Providence 2

Providence #2 cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #2 cover, by Jacen Burrows

Below are annotations for Providence, No. 2 “The Hook”  (40 pages plus covers, cover date June 2015 – released July 8, 2015)
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Jacen Burrows, based on works of H.P. Lovecraft

>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index

Note: some of this stuff is obvious. If there’s stuff we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.

WARNING: SPOILERS

General: Basic annotations published – still being refined. This issue draws heavily from H.P. Lovecraft’s story “The Horror at Red Hook” the full text of which is here (or available as free audiobook here.) The story takes place on June 28, 1919. Robert Black meets policeman Tom Malone in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Black then meets with importer Robert Suydam in Flatbush, Brooklyn. When Suydam is called away, Black explores a subterranean area below Suydam’s home and is chased by a glowing female monster. Black goes unconscious, then is awoken by Suydam, and thinks that the chase may have been a dream.

Cover

  • “Dance Hall” church from Red Hook, photo by Steven J. Mariconda, from More Annotated Lovecraft 137.
    Club Zothique - detail from
    Club Zothique – detail from Neonomicon No.1 P14,p1 – image via Little Knives Tumblr

    The building depicted is called “Club Zothique” where it is shown in The Courtyard (#1 P14,p2) and Neonomicon (#1 P14,p1). The church appears on P2-4 of Providence #2 below.

  • Club Zothique occupies the “dance-hall church” building from Lovecraft’s story “The Horror at Red Hook.” The church building, located on President Street near Van Brunt Street, that Lovecraft’s was based on has since been demolished. Here is a description from “The Horror at Red Hook:

These creatures attended a tumbledown stone church, used Wednesdays as a dance-hall, which reared its Gothic buttresses near the vilest part of the waterfront. It was nominally Catholic; but priests throughout Brooklyn denied the place all standing and authenticity, and policemen agreed with them when they listened to the noises it emitted at night.

  • The front steps more closely resemble those at St. Michael’s Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts, which formed part of the basis for Lovecraft’s Kingsport.
St. Michael's Church, Marblehead, Mass. Photo courtesy of the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. From The Lovecraft Companion 69.
St. Michael’s Church, Marblehead, Mass. Photo courtesy of the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. From The Lovecraft Companion 69.

Page 1

panel 1

  • As in Providence #1, sepia tone panels take place in the past. This panel takes place on a days since the end of issue 1, which took place June 5, 1919.
  • On the left is Prissy Turner and, on the right, is Providence‘s protagonist Robert Black.
  • The location is the offices of the New York Herald newspaper, introduced in Providence #1.
  • Panelwise, this page continues the four stacked horizontal panel format (with occasional larger panels typically to establish settings) from #1 and throughout Neonomicon.

panel 2

  • The location is the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • The ‘present’ date is June 28, 1919 (based on P28 below.)

panel 3

  • Sepia again, signifies the recent past. On the right is Ephraim Posey, Black’s boss at the Herald. The setting is the first floor of the Herald Building, shown on P22,p3 of Providence #1. The partially visible sign in the background reads “Herald Advertisements Received…”
  • Dr. Alvarez mentioned the “importer living in Flatbush” in Providence #1 P16,p2. Flatbush is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City. The identity of the importer is Robert Suydam, who is described where he first appears – see P7,p3 below.
  • “Detective [Tom] Malone” is described where he first appears – see P2,p1 below.

panel 4

  • The location is Red Hook, a waterfront neighborhood of Brooklyn (described more where it’s mentioned on P3,p1.)
  • The transition from p1,p4 to P2 is a page-turn reveal, reflecting Black’s immediate homosexual attraction to Tom Malone, recounted later in his Commonplace Book (see Pages 28-29 below.)
  • Black is wearing a green tie; see P2,p1.

Page 2

panel 1

  • Tom Malone is the protagonist of “The Horror at Red Hook where he is described as a “tall, heavily built, and wholesome-looking” ~40-year-old cultured “sensitive Celt” police detective “detailed to the Butler Street station in Brooklyn.” “Detective Malone” is mentioned in The Courtyard #1 P23,p2 (thanks commenter Dirk Eggers) and Neonomicon #1 P12,p3. Moore and Burrows portray Malone as clearly homosexual, though Lovecraft does not refer to him in any way suggestive of any sexual orientation.
  • Malone is also wearing a green tie. Colors were sometimes used as signals among homosexuals in New York, and the fact that both men are wearing green ties may be subtle indications of their sexuality – and explain in part their ready rapport. See also P7 below.
  • Malone’s speech is almost stereotypical of Irish immigrants. See additional Irish speech patterns P3,p3 below.
  • Behind Malone is “The Horror at Red Hook”‘s notorious dance-hall church which appears on the cover – see cover notes above. Similar to the cover of #1, there are slight differences between how the location appears inside the comic and how it appears on the cover, for example, the church’s ground-level notice board is missing on the cover. It’s unclear what these minor differences mean, if anything, and perhaps that will be made clear as subsequent issues come out.
  • The woman in the background (reappearing below P2,p4 and P3,p2) greatly resembles Johnny Carcosa’s mother from The Courtyard (#2 P6) and Neonomicon (#1 P22,p1.)
  • The issue’s title “The Hook” refers to Red Hook, the neighborhood where Malone and Black are (stated in the next panel.) Like many components of Providence #1 (for example the rumored-to-induce-death book Sous le Monde) the possibly horrific “gruesome-sounding” (P4,p3 below) neighborhood name can be explained in much more mundane ways. According to Wikipedia, the “red” comes from the color of the red clay soil. Malone explains (P4,p4) below that “hook” is “from the Dutch hoek, meaning a point of land.”
    The title also perhaps references the way Black is “hooked” into the horror milieu he’s drawn toward… as well as Black being “hooked” by his huge crush on Malone.

Page 3

panel 1

  • Black’s comment on Malone’s age reflects the observation of readers familiar with “The Horror at Red Hook” – cementing Black as the character which readers will identify with.
  • “Guillot” is Claude Guillot, mentioned in Providence #1 (P13,p1), is the author of Sous le Monde. He is a fictitious original author Moore invented.
  • “Chambers” is author Robert W. Chambers, see annotations for Providence #1, P2.
  • Red Hook” is the name of a neighborhood in the west end of Brooklyn, a borough of New York City. It contains Brooklyn’s historic docks, and has generally been a relatively low-income immigrant neighborhood. H.P. Lovecraft lived nearby in Brooklyn from 1924-1926. In “The Horror at Red Hook” he describes Red Hook as “a maze of hybrid squalor near the ancient waterfront […] The population is a hopeless tangle and enigma; Syrian, Spanish, Italian, and negro elements impinging upon one another, and fragments of Scandinavian and American belts lying not far distant. It is a babel of sound and filth…”
  • (From here on these annotations use “Red Hook“, linked or unlinked, as an abbreviation for Lovecraft’s story titled “The Horror at Red Hook“.)
  • On pages 3-7 nearly every portrayal of both Black and Malone has their heads/figures against separate backgrounds (often a vertical line separates them.) In this panel it is Black against buildings and Malone against sky. Only when their hands touch (see P7) do their heads really occupy the same frame.

panels 2-4

  • “Suydam” is Robert Suydam – see P7,p3 below.

panel 2

  • “I’ve the soul of a romantic poet” references “Red Hook“: “In youth he [Malone] … had been a poet.”
  • Flatbush is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, east of and generally wealthier than Red Hook.

panel 3

  • “Bandidos” is Portuguese for bandits.
  • “Of a Friday night” is an Irish way of saying what might more typically “on a Friday night.”
  • “You might have noticed that we harbour a variety of nationalities.” is a comment on the large immigrant presence in New York City of the period – which Lovecraft also noted.
  • The spelling “harbour” is customary to British rather than American English (where it would be “harbor.”) It is the spelling used by Lovecraft in “Red Hook” and may be Alan Moore deliberately underscoring Malone’s Irishness. This occurs again on p4,p1 with rumour/rumor.
  • Panels 3 and 4 constitute a subtle zoom sequence; Moore uses zoom sequences frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen #1.

panel 4

  • Ellis Island,” located south of Manhattan, was for many years the primary location where immigrants passed through as they entered the U.S.
  • “Asiatics, more than a few Kurds from Turkey way” recalls a line from “Red Hook“: “Most of the people, he conjectured, were of Mongoloid stock, originating somewhere in or near Kurdistan—and Malone could not help recalling that Kurdistan is the land of the Yezidis, last survivors of the Persian devil-worshippers.”
  • The woman in the background again resembles Johnny Carcosa’s mother.

Page 4

panel 1

  • “Coven” is a gathering of witches, though this use was generally obscure until Margaret Murray published The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in 1921, expounding the theory that European cases of witchcraft represented the organized remnants of a pagan, pre-Christian religion. Lovecraft read and was influenced by the book in his fiction, though today the theory is discredited.
  • “Orgy” is prophetic of what was discovered in “Red Hook,” and recalling Lovecraft’s sexless “orgiastic rites.”
  • “We’ve had a child go missing” supports the idea of child sacrifice, referring to the end of “Red Hook.”
  • “Flatbush” is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, east of and generally somewhat wealthier than Red Hook.

panel 2

  • “Butler Street is the location of a police station in New York City’s 78th Precinct; it is mentioned in “Red Hook” as where Malone is detailed.
  • In the background, two immigrants are fighting. Next to them is the woman in a pink dress that resembles Johnny Carcosa’s mother.

panel 3

  • Malone’s sentiments about “dreamer[‘s] dreams can come to rule your waking circumstances” suggest parallels with the Dreamlands stories of H. P. Lovecraft. They also echo Lovecraft’s description from “Red Hook: “[Malone] would often regard it as merciful that most persons of high intelligence jeer at the inmost mysteries; for, he argued, if superior minds were ever placed in fullest contact with the secrets preserved by ancient and lowly cults, the resultant abnormalities would soon not only wreck the world, but threaten the very integrity of the universe.”
Mary Rogers. Image via NY Public Library
Mary Rogers. Image via NY Public Library

panel 4

  • “Cigar girl, Mary Rogers” was a real person, whose unsolved strangulation death was big news when her corpse washed up in NYC-adjacent Hoboken, NJ, in 1841.
  • Malone refers to “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” (1842) by Edgar Allan Poe, starring his early and influential detective character C. Auguste Dupin, and inspired by Rogers death.

