a “walk-in”? (“Walk-ins welcome” at the Exit Garden?)

    Further speculation…maybe the attendant at the Exit Garden will turn out to have some significant role in Number 12? Up to now he has come across as no more than a Generic Mortician.

    Further silly thought…a 21st Century Exit Garden in the PROVIDENCE universe, if such still exist, would probably utilize lethal injection instead of whatever gas…but both procedures would involve a needle! (…on the phonograph pickup in Robert’s era, haha)

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  21. Something you should look at:

    “(Perhaps noteworthy are who are missing: Lavinia Wheatley, Randall Carter, St. Anselm professors, and perhaps others.)”

    It should be: Leticia Wheatley here. I believe she got confused with Mr. Lovecraft’s own Lavinia Whatley. I mean, that is who she *really* is, who she inspires but … I hope this helps.

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  22. or alan moore pulls a crying of lot 49 and there is no last issue, making a very strong point about how lovecraft believed certain things were just unknowable and beyond human comprehension.

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  23. Was listening to Oh You Pretty Things by David Bowie on the radio today and suddenly thought “Cor Blimey Guv’nor is this the plot of PROVIDENCE 12?” Take a look at those lyrics
    “A puzzled man who questioned what hed come here for…
    All the nightmares came today
    And it looks as though they’re here to stay…” We shall see

    Liked by 1 person

  24. “Lovecraft separated from his wife in 1925 when she moved to Cleveland for a job, leaving Lovecraft in Flatbush – not far from the Red Hook neighborhood – in a small apartment on 169 Clinton Street. This would later be where many of the events of The Courtyard and Neonomicon occurred.”

    Having lived just around the corner from Lovecraft’s Clinton Street apartment (which I always regarded with awe) I can assure you that it is not in Flatbush, but in Brooklyn Heights- quite close to the Promenade.

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    • I believe that due to shifting neighborhood boundaries, at the time Lovecraft lived there it would have been considered Flatbush, but I admit to being a little iffy on the finer details of Brooklyn neighborhoods and rely on historical sources.

      Like

  25. I think Providence is similar in structure to Ambrose Bierce’s Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. And it’s most obvious in Providence 11.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Occurrence_at_Owl_Creek_Bridge

    In the story, the protagonists is a soldier being hanged and hallucinates an adventure while falling. As the noose tightens and his neck snaps, the adventure and the story abruptly end.

    We already know how important Bierce is to Lovecraft and to Carcosa.

    The events of Providence, Robert Black’s trip through New England is that sort of hallucination. What we see in the comic is what Robert Black imagines as he succumbs to the gas in the Exit Garden.

    Perhaps the character of Lilly/Jonathan is someone Robert dreams up as he’s dying. Lilly may be how Robert imagines himself, since they are so similar and meet the same end.

    Or, perhaps Lilly dreams up Robert as Lilly dies. Characters being dreamed into existence is an important theme in Lovecraft and Moore.

    There are hints in the comic. The black margins are Black’s fading consciousness. As we get closer to the end the blackness grows. In Providence #11, the spinning Jolson record and characters dressed in black blend in with the gutters and make it hard to see the shape of the panels. This is the gas breaking down Black’s consciousness.

    Black is incorporating things he has seen into his hallucinations.

    All the eyes we see: Carcosa’s big eye, the eye-shaped record, the cake and coffee cup in the automat. Perhaps they’re inspired by the attendant peering into the room through the slot.

    The anus-mouth of Carcosa and the tentacle face of the train conductor look like the horn of the gramaphone.

    The cooling mechanism that keeps Alvarez moving is similar to the mechanism that appears to be pumping poison into the chamber.

    I think we should expect more influence from Bierce and Chambers in the story. Bierce contributes the stream of consciousness and the hallucinations before death. Chambers contributes the unreliable narrator, exit gardens and weird vision of the future.

    I think there will be a reveal where either Robert Black or Lilly turn out to not be as real as we thought. Someone has been dreamt into being: Carcosa, Lilly or Cthulhu.

    This idea is also a lot like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Moore has been thinking about Lynch recently, while making his very Lynchian Show Pieces films. Show Pieces is about characters who have died and found themselves in an afterlife in someone’s imagination. It may be worth looking to the films to see what Moore is doing with Providence.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s actually… Hmm!

      When we read how Robert and Lily met, in issue 1, it is a bit fantastical, too good to be true. Almost as if Lily is the man of Robert’s dreams. Particularly when we see her as her fantasy self, a woman, in Robert’s memories. Assuming Jonathan didn’t walk round in drag (would be a bit dangerous), I’m assuming that’s just Robert’s way of seeing Jonathan.

