Below are annotations for Providence #3 “A Lurking Fear” (40 pages plus covers, cover date July 2015 – released August 12, 2015)
Writer: Alan Moore (AM), Artist: Jacen Burrows (JB), based on works of H.P. Lovecraft (HPL)
>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index
Note: some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
General: Providence #3 is out. Issue 3 covers have been publicized via this Bleeding Cool article. A tiny bit more preview material is at this Avatar Press article. Read our Providence #3 preview here. We’ve got basic annotations published, and will continue to revise and refine. We suggest reading Lovecraft’s story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” if you want to understand Providence #3 references.
- The regular cover depicts Salem, Massachusetts.
- In Providence #2 P30, Black writes that he’s thinking of going to Boggs Gold Refinery, which is in the fictional town Innsmouth from Lovecraft’s story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” In Neonomicon, Moore and Burrows associated Innsmouth with the real-world Salem. Neonomicon locates Boggs’ tunnels (Neonomicon #2, P15) in Salem. Leonard Beeks states “Jack Boggs was who Ech-pi-el based Obed Marsh on” (Neonomicon #2, P15,p2.) Obed Marsh is a central character in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” More background here.
- The cover depicts Lovecraft’s description of Innsmouth, with “sagging roofs” and two of “three tall steeples.”
- Both Providence #1 and #2 covers depict locations at, apparently, slightly later dates that the comics’ internal 1919 setting, so the Salem shown could be somewhat more recent.
- The hand belongs to Robert Black, Providence‘s protagonist. The location is Salem, Massachusetts. The date is July 23, 1919.
- The pamphlets for St. Jude’s are visible, see P35.
- This panel is repeated at the top of Pages 3 and 4. Though the panel is still, the reader’s imagination fills in the act of ringing the bell.
- As in earlier issues, flashbacks are shown in sepia tone. Similar to the structure of Providence #2, Moore and Burrows fill in very recent backstory that has taken place since the prior issue.
- Black has wandered into the 1919 Actors’ Equity Strike.
- The hand on the right belongs to Charley, who was introduced in Providence #1 P7,p1.
- “Nancy Cunard” was an heiress and writer, known for wearing elaborate jewelry.
- Many of the men in this scene are wearing straw hats, which were very popular during the era for summer wear. Lovecraft himself wore such a hat, as shown in this photograph:
- “Bill Fields” is better known as W. C. Fields, a famous comedian.
- “Prohibition” refers to the very recently approved ban on alcohol which took effect June 30, 1919.
- “Vaudeville” is a genre of popular theater entertainment; W. C. Fields worked as a vaudeville comedian before switching to cinema.
- “What went on in poor old Russia” apparently refers to the 1917 Russian Revolution. It’s also worth remembering that H. P. Lovecraft’s wife was an émigré from the Russian Civil War.
- Burrows appears to have based this page on this historic photo of the 1919 actors’ strike.
- The location is 45th Street, just east of Broadway, in New York City. This is in the Times Square area where Black lives.
- The issue’s title “A Lurking Fear” references the 1922 Lovecraft’s short story “The Lurking Fear.” While not largely connected with the events of Lovecraft’s story, “The Lurking Fear” has been cited as a precursor to some of Lovecraft’s themes of inbreeding, degeneration, and biological determination that appeared in 1931 in “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”
- Repeats P1,p1 above.
- Again sepia tone indicates past.
- The birthmark on the man’s face re-emerges in Black’s dreams on P18,p2, and as a facial tattoo on P30.
- This panel contrasts with the lower-class bus ride on Pages 25-26 at the end of this issue. Both feature mother and child waving at a transit window.
- “More people like us” overtly portrays the woman’s xenophobia or class-awareness.
- Commenter Li Zhi notes:
Black is reading an issue of the New York published weekly satirical magazine the Judge. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_(magazine) Depending on the date and the cover it could be one of the following issues: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015068416406&view=1up&seq=799 https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015068416521&view=1up&seq=7
- “Fisher Fast Freight” is obscured to resemble “Fish Fast Fright” which is in line with the “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” fishing, water, and sea themes. This was noted by commenter lonepilgrimuk.
- In the lower right a black cat is visible. Black cats have cameos in three of four Neonomicon issues, and may tie in to Lovecraft’s life and works. See annotations for Neonomicon #1 P17,p4.