Page 5

panel 1

  • “One of Poe’s greatest tricks, I think, was how he combined fiction with reality” could apply equally well to Lovecraft, who was heavily influenced by Poe. It also applies to Alan Moore, especially From Hell, and certainly Moore and Burrows Providence as well. “No weird story can truly produce terror unless it is devised with all the care and verisimilitude of an actual hoax.” – H.P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 17 October 1930, Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft 3.193

panel 2

  • Black is recapping events from issue #1. Again “Suydam” is Robert Suydam – see P7,p3 below.

panel 3

  • “Rookery” is here used in the sense of tightly-packed housing; the phrasing and the emphasis on Parker Place both recall a line from “Red Hook“: “In the teeming rookeries of Parker Place—since renamed—where Suydam had his basement flat.” Parker Place is apparently a fictional location Lovecraft invented.
  • “Swarthy loafers” also recalls racist xenophobic descriptions used repeatedly by Lovecraft in “Red Hook” and elsewhere, for example: “groups of swarthy, evil-looking strangers.”
  • The middle immigrant is wearing a skullcap, possibly a taqiyah, emphasizing a Middle Eastern origin – appropriate if they are intended to be Kurds.

panel 4

  • Suydam’s preference for “underground” refers to secret tunnels discovered at the conclusion of “Red Hook“: “…the canal to his [Suydam’s] house was but one of several subterranean channels and tunnels in the neighbourhood. There was a tunnel from this house to a crypt beneath the dance-hall church.” It also foreshadows Black’s explorations starting on Page 15 below.
  • “Immigration racket” also clearly echoes “Red Hook“: “[Suydam’s] circle coincided almost perfectly with the worst of the organised cliques which smuggled ashore certain nameless and unclassified Asian dregs wisely turned back by Ellis Island. [… Suydam associates were] vicious criminals […] repeated offenders in the matter of thievery, disorder, and the importation of illegal immigrants. […] Suydam was evidently a leader in extensive man-smuggling operations.”
  • “Professor Jung” is Carl Gustav Jung, a famous and influential psychiatrist and the founder of analytic psychology, and his work and conceptions on symbolism, archetypes, and the collective unconscious would prove highly influential as well in philosophy, literary analysis, and other fields. Some of Jung’s thoughts on the symbolism of the cave can be read here.

Page 6

panel 1

  • “His book on dreams” is Jung’s Psychology of the Unconscious (1912.) “Professor Jung” is Carl Gustav Jung.
  • Jung has also been cited by Lovecraft scholars and critics in their analyses, most particularly in Dirk W. Mosig’s “Toward A Greater Appreciation of H. P. Lovecraft: The Analytical Approach.” By citing Jung in this manner, Moore is drawing the reader to make these connections and think more deeply on Lovecraft’s stories without directly presenting dry or complicated analyses – suggestion and exposition is enough.

panel 2

  • The cemetery in the foreground is at the Flatbush Reformed Church, located at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Church Avenue. It’s mentioned in “Red Hook”: “ivy-clad Reformed Church with its iron-railed yard of Netherlandish gravestones.”
  • The building in the background appears to be 190 Kenmore Place (Google street view), across the street immediately west of the cemetery.

panel 3

  • “Unspeakable” is a very Lovecraftian adjective. For example, Amrbose Bierce’s creation, later borrowed by Robert W. Chambers and Lovecraft: Hastur The Unspeakable One.

panels 3-4

  • These panels appear as a fixed-camera sequence, used frequently by Moore, including often in Providence #1. The two foreground vertical bars are the fence around the cemetery, so the view is perhaps looking upward from a grave. In the lower panel, the bars are just a tiny bit closer together (and a small sliver of the building on the right is just slightly larger), meaning the fixed-camera isn’t completely fixed, has moved toward Black and Malone. The slight motion makes it a nearly-imperceptible (slightly creepy, perhaps) zoom sequence. Alan Moore uses zoom sequences frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen #1, as well as Neonomicon, Crossed +100, and elsewhere. The nearly-imperceptible zoom occurs on the next page, too, and on P1 of Providence #1.

Page 7

panels 1-4

  • From the orientation of the graves (compare to this Google street view), the coffee shop appears to be located on the north side of Church Avenue (though it could be the northern part of Kenmore Place near Church Avenue.) There is no gate on that north side of the cemetery today; the gate depicted does resemble one on the west side (Google street view.)
  • On the wall to the left of Black’s head is a picture of an eagle holding an American flag, a very popular visual motif. Commenter Pedro Ribeiro suggests that this could be a reference to Zeus abducting Ganymede.
  • Similar to P6, panels 3-4 above, these panels appear to be fixed-camera sequence but they’re actually another slowly moving zoom sequence, with the view slowing drawing closer to the scene.
  • Malone is coming on to Black: placing his hand on top of Black’s hand, giving his address, asking Black “to write to me… to come and see me.” From the “uh” and pauses (and his later recollections on P28-29 below), Black is smitten, but nervous and stammering, while Malone is as confident, strong, and direct as a gay man could be in public in 1919.

panel 2

  • As noted above (see P3,p1) on pages 3-7 nearly every portrayal of both Black and Malone has their heads/figures against separate backgrounds, often separated by a vertical line. This probably indicates the separation between two closeted gay men. In this panel, their first physical contact, Black leans his face into the frame (window pane) that Malone’s head occupies. Unfortunately, we see Robert Suydam’s foot appearing, just barely, in the window (near Black’s arm), hence Suydam will come between their budding relationship (and will, in “Red Hook,” traumatize Malone into a nervous breakdown.) More on Suydam next panel below.

panel 3

  • “I’ve been wanting to ask you if you might be…” probably leads to the next word as some version of the word “homosexual.” Perhaps, if Black knows a proper euphemism, a 1919 version of the later “are you a friend of Dorothy?”
  • First (full) appearance of Robert Suydam, mentioned above and in Providence #1. Suydam is the villain of Red Hook. He is introduced there as a roughly 60-year-old “corpulent old… occult scholar… [with] unkempt white hair, stubbly beard” who then undergoes a mystical rejuvenation which greatly improves his appearance, including shedding his corpulence and darkening his hair. For a bit more on Suydam, read this blog post. It’s unclear exactly what point in his rejuvenation Black is encountering Suydam; it appears that Suydam may be very early in his transformation.

Page 8

panel 1

  • Sudyam is wearing a fur coat, despite the heat, and appears well-dressed, bespeaking wealth and class. He has his “shiny black clothes, and gold-headed cane” described in “Red Hook.”

panel 2

  • The gravestone is in Dutch and reads: “Hier leyt het lighaam van SEYTIE SUYDAM huys vrowvan de overleeden Evert Hegeman overleeden den 11 July 1802 oudt 76 Jaaren 9 maanden en 13 dagen.” Translation: Here lies the body of SEYTIE SUYDAM, housewife, who died on 11 Jul 1802 aged 76 years, 9 months and 13 days.

Page 9

panel 1

  • The man on the right is speaking Kurdish, romanized into the English alphabet. The following is a very rough guess at a translation: “Per-ren Taws!! Per-ren men yen jwan bekirin!” Translation: Peacock Feathers!! Feathers for your beautiful uses!
  • In Red Hook, Suydam’s home is described as “set back from Martense Street” (located a block north and east of the cemetery.) Moore and Burrows have taken an insinificant liberty with that and placed it directly across the street.

panel 2

  • More Kurdish; this was very difficult to try and transliterate and translate, so we’re much less confident at the meaning of the second half. See also P9,p3 below. “Per-ren jwan yen Melek Taus, koo slav lessar jhani weebun…” Translation: “Beautiful feathers for Melek Taus, who cried at the pain of the world…”
  • First mention of Salem, recalling the Dagon cult from Neonomicon (first gathered on P16 of #2), which Johnny Carcosa had ties with.
  • “Brotherhood” implies a magical fraternity, an earthly manifestation of the Great White Brotherhood.
King Peacock, Top Ten #4, by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon
Alan Moore’s Yezidi superhero King Peacock, from Top Ten #4, art by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon

panel 3

  • Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, is a creator-figure in the religion of the Kurdish Yezidis in Iran; they were stigmatized as devil-worshippers by their neighbors on account of the similarities with Satan and Shaitan in Abrahamic religions. Melek Taus and the Yezidis were a favored subject among the Weird Tales crowd of Lovecraft’s day, and he himself refers to them in Red Hook. Alan Moore had previously included a Yezidi character, King Peacock, in his superhero comic Top Ten.
  • The image on the far left appears to be of Tutankhamen‘s coffin.

    Tutankhamun's Coffin
    Tutankhamen’s Coffin

panel 4

  • “Mohammedan” is an archaic term for Muslim, based on the founder of Islam, Mohammed. Angels are a part of Muslim theology, although Yezidis’ beliefs form a syncrestic worship distinct from mainstream Islam.
  • “Yezidi’s Peacock Angel” – see P9,p3 above.

Page 10

panel 1

  • The Salem Witch Trials were an outbreak of witchcraft hysteria in the English colonies from 1692-1693, roughly analogous to the Great Witch Craze which swept Europe roughly a century before. Lovecraft made reference to the Salem Witch Trials – one of the great occult beats of American history – in “The Dreams in the Witch-House and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, making reference both to the facts of the case, and Margaret Murray’s theory of a pan-European Witch-Cult, postulating that a fragment of the cult had taken root in Colonial America: “Miss Murray, the anthropologist, believes that the witch-cult actually established a ‘coven’ (its only one in the New World) in the Salem region about 1690, and that it included a large number of neurotic and degenerate whites, together with Indians, negroes, and West-Indian slaves.” – H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard, 4 October 1930, Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft 3.182-183
  • “The Gnostics” were a group of mystical sects that arose around Christianity, with similar backgrounds in Near East religions but with distinct focus that set them apart from the early church, which deemed their teaching heretical. Paramount in gnosticism was the idea of a separation of the physical and spiritual worlds, with the material world formed and ruled by a lesser creator-deity, the demiurge. Here, Moore is basically forging a link between real-world mysticism and Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.
  • Detail from The End of the Line written and drawn by Alan Moore from Dodgem Logic #1
    Detail from The End of the Line written and drawn by Alan Moore from Dodgem Logic #1 (full single-page strip shown at Bleeding Cool)

    On the wall to the right, under Suydam’s arm, is what appears to be a kaballistic Tree of Life and possibly some goetic seals. Alan Moore uses the Kabbalah Tree of Life, or Sephirot, heavily in his comic Promethea. The Tree of Life also features in the Moore-drawn ‘The End of the Line” in Dodgem Logic #1.