      Then there’s the bit about Lily’s age not quite matching up, he was at the Ariston when it was raided. A lot of it does seem like Jonathan’s only there as a result of Robert wanting someone to love, an ideal partner, and Jonathan does seem like that for him.

      Then the connection with Carcosa, and their both being named John, dressed in the same outfit. It’s a bit confusing. We don’t really get to see Jonathan interacting with other people, just at the beginning in the Exit Chamber. Maybe the Exit Chambers are a bit “unreliable narrator”, like in The King In Yellow.

      Not sure how it all adds up, but it doesn’t seem to add up properly.

      Not like Alan to put such an interesting question in front of us and not tell us the answer. Even if the answer is back 10 issues ago. Watchmen makes much more sense in retrospect, on a second (third, fourth…) reading, I’m sure Providence will too.

      Like

    • It’s an interesting theory! But i’m guessing it’ll be debunked by the next issue. To me, the record-spinning motif of #11 was just a brilliantly cinematic storytelling choice by moore/burrows. In addition to being “cinematic”, in that you can really see how it would cut together and hear the song throughout, it fits neatly in with the yr ngrr, “now is before” stuff (i.e. we see the record spinning long before Black hits the exit garden, and see it and the 1919 exit garden timeline even as we see far into the future). The spinning circles (train wheels, automat table, the cake on Black’s plate) are a great echoing visual motif without necessarily requiring anything too deep to explain them. To me, it’s just about the inevitability of Black’s suicide, everything is pointing him towards his death. I’m not even so sure that Black is “seeing” what we are as Moore explores Lovecraft’s legacy. The visual language of the issue doesn’t say that for me. I think he just quietly died.

      While the connection between Carcosa and Lily hasn’t really been explained (yet), I still don’t think they’re the same person exactly, or that Lily is just a figment of Black’s imagination. Black met Lily down by the docks, a well known cruising scene for both prostitutes and gay men. I do think that Lily actually does dress in women clothing on occasion, though he certainly doesn’t walk around in them all the time, or in inappropriate situations. When we see the flashback of them arguing over dinner, Lily doesn’t have painted nails and appears by the sleeves to be wearing a regular men’s jacket. There isn’t really any other indication that Black’s flashback/memories are subjective/unreliable, so why would he change Lily to a woman? The age confusion mentioned above is really the result of a joke- When dressed in women’s clothes, Lily introduces himself as “Lilian Russell”, borrowing the name from the real life actress, who really was living above the Ariston Baths around when they were raided. So Black, who recognizes the name, is just having a little fun acting like Lily is THE Lillian Russell. And while we don’t see Lily interacting with anyone else, Black’s gay friend Charles discusses Lily with him, Ephraim Posey has met him, and of course the Herald staff all discuss him in #1.

      That’s not to say I don’t think there’s some kind of Lily “reveal” of some kind in the works for #12, but i’d be surprised if it wasn’t something more complicated than Lily being a figment of Black’s imagination or vice versa. Maybe if Providence was self contained I could see it, but Moore has to tie in all that Neonomicon/Courtyard business as well.

      Like

      • Plus, when in #10 Black meets Carcosa, even in his mental state, even with the yellow veil, if Lily and Carcosa really looked that similar I would have expected Black to at least take some kind of note of it.

        Like

  26. If you want to understand all the eye motifs and shots of the record in this issue, this video helps a lot:

    Zizek talks about drains and toilets in Psycho and The Conversation.

    There’s a connection: Moore has read a bunch of Zizek and The author of Psycho, Robert Block, was mentored by Lovecraft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another interesting fact about disembodied eyes or eye-balls, at least in the heyday of the horror comics genre all the way until the mid-1950s and the formation of the Comics Code Authority is that they represented a fear of the government, of the State, of authoritarianism, watching you and eliminating your sense of personal privacy.

      When you look at the fears that Robert Black and others had with regards to *their* private lives, especially with all the habitual governmental crackdowns and what would come after the end of the 1920s, it does put some matters into perspective.

      You can read about this in Jim Trombetta’s book The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You To Read. It even comes with a handy-dandy DVD. 🙂 It mostly deals with the 1950s I believe, like EC Comics, but I can see the subject matter going further: especially with regards to Alan Moore’s history with elements of the pre-Code horror genre.

      Just look at Watchmen. One basic premise is that because masked heroes existed in that world and became a powerful and populist North American phenomenon for morale, even with the rise of McCarthyism, Frederic Wertham’s work wasn’t taken as seriously and — as a result — EC Comics and other comics genres, like horror, were not neutered to the point of a shallow watery grave of content. Also, because masked heroes existed, there was less emphasis on the superhero genre and more on horror as it was arguably one of the most popular genres of that time. This led to the development of “high horror comics” like Tales of the Black Freighter: which makes a powerful story-within-a-story in Watchmen.

