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.

panel 3

  • 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.

panel 3

  • 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.

panel 2

  • 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.

panel 3

panel 4

  • 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

panel 1

  • 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

panel 2

  • 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.

panel 4

  • 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.

panel 2

  • 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.

panel 3

  • 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.

panel 4

  • 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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panel 2

  • 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.”

panel 3

  • 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).

panel 4

  • 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

panel 2

  • 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.

panel 3

  • 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.

panel 2

  • 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.

panel 3

  • 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

panel 4

  • 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

panel 1

  • 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

panel 3

  • 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.

panel 4

  • 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

panel 1

  • 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.

panel 2

panel 3

  • “…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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panel 2

  • 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.”

277 thoughts on “Providence 11

  1. Kinda enjoying having all this time to re-read issue #11, actually…. A last few thoughts before the last chapter comes out…

    p. 2: The picaresque structure of this book means we get to spend too little time with any of the creatures (I would love a Bojeffries-style comedy about Boggs and his wife). But it really pays off on this title page, where a single shot gives the effect of the finale of a long-running TV show, with all the beloved heroes and villains together one last time.
    But besides being charming, it’s yet another of the book’s use of the title page as thematic summary. The title is “The Unnamable”. But by putting all the depictions over that word, Moore is emphasizing that Lovecraft (and Moore & Burrows) have named these cosmic forces. And perhaps by naming them, have trapped them in a single shape, with the act of writing as a kind of binding magic.

    ————

    p. 7: I’m touched that the very last thing Robert does before death is write, even if its just a letter to Tom.

    ————

    p. 17, panel 3: I’m amused by how Burrows buried the lead when he tweeted a corner of this panel. Like, yeah, the dog is cool, but oh man, the complete visualization of Lovecraft’s beautifully-described death of Wilbur Whateley, with all the eyes and tentacles and stumps lovingly recreated. Talk about naming the unnamable!

    ————

    Regarding the William Burroughs stuff: It’s a funny “coincidence” that Black’s and Brears’ Leng-perception makes people look like centipedes, considering that centipedes (particularly Mayan centipedes, of the sort Burroughs would’ve studied with Barlow) were such a central symbol of evil for Burroughs. To quote the man himself: “Let me confess that I hate centipedes, above all other creatures on this horrid planet… There may be people who like centipedes. I have seen people handling tarantulas and scorpions, but never a centipede handler. Personally, I would regard such an individual with deep suspicion. … Now what sort of man or woman or monster would stroke a centipede on his underbelly? ‘And here is my good big centipede!’ If such a man exists, I say kill him without more ado. He is a traitor to the human race”

    Also worth noting that Burroughs’ idea of language as a virus– an intruder which infects its host (the human mind) and then compels it to transmit– is central both to Moore’s conception of language. Moore’s obsession with the idea starts as far back as his 2000 AD stories, where an alien invasion happens through language, and is central to Providence, in which a terrible perception travels through a terrible book to infect human minds.

    ———

    p. 28, panel 1: Do we have any idea who those are pictures of? They’re in Carcosa’s apartment, and in Neonomicon, we saw that they had pictures of celebrities all over (Elvis and Liberace being the most identifiable). But I’m not sure who this is. My first guess would be William Powell and Myrna Loy, but I’m not at all sure about that.

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  2. IIRC Providence was originally due to be 10 issues which may (partially) explain the delay for these last two. If that had been the case then the events of #5 & 6 in Manchester, where Black slips backwards and forwards in time would have been the centre or hinge of the original narrative and his meeting with Carcosa in #10 Moore’s take on the typical Lovecraft ending with the scales falling from the protagonist’s eyes before descent into madness.
    I’ll be interested to see whether Moore will use these last two issues as a critique of those (real life) Lovecraft ‘fans’ who have distorted HPLs insights, in the same way as he treated the fans of the Painted Doll in Promethea as a commentary on those comics fans who celebrate the Joker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – early on Moore was saying 10 issues, then it morphed to 12. (I am curious to find out what was expanded… what the 10-issue scheme was – I doubt that the ending is what was expanded. My half-assed guess is that Manchester was perhaps supposed to be just one issue – and Boston, too… I am happy that those were expanded.)