Panel 2

  • Horned statue – possibly Cernunnos, a Celtic horned deity, though the pillar suggests a classical or neoclassical basis. The “Horned God” was an aspect of Margaret Murray’s witch-cult theology, though not elaborated on until the 1933 publication of The God of the Witches. Comics readers might be familiar with Cernunnos from his leading the titular hunt in Hellboy: The Wild Hunt.
  • Under Suydam’s speech bubble, a framed magic circle – possibly the Seventh Seal of Saturn.

    Seventh Seal of Saturn
    Seventh Seal of Saturn

Page 11

panel 1

panel 2

  • Suydam’s notes on Khalid ibn Yazid are undoubtedly intended to be at least partially false, even within the narrative world of Providence, a mix of myth, legend, and fact – for example, coins in the Middle East predate the rise of Islam, while knowledge of gunpowder doesn’t appear until much later. If he was the son of a Caliph, that would put him in either the late Rashidun (632-661) or early Umayyad Caliphates (661-750), given his date of death of 702. The story of ibn Yazid being torn apart by invisible djinns, of course echoes Lovecraft’s “History of the Necronomicon” and the fate of Abdul Alhazred: “He is said by Ebn Khallikan (12th cent. biographer) to have been seized by an invisible monster in broad daylight and devoured horribly before a large number of fright-frozen witnesses.”
  • “Hali” is a reference to the enigmatic “Lake of Hali” in Robert E. Chamber’s The King in Yellow.

panel 3

  • “Translated to Latin at Toledo in Moorish Spain” is a not unusual or uncommon origin for medieval Islamic occult, astronomical, or alchemical works; in his “History of the Necronomicon,” Lovecraft remarks that one of the Latin editions of his mythical tome was completed in Spain (albeit at a far later date than the Moorish occupation).

panel 4

Page 12

The full impact of this page – which is largely exposition – is only appreciated in the aftermath; Moore continues to “defictionalize” Lovecraft’s mythology, simultaneously taking it apart and reweaving the disparate threads into a new reality – one that sheds new light on the old one in many respects. At the same time, he’s leading the narrative in particular directions, away from New York and Chambers towards Salem, Providence, and the Dreamlands.

panel 1

  • “The Brotherhood I spoke of” refers back to P9,p2 and P11,p1 above. The word references a manifestation of the Great White Brotherhood, in this case the New England coven called “Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente” founded by Roulet, Massey, and Colwen (see below this page and expounded in detail in Suydam’s pamphlet below on P33-40.)
  • “Etienne Roulet” is a character from Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House,” Suydam’s biography matches the particulars Lovecraft gives in that story. In Suydam’s pamphlet (see P33-35 below) Moore expands on Roulet’s biography.
  • Behind Suydam on the wall, pictures of a Möbius strip (symbolizing infinity) and a hand, possibly a guide to palmistry.
  • On the lower left is a human skull.
  • Just above the skull are two books with semi-legible titles: can anyone make out the upper one? The lower one appears to be titled Arcadia though perhaps it is Aradia? The 1899 book Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches of Italy by Charles Godfrey Leyland is referenced in Suydam’s pamphlet on P35 below.

panels 1-3

panel 2

  • “Hekeziah Massey” is Providence‘s analog for Keziah Mason, from Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Massey is further detailed in Suydam’s pamphlet – see P34, 36-38 below.
  • “Japheth Colwen” is based on Joseph Curwen, from Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
  • 1692 of course coincides with the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials; according to Lovecraft’s fiction, Keziah Mason was arrested, and Curwen fled for Rhode Island.

panel 3

  • “The Boggs Gold Refinery” is a reference to Boggs in Neonomicon, which is the parallel to Lovecraft’s Marsh family and their gold refinery in Innsmouth. See Neonomicon #2 P15,p1-2.
  • “A funny little Englishman” is possibly a reference to Winfield Scott Lovecraft, H. P. Lovecraft’s father. W. S. Lovecraft was a salesman for the Gorham Silver Company, and noted (despite being born an American) for his English accent, and was mistaken for an Englishman.
  • A dollar in 1919 was worth about $14 today – quite a bit of money for a pamphlet.

panel 4

  • The Kabbalah is a system of Jewish mysticism, of great interest to Western occultists since it developed in the Middle Ages. Here, Robert Black inadvertently slips a little revealing his Jewish heritage.
  • Qliphoth in Kabbalah are the representation of evil or impure forces; it is notable that in Kenneth Grant’s system of Thelema, with its Lovecraftian elements, Grant prominently deals with the Qliphothic elements of Kabbalah. See The Road to Providence for more on Alan Moore and Kenneth Grant.
  • “Lilith” and “Asmoday” (a variant of “Asmodeus”) recall the end of Lovecraft’s “Red Hook,” which deals with (for Lovecraft) uncharacteristically familiar demons from medieval occultism and mythology.
  • The book to the right of Black’s head is The History of Magic by Eliphas Levi, in the A. E. Waite translation, published in 1913. (By coincidence, Waite was friends and a member of the Golden Dawn with Arthur Machen, who influence H. P. Lovecraft.)
  • To the right of the book is the pamphlet “Kabbalah and Faust,” mentioned in the next panel. On its cover is a kaballistic Tree of Life. As mentioned on P10,p1 above Moore references the Kabbalah Tree of Life throughout Promethea.

Page 13

Goya
Goya’s Capricho #61: Volavérunt – image via Wikipedia

panel 1

  • Lilith, as Suydam is presenting her, brings together both the gnostic and kabbalistic elements of the narrative, the material world and the Dreamlands.
  • The framed image behind Suydam’s head is Francisco Goya‘s 1790s print Capricho #61: Volavérunt (They have flown.) It is part of a series depicting dreams and the supernatural; #61 depicts four flying witches. (Thanks commenter Murray Ewing)

panel 2

  • Simon Magus was a magician and possibly founder of Gnosticism; the word “simony” derives from his efforts to purchase the gifts of the holy spirit from the apostles to work miracles.
  • Faust is a character of German legend, a magician who sold his soul to the devil.
  • First appearance of Cornelia Gerritsen; she marries Suydam after his rejuvenation in “Red Hook.”
  • The title “Reverend Master” is an archaic title typically reserved for ordained clergy, although sometimes applied as an elaborate politeness to show close emotional ties.
  • “Unripe fruit” (see P14,p1) is apparently a euphemism for a trafficked young child.
  • “Parker Pl…” is Parker Place, see P5,p3 above.

Page 14

panel 1

  • The small text:
    Suydam: “So, this fruit, where is it from, and of what age?”
    Gerritsen: “It…it looks to be Norwegian. Perhaps five, or six, I couldn’t tell…” The implication, of course, being that Suydam is dealing in human trafficking – in this case, a young child.

Page 15

panel 1

  • On the wall, the electric flashlight shows a magic circle with a pentacle, probably drawn in chalk.
  • On the side of the shelves, note the carefully-coiled rope.

panel 2

  • Greater detail on the pentacle shows the outer ring is marked with crosses and names of god: “Elohim” is Hebrew for “God”, and “IHVH” are the Roman characters for the Tetragrammaton – “I” because ancient Latin did not have the letter “Y”.

panel 3

  • Unlike in “Red Hook,” there is not a stout cellar door – but an open and unguarded stairwell down into darkness. To the right, you can see the slab that is apparently normally set on top of this stairwell. It resembles the steps uncovered in “The Rats in the Walls“: “Through a nearly square opening in the tiled floor, sprawling on a flight of stone steps […]”
  • Moore and Burrows shift the geometry of the panel borders, perhaps to set apart what Black will recall as a dream. Panelwise, the irregular black edges that had surrounded each panel (and allow panel blacks to become continuous with black comics gutters) give way to a regular/straight thin yellow border surrounding the panel. Additional shifts in the panel layout occur on the next page.This modification of the panel borders is perhaps somewhat similar to Moore and Burrows depictions of R’lyeh and Leng in Neonomicon, see #3 P5-8 and #4 P22-23, respectively. The straight, instead of hand-drawn rough, border seems to indicate an encounter with or awareness of a higher or supernatural realm or entity.

Page 16

panel 1

  • The geometry of the panels, which shifted between panels 2 and 3 on the previous page shifts even more. Panelwise, the narrative leaves the rhythm of four horizontal panels per page (with occasional larger panels to establish settings) which serves as the format for Providence and Neonomicon. The new format is three vertical panels.

panel 2

  • The steps give way to a natural cave system. The stairs and lintel are clearly artificial.
  • Note the claw-marks or scrapes on the stones in front of Black.

panel 3

  • Stalactites and stalagmites reinforce the idea of a natural cave.

Page 17

panels 1-3

  • Recalling a scene from “Red Hook”: “[…] a carved golden pedestal in the background.”
  • The appearance of human remains. Note the skulls seem split open by a blow to the top of the head, and one near the foot of the page is marked with more claw-marks.
  • Panelwise, panels 1-3 form a multi-pan or polyptych; the background remains continuous across multiple panels, with each panel depicting movement in motion and/or time through the space. This is a masterful subtle polyptych, with the flashlight moving around from panel to panel. Moore has used plenty of polyptychs, including in Watchmen, American Flagg!, 1963, Promethea, and elsewhere. Where polyptichs have not appeared is in Moore and Burrows earlier Lovecraft comic, Neonomicon, though this may be mostly because the horizontal panel format is not conducive to them. (For what it’s worth, there are no polyptychs in The Courtyard but there is one in Recognition – see P2. These are Moore/Burrows/Lovecraft though the comic adaptation was not done by Moore, but by Antony Johnston.) Though multi-pans date back over a hundred years, they became prevalent around 1990 (at least in part attributable to Moore and Gibbon’s virtuoso use of them in Watchmen), so give this sequence a somewhat more contemporary feel – or perhaps just a different feel from the everyday reality elsewhere in the issue.

panel 3

  • “Oh, Jesus” and earlier “Holy…” (P16,p2) are examples where people, who are confronted with the supernatural, swear using Christian religious terms. This occurs often in Neonomicon (for example, see #4 P5,p1.) This may be Alan Moore contrasting that one person’s religion is another’s supernatural.

Page 18

  • From “Red Hook”: “Somewhere dark sticky water was lapping at onyx piers, and once the shivery tinkle of raucous little bells pealed out to greet the insane titter of a naked phosphorescent thing which swam into sight, scrambled ashore, and climbed up to squat leeringly on a carved golden pedestal in the background.”

Page 19

panel 1

  • The golden pillar in the background.

panel 3

  • More scratches or claw-marks in the rocks.