      Then look at H.P. Lovecraft’s developmental period: where the Pulps were gaining momentum, or had a presence for some time. Here is where many of Lovecraft’s stories, through Weird Tales, were published alongside similar comics and art. If the eye-ball were as important at this point in North American horror literary comics and film culture, you can see the influences on Alan Moore in creating Providence. The fact that the disembodied eye-ball ALSO illustrates the supernatural, the dead fish eye of the Deep One capturing Merril Brears’ image, the extra-dimensional record “You Made Me Love You” and the “to be is to be perceived” consciousness and power of the Great Old Ones only makes it a more multi-purpose metaphor with some power resonances.

      If anyone can confirm or expand on this, I would be very curious to see more. 🙂

      Like

      • Interesting. We don’t see eyes getting injured in Providence — which could represent damaging or fighting back against authority, or saying that it is fallible — but we do see a lens of Robert’s glasses getting cracked: perhaps representing the breaking of his sense of reason after seeing the Truth.

        And, looking at excerpts from Wertham’s anecdotal work, you can do a misogynist reading of how female characters are generally blinded: as though their gaze is rendered “inferior” or “a crime” by the powers that be. I didn’t know about this motif and so, after looking at it, it does say something about the gaze or even the idea of the male gaze that Merril Brears get caught in even after the Deep One in Neonomicon dies.

        Like

  27. As a longtime lurker I really admire the effort and thoroughness that you’ve put into the annotations on each issue of Providence.

    You may be interested in an infographic I’ve spent some time compiling. It covers most of the characters and locations from issues #1 to #11 in a sprawling plot map, with notes on the HPL source where applicable, as well as a nod to the extended continuity into The Courtyard and Neonomicon.

    This site’s annotation pages were very useful for reference checking, especially when I couldn’t face leafing through the Commonplace Book entries yet again 🙂

    If I’ve managed to upload the PDF properly, you should be able to find it here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxSgf9YSVdIkX3piSFhhdFY1QU0

    Or email me at helenanash [at] virginmedia.com.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Helena:

      This is a really cool chart you’ve made. A lot of it can be used to keep track of, frankly, a lot of the different paths and meta-pathways going through the narrative of the Providence universe.

      Some of the writing is hard to make out, however. You might want to try scanning pages 1 and 4 again. Even when I maximize the view, the writing looks very blurred.

      Also, with regards to the Methods:

      Robert Suydam is a practitioner of the fourth method: through his worship of, and sacrifice to, Lilith (though I am betting when all is said and done, he is really wishing that he hadn’t been). Also, Japheth Colwen is also a practitioner of the fourth method: through his essential Saltes. I suspect that, like his analogue Joseph Curwen and the latter’s descendant Charles Dexter Ward, Charles Howard used this method with some Stella Sapiente aid to bring him back (Curwen didn’t transfer his consciousness to another body, he just had his body reconstituted with the essential Saltes that Charles learned to manipulate, and then further with his guidance and blood-drinking).

      Also, Brown Jenkins doesn’t seem to be human at all, but a being from another dimension. The fifth method, as it can be called, is something his formerly human mistress does utilize by simply spending time in there and possibly dealing with Johnny Carcosa, like her Lovecraftian analogue does with Nyarlathotep.

      That is all I could find. I hope this helps.

      Like

      • Thanks Matthew,
        I’ll take a look at the resolution and see what I can do. The transfer from Visio to PDF to Google Doc may have affected the sharpness.
        And thank you for all the factual feedback. I would expect nothing less than the greatest of rigour from contributors to this site 🙂 I’ll update the diagram in due course.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Is Suydam actually prolonging his life? Does he get that from worshipping Lilith? I thought he’d just sort-of adapted the local Yazidi cult, somehow finding his way to the truth of it, and using his brains and social standing to be able to organise a racket for kidnapping kids to feed to her. I don’t see where reanimation comes into that.

        Not that it prolonged his life in the end, heh!

        I think Hekeziah Massey’s method doesn’t necessarily prolong her life at all. Instead, she just spends most of her time out of the normal flow of time, in some weird dimension. She pops in and out of 4D space and time as she pleases, and can do the same to Robert. She says, while she’s showing Robert round the house, “Mostly I’m in another space nearby, where I can keep an eye on things”. So she can observe the ordinary Universe from wherever it is that she goes, across time as well as space.

        If can you time travel, it’s no problem to nip a few years ahead now and then, to make sure you’re around to meet The Herald. So she might only be as old as she seems to be.

        For Mrs Carcosa, perhaps she’s come round the long way, and is centuries old. Simply achieved by not being human, whatever she is might just have a long biological lifespan. Or she might be some kind of weird avatar like Johnny Carcosa is. I think not, though, I think she’s much less unusual than him. A sort of Virgin Mary-like figure, giving birth to something much greater than she is. Also like Merrill Brears.