      Having corresponded a bit with folks working on this issue (not Moore), I can say that Moore’s script was done a while ago, and that the delay appears to be with Jacen Burrows, who moved… and who is drawing a longer (no backmatter – like Watchmen 12) issue. About a week ago, the colorist and letterer were finishing up, so it’s pretty much ready. I say kudos to Burrows for coming up with so many great images – a hundred covers – and great full detailed issues. I’ve said it before, but a couple month delay is a small price to pay for great quality work… and I’d rather have a thorough quality issue than something rushed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • man the 100 covers alone will stick with me as impressive, let alone what’s inside. so many brilliant covers that really added so much to the overall reading experience.

        Like

      • My guess would be that certain scenes had been expanded and rearranged in Boston and Providence, since Manchester is far too full of horrors and plot elements for it to have been shortened much. I guess that Ronnie Pitman’s time would have been briefer (And Robert doesn’t meet King George), with Randall Carver turning up and having more time at the end of #7 in the original series (perhaps introducing the Ghouls in a dream – with the terrible photo showing reality at the end of #7 remaining intact).

        Carver could have taken Black to see Dunsany at the start of #8, so Lovecraft’s famous opening from “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” could have been the beginning, rather than the end, of the episode, with Robert heading to Providence in the middle of #8 and covering some of the start of #9. The rest of #9 and #10 could then cover one issue. That leaves #11 and #12 intact to cover the ending of the 10-book run, with some of the Commonplace Book entries cut down to make more space.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I really hope they do a comprehensive cover collection. I love all of them, but seriously who is buying every version? Would there have been this long of a wait if Burrows was just doing the one cover? Still, I’ll gladly spring for a collected art book.

        Perhaps they can be collected in the print version of the annotations?

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    • I heard about the book early last year, so he’d most likely finished writing it months before Providence #11 was published. The speculated upon friendship of HPL and RHB has been written about since the days of Robert M. Price’s Crypt of Cthulhu in the ’80s.

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  3. “so Lovecraft’s famous opening from “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” could have been the beginning, rather than the end, of the episode”
    Really doubt it. This whole game with Lovecraft’s quotations in the comic itself seems to be introduced especially for the 3-act structure, as finishing lines of every act (“Ancient Track” in #4 and “From Beyond” in #8; I believe #12 is also finished with HPL’s quotation). So it seems unlikely that this opening could appear in 10-issue variant at all, leaving aside beginning of the episode.

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    • Good observation, but why couldn’t the game have been different in the previous 10-issue incarnation, with the quotes introducing the beginning of an act rather than its end? After all, a lot of books (non-fiction as well as fiction) tend to open, rather than close, their chapters with a quote from an author being referenced in that chapter in some way. Moore may even have intended to begin every single issue of Providence with a quote from H.P. Lovecraft, perhaps in the spot occupied by the 1920s-era map of Providence, R.I.

      Of course, that’s just more of my speculation on the part, but I’d be glad if we could ask Jacen Burrows about Alan’s original plans sometime. I’m really curious to know what he initially planned and what he eventually included.

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  4. My ratings:

    I: THE YELLOW SIGN 10/10
    II: THE HOOK 10/10
    III: A LURKING FEAR 9.5/10
    IV: WHITE APES 9/10
    V: IN THE WALLS 10/10
    VI: OUT OF TIME 10/10
    VII: THE PICTURE 8.5/10
    VIII: THE KEY 8.5/10
    IX: OUTSIDERS 8.5/10
    X: THE HAUNTED PALACE 10/10
    XI: THE UNNAMABLE 9/10
    XII: ?

    And yours?