Page 20

panels 1-3:

  • The creature recalls a description from “Red Hook”: “the leprous limbs of phosphorescent Lilith”
  • Oddly, the creature has three toes on each foot, but three fingers and a thumb on each hand, as well as no visible nipples – though the female genitalia is quite clear on P21,p1.
  • Psychologically, there is a certain symbolism in a homosexual man running in terror from a naked female – though Black has not shown any fear of women or female sexuality, it underscores many of the criticisms that Lovecraft has suffered for his depiction of female characters – and female horrors – in his works, as discussed at more length in Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • These three panels form another polyptich – see P17.

Page 21

panels 1-2

  • Robert Black loses his hat.

Page 22

panel 2

  • The three outstretched claws making the marks seen earlier on the stones.

panel 3 (through P23,p2)

  • Visually the creature closes in on Black over the course of the three panels.

Page 23

panels 1-2

  • These form a fixed-camera sequence, subtle due to the changing lighting.
  • The rock in the left foreground appears possibly carved or sculpted.

panel 3

  • Panel goes black to denote unconsciousness, as well as the passage of time, helping to underscore Black’s centrality to the narrative. While the reader’s viewpoint may shift and move about like a steadicam in a film, it’s debatable how much we see that Black does not.

Page 24

panel 1

  • Voices belonging to Suydam and Gerritsen, but still solid black – a visual metaphor for hearing coming back before sight.
  • The vertical panels from the prior 8 pages revert back to Providence’s horizontal default format.

panel 2

  • The sharp yellow outline, used during the “dream” sequence, falls away between panels 1 and 2 of this page.

panel 3

  • Black’s waking up recalls the end of “Red Hook“: “Of course it was a dream.”

panel 4

  • “The subconscious mind” – a callback to the references to Jung’s theories mentioned by Malone, see P5-6 above.
  • Black is looking at the blank wall where the magic circle and pentagram were (even before the dream sequence border began.) It has been erased.

Page 25

The framework of Robert Black leaving Suydam’s flat at Plarker Place is mirrored to how he arrived.

panel 1

  • “Talking earlier about about… Jung’s ideas regarding dreams of caves” – see P5,p4 and P6,p1 above.

panel 2

  • The collation of “Lily” and “Lilith” is a fine example of the human mind finding patterns, even where there are none.
  • “D-did I have a hat?” Black did have a hat. See P21,p1
  • In addition to the missing hat, one flashlight is missing. P14,p4 shows two; here there’s only one. Black loses the flashlight when he slips on P22,p1. (Thanks commenter Daniel Thomas)

panel 3

  • Kurdish: “Per-ren yen jwan!”
    Translation: “Beautiful feathers!”
  • Commenter Josh Reid identified the two framed images as Gustave Dore’s illustrations for Dante’s Inferno:
    – Top: Charon, Ferryman of the Dead, from Canto 3
    – Bottom, The Lustful, from Canto 5
    Reid states: “The illustrations and subject matter fit well with the issue’s themes. Charon ferries between two worlds, which matches the dream world/real world merging of this story (and Suydam describes Lilith as ruling both spheres), and the descent into Hell that Dante’s story recounts foreshadows the depths that Black will be exploring. Note that, like Dante, Black has had guides in the figures of Suydam and Alvaraz, who have served as his Virgil (or as his Charon). I can’t help but think that placing these visual references to the Inferno in the same panel where Black is talking about making a big decision about his future/direction is meant to strike an ominous chord.”

panel 4

  • Kurdish: “Per-ren men bekirin! Per-ren tawsi yen jwan!”
    Translation: “Feathers for your use! Beautiful peacock feathers!”

Page 26

panel 1

  • Kurdish: “Per-ren yen jwan! Per-ren jwan yen Melek Taus…”
    Translation: “Beautiful feathers! Beautiful feathers for Melek Taus…”
  • The seller is marked with three parallel marks, like those left by the creature’s claws on the rocks. This reinforces the idea that Black’s adventure in the cave beneath Parker Place was not just a dream.

Page 27

(Annotations note: Some of the text back matter below refers directly to stuff we’ve already covered in the comics annotations above. In these case, we try not to repeat ourselves, but just briefly refer to the details above.)

  • Pages 27-30 continue Black’s Commonplace Book, which begins on P27 of Providence #1. Moore previously used journals as storytelling devices: see Rorschach’s journal in Watchmen, and Future Taylor’s journal in Crossed Plus One Hundred. The use of text back-matter is reminiscent of Watchmen.
Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase (1912)
Marcel Duchamp – Nude Descending a Staircase (1912)

June 9th

  • Lovecraft too took inspiration from his dreams; “The Statement of Randolph Carter” is one such example of a story that was entirely dreamt by Lovecraft, with himself and his friend Samuel Loveman in place of Randolph Carter and Harley Warren.
  • “De Maupassant” is Guy de Maupassant, a French author of weird fiction, one of those that inspired Lovecraft and his contemporaries. The most influential of his tales was “Le Horla”, and the invisible monster in that story has been suggested as an inspiration for Wilbur Whateley’s twin in “The Dunwich Horror.”
  • “The Duchamp fellow” is Marcel Duchamp, a French artist associated with Dadaism.
  • “The Armory Exhibition” refers to the Armory Show in New York City in 1913.
  • “[Duchamp’s] nude that they said was like an explosion in a shingle factory” refers to Duchamp exhibiting his piece Nude Descending A Staircase, which did cause a stir. An art critic wrote that the painting resembled “an explosion in a shingle factory.” Ironically, Lovecraft was not in favor of such art styles.
  • “Lily” is Jonathan/Lillian Russell – see Providence #1, P1, P21, and P24-25.
  • “What if it transpired that his model actually looked like that?” is probably a reference to “Pickman’s Model,” where the culminating revelation is that Pickman was painting his pictures from life, not a fevered imagination.
  • Commenter John Zaharic points out the similarities between Duchamp’s Nude and Neonomicon depictions of Leng (see Neonomicon #4 P22,p4 and P23,p1image here.) Zaharic suggests that “Not sure if I could make such a wild idea seem plausible — probably not –” is Moore joking because has written plausible stories portraying the very idea that past, present, and future coexist eternally.

June 17th

  • Narcissus is an ancient Greek myth concerning vanity, and a source of the word narcissism. Lovecraft too took inspiration from old Greco-Roman myths, particularly in his early work, such as “Poetry and the Gods” (with Anna Helen Crofts) and “The Tree.”
  • “Symbolist” describes the late 19th-century Symbolism arts movement.
  • Black’s plot-germ for “Narcissus Blinked” echoes in some respects his relationship with Lily – who, now dead, leaves Black all alone. It’s also similar to, perhaps somewhat opposite of, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. The title “Narcissus Blinked” is Alan Moore’s poke at Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. (Geoffrey D. Wessel points out it may also reference Moore-inspiration Robert Anton Wilson‘s Rand parody novel-within-a-novel Telemachus Sneezed in the Illuminatus! trilogy.)

June 25th

  • This walking dead dream is slightly reminiscent of the situation of Dr. Ortega at the outset of “Cool Air.”

Page 28

Commonplace Book entry

June 28th

  • Transitioning directly from a place to jot down ideas to a full-blown diary, we get a glimpse of Black’s inner life and his perspective of the events of this issue – although even here, he demonstrates guarded language.
  • “Detective Thomas Malone” – see P2 above.
  • “Guillot” – see Providence #1 P13,p1.
  • “Makes me wonder if today hasn’t all been a dream” – conflates both the dreaminess of Black’s infatuation with Malone and the nightmare of being pursued by the monster.
  • “Told [Ephraim] Posey I needed… time off” – see P1,p3 above.
  • “A lead I’d gotten from Dr. Alvarez about that Arab book… dealer and supplier Alvarez had mentioned, Mr. Robert Suydam in Flatbush” – recounts the events of Providence #1 P15. For Suydam, see P7,p3 above.
  • “younger Jimmy Gordon” – James Gordon Bennet, Sr. was the founder, publisher, and first editor of the New York Herald, and passed it on to his son, James Gordon Bennet, Jr.
  • “Red Hook” (neighborhood) – see P3,p1 above.
  • Black’s crush on Malone is very evident, though never explicit: “Tom’s magnificent profile… if he’d suggested that we throw ourselves off the Brooklyn Bridge, at that moment I’d have thought it was a swell idea.” and on P29 “I’m already pretty feverish just thinking of the dedication I can write in the flyleaf of his copy.” and on P30 “thoughts of Tom Malone to lull me into blissful slumber.”
  • The Versailles Treaty” ended WWI. Black wrote an article about it earler – see Providence #1, P2. Malone’s interest in it may be due to reading Black’s article in anticipation of meeting him.

Page 29

Commonplace Book entry

June 28th continued

  • “In Dublin” refers to Malone’s birthplace, mentioned in “Red Hook.”
  • “Suydam turned up in the Dutch Reform cemetery” – see P7-8 above.
  • “Cornelia Gerritsen” – see P13,p2 above.
  • “Theosophy” in a modern context refers to the Theosophical Society founded in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatasky, who wrote The Secret Doctrine in 1888. The occult history and philosophy espoused by the Theosophists influenced Lovecraft and his contemporaries, although it is debatable to what degree; those interested should read Robert M. Price’s HPL and HPB: Lovecraft’s Use of Theosophy.
  • “Fruitner’s or grocery story” shows that Black heard Gerritsen’s comment about “unripe fruit” (P13,p2 above) but mistook her statement to be about actual fruit.
  • This is the first place where Black makes it clear that he is “leaving New York.”

Page 30

Commonplace Book entry

June 28th continued

  • “A scene from Poe” refers to author Edgar Allen Poe. (What scene or scenes?)
  • “Suspiciously small human bones” suggests why Suydam is trafficking in young children: to feed “Lilith.”  In Jewish myth, Lilith was known to prey on children as well, and children are intimated to be sacrificed to her in “Red Hook.” See also Lilith annotations P12-13 above.
  • “Talking with Tom [Malone] earlier about Professor [Carl] Jung’s ideas” – see P5-6 above.
  • “Lily” is Jonathan/Lillian Russell – see Providence #1, P1, P21, and P24-25.
  • “Buried feelings” and “deep caves” allude to Black’s subterranean adventure – starting on P15.
  • “Unutterable” sounds like the Lovecraftian “unspeakable” – see P6,p3 above.
  • “Faust” – see P13,p2 above.
  • “The Kabbalah” – see P12-13 above.
  • “Lilith” – see P12-13 above.
  • “The star Algol in Perseus” – Algol played a key part in Lovecraft’s “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” and traditionally has strong associations in mythology and occultism.
  • “Bogg’s Gold Refinery in Massachusetts” – see P12,p3 above.
  • Black’s comments about wanting to “do something to shake off what New York’s become for me” echoes somewhat Lovecraft’s own disenchantment with New York City – although Lovecraft, living on a tight budget and failing to find work, amid immigrants that exacerbated his xenophobia and prejudice, and with the added strain of his disintegrating marriage, arguably had it worse.