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      • If Robert Suydam is anything like his “Horror at Red Hook” counterpart one of the main reasons he joined the cult and fed Lilith and her daughters those children was to gain something akin to eternal life: and reanimation from death. He might not have necessarily known that he would have to be murdered first, but if you look at the Yazidi man standing outside Suydam’s house in Issue #2, he has claw marks on his face: a possible beneficiary of said reanimation. And towards the end of Issue #11, after we see a scene of Suydam and his newly wed wife ripped apart in their room on a boat, we see his body being cradled by Lilith much later. Also, in “The Horror at Red Hook,” it is made fairly clear by Tom Malone that after authorities found the corpses of the couple, others with some clout took Suydam’s corpse away, and then Malone himself saw the hellish ritual that brought him back.

        I will admit, it is really easy to miss that one or not see it as it’s not completely clear in Providence what is going on and even with regards to the story it’s derived from, for me it wasn’t one of the mainline stories that I found interesting or stuck with me with regards to the details. And no, it probably didn’t prolong his life in the way that he thought it would either.

        And Hekeziah Massey didn’t quite say that her dimensional travelling was even a “fifth method” or perhaps even a form of immortality. Time dilation probably works differently in Nyarlathotep’s realm and she has been aging slowly, if at all. Of course, there is her congress with Mr. Jenkins — an imp from that realm — to consider as well as part of that dimension he could be another factor in her longevity.

        Now “Mrs. Carcosa” is a conundrum and, honestly, your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea who she is or who she is supposed to be. She is mortal. She committed suicide by slicing open her throat in Neoconomicon, I believe. Perhaps she was Johnny’s mother by Nyarlathotep much in the way that Merril is Cthulhu’s by that Deep One, and H.P. Lovecraft, Johnny Divine, and Willard Wheatley are on Susan Susan Phillips Lovecraft and poor Leticia Wheatley by Yog-Sothoth. And the latter needed human avatars to do so: such as Winston Lovecraft and Garland Wheatley respectively. Perhaps Mrs. Carcosa was part of the Sapiente and had a male lover possessed by Nyarlathotep himself, or something else that might have made Johnny Carcosa as Nyarlathotep in this incarnation.

        I’m also not sure how old “Mrs. Carcosa” even is or if she is entirely human and might have the equivalent of that good old Innsmouth look. But we can definitely continue to speculate, assuming more isn’t revealed at the end of all existence in Issue #12.

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      • Ah OK, thanks for the information, Matthew. I haven’t read much Lovecraft, though what I have is all thanks to Providence, and particularly thanks to Joe for linking to the stories in the articles on each issue. Or Alexx, or whoever else, thanks in general! Aw man, I’m gonna miss this place when Providence ends. We can still hang out here I suppose and analyse it to death for a good long while.

        So I didn’t know about Suydam more than I’ve read on here, and in the comic. Yep, now it does make sense. Not sure exactly how the reincarnation is performed, but that doesn’t matter, I’ll take your word on it.

        I thought the young Yazidi with the scar was just the result of a near-miss, like a kid who’d escaped being eaten, with just a scar and some bad memories. But yep could be a reanimation, now you mention that.

        For Hekeziah, she doesn’t even necessarily need time dilation. It’s like being born in 1650, finding a TARDIS when you’re 20, then zooming off to 1919. You’ll still be 20 years old when you get there, even though your birth was centuries past. She might only have 60-odd years of actual continued existence. She just darts around time a bit, to miss out the in-between moments, and do what needs doing. So she might not have any extra lifespan. She could do a month of Stell Sap meetings in a weekend.

        She keeps to herself a lot, so the local townspeople don’t notice when she takes a shortcut through a few weeks.

        I have “read more Lovecraft” on my list. To be brutally, heretically honest, I’m not actually a huge fan of his stories! The ideas are fantastic, his whole universe is great. But his storytelling doesn’t grab me. I don’t have a lot in common with an uptight neurotic wannabe-Victorian, who’s basically scared of EVERYTHING! Especially foreigners, queer people, and all the rest. Sure he seems like a nice enough chap, but internally really NOT my kind of guy!

        Of course not the kind of chap Alan Moore is likely to have hung round with. But doesn’t mean he’s not fascinating as a subject for Alan to study through his work. HP’s own fear of anything slightly alien seems to be the root of all his horror. He does needlessly spend a lot of typewriter ink on describing the big black brute of a boxer in one of the Reanimator stories, closer to an animal than a human being. Black people aren’t supposed to be the monsters, Howard!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Great work, Helena!