- Repeats P1,p1 above.
- First appearance of Zeke Hillman, proprietor of the Hillman Hotel.
- Salem/Innsmouth residents’ speech, apparently much slower than others, is given its own font.
- The setting is made clearer. This is the hotel where the protagonist of Lovecraft’s story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” stayed. (Story hereafter abbreviated as “Innsmouth.”)
- “Black… down as Mr. Block” refers to real-life writer Robert Bloch who Robert Black is at least partally based on. See some further notes on Black/Bloch where he first appears in Providence #1 P2. Noted by commenter max.
- “Out of her depth” is one of numerous references to water, sea, and fishing – reminiscent of “Innsmouth.”
- Commenter dvn61 points out the clever positioning of Hillman and the marlin behind him. This perhaps hints at the way Innsmouth folk, descended from humans mating with “Deep Ones” a race of undersea fish-frog-people, late in life metamorph into fish creatures and “take to the water.”
- The reader’s first clear look at the face of the proprietor who has the “Innsmouth look” from Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth.” Innsmouth’s population is largely humans interbred with a race of undersea fish-frog-people. Lovecraft described the Innsmouth look as “Some [Innsmouth folk] have queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin ain’t quite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of their necks are all shrivelled or creased up. Get bald, too, very young.” Black goes on to describe the Innsmouth look in his Commonplace Book (see P33 below.)
- Black literally gives the clerk a sidelong glance.
- The collar of the innkeeper’s shirt hides any tell-tale gills, but the skin on his neck is notably wrinkled – see also the Innsmouth look described above on P4,p4 notes.
- Black is wearing the same green tie as when he met Malone in the last issue.
- “Berth” is another nautical term, which can mean either a port or harbor where a ship can moor, or a bed or other place to sleep on a ship.
- Bogg’s Refinery is Providence‘s analog for Obed Marsh’s gold refinery from “Innsmouth.” In Neonomicon #2, Moore and Burrows reveal that Lovecraft based Obed Marsh on Jack Boggs. See this blog post for further explanation. Tobit Boggs, by extension, is the equivalent of Barnabas Marsh, his grandson.
- “The Boy Boggs” contrasts with “Old Man Marsh” in “Innsmouth.” It also resonates with KingGeorge’s frequent use of the word “boys” in Providence #7.
- “The square your bus come into” references similar events in “Innsmouth.”
- “St. Joad’s” is a reference to sonnet XXV in Lovecraft’s cycle Fungi from Yuggoth: “Beware St. Toad’s cracked chimes!” Aghast, I fled—
Till suddenly that black spire loomed ahead.
- “The Lodge House” – In “Innsmouth,” the Esoteric Order of Dagon was situated in what was the Masonic Lodge.
- The view out of the window includes the same windows and chimney as when Agent Brears looks out of hotel window in Salem in Neonomicon #2, P4,p1. It is possible that these stories take place in the same room, though it appears that the Providence room is slightly lower than the Neonomicon one. The furnishings, beds, and windows are different.
- “Lest you plan on swimmin'” again a nautical reference.
- “Hillman Hotel” is Providence‘s similar sounding analog for Lovecraft’s Gilman House hotel in “Innsmouth” where it is described as a “building with remnants of yellow paint” as shown here.
- “Friends of Oannes” appears to be Providence‘s analog for Lovecraft’s Esoteric Order of Dagon, again from “Innsmouth.”
Oannes was a figure in Mesopotamian religion, and was considered identical to the Sumerian Dagon. Perhaps coincidentally, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe (which clearly draws from Lovecraft mythos) also features an Oannes Society.
- Commenter Mateusz Kopacz points out “on the right side we see that indeed, as “St. Toad’s” states, chimes of the church are cracked.”
- Saint Jude was one of the Apostles of Jesus, the patron saint of lost causes – a rather fitting figure for a fishing town, where the sailors and fishermen might have to be buried at sea. Presumably, the “Joad” on page 5 represents something of the local accent.
- The name of Providence‘s equivalent to Innsmouth’s Manuxet River is the real life North River, mentioned on P5,p3 above.
- Boggs’ Refinery uses an old-fashioned water wheel.
- Boggs’ Refinery – see P5,p2 above.
- Commenter Sithoid thinks he can place this refinery on Franklin St. “Historically the area […] was filled with tanneries.”