Page 31

Dee, from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, art by Kevin O'Neill
John Dee, from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, art by Kevin O’Neill

General notes on the pamphlet: Beginning this page is a pamphlet written by Robert Suydam, which Black purchased on P12 above. Part of the purpose of this pamphlet, aside from providing an elaborate backstory to the characters and flesh out the world of Providence (and by extension The Courtyard and Neonomicon), is to gradually expand the nature and contents of the Kitab al Hikmah al Najmiyya. Suydam’s pamphlet excerpt tells us that the Kitab contains: four methods for prolonging life or revivifying the dead, a received text in an unknown language, prophecies and metaphysical speculations on the nature of reality (including the dream and material worlds), cosmology (and the strange entities that inhabit it), transmutation of men and animals (via atomic theory), and sexual philosophy. As with Suydam’s statements (see P11,p2) he is a questionable source; there are indications that some of what he says may not be entirely true, whether deliberately or accidentally.

(Annotations note: We’re inclined to include a lot of detail, but we’ve nonetheless skipped some accepted history that is recounted here. If you’re wondering who “King Louis the Fourteenth” is, we figure you can look him up. If we skipped – or more likely missed – an interesting connection or something puzzling, please let us know in the comments.)

Pamphlet page [2]

  • Kitab al Hikman al Najmiyya” book by “Khalid Ibn Yazid” – see Providence #1, P15 and P11,p2 above.
  • The “unknown alphabet” may refer to Aklo, the Lovecraft-Machen language featured in The Courtyard and Neonomicon – see Neononmicon #1, P6,p3 for brief explanation. (Thanks commenter Phil Smith.)
  • “Received” texts are books transmitted from a spiritual source or entity and recorded by a prophet or messenger. They are relatively common in religious and occult settings; compare the Prophet Mohammed or Joseph Smith of the Church of Latter-Day Saints for their reception of the Qu’ran and the Book of Mormon, respectively, or on the other hand Aleister Crowley and the Liber AL vel Legis – the latter of which the occultist Kenneth Grant associated with the Al Azif, the source text for the Necronomicon, in The Magical Revival (1972), which Moore would be very familiar with.
  • “Enochian alphabet of Dr. John Dee” refers to the erudite 15th Century scholar in England, Dr. John Dee. He is remembered both for his contributions to mathematics, cryptography, and navigation as well as his studies into the occult. Most famously, John Dee worked with a scryer named Edward Kelley (here spelled “Edward Kelly” [sic]) and together they supposedly contacted angels, recording an angelic alphabet (later called Enochian, after the biblical Enoch). Dee has since become a mythic personage in the worlds of fiction and the occult, and his angelic language the center of several systems of magic.Alan Moore previously made use of a fictionalized version of John Dee in his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series Black Dossier (see “Fairies Fortunes Founded” section starting on P4 – annotations here), as an alias of the wizard Prospero, emissary of the Blazing World.H. P. Lovecraft, in “The Dunwich Horror,” gave Dee as the author of a partial, faulty translation of the Necronomicon into English.
  • Taurus” is a constellation containing the star Aldebaran, which has a prominent place in Lovecraft’s mythology, appearing in stories including “Polaris,” “The Festival,” and “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.” Taurus borders Perseus, which contains the star Algol (see P30 above.)
  • “Khalid, sometimes known as Hali” (as mentioned on P11,p2 above) may refer to the “Lake of Hali” in Robert E. Chamber’s The King in Yellow.
  • “Four techniques for … extension of the human lifespan or revitalising the recently deceased” – see P11,p4 above.
  • “The science of geometry” probably refers to the hypermathematics displayed in “The Dreams in the Witch House.” This is less out of place than it might look at first glance; mathematics, art, alchemy, and medicine thrived in Islamic civilization during the Middle Ages, and books of these works were highly sought after in Europe among scholars.
  • “Eternity as an unchanging solid […] time itself demoted from a matter of duration to one of mere distance in a higher mathematical dimension” is very similar to the below quotes from Alan Moore speaking about his upcoming novel Jerusalem:
    “… from what I understand about science, this is a fourth dimensional universe. It has four physical dimensions, one of which we perceive as the passage of time. […] as I understand it, every moment in the universe, from its most remote past to the most distant future, is all happening at once in some permanent eternal kind of globe of space time […] And this huge solid of space time is there unchangingly forever.” – Alan Moore’s Exit Interview (P58), May 2006
    “Einstein and Hawking seem to agree that this is a four-dimensional universe, with the fourth spatial dimension being what we perceive as time. So it’s not that the fourth dimension is time. It’s more like time is the shadow of the fourth dimension, and it’s only our perception that’s moving through it. […] C. Howard Hinton, on of the Victorian mathematicians who first proposed a mathematical fourth dimension said you’d have to suppose that it’s only our awareness that we’re moving through time. That nothing is actually changing. The universe is a four-dimensional solid, like a great big egg, with the Big Bang at one end, the Big Crunch at the other end, and every moment that has ever or will ever exists suspended, forever, in between” – Mustard interview in Alan Moore Conversations (P187), 2005 and 2009.As Moore mentions, some of the assertions on time and space are not dissimilar from those espoused by contemporary physics.  And, of course, the changing view of the universe brought by Einstein’s theory of special relativity was likewise an influence on Lovecraft’s conception of the Mythos.

Page 32

Pamphlet page [3]

  • Yazid’s death as “torn to pieces… by invisible… demons” – see P11,p2 above.
  • “Contravening many fundamental tenets of Mohammedan belief” – Aside from being a realistic approach – such a book would have been considered heretical during the Caliphate – this may be Moore’s effort to gloss Lovecraft’s portrayal of Alhazred as “only an indifferent Moslem.”

Page 33

Pamphlet page [4]

  • Moore’s fictional publishing history is accurate in most details with real publishing history; Aldus Manuntius and the Aldine Press, for example, are well-known, and their works are popularly known as “aldines.”
  • Incunabula” are books printed prior to 1501 in Europe.
  • “There are believed to be three copies extant in the present day” is possibly a reference to Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, from Arturo Perez Reverte‘s El Club Dumas and its more popular cinematic adaptation, The Ninth Gate starring Johnny Depp, in which a rare occult work is survived in only three copies.
  • Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan post-revolutionary regime” began in 1649.
  • Paracelsus” was a real-life Renaissance scientist and occultist.
  • Robert Turner, known as Philomathes, was a real-life English occultist and translator of several occult works into English.
  • “by J.C. for N. Brook and N. Harrison” – A reference to Henry Agrippa’s Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, translated into English by Robert Turner; Moore is essentially borrowing associations known to exist in the time and place he wishes.
  • The Index Liber Prohibitorum was a list of books banned from publication by the Catholic Church; it first appeared in 1548 and was not abolished until 1966.
  • “Etienne Roulet” (mentioned on P12,p1 above) is a character in Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House“: “The Roulets […] were Huguenots from Caude […] the swarthy Etienne Roulet, less apt at agriculture than at reading queer books and drawing queer diagrams…” Note that Lovecraft based his Roulet family on a 1598 French werewolf legend from Baring Gould’s 1865 study of werewolf folklore – see P35.
  • Huguenots” were French Protestants, a persecuted minority. Caude is a village (?) in southeast France.
  • The town of East Greenwich, RI, is located about 15 miles south of Providence.

Page 34

Providence's Hekeziah Massey and Browne Jenkynne are analogs for Lovecraft's Keziah Mason and Brown Jenkin from the story
Providence’s Hekeziah Massey and Browne Jenkynne are analogs for Lovecraft’s Keziah Mason and Brown Jenkin from the story “The Dreams in the Witch House” – art by Jacen Burrows

Pamphlet page [5]

  • The portraits for the three members of the American coven (what the pamphlet will call the “Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente” on P39 below) are different in style, presumably to indicate they have been taken from different sources:
    – Etienne Roulet’s portrait (Figure I) displays the crosshatching appropriate to an etching, appropriate for a personal portrait or higher-class publication
    – Hekeziah Massey’s portrait (Figure II), by contrast, is the relatively less detailed style of a woodcut, as from a popular broadside or tract
    – Japheth Colwen’s portrait (Figure III) is a mixture of the two – more detailed than Massey’s, less detailed than Roulet’s.
  • Figure II includes an illustration of “Browne Jenkynne” – the equivalent of Brown Jenkin, the rat-like familiar with a human face to Keziah Mason in “The Dreams in the Witch House.”

Page 35

Pamphlet page [6]

General note: On this page, Moore ties Leyland (1899 witch folklore) to Huxley (1952 witch-hysteria history-based novel) to Lovecraft (1924 horror fiction) already tied to Baring Gould (1865 werewolf folklore) – as how the Roulet family brought the Kitab book to America in 1686.