      As matthewkirshenblatt has already pointed out, Colwen uses revitalising of corpse, not transference of souls. Moreover, it’s necessary to mention that the “Heavyset Woman” also appears in #2 and is supposed to be Carcosa’s “mother” from Courtyard and Neonomicon (note the #10’s Woman of HPL cover where she is depicted near the very courtyard’s gate).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Lalartu, thanks for the feedback 🙂
        I’d missed the other references to Ma Carcosa, but will factor them in when I next update the diagram.
        I should really re-read Neonomicon and the Courtyard too…

        Like

      • I had this pet theory that Carcosa’s “mother” was really Etienne Roulet’s mother and one-time possessor of the Kitab, Marie Delarouche. She’s rather excessively described in Suydam’s pamphlet and we never get to see her in the story itself – odd, for someone who might very well have seen the Latin version of the Kitab! If she were from the “old country” like Brown Jenkins, it might explain why she, like Massey and Jenkins, age so slowly if at all. Unless she somehow resurrects herself in #12, alas, I fear this speculation is all for nothing…

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  28. haha the copy written for the #12 announcement contains the phrase: “The finest horror work ever written comes to a conclusion you cannot imagine.” Very bold claims. only two more months!

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    • Thanks for that Matthew – an illuminating an thought provoking piece of writing. This isn’t my first time reading an AM series in real time but I can remember anticipating a dark ending to Promethea and being pleasantly surprised. Honestly, anything could happen with Providence #12 – we’ll just have to wait and see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Promethea’s end was an enlightening New Ageish one, but this is Lovecraft; so I’m holding out for Moore’s most destructive comic since Marvelman #15!!! ia, ia, Tsathoggua!

        Liked by 1 person

    • You reference of the Zeitgeist of reading Watchmen as it came out and it transforming my view of superhero comics as I was reading them within the genre is very true. Suddenly I was unable to see Batman and Wolverine in a two dimensional fantasy world where every night they didn’t face the horrors of what they did during the comics I enjoyed.

      Your premise that reading Providence is similar strikes very true for me as I have been swimming in the annotations, youtube videos, and internet articles, and re-reading the source material to keep up with the references.

      In addition your mention of Pound’s suggesting that the artist is “the antenna of the race”. That Black as an author is skimming the breakdown of walls between Lovecraftian realms and reality leading to the culling of Insmouth, and the publication of HPL’s works etc, but also suggesting the Providence is heralding the coming breakdown in our society. Recent elections and Brexit revealing the hidden racism, misogyny and homophobia practiced behind closed doors, now stepping into the light.

      Will the realization lead to a culling of such odious behavior or accepting them as the norm? I think using Lovecraft with his not so hidden racism and xenophobia is both a apt platform and a hopeful one as HPL did apparently grow up and improve his stances later in life., but maybe I’m just being optimistic.

      Liked by 3 people

  29. On Pages 10 and 11, comparing the appearance of Bryant Park and the Exit Garden between Providence #1 and Providence #11, I notice that the location itself has turned strangely surreal. When Black talks to Freddy Dix, there’s nothing at all visible beyond the trees except gray sky, when the angle indicates that there should be all of New York’s tall buildings in sight (Providence #1 confirms this, look at the background as Lily walks through Bryant Park). And again, in Providence #11 page 11 panel 2, the Exit Garden is portrayed with trees in the background, and nothing but blue sky behind the trees or an orange-red sunset afterwards, both of which should be entirely impossible – and indeed, when we see the exterior of the Exit Garden in Providence #1 after Lily’s death, the buildings of New York are blatantly obvious in the background.

    This isn’t the effect of fog, since we get a clear view of New York’s buildings as Black walks over the bridge where Lily tore his letters to shreds. The only explanation I can come up with is that Bryant Park and the Exit Garden have taken on surreal qualities, almost existing in a locus of their own and set apart from the normal world, in Black’s fractured mind, and that this “dislocation” of what should be otherwise reality is a subtle way of showing that the world has already started to come apart and that reality is subtly being rewritten around Black’s existence.

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  30. I’d just like to communicate my thanks to the contributors and commenters to this website. It has thoroughly enhanced my re-read of #1-11 and 1st reads of Courtyard/Neonomicon over the last few weeks.

    I can’t imagine it has gone unnoticed but it seems at least under-remarked here that Merril Brears shares initials with Moore-Burrows, which I assume to be deliberate and something to say about creative acts bringing things to life, as it were.

    I found Neonomicon to be an extremely unpleasant deconstruction/recontextualization of The X-Files and its tropes, but the return of some of those characters in #11 was welcome and, for good or ill, I’m looking forward to seeing how it all turns out for them. If this is in fact the nearly last comics work from AM for a while I trust he’s got something as memorable in mind as his finales to From Hell, Watchman, and Miracleman.