- “Salvage” is a technical term for recovering a ship, or its cargo or other property, when it has wrecked. “Wash up at my door” is similarly nautical.
- The voices from off panel belong to Increase Orne and Tobit Boggs – see next panel.
- Increase Orne mentions “a clergyman” who is likely Reverend Dominie Vanderhoof whose soul is imprisoned in a bottle in Lovecraft and Wilfred Blanch Talman’s “Two Black Bottles.”
- The two-pronged device leaning on the wall (or right) looks like some sort of foundry tool, similar to crucible tongs.
- First appearance of (left to right) Shadrach Annesley, Tobit Boggs, and Increase Orne.
- “Captain Shadrach Annesley” was first mentioned in page  of Suydam’s pamphlet (Providence #2 P38) as the “commander of the very vessel which transported Etienne and Mathilde Roulet to America.” They brought with them Hali’s Booke of the Wisdom of the Stars (or the Kitab) which is Providence‘s version of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. According to Suydam’s pamphlet, that voyage took place in 1686, so Annesley is more than 250 years old.
The implication is that Annesley is using one of the Kitab’s four methods of prolonging life (see Providence #2 P11,p4.) From Annesley’s interest in the Regnum Congo cannibals, later remarks from Annesley (implying he’d like to eat Black P9,p1 below) and from Boggs (that Annesley’s house was hit by lightning, a reference to Lovecraft’s story “The Picture in the House” P11,p2) the implication is that Annesley is prolonging his life through diet, specifically cannibalism.
“Shadrach” is a Biblical name; no direct equivalent appears in Lovecraft’s fiction. Moore might be referring to a character with a similar Biblical name like Ephraim Waite from “The Thing on the Doorstep.” Another possible inspiration is the 18th century religious leader Shadrack Ireland. In mannerism, he resembles the farmer from “The Picture in the House.” The surname Annesley occurs in Lovecraft in Henry Annesley, in “From Beyond.”
More on Annesley appears where he is interviewed in the parish newsletter on P39-40 below.
- Tobit Boggs, mentioned above, is the grandson of Jack Boggs. He is Providence‘s analog for Barnabas Marsh, grandson of Obed Marsh, from Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth.”
- Increase Orne recalls both the historical figure of Increase Mather, and the various Ornes that populate Lovecraft’s fiction, including:
– Benjamin Orne of “Innsmouth,”
– Capt. James P. Orne of “The Horror at Martin’s Beach,” and
– Simon or Jebediah Orne of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (a sorcerer and associate of Joseph Curwen)
Given the circumstances, the latter is most probably the model for Increase Orne. His interest in vital-jars, his cane, his residence in Marblehead, and Boggs (P9,p3 below) and Black (P33 below) calling him “terrible”suggest he is also the titular “The Terrible Old Man.”
- “Vital-jars” (shown next page) refers to souls trapped in glass jars in Lovecraft’s “The Terrible Old Man.”
- “Book o’ Afrikee” refers to the Regnum Congo from “The Picture in the House.” It is a real book, featuring sensational de Bly brothers illustrations of a cannibal butcher shop among the Anziques – but as they had never seen an African, the features were of Caucasians. (As commenter bobsy pointed out, Moore utilized an image very similar to the de Bly’s in Crossed Plus One Hundred #6 P16,p4.)
- “Doubloon” – A gold coin valued at two escudos and worth four dollars in the days of the early American colonies; made famous by innumerable pirate movies.
- Left to right: Increase Orne, Tobit Boggs (who has the Innsmouth look), and Shadrach Annesley.
- The coins are gold doubloons; you can tell by the cross and the seal upon their back. This references’s Lovecraft’s story “The Strange High House in the Mist” where the Terrible Old Man “buys groceries with centuried Spanish gold.”
- “Pastor Sleet” is probably the double of Pastor Guilliam Slott, from Lovecraft and Wilfred Blanch Talman’s” “Two Black Bottles.” Like the Terrible Old Man, Slott imprisoned souls in bottles.
Text coming out of the left jar: “I am mad, I am mad forever, and God is the shit of nothing, nothing…”
- The text of voices coming out of the center and right bottles (and on P9,p2) are nearly indiscernible. Commenter David Car Mar was able to enlarge them using a microscope camera – and the three are the same “text” but not in any font/language we’ve found.