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    • I dislike the idea of assigning the issues a numerical rating because I think it’s a one-size-fits-all way of rating things, but if I had to, I would rate VII and VIII more highly. VII has its own creepy horror, and to top it all, is set in good ol’ Boston (where I live, and I’ve visited both Carver’s and Pickman’s home addresses) and VIII with its gorgeous dreamlands imagery and the reveal of H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorites in the series.

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  5. Wow. OK, longtime reader, first-time commenter here, just wanted to say before the last issue arrives THANK YOU Joe and everyone else for these incredible annotations and other incredibly thoughtful materials compiled here. Needless to say it has made reading this series immeasurably richer. (I’m doing much reading and writing myself on the xenophobia of Lovecraft’s urban writings, and this site has been invaluable in that too I must say.)

    A small note for this penultimate issue, which is probably obvious but I don’t see noted above: P15, p4: the police captain telling Malone not to “go rushing *into* anything” would be a reference to Malone doing literally that in the Horror at Red Hook- into the case, into Suydam’s building, and down into its basement in the raid and being buried alive therein when the buildings collapse.

    And, in the good fun and spirit of all this, I’ll just pile on to a small nitpick with these penultimate annotations themselves that a couple others HAVE noted, but which spurred for me some additional thoughts (since it is geographically both literally and intellectually close to home):
    So, right, 169 Clinton St. is definitely not in Flatbush (as in the annotation for P16, p3), nor is it in Red Hook (as in the annotation for P27 p3) – it’s in Brooklyn Heights. This is not a factor of changing historical names or borders as someone suggested: the apartment was even referred to by HPL himself as being in “the Brooklyn Heights region of brick and brown-stone” (letter to M. Moe, June 15 1925). Flatbush is a hugely important and historic (original Dutch) part of Brooklyn, and surely its precise boundaries have changed with the times (and the whims of real estate listings) but I don’t believe it has ever referred to the whole of Brooklyn nor that other extremely historic quarter of the borough around Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights. HOWEVER, HPL’s first Brooklyn address, at 259 Parkside Ave, was indeed in what then would likely have been called Flatbush (now technically in a smaller neighborhood called Prospect Lefferts Gardens, to the north of Flatbush).

    What about Red Hook? Well Red Hook is closer to Brooklyn Heights than Flatbush is, and Red Hook is an area that as I understand it did once connote a larger area than today before smaller neighborhoods were defined out of it, so maybe this is more pedantic, but it still did not include Brooklyn Heights and there is a pretty important difference between the two, both today and (all the more so!) in Lovecraft’s time (he viewed Brooklyn Heights as quaint, Red Hook as squalid). Now it is the case that the same Clinton Street that HPL lived on is pretty long and does run from Brooklyn Heights down into Red Hook. (So when Aldo Sax is on Clinton Street in Red Hook in The Courtyard, this makes perfect sense.) But No. 169 is not down there, it is north of Atlantic Ave in the distinct and very consistently nice neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights.

    Thus, when P27 p3 implies that the FBI has secured Sax a room in Lovecraft’s former building (which we know from the first issue of Neonomicon is indeed the address where Sax committed the murders in The Courtyard and where the FBI subsequently set up its next investigation), it would seem that Moore has mistaken the location of this address as being in Red Hook. But consider also that the building (and its surroundings) in Neonomicon also look quite different than the faithful depictions of No. 169 in this issue of Providence. So perhaps the stranger but more charitable interpretation is instead that giant protective domes aren’t the only major changes to America’s cities in the world of Neonomicon: the harsh realities of an impoverished, crime-ridden “Red Hook” stretch north of Atlantic Avenue to once-quaint Brooklyn Heights. Just a thought.

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  6. The “isle of the dead” painting in P12, panel 3, seems to resembled as well in Black’s posture in the previous panel, as he approaches the “exit garden”. In a way, the suicide-chamber is a “isle of the dead” itself

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