    Like

  31. I wonder if the man on page 24 panel 2 is English sci-fi, fantasy and horror (though not necessarily in that order) author M.John Harrison. The look is a bit late model Harrison but looks clearly like him. Harrison has written both a short story, The Great God Pan (no, not that one), and a novel, The Course of the Heart, which deal with a ritual going horribly wrong and the aftermath of this event.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Re-reading this issue, I’m really impressed by how elegantly the second half of the book is structured. That whole section could easily be a monotonous beat of “this happened, then that happened” But Moore has used a series of parallels to tie the pieces to each other in a very smooth way., while structuring it as three units: Books & Monsters, Writers, and Cops & Criminals. That gives it a sense of division and progression that keeps it from getting tedious.

    p. 11-16: I love the slow down and speed up of these pages. When Robert goes to the exit garden, there’s hardly any time between panels, making his last (?) moments feel terribly slow. Then we turn the page, Robert’s book appears, and a diagonal line of heads carries us through much faster panel transitions, as three heads enact a sort of flip-book animation of running.

    p. 15- 20: And then we’re into the first unit structure, which cuts between the spread of Lovecraft’s stories and the deaths of the “real” things that inspired the story, including Robert’s book. Notice the parallel top panels on p. 15 and 16: Thomas Malone holding Black’s Commonplace Book and Clark Ashton Smith holding HPL’s letter– this section is about how HPL’s stories, meme-d into existence through the literary coterie he gathered to spread it, replaces the horrors that inspired them, and that narrative is reinforced by this kind of parallel staging. A similar parallel happens at the tops of p.18 and 19, with the letter to Derleth mirroring, compositionally, the Aklo spell wielded by Dr Willet.

    p.21: And with the death of HPL, the last of the creatures that inspired the stories has died. And to make the transition away from our familiar cast, we have the first non-referential panel in quite some time. The small town Providence of the last panel has died with the writer who loved it, replaced by a modern city. The first shot in a while of anonymous people gives the eye and mind a chance to rest before time between panels speeds up again, and small-town settings like the doorstep where Roulet died and the porch where HPL’s grandmother waves goodbye to Derleth are replaced with cafes, offices, and urban hospitals (note the difference between the small-town hospital where HPL died, it’s doctors and nurses paternal and its decor homey, and the anonymous urban hospital where Barlow dies).

    p.21 – 23: And with that establishing shot, we’re into the second section. The previous section was an alternation between writers and monsters, this is a steady series of only writers (who are about to create monsters). It’s another nice layout trick to have the first three panels on p.21 be parallel images of readers, with the fourth a picture of a man in the same spot, vomiting and dead. A nasty implication of where all this reading will get them.

    p.23-24: With the last panel of p.23, creative texts, however degraded and sinister, are replaced by the very different texts of a police dossier. Witty, referential dialogue gives way to a burst of cursing and grim forensic detail. The Necronomicon passes from an idea in the mouth of a writer, to a book in the hands of a cop, to a book in the hands of a salesman, and that is enough to kill Burroughs, the last of the writers. From here, no more literary people, just cops and criminals. In the first section, the monsters were replaced by books, in the third section, the books are replaced by killers.

    p.24-28: Now it’s all ideas and crimes, but one book is coming back. This section kicks off with a terrifying image of the Cthulhu-meme triumphant. It’s an especially nasty touch to have a Christian fish with Cthulhu’s name inside it. Moore is a man sensitive to how magical iconography can be subverted and transformed, and here the original icon of Christianity has been decisively colonized, concluding the process begun in the Church Digest from issue 3, which was packed with Biblical references so twisted as to deserve the name of blasphemy.

    p. 28, panel 2: So after the last 14 pages, it’s worth appreciating how odd this cut is, and why I think Robert isn’t gone from the story just yet. Up until now, time has been steadily speeding up, and Moore and Burrouws have done a lot of nice panel layouts to convey that feeling of careening ahead. To put a flashback in there is such a jolt that I think it may not quite be a flashback. Unstuck in time, Robert may not be so far from Neonomicon’s near-future as everyone else who appeared in Providence. They’re all long-dead, but he, along with Johnny Carcosa, doesn’t exist that way any more.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There are some brilliant parallels here, the way that Moore and Burrows structure them. The woman seeing Derleth off is actually Lovecraft’s last surviving aunt. And I am not sure Roulet died, as it is left open-ended as to whether or not his Lovecraftian analogue — predecessor and inspiration both — Waite died when poor Derby died in Waite’s shell and daughter’s decomposing body in “The Thing in the Doorstep.” In any case, those beings that have been subsumed and are now a part of the new paradigm “meme-d” into existence, as you put it. 🙂

      And yes. It is fascinating to look at how at least two coteries, the Stella Sapiente, and Lovecraft’s circle of correspondents helped bring this world beyond space and time, that requires its own language of space-time, into being: not even mentioning the people that came after to continue that work. At first, this section of #11 seems tacked on until you see the pattern and know the context, and then it is just grandly inspiring.