- Mr. Suydam is Robert Suydam, from Lovecraft’s “The Horror At Red Hook,” featured prominently in Providence #2.
- The panel on the left is the de Bry brothers illustration of the cannibal butcher shop of the Anziques.
- The real town of Marblehead, Massachusetts was the basis for Lovecraft’s fictional town of Kingsport, where “The Terrible Old Man” takes place.
- Annesley’s statement “Smells to me like you’re a Jew,” outs Black relatively quickly, and throws him off-guard. This passage hearkens back to old stereotypes that foreigners smelled bad (possibly due to their diet.) In the context of the cannibalistic overtones of “The Picture in the House,” however, this takes a darker connotation: Annesley would like to eat Black. So it is more along the lines of “Fe Fi Fo Fum.”
- “Salmagundi” is a 17th century dish of a varied salad with meat, oil, vinegar, and spices. This term reinforces the archaic speech and nature of the three men.
- Speech from the bottle – see P8,p1 above.
- “Old Comstock” has been suggested by commentator bobsy to be Anthony Comstock, the notorious anti-pornography advocate and prosecutor.
- “Increase, you’re just terrible!” reinforces Increase Orne’s connections to “The Terrible Old Man.”
- The gas leak also refers to the events of Providence #2. If Suydam told Boggs about it, it means that he has already warned him that Black might be snooping.
- The strange golden helmet recalls the treasures brought up by the Deep Ones in “Innsmouth.”
- “An Arab work of alchemy…” and “Mr. Hali’s book” refer to Hali’s Booke of the Wisdom of the Stars (known also by its Latin name Liber Stella Sapiente and its original Arabic name Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyya) which is Providence‘s analog for Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. The book is first mentioned in Providence #1 P15,p3, but explored in much more detail in Suydam pamphlet pages at end of Providence #2 P32-40. Generally these annotations refer to this book as the Kitab.
- “Garland Wheatley” would be Moore’s equivalent of Old Wizard Whateley from Lovecraft’s story “The Dunwich Horror“, who had a rare English translation of the Necronomicon written by John Dee. Suydam’s pamphlet mentions Dee’s received Enochian alphabet in describing the Kitab – see Providence #2 P30.
- Athol, Massachusetts is a real-world town that was the inspiration for Lovecraft’s Dunwich from the story “The Dunwich Horror.” Lovecraft’s fictional “Sentinel Hill” seems inspired by “Sentinel Elm Farm” in Athol. Moore mentioned accumulating information about Athol during early Providence interviews, for example see here.
- “That order” is the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente, the American coven associated with Liber Stella Sapiente (aka the Kitab – see above panel), Providence‘s Necronomicon analog. See Suydam pamphlet pages at end of Providence #2 for extensive background.
- “Stell Saps” is Boggs’ shorthand for the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente – see above panel.
- Here, Moore draws together the disparate elements of Lovecraft’s mythology, establishing connections between the Stella Sapiente/Necronomicon and the Wheatleys/Whateleys and the Boggs/Marshes.
- “Since they drew down the stone in ’82” is a reference to the events of Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space.”
- “Forty year afore that” would 1842 or thereabouts. The ‘epidemic’ in “Innsmouth” occurred in 1846, so that would be about right for Jack Boggs’ return from the Indies.
- “Captain Jack Boggs” is Providence‘s analog for Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth” patriarch Obed Marsh. Boggs’ tunnels appear in Neonomicon. See this blog post for Neonomicon references.
- “Grandma Pathithia-Lee” is Obed Marsh’s wife, from the south seas, named “Pth’thya-l’yi” from “Innsmouth.”
- “Harrison and them” are possibly the equivalent of the other “gently bred” families in “Innsmouth” (the Waites, Gilmans, and Eliots.) Probably Moore is forging further connections with the sea captains that Corwen dealt with, discussed in Providence #2. Commenter Sithoid points out the presence of a sea captain named “Harris” in HPL’s “The Shunned House“.
- Note the lack of population; the town streets seem deserted.
- “Shadrach Annesley” – see P7,p4 above.
- Annesley’s house “hit by lightnin'” refers to the events at the end of “The Picture in the House.”