  • “[Etienne] Roulet” – see P12,p1 and P33 above.
  • The French history here appears true, and informs the date of Lovecraft’s fictional emigration of the Roulet family in “The Shunned House.”
  • “Marie Delaroche […] a novitiate nun at Loudun during 1634 […] witch-hysteria” (thanks Ross Byrnes) refers to Aldous Huxley‘s 1952 non-fiction novel The Devils of Loudun which served as the basis for Ken Russell‘s 1971 film The Devils.  In Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House” there is no mention of Roulet’s mother. Moore is weaving Huxley’s historical novel into Lovecraft’s fiction. (A bit of trivia: an actor from The Devils, Dudley Sutton, was Moore’s cast mate in Swandown, the Iain Sinclair documentary.)
  • “Mr. Leyland’s book Aradia” refers to Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches of Italy (1899) by Charles Godfrey Leyland. Aradia was a predecessor to Margaret Murray‘s witch-cult theory (see P4,p1 and P10,p1 above.) It’s Leyland’s interpretation of a text he believed to be a religious work associated with the witches of Tuscany, which he connected with the survival of pagan worship to the goddess Diana. As with Murray’s books, it was highly influential on the development of modern Wicca.
  • “Guillaume Roulet… by turn a passionate and energetic lover or a savage brute” was perhaps a werewolf, like his father Jacques Roulet.
  • “S. Baring Gould” – Rev. Sabine Baring Gould was a priest, novelist, and scholar, especially noted for his collections of folklore, including the influential The Book of Were-Wolves (1865.) Baring Gould’s Were-Wolves includes the Jacques Roulet legend (“The Werewolf of Angers” – see P71 here) that Lovecraft’s names his “Shunned House” Roulet family after. Baring Gould’s book Curious Myths of the Middle Ages (1866-1868) also provided the legend that inspired Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls.”
  • Atomic theory” here does not refer to the atom bomb or atomic weapons, but to the theory in physics and chemistry that matter is made of discrete atoms; an idea presaged as early as Democritus.
  • Here’s the Roulet family tree: Jacques Roulet (Baring Gould) begat Guillaume Roulet (Moore) begat Etienne Roulet (Lovecraft) begat Paul Roulet (Lovecraft), and Etienne Sr. was also the grandfather of Etienne Roulet (Moore).
  • “St. Denis” is Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, France.
  • “Claude Gillot” – see Providence #1 P13,p1
  • “1887 novel Sous le Monde” – see Providence #1 P3,p2

Page 36

Pamphlet page [7]

  • Moore’s fictional novel Sous le Monde has the “so-called pornographic sequence” wolf sex scene. In the late 1800s to early 1900s, such an intimation of bestiality probably would have been considered pornographic by the standards of the day; H. P. Lovecraft and C. M. Eddy’s much more mild story “The Loved Dead” with its implicit necrophilia was sufficient to see Weird Tales banned for sale in Indiana when published in 1924.
  • From Huxley P35 to this pornographic sequence to The Azure Garden P37 to Etienne Roulet’s Oedipal encounter P37 and more, throughout Suydam’s pamphlet there’s quite a bit of sex. This may be a continuation of Alan Moore’s statement regarding Neonomicon (see mention in annotations for #2 P7,p2) that one of his aims is to bring sex to the forefront of Lovecraftian fiction. From Alan Moore: Unearthed and Uncut: [quoted in Robert Derie’s Sex and the Cthulu Mythos] “[…] actually put back some of the objectionable elements that Lovecraft himself censored […] let’s put sex back in. Let’s come up with some genuinely ‘nameless rituals’ – let’s give them a name.”
  • “Baring-Gould’s Book of Were-Wolves– see P35 above.
  • Hekeziah Massey is Providence‘s analog for Keziah Mason, the titular witch from Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.” She’s mentioned on P12,p2, above and shown on P34 above.
  • “Hekeziah” is an extremely unusual name.  Google finds under 1,000 hits for it, and this very page is one of top results!  The very similar “Hezekiah” is a much more common name from the bible.  It is possible that some (most?) of the historical uses of the name “Hekeziah” were accidental misspellings which were intended to be Hezekiah.  The incorrect use of a biblical name for Mrs. Massey may perhaps be significant.
  • Massey’s (Mason’s) hanged husband is not part of “Witch House.” (The Aloysius Massey story particulars don’t match any legend or fiction we’ve found… Suggestions? His initials matching Alan Moore’s could be some kind of in-joke?)
  • Knaresborough in Yorkshire was also the reputed birthplace of Mother Shipton, a famous witch known for her gift of prophecy.

Page 37

Pamphlet page [8]

  • “The remnants of her former beauty” sounds similar to The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, where the lecherous Grey’s portrait reflects the excesses of his life. There is also a basis for slowing aging mentioned in Lovecraft’s “Witch House” description of fourth-dimensional travel: “Time could not exist in certain belts of space, and by entering and remaining in such a belt one might preserve one’s life and age indefinitely; never suffering organic metabolism or deterioration except for slight amounts incurred during visits to one’s own or similar planes. One might, for example, pass into a timeless dimension and emerge at some remote period of the earth’s history as young as before.”
  • Though there is no direct parallel for “passages of sexual philosophy” as a section in Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, it isn’t without precedent; in Robert Anton Wilson‘s Illuminatus! trilogy, for example, the Necronomicon is purported to contain many obscene ideograms; for more details see the section on “The Necronomicon as Pornography” in Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos. More likely, Moore was referencing the sexual license popularly attributed to witches and heretics during the Middle Ages, as well as the ceremonial sexual magick and philosophies of later occultists like Aleister Crowley. Readers interested in how the latter interacts with depictions of the Necronomicon may be interested to read Sex and the Lovecraftian Occult.
  • “The Azure Garden” possibly refers to The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight, an Arabic sex manual first translated into English in 1888 by the famed adventurer Sir Richard Burton (who also translated 1,001 Nights.)
  • Descriptions in “The Azure Garden” recall the the Dagon-cultists in Neonomicon (see #2 starting on P16), performing acts within the orgone chamber with the Deep One:
    – “provoke a blewness of the air” echoes Leonard Beeks saying “looks like we got a groove happening. The air’s blue as they say.” Neonomicon #2 P23,p2.
    – “conducive to the presence of our true and sertain friends” refers to the Deep Ones.
    – “specially-constructed chamber with walls of cedar-wood and beaten bronze” echoes Leonard Beeks saying “That’s just all of the layers of wood and metal. The whole of the hall, it’s like a big orgone accumulator.” Neonomicon #2 P16,p1.
  • “Prohibited excitements… necrophilia and bestiality [and] incest” can be found in Lovecraft’s oeuvre. As already mentioned, Lovecraft alluded to necrophilia in his collaboration with C. M. Eddy, “The Loved Dead“; he also alluded to bestiality in “The Unnameable” and “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family,” and incest in stories including “The Lurking Fear.” While Lovecraft rarely addressed sex and would never include bedroom scenes in his fiction, as a general rule when he did refer to sex, it was always weird sex.
  • The relationship of Etienne Roulet and his purported relationship with his mother recalls rather sundry rumors of an Oedipus complex between Lovecraft and his mother; this comes from a rather bizarre note from Lovecraft’s early biographer William Townley Scott, and is not accepted as evidence of any actual incest or abuse. Incestuous relationships have also occurred in some Mythos fiction, notable Ramsey Campbell‘s novel The Darkest Part of the the Woods (2002) and several of Brian McNaughton‘s novels, including Downward to Darkness (1978, as Satan’s Mistress).

Page 38

PourSpiritPamphlet page [9]

  • “Tantric disciplines” are an esoteric collection of beliefs and practices in Asia to achieve physical and spiritual goals; the sexual rites, popularly known as “tantric sex,” received greater interest in the West, and tantric elements were incorporated into the system of Thelema created by Aleister Crowley and elaborated by Kenneth Grant.
  • “Captain Shadrach Annesley” is likely a Providence analog for a Lovecraft character to be made clear in a future issue. It’s possibly the “real” name of one of the fictional sea-captains that served Joseph Curwen in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, such as Capt. Manuel Arruda, or else an Innsmouth captain, possibly one that would go on to serve under Jack Boggs (per Neonomicon #2 P15,p1-2 Moore’s equivalent to Obediah Marsh from “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”) Moore’s apparent purpose here is to draw his American coven into connection with his Salem equivalents to the personages of “Innsmouth
  • Pour Conjurer Lesprit Dun Lieu” is an authentic grimoire.
  • The town of Marblehead, Massachusetts was the real-life architectural inspiration for Lovecraft’s Innsmouth.
  • Japheph Colwen is Providence‘s analog for Joseph Curwen from Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Curwen is an evil wizard, described as “an astonishing, enigmatic, and obscurely horrible individual.
  • Japheph Colwen’s youthful appearance echoes that of Joseph Curwen in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Page 39

Pamphlet page [10]

  • No “Colwyn” is listed among the passengers of the Mayflower; this need not be an error on Moore’s part, but only a subtle misdirection or a deliberate suggestion of the unreliability of the pamphlet for facts – being a collection of spotty research and supposition, at least in parts.
  • “Redeemer, by whose byrthe…” is probably a reference to the events of Neonomicon; made all the more suitable as the Kitab is the forerunner to the Necronomicon.
  • “That which is below shalle once more be above” – A subtle re-phrasing of the formula “as above, so below,” a central maxim of Hermetic occultism which is often interpreted to mean either (or both) that knowledge of oneself grants knowledge of the universe (and vice versa), or that to affect something at one level of reality is to effect changes at all levels of reality (i.e. physical acts have spiritual or magical consequences, and vice versa). On a more strict reading, it may literally mean the return of Cthulhu to the stars.

Page 40

135 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
135 Benefit Street, Providence, RI

Pamphlet page [11]

  • Hekeziah Massey’s arrest echoes that of Keziah Mason in “The Dreams in the Witch-House,” and Joseph Curwen’s flight from Salem to Providence in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
  • Giles Corey was a real victim of the Salem Witch Trials; he was famously pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea – thus saving his property from confiscation, as it might have been if he had plead innocent or guilty.
  • Northampton, England” is where Alan Moore was born, lives, and writes about frequently.
  • “135 Benefit Street” is the address in Providence, RI, for the residence that inspired Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House.” It still stands to this day.
  • The pamphlet excerpt ends here at “in…” with the next word being “Providence.” The sentence is in effect completed as immediately to the right is the map of Providence featured as end papers.

Back Cover

“Bards and Bibliophiles” is a memoir of H. P. Lovecraft by his friend and correspondent Rheinhart Kleiner; Moore probably took the text from Lovecraft Remembered, as the original publication is quite scarce.

57 thoughts on “Providence 2

    • Just a note, the Kurdish translations are still highly conjectural in parts – neither of us speak it, and it’s not standardized transliteration either. But I think that’s the gist of it.

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  1. Hekeziah Massey absolutely is Keziah Mason from “The Dreams in the Witch House.” She’s holding Brown Jenkins in her picture in the Suydam pamphlet.

    The four methods of immortality can be teased out a little bit more. “Diet” ultimately likely refers to ghouldom; IIRC, ghouls are immortal. “Transference of souls” can also refer to the Yithians, who achieve immortality by swapping minds (“souls”) with future species. “Resurrection of cadavers” likely can also refer to the events in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” which of course deals with Japheth/Joseph Curwen.

    The house that the Roulets move to in Providence, 135 Benefit Street, is the titular “Shunned House,” which makes sense because Etienne Roulet becomes the vampiric monster of that story. The house is real and is still there, incidentally.