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      • Hunh! I hadn’t even thought of the parallel between the StellSaps and the amateur press circles. Perhaps with Carter as the connection.

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      • I’m not sure Carver has links with the Stella Saps: even though he knows about them. But we are all correspondents and geeks perpetuating this mythos so I only though it fitting that I’d mention this has thematic parallels if nothing else. ☺

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  33. Sequart has published another one of my articles on Providence. It’s called “Down A Dark Path of Bibliomancy:The Necronomicon in Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ Providence.” Basically, it compares and contrasts the histories of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon and Alan Moore’s Kitab while discussing the true power and horror that the Book and Books represent.

    I will add, that when I posted it to Twitter Robert Derie, one the main organizers of The Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence, replied with something to the effect of how the Providence reader should also keep in mind that much of the information we get about the Kitab itself comes from heavily biased sources: such as Suydam, Roulet, and the rest of the Stella Sapiente and those related to it as they have a vested interest in Robert Black — whose perspective on which we initially have to rely — achieving his destiny and their grand plan:

    http://sequart.org/magazine/65737/down-a-dark-path-of-bibliomancy-the-necronomicon-in-alan-moore-and-jacen-burrows%E2%80%99-providence/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting. While reading your description of Leng, it occurred to me the film Arrival is totally lovecraftian.

      Spoiler alert***

      Besides the strangely squid-like appearance of Abbott and Costello, the language translated by Louise Banks is similar to Aklo and allows her access to Leng like perception.

      I’m unfamiliar with the short which the film is based, but the author Heisserer, worked on the prequel to Carpenter’s The Thing, and the reboot of Nightmare of Elm Street, both of which draw serious inspiration from Lovecraft.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. After poking around a bit, it looks like PROVIDENCE #12 is scheduled for March 29th (the absolute end of the solicited month of March!). We’re only six weeks out from today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah… but it was also scheduled for lots of other dates. Really I’m not holding my breath. I’ve kindof given up waiting. It’ll happen when it hapens. Although according to Alan Moore it already has happened and always will happen. Maybe that’s why whoever’s responsible hasn’t got off their arse and printed it yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • At least it isn’t an “Afterlife with Archie” delay. I preordered the next AwA book last year, thinking it was coming out in December 2016. Right now, Comixology is showing it’s release date as December 2017 (if we’re lucky). Frankly, if I were Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, I would be so sick of fans complaining about the delays that I would just rush out some cruddy ending (like, “look, fine, Jughead wins, everyone dies, the world gets swallowed by Cthulhu, the end.”) and be done with it. I get delays, and get that no writer “owes” fans anything, but at a certain point, it becomes pretty obvious that the writer has either run out of ideas, run out of passion to continue the work, or both. At that point, why not just admit it and move on? Even Stephen King did it with the online story “The Plant.” I really wanted (still want) to read the ending, but I get that the story fizzled out and he needed to just trash the idea.

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  35. This is probably wrong, but thought I would mention it anyway…

    In reference to the young black child, there is a Lovecraftian story by T.E.D. Klein – Black Man With a Horn. The narrator’s sister mentions the police were looking for a killer cultist (Mr. Djaktu). The first mention was as follows:

    “Now she wrote me with a tiny fragment of information, heard at third-hand: one of her bridge partners had had it on the authority of “a friend in the police force” that the search for Mr. Djaktu was being widened to include his presumed companion—“ a Negro child,” or so my sister reported. Although there was every possibility that this information was false, or that it concerned an entirely different case, I could tell she regarded it as very sinister indeed.”

    Later, the narrator talks to others who saw the child as well. Bear in mind, the narrator acknowledges that there was more than a tinge of racism in the descriptions. However, I just can’t help but wonder if the child is a reference to the Tcho-Tcho cultist from this story?

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  36. I wrote a piece, inspired by some comments in on this site, about the different ways that you can read Providence. Imagine, for instance, simply reading the panelled narrative and ignoring the prose backmatter, or reading the prose as its own novella and not reading the comics. Then think about how Avatar Press is going to incorporate both of these aspects into the Acts they’re already publishing and a definitive collected edition somewhere down the line.

    These are some of the elements that I discuss on Sequart: http://sequart.org/magazine/65934/traversing-the-plateau-of-leng-to-read-is-to-be-read-in-alan-moore-and-jacen-burrows%E2%80%99-providence/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great article.