- “Your Wades and your Burens” is again possibly a reference to the other “gently bred” families of “Innsmouth.” Notably, “Buren” is a Dutch name, and may indicate a connection to the Prinns; Ludwig Prinn was created by Robert Bloch, an alchemist, necromancer and author of De Vermis Mysteriis mentioned in Lovecraft’s stories “The Haunter of the Dark,” “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” and “The Shadow Out of Time“; it may also be a reference to Whipple Van Buren Phillips, the grandfather of H. P. Lovecraft. In Providence #4 P9,p4, Garland Wheatly also mentions “Old Wade” of the Stell Saps in the same vein as Boggs does here. Providence #6 finally confirms that the Wades, particularly Edgar Wade, is a member of the Stella Sapiente.
- The swastika also recalls one of Lovecraft’s early depictions of the Elder Sign from “The Shadow over Innsmouth“:
“In some places they was little stones strewed abaout—like charms—with somethin’ on ’em like what ye call a swastika naowadays. Prob’ly them was the Old Ones’ signs.”
Before World War II, the swastika was a traditional good luck symbol in many cultures; its association with the Nazis led to its general abhorrence for most purposes.
It is perhaps coincidental, but swastikas appear a fair amount in The Courtyard and Neonomicon – see annotations for Neonomicon #1 P6,p3.
- “Collins Cove” and “Derby Street” are actual Salem locations.
- “Big-eared, crowdy-eyed” is a pejorative toward regular humans from those with the “Insmouth look” who are bug-eyed and possess small ears.
- Note the difference in the size of Boggs’ and Black’s feet. One aspect of the Innsmouth look is “inordinately immense feet” which would act like swim fins when fish-people take to the water.
- “A fill-foot,” spelled “fylfot,” is a synonym for “swastika.” The svatiska is a related religious symbol associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in India and the rest of Asia.
- “Out on the islands it’s [a swastika is] is a superstition, means bad luck or worse” again (see P11,p3 above) reference’s Lovecraft’s Elder Sign. In “Innsmouth” Obed Marsh sails to the south Pacific Islands, known as New Caledonia, where he encounters Kanak people and begins breeding with the fish-frog Deep Ones. Marsh encounters the Elder Sign there in 1838 when “he faound the island people all wiped aout between v’yages. Seems the other islanders had got wind o’ what was goin’ on, an’ had took matters into their own hands. S’pose they musta had, arter all, them old magic signs as the sea-things says was the only things they was afeard of.”
- “Bate” here, which Black probably hears as “bait,” is used in the sense of abate – to reduce, to diminish.
- “Pathithia Lee” – see P10,p4 above.
- “Didn’t want different races breedin’ together” is a reflection of the racism of the time, which opposed miscegenation, and the idea of which in a more fantastic form underlies much of “Innsmouth.” Nor was the idea of mixed race marriages with Pacific islanders unfeasible; Lovecraft himself was aware of a colony of Fiji Islanders who lived on Cape Cod, which he refers to in “Innsmouth“:”You’ve probably heard of the Salem man that came home with a Chinese wife, and maybe you know there’s still a bunch of Fiji Islanders somewhere around Cape Cod.”
- “They’re sore about us takin’ places like Saint Joad’s and their Mason’s lodge” is a reference to how in “Innsmouth,” the Esoteric Order of Dagon essentially ran out the churches and took over the Masonic lodge.
- “They’d like to see us all locked up someplace” echoes the “concentration camps” mentioned in “Innsmouth,” where the Innsmouth fish-folk were interred after the government raid: “Keener news-followers, however, wondered at the prodigious number of arrests, the abnormally large force of men used in making them, and the secrecy surrounding the disposal of the prisoners. No trials, or even definite charges, were reported; nor were any of the captives seen thereafter in the regular gaols of the nation. There were vague statements about disease and concentration camps, and later about dispersal in various naval and military prisons, but nothing positive ever developed.”
This theme of internment, which eerily parallels the interment of Japanese Americans during World War II, has been picked up by some later authors, such as Brian McNaughton in “The Doom that Came to Innsmouth” and Ruthanna Emrys in “The Litany of Earth.”
Like McNaughton and Emrys, Moore is inverting Lovecraft’s sympathies. Instead of Innsmouth’s half-breeds being sinister and scary, here Moore and Burrows present them as sympathetic and persecuted.
- “Friends of Oannes” – see P6,p2 above.
- The date on the Friends of Oannes flyer is 18 July 1919, the day of Black’s dream; see P31.
- “An island word for the almighty” – see P12,p1 above.