    It’s interesting that Robert thinks that Suydam’s parlor is “decrepit” and that Suydam himself is “sly and seedy” (and that his pamphlets are “alarmingly expensive”). From what we can see, the parlor visibly is in good repair and Suydam himself appears pleasant enough, almost looking like Santa Claus. Based on the events in “The Horror at Red Hook,” as well as the mention of a child murder by Tom Malone earlier in this issue, we know that Suydam used to live in squalor and was very out of shape, but after performing some terrible child sacrifice ritual, he reentered society in a genteel manner and his looks started improving quite a lot. It seems that the sacrifice ritual has already occurred by the time of the events of this issue. Robert’s journal entry may be designed to make us question his reliability as a narrator, as well as question what we think we know about him from the panels (he tells Suydam that paying a dollar for the pamphlets is just fine, for example).

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  2. As always, terrific work.

    I hasten to note yet another interpretation of the ‘diet’ method of immortality (although I agree that the cannibalism from ‘The Picture in the House’ was probably Moore’s chief source of inspiration): the cannibalism and vampirism perpetrated by Joseph Curwen in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. His remark about how he ‘must have it red for three months’ suggests that Curwen was following a prescribed method, and prior to his death he had a copy of the Necronomicon.

    Given how Japheth Colwen is one of the founders of the nascent Starry Wisdom sect, this method (much like the ‘resurrection’ that Brian notes in the previous comment) was surely not far from his mind.

    Pamphlet page 2: I think the general thrust of this page is Moore drawing a stronger, more explicit link between Dee and Kelly’s Enochian alphabet and the Aklo language. Given the ‘unknown’ alphabet, I’m also put in mind of the Ixaxar from Machen’s The Novel of the Black Seal.

    Besides just the Lake of Hali, the use of the name ‘Hali’ as an Arabic name is a more direct evocation of Bierce’s original coining of the name in ‘An Inhabitant of Carcosa’.

    Pamphlet page 7: By placing Hezekiah Massey’s place of origin in Knaresborough, Moore pretty much demands the reader to consider Mother Shipton, the reputed witch and soothsayer of the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s also worth noting that her birth in 1613 takes place one year after the trial of the Pendle Witches. Trying to create a very specific Northern witch-vibe there!

    Pamphlet page 8: the occult energies in suydam’s pamphlet are of course Wilhelm Reich’s orgone energy, as harnessed by the Dagon cultists in Neonomicon. The “blewness of the aire” that attracts the inhuman participants is mentioned by Leonard Beeks in the same. “The air’s blue, as they say.” The “walls interleaved of cedar-wood and beaten bronze” are typical components in the construction of an orgone accumulator, as mentioned by Beeks.

    LAMPER: Man, this is one heavy motherfucker. You expecting a raid or what?
    BEEKS: Huh? Oh… no, no, that’s just all the layers of wood and metal. The whole of this hall, it’s like a big orgone accumulator

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  3. I’m not sure if this comment belongs with issue 1 or 2, but I’ll put it here if only because I had the idea now.

    Dr. Estes isn’t just a counterpart to Dr. Torres from ‘Cool Air’. While he was also interested in the four methods, I rather think he was more interested in revivifying corpses than maintaining life through controlled temperatures. While my command of Spanish might just about pass for rudimentary in a poor light, I’m pretty sure his name is chosen either as a pun on ‘East’, riffing on Herbert West’s name, or else was picked because it sounds similar. Given that Providence is set in 1919, he’d have been at it for quite a while by now, surely.

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  4. Great work again, thank you.
    The green tie used by Malone and Black as a coded language for homossexuals made sense specially since the title of this issue, The Hook, appears in front of Malone’s body, and the letters are green, instead of red, which would be the most obvious reference. Malone is “fishing” por company with his tie as a green “hook”, much in the same way the title of the first issue, “The Yellow Sign”, was in front of Black, and was linked with this shame of his Jewish heritage (the yellow star of concentration camps), his homossexuality (yellow had a relationship with depravity and decadence, such as Beardsley’s Yellow Book) and his cowardice in relation to Lily.

    Pedro Ribeiro

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  5. Also, I wonder if the eagle image on page 7, which looks a bit like it is grasping Black’s hair, is a reference to Zeus abducting Ganymede in the shape of an eagle. The relationship between Zeus and Ganymede was, according to the Wikipedia, “a model for the Greek social custom of paiderastía, the socially acceptable erotic relationship between a man and a youth.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganymede_(mythology)
    In this page Malone apparently tries to pick Black up, and physically touches him. Then Black flies to talk to Suydam, who has a jovial (Jovian) character and look.

    Pedro Ribeiro

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  6. Great work–love these annotations.

    Page 25, Panel 3:

    The two framed images on the wall in between Black and Cornelia Gerritsen are Gustave Dore’s illustrations for Dante’s Inferno.

    Top, Charon, Ferryman of the Dead, from Canto 3 (http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/gallery/0206charon.jpg)

    Bottom, The Lustful, from Canto 5 (http://s6.photobucket.com/user/galileo_ali/media/G_Dore/05-TheLustful.jpg.html)

    The illustrations and subject matter fit well with the issue’s themes. Charon ferries between two worlds, which matches the dream world/real world merging of this story (and Suydam describes Lilith as ruling both spheres), and the descent into Hell that Dante’s story recounts foreshadows the depths that Black will be exploring. Note that, like Dante, Black has had guides in the figures of Suydam and Alvaraz, who have served as his Virgil (or as his Charon). I can’t help but think that placing these visual references to the Inferno in the same panel where Black is talking about making a big decision about his future/direction is meant to strike an ominous chord. Not to mention the Lilith scarred merchant hawking the plumage of Satan.

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  7. incredible – ! all this “watchmen of horror” hype is gonna turn out to be absolutely true y’know (only better, cos unlike watchmen, this one will be literally (as close to) perfect (as it’s possible to be)!)

    btw i have figured out where he is going with the “twisted handkerchief” leitmotiv i spotted in #1 – it’s strongly clued in his use of parallel time-streams to unfold his narrative, but i also now think the “lily carcosa” theorists are completely spot on in their prediction (and that jonathan was holding in his hands the mysterious labial folds life could not give him, and which he will later wear attached to his face as a substitute (among other things) ) – so, the brooklyn bridge in panel 2 of this one provides the *other half* of the super-complex double motif for this work: hanging folds of skin (to be twisted or opened out), and/or cut and reflected (unpeeled) layers – one thing we know already about (those associated with the work on earth of) the old ones and their followers is that they all practise, and often seem to be obsessed by, anatomy and preferably vivisection: so let’s all get a good eyeful of p.26 of #2 now, because there is guaranteed to be a lot more of this sort of stuff – !

    [moore’s such a fuckin’ genius… ironically, one could say, his use of mutli-linear narrative is very similar to a lot of grant morrison’s high-profile DC work, especially (but not limited to) final crisis and seven soldiers of victory – a similarity of mechanism unknown to moore, of course – but in any case, what AM *does* with it is at once more sparing, far more creative and infinitely more disturbing… i anticipate some seriously weird dreams while reading this series! i was ill for a few days after finishing neonomicon as it is…]

    {btw i have been meaning to talk to you guys about neonomicon as well – that is, i think there is a whole layer, or series of layers to the visual aspects of moore’s work with burrows in particular which your notes are missing… to be continued – !}

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  8. Again, great stuff.
    I’m not sure if this has already been said somewhere:
    Detective Malone is mentioned for the first time (in Moore Lovecraft comics) in The Courtyard, end of part one, in the items sent to Aldo Sax by his boss Perlman.

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  9. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this but when Black is found in the cellar by Suydam and Gerritsen, he’s not only missing his hat but also his flashlight. On Page 25, Panel 2, Suydam is shown hanging the flashlight back on it’s hook in the cellar doorway. When Black first entered the basement there were two flashlights hanging up. He obviously lost it when fleeing Lilith in the caverns beneath Suydam’s apartment.

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  10. I think what sex happens when Black loses consciousness in panel 3 on page 23. The shot at Lilith’s vagina is too obvious and I think his intention is to suggest that Lilith will rape him; fact that would link with what was seen in Neonomicon. Maybe this union will spawn Jonny Carcosa? Just a wild guess.

    Sorry for my bad english.

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  11. i don’t think moore would/will shy away from rape (or any other plot element) if he knows it’s the “best” development for the story at that point. he can’t help following the thread… also, he has managed to insulate himself pretty well against much of the flak which is hurled his way – he knows it’s there; but of course he never uses the internet (and so on)

    worth pointing out that this would hardly be the first example of a male protagonist in moore impregnating a rapacious female without his consent (or consciousness) – tom strong suffered it twice – !

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  12. On page 11, panel 1, there is a statue of what looks like (to me at least) a Deep One on the left side of the panel. On the next page, Suydam mentions that his suppliers from the Boggs Gold Refinery have brought him folk artefacts, of which the statue would be.

    Regarding Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase,” after the “Pickman’s Model” reference, Black writes, “Better if the artist turns out to actually see the whole world like that, with a horrible implication that he sees world this way because this is how world is in reality, beyond the narrow range of human senses.” In issue 4 of Neonomicon, Brears and Sax are briefly shown in the 4th dimension, all their past and future actions spread out like centipedes. So the world of Providence is exactly like “Nude Descending a Staircase” when viewed with the proper senses.

    “Not sure if I could make such a wild idea seem plausible — probably not –” The joke being Moore has written multiple stories (Watchmen, From Hell, Promethea, Jerusalem) portraying this very idea that past, present, and future coexist eternally.

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    • Not sure if that statue is a deep one but it’s more plausible than my name for it – “the silver surfer”! I suspect that it’s some folklore counterpart to the other Cernunnos statue. I included it in a post I’d been working on – asking readers to solve remaining questions.

      But the Leng-4-D-Neonomicon-Duchamp connection is definitely right on! I am going to add that. Thanks!

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  13. Lake of Hali and Carcosa are located in the Hyades, an open cluster in Taurus (Pamphlet page [2]). Aldebaran is in the line of sight between the Earth and the Hyades but it doesn’t belong to this cluster.

    Drawings in the wall and child sacrifice are present in “The Dreams in the Witch House” too.

    “The Book of the Were-Wolves” was published in 1865 and the pamphlet says “the year preceding Etienne’s arrival in East Greenwich” (1685). This could be a deliberate mistake telling us that Etienne Roulet did not borrowed this name.

    June 25, 1919 (Commonplace Book), is when the main characters of “The Shunned House” stay overnight in the cellar. Who are the two putrefying corpses walking along together in the dream?