      When Providence launched three friends of mine and I started reading it together on a monthly/bi-monthly basis. At this point only one of them is still reading. While all of us were fans of Moore’s work, only the final two of us had read Lovecraft. The periodic nature of the book’s production provided the time to review HPL’s appropriate works (often predicted by this site) and I don’t know what I would have gotten out of the just the comic alone. I love that the book forced me to take a fresh tour of a huge chunk of HPL’s body of work.

      One friend said he’d try again once the series was complete, and I fear he will never get the full effect without reading the works of HPL and even Chambers. Part of my enjoyment of Moore is the insane attention to details, and I guess that’s not required to enjoy him, but it is for me. I know a lot of people who skipped the end chapters of Watchmen, and to be honest I’ve struggled repeatedly to read the “Blood from the Shoulder of Pallas” chapter when in highschool. I think it was intentionally dense and difficult to enjoy which told us as much about Dan Drieberg as Rorshach’s arrest records told us about Walter Kovacs.

      As for Providence I’m all in, reading the annotations, the source material, and the prequel/sequel Avatar books. Academically I see why you’re looking at this from different perspectives. I honestly think the depth to which you need to engage Providence to fully enjoy it, is inhibiting it’s sales potential.

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  37. I would just like to thank this website so much for as others have said, making my second run through the series so much more enlightening. I’ve read all the Lovecraft stories a few years ago so that helped me along considerably. For my 3rd time through I think I’ll read the main story that is referenced and then the issue itself. Before Providence I considered From Hell the greatest graphic novel ever, Now I think differently.

    Before I get to my final prediction I would like to say I’ve recently been revisiting Neonomicon and though I enjoy the references to that book in issue 11 I don’t think any further developments let alone a full-on issue is either necessary or particularly wanted. Though Neonomicon has it’s place, but when compared to Providence I don’t think it can be considered anything but sophomoric. Providence is a masterpiece and to dedicate the final issue to the world of Neonomicon for me, would be a terrible waste. I take issue with the boring colors, characters (other than Sax), excessive cruelty, and the generic explicit language the characters exhibit. Thanks to these very annotations I believe the Neonomicon story is complete, everyone is doomed, the end for that.

    Now for my prediction of issue 12. Being that Robert Black is the Messenger, and has that extraordinary ability to see versions of the future in addition to having played his role superbly well I think a further reward may be in order. I think Johnny Carcosa may be showing up again, and Robert will embark on an extremely odd yet revealing dream. Perhaps more insight into key cult events only previously hinted at? At the end I also don’t think Robert Black will be simply dead, but maybe reborn or transplanted into something or somewhere else. Perhaps this quote will help my prediction: “That is not dead which can eternal lie, yet with strange aeons even death may die.”

    As with anybody else’s prediction for issue 12 I could be completely wrong. Though I do enjoy and appreciate this forum to officially post my prediction before it happens. I would also like to say I feel sorry for the trade-waiters in this instance. To have bought, waited, conversed, and ruminated over each installment before the next has been terrific. I’m just glad to have experienced it in it’s original form. To have debated the ending before it’s release. I know it’s been mentioned but the creation of these fan sites to Providence parallels H.P. Lovecraft’s own circle of followers. I think there is something to be said for the magic of H.P. Lovecraft’s world that these circles of ardent fans keep popping up and being renewed even 100 years after the fact. Apparently we may have Robert Black to thank for that renewal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not exactly what you said… but it brought to mind for me that, after being at the core of 11 issues, Black better feature in issue 12… even if he’s dead! Then this made me think about Black’s prophetic abilities to see the future in his dreams… maybe, in some way, the events of Providence 11 are Black’s dreams? Who knows… I am looking forward to being surprised to see what Moore and Burrows come up with.

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  38. My sources are still stating a March 29 “on sale” date for PROVIDENCE #12, however Comixology has changed its date to April 5 from the previous March 22 for the digital edition. PROVIDENCE #10 was released August 10th and PROVIDENCE #11 was released December 7th – a 4 month span. If #12 did ship on April 5 it would be virtually the same 4 month period. I’d be very, very surprised if #12 was not done and off to the printer – unless the creative team had some sort of problem with the work flow. Avatar has shipped PROVIDENCE in the months they have solicited for shipping even if the actual day has drifted within that month (One issue of PROVIDENCE even shipped a few weeks earlier into the previous month). In other words, the series has been pretty reliable for shipping dates so far. You may have had to wait 4 months but you would know it.

    Alan Moore series in the past (going all the way back to WATCHMAN in the mid 80s) have kind of slowed down for the last few issues. I think 8 months between issues #10 and #12 would be more than sufficient. Despite the trickle at the end, Moore is pretty reliable delivering on time. He may slow down at the end but not that slow. I fully expect to be holding PROVIDENCE #12 in my hot little hands within 30 days.

    I’ll keep checking for any more date changes. Stay tuned.

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