- “My granpappy” is Jack Boggs, analog for Obed Marsh.
- There’s an interesting play on “Herald” first subtly mentioned here, and made clearer in the Commonplace Book on Page 34 below. (It’s also referenced a few more times this issue – see P20, p3-4, plus possibly P23,p3.) The New York Herald is the newspaper that Black worked for, but he had not told this to Suydam or Boggs. So it seems that Black is perhaps a herald of some new age, perhaps of new gods. This thread will be made clearer in future issues.
- First appearance of Negathlia-Lou Boggs. She has the Innsmouth look and bears a distinct resemblance to the “Mrs. Boggs-Marsh” of the Women of HPL variant cover for this issue.
- The device Negathlia-Lou is using is an abacus, which is very widespread, though more common in Asia during this period, it was far from unknown in the United States. This abacus uses small seashells instead of beads, and lacks a “home column” or equivalent.
- “P’hliz t’michu” is rural dialect (or possibly speech impediment) for “pleased to meet you,” phrased in such a way as to resemble Aklo. (For basic explanation of Aklo, see annotations for Neonomicon #1, P6,p3)
- On the board, the tally-marks are grouped in fours, not five as is common. This may indicate a base 4 system.
- “Rum-Run” refers to the smuggling of rum. This smuggling – to avoid taxes – was present all the way back to the Colonies. The term “rum running” is of uncertain age, however, and may not date back before Prohibition, which began 1919.
- “It were people” refers to human trafficking, which is a common connection point between the Boggs and Robert Suydam’s operation in New York (as it was in “The Horror at Red Hook“), as well as Joseph Curwen (as in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward).
- These tunnels are, of course, the setting for much of Neonomicon #2-4. The trap door seems identical to that in Neonomicon 2, P14-15, indicating that this may be the future site of the Whispers in Darkness shop.
- Once again, Black is descending into the underground. In terms of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, this marks part of Black’s heroic journey or initiation into the underworld.
- Panelwise, the black beneath the trap door extends into the black comics gutter, perhaps
The tunnels are substantially similar to those depicted in Neonomicon, so only differences will be mentioned.
- “she’s quite a catch: – Commenter Shecky points out that this is a double meaning: “Catch” as in “a desirable woman” and as in “catching a fish.”
- “They don’t mind it in the mouth” – i.e. they are not against oral sex, which was often considered unusual or vulgar in the early 20th century.
- Commenter dcbooks70 suggests that this “in the mouth” is play on “Innsmouth.”
- “Redskins” – Native Americans. Lovecraft mentions relatively few Native Americans in his writings, but the intimation that the tunnels are older than even suggested in Neonomicon is another layer of the onion peeled back, extending the mythology even farther into the past.
- “Like stuff on a men’s room wall” – A reference to the habit of some folks to avail themselves of the anonymity of the restroom and the privacy from women to write or draw sexual graffiti. As popular in ancient times as it is today.
- The pictures largely depict sexual acts between men, women, and frog-like Deep Ones with exaggerated sexual characteristics. Notably, the images of star-headed beings or the truncated-pentagram-with-tentacles symbols from Neonomicon are not present.
- “Marryin’ don’t work the other way” – Lovecraft did include intimations of male Deep Ones raping female humans in his notes to “Innsmouth,” but did not include them in the final draft. It is possible that Moore is referring to the intimation in “Dagon” that the Deep Ones continue to grow throughout their lives – which, if it was limited to the male Deep Ones, would be difficult to hide. This may be reflected in the drawings, where the Deep Ones seem much larger than the humans.
- A notable difference from the tunnels in Neonomicon is that the door at the end of the tunnels is barred.
- The Kitab/Hali’s Booke/Stella Sapiente apparently also includes information on the Deep Ones.
- This underground dock appears to be where the room where the Deep One rapes Brears in Neonomicon was built. Here, we see that the original underground chamber was a natural cavern.
- “The door, they made it out of cedar-wood and beaten bronze, the way they’d been instructed” refers back to the orgone energy accumulator instructions in Kitab as explained in Suydam’s pamphlet pages at end of Providence #2, and is identical to the “layer of wood and metal” in Neonomicon #2, P16.
- “By the book” is a colloquialism in English for having done a job properly, but in this case Boggs literally means, in accordance with the instructions in the Kitab.