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  14. Thanks so much for this site!
    One small thing ( I apologize if it’s in the wrong place)
    #1) Black greets Tom Malone by saying that “he imagined [Tom] would be older”. This is his ( presumably inadvertent ) give-away that he is attracted to the person he’s speaking to. This is also what he says when he meets Lily/Johnathan Russell on the docks in Issue #1.

    #2) Marchamp’s “Nude descending a staircase #2” looks a bit like how the impregnated FBI agent sees the world when she’s speaking to the Cthuluan prisoner through the glass. “Relm” or something they call it, and it’s basically seeing all of the snapshots of time at once.
    Black’s line about “maybe the artist just sees the world like that” seems like it could be a reference to how people see the world once they’ve been turned.

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    • I see someone pointed out the Leng / Duchamp similarity already, my bad, should have read more.

      Also, The June 28th entry says something like “makes me wonder if the whole day hasn’t been a dream”.
      Black points out that the entire series of events in the beginning , in which he meets Tom, they hit it off etc, just seem a bit _too_ fantastical. His conversation with Tom about Jung also cites Dreams quite a bit ( perhaps a reference to Cthulthu often being referenced as “The Dreamer”? ). Perhaps Moore is setting us up for Black to be an unreliable narrator who occupies a Mullholland drive-esque fantasy version of the real world ala Hildred from (The Repairer of Reputations)?

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  15. Page 17, panel 3: As for the splits in the top of the skulls: I took those to be indications that these are the skulls of children with the growths plates of the skulls having not yet fused. Just a thought.

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  16. The green ties worn by Black and Malone may be Moore’s analog of the green carnation, a popular signifier for male homosexuals in the 1890’s which was taken up and championed by Oscar Wilde. More subtly, Wilde wrote in an essay that the colour green was “always a sign of a subtle artistic temperament” and Moore may be using the colour green as a kind of homosexual code, possibly suggested by Wilde’s writing.

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  17. regarding Goya’s Capricho…a woman (Lilith) standing on top of three women, each facing a different direction. The triple Hecate seen here:

    …crossed with the idea in Lovecraft’s story as Lilith standing on top of the gold pedestal.

    Regarding Pedro Ribeiro’s comment on Zeus abducting Ganymedes…(Flemish, Catholic) Pieter Paul Rubens’s Rape of Ganymedes and his other Ganymedes paintings were already considered risqué and with possibly homosexual undertones in the actual time of their making (Rembrandt, a Dutch Protestant, made as a response his version of Ganymedes a pissing baby, mocking Rubens).
    I wonder if there is some correlation between Malone’s Irish (Catholic) roots and Suydam’s Dutch (Protestant) roots and if Lovecraft was hinting at this as the underlying base for their animosity.
    It’s a stretch for as small a detail this is, but Ganymedes is wearing a red cloak that barely seems to cover him in all of Rubens’s paintings:

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  18. Page 17 – panels 1-3

    I would say the lines in the skulls indicate unfused joints/fontanelle in the cranium rather than damage from head injury. Suggests all the skulls are from children.

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  19. Page 35 – I think there is only one Etienne Roulet in the family tree: Jacques Roulet (Baring Gould) begat Guillaume Roulet (Moore) begat Etienne Roulet (Lovecraft, Moore) begat Paul Roulet (Lovecraft).

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  20. I find it interesting that Moore uses the name of “Etienne Roulet”. Throughout the rest of Providence (up to issue 5, at any rate), he has scrupulously avoided the use of any exact names from Lovecraft, instead using names that are evocatively similar. Might this be because Lovecraft didn’t invent the Roulet family out of whole cloth, but was deliberately using a pre-existing legend from Baring-Gould?

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  21. Just added this note, above:
    “Hekeziah” is an extremely unusual name. Google finds under 1,000 hits for it, and this very page is one of top results! The very similar “Hezekiah” is a much more common name from the bible. It is possible that some (most?) of the historical uses of the name “Hekeziah” were accidental misspellings which were intended to be Hezekiah. The incorrect use of a biblical name for Mrs. Massey may perhaps be significant.

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  22. “The seller is marked with three parallel marks, like those left by the creature’s claws on the rocks.”

    Could he have been a childhood victim of the sacrificial cult from Red Hook, but one who somehow managed to escape, and doesn’t realise he’s standing feet away from the entrance to the cave where it happened? Underscores the Lovecraft (and Moore) theme of supernatural horror lying just under the surface of mundane, everyday life.

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    • Perhaps he sneaked into the cave one day as a kid, exploring, after hearing rumours about the weird old guy with a monster in his house. He’d stand a better chance of escaping Lilith if the cult weren’t standing round waiting for him to be eaten.

      Or perhaps the devil-worshipping Turks, of which King Peacock in Top Ten is also a member, have some connection with Lilith, and worship her as a minor god / demon.

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      • True, possibly. Its also one of those places though where the difference in attitude between Moore and Lovecraft could come out – I know that Moore doesn’t equate devil-worship with evil (King Peacock is portrayed as fairly righteous from memory), and wouldn’t immediately connect a real-world cult that Lovecraft found to be a source of horror with the concept of evil, while Suydam is clearly victimising the people he’s smuggling into the country.

        On the other hand, even the sympathetic Boggs was trading in captured human souls, so obviously just being marked out for Lovecraft’s racism doesn’t mean the characters end up squeaky-clean either.

        I just thought it was odd though that he would be scarred if he were a straightforward member of Suydam’s cult… i.e. not benefiting from the rejuvenation Lilith gives to Suydam?

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  23. This could well be a coincidence, but when dealing with Moore you never know!

    It has been pointed out that on page 7, during the cafe encounter between Black and Malone, the picture of an eagle with an American flag appears behind Black’s head. It clearly appears in panel 2, when a blackbird can also be seen behind Malone’s head at the edge of the panel. By panel three the blackbird has taken flight and now almost perfectly mirrors the eagle’s pose.

    If we take the blackbird to symbolize Robert (due to his surname) and the eagle to be Malone (being a symbol of American authority matching his job as police officer), the image of them flying towards each other further shows the two men becoming closer, similar to the gradual close-up in each panel. However, the romance is dashed as soon as Robert leaves in panel 4, since the blackbird has also vanished.

    This type of symbolism matches the butterfly in issue 1, a mark of innocence which followed Lillian and appeared to die along with him from the poisonous fumes of the lethal chamber.

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  24. Re: the feather seller and his scars:
    Certainly this must be a sign that Black’s encounter with Lilith was not a dream.
    Perhaps the seller is also showing us that others have had their own lucky escapes from Lilith.
    Or that Lilith sometimes marks a victim and lets them go, for whatever purpose.
    (I wondered if the feather seller, being right near Suydam’s house, might have a role in luring people into the cult.)
    My own immediate feeling on reading this sequence for the first time (yesterday, when I read the hardback collection, having not read any of the comics) was different.

    Does anyone else see this possibility:
    Black has been killed by Lilith but revivified – either by her or by Suydam – because he has a part to play in the unfolding scheme.
    The feather seller I thought was another walking dead man, fulfilling whatever role he has in the cult’s local set-up.
    We have been prepared for this possibility by the story of Dr Alvarez, though his very limited version of life after death may be only a pale reflection of the more advanced techniques available to Lilith and her followers.
    ?

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  25. By the way, could anyone tell me what’s the backcover quotation for this issue? Electronic edition (or at least that one which I have) lacks it.

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  26. Just noticed when looking through this issue again. When we first see Johnny Carcosa’s mother she is facing the two gentlemen arguing but in her next two appearances she is looking towards us the reader an nd facing the direction of Black and Malone. Considering what happens later is this her checking out the Herald as it were?

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  27. It’s interesting looking at Tom Malone as portrayed in Providence and in “The Horror at Red Hook.” This was around 1919, when we meet him in Providence. James Joyce created his “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” novel three years earlier, but has yet to create The Dubliners or Ulysses.

    We know that Malone actually attended the University of Dublin and grew up in the Irish culture that Joyce did: and many other Irish nationalist scholars and creators. Malone himself is interested in the occult and places and it reminded me of something in some of my own past studies. A few years ago I wrote a Master’s Thesis on “The Spirit of Herodotus in Gaiman and Moore: Narrative Spaces and their Relationships in Mythic World-Building” and I came across an essay written by one William Alexander looking at Neil Gaiman’s American Gods called “On the Death of Mad King Sweeney: Irish Lore and Literature in American Gods.”

    In this essay, Alexander introduces an ancient Irish, possibly Gaelic term used by the old bards and William Butler Yeats called ‘dinnsheanchas’ which is roughly translated as “the knowledge of the lore of places.”

    If dinnsheanachas doesn’t fit into Malone’s modus operandi, along with psychogeography, and Alan Moore’s Lovecraftian conception of America in this case — especially given how some of its most prominent early immigrants and settlers were Irish — I don’t know what does. It also fits well into Robert and Malone’s discussion about Carl Jung, the collective unconsciousness, and things being “underground” or buried. Also, it’s too bad Robert didn’t abandon his quest to spend more time with Malone. They had a lot in common and, really, it’s just a damn shame all around.

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  28. I thought the incestuous relationship referred between Roulet and his promiscuous mother could be a reference to Shub-Niggurath. It asks the question of how incest could produce magical offspring (which it doesn’t, generally, unless gods are involved, as has been evidenced by Wheatley family).

    Also, Moore already used the promiscuous Shub-Niggurath joke in the “What Ho, Gods Of The Abyss” section of League’s Black Dossier:

    “Peabody also mentioned some old goat who had misspent his youth so badly that he had a thousand young, which seemed like impressive going in anybody’s book.”

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  29. From the annotations: “Oddly the creature has … no visible nipples – though the female genitalia is quite clear on P21,p1.”

    That stood out to me on a recent re-read, and I thought it might be an indication that Lilith can’t nurture children. In some Jewish traditions, she’s a female rapist who births only monsters. That may be why she craves children for sacrifice: it’s the thing she’s been denied.

    That tradition of sexual aggression also makes me think that she raped Black during his blackout. I don’t think he’s recognized by anyone as the Herald until after his encounter with her. So maybe she sexually marked him, and left him alive as a sign.

    Actually, I’ve just realized that’s not true. Carcosa’s mother spots him on the street and watches him as he walks away, and that’s on his way to Suydam’s place. Of course, she exists outside of time, so… Eh, who knows?

    Just two thoughts out of many I’ve had on this re-read. I missed so much on my first read-through that I’m starting to feel as dim as Black himself…

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