- Black’s reaction no doubt comes from the similarity between this underground space and the one in his “vision” under Red Hook. The similarity of underground tunnels and natural chambers in both locations (as well as the suggestion of orgiastic rites) suggests common features of the cult practices in both locations.
- Commenter Shecky points out:
[…] there’s another possibility: as in Neonomicon, Black may be suddenly and uncomfortably aware of sexual arousal due to the orgone energy in the area, as you mentioned in Page 15, panel 1. Given that the only potential partner in the vicinity is an old fish-man, it might explain why he feels the need to get the hell out of there.
- Commenter Shecky points out:
- The outside of the Boggs Refinery offices are very close in layout to the Whispers in Darkness shop in Neonomicon, right down to the gate on the left, reinforcing the idea that they are identical. Compare with Neonomicon #2, P14.
- Black is reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, about love and adultery in Puritan Boston, Massachusetts.
- The black-and-white panels now indicate a dream sequence.
- In the bed next to Black is his former lover Jonathan/Lillian ‘Lily’ Russell who committed suicide in Providence #1.
- The walls are bare earth, perhaps indicating that the room is notionally a grave.
- “We… live so far underground” is a reference both to their closeted homosexuality and to Black’s recent journeys underground, past and present mixing.
- “What if there’s a gas-leak?” – A reference to the “gas-leak” cover story in Providence #2. Commenter Jack Devlin suggests that “[…] it also refers to the way the Holocaust is leaking from the future into the present in his dream (and perhaps via the swastikas, and the exit garden chambers).”
- “Wearing my hair down” is gay slang for being open about one’s homosexuality.
- “Peacock-feather me in tarry wisdom…” – A confusion of “Tar and feather” (a form of social ostracism and punishment) and peacock feathers and Starry Wisdom from his visit with Suydam in Providence #2.
- Panelwise, the edges of the panels go from uneven hand-drawn to tight straight edges. In Moore and Burrows Neonomicon #3 and #4 this panel transition would indicate going into a higher plane of reality. We need to look more closely, but even the overall roughness of the all the panels in Providence appears to be smoothing some (especially on the right and left verticals – nearly straight lines throughout)… perhaps indicating Black’s narrative submerging into the Cthulhu mythos milieu.
- Russell has turned into Black’s former co-worker Prissy Turner (who, as far as we know, is probably a female, sans male genitalia, in real life.) The bed is now in the Herald offices. To the right is their co-worker Freddy Dix.
- “Camp” is an exaggerated form of behavior that marks one out as homosexual or transgender. It also may begin the allusions to concentration camps, see P18,p1.
- “The president wants all us women to have one” – A reference to women’s suffrage; Black’s subconscious is conflating male rights with male genitalia.
- “Gas-leak” – Again, a reference to the underground sequence cover-story in Providence #2.
- This appears to be Jonathan/Lillian Russell again. The setting has shifted to an elevated train.
- On the right is Ephrahim Posey, Black’s boss who appeared in Providence #1.
- In this panel, and the following two on page 18, the train is largely filled with striking Equity actors (see pages 2-3).
- “I like seafood, but I can’t abide fish” may be a subtle jab at Lovecraft’s distaste for seafood, particularly the smell. Some critics have equated this with a dislike for women, following the popular association of the smell of women’s genitalia with that of fish. Black is essentially saying is that he isn’t interested in women sexually.
- “You made me love you, Robert, I didn’t want to do it.” refers to the popular 1913 song You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It). (Lyrics were by one Joseph McCarthy. No relation to the infamous U.S. Senator, but given the anti-Communist themes prevalent in Providence, this seemed worth mentioning.)
- With “cattle-train” the dream begins to invoke the WWII Holocaust, which targeted Jews, homosexuals, and other “undesirables,” but which won’t take place for another 20 years. Cattle-trains were used to take victims to German concentration camps. More directly, concentration camps mentioned in Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth” as the fate of Innsmouth’s sinister fish-people residents:
“Keener news-followers, however, wondered at the prodigious number of arrests, the abnormally large force of men used in making them, and the secrecy surrounding the disposal of the prisoners. No trials, or even definite charges, were reported; nor were any of the captives seen thereafter in the regular gaols of the nation. There were vague statements about disease and concentration camps, and later about dispersal in various naval and military prisons, but nothing positive ever developed.”
- Moore’s blurring of time is perhaps showing that Black’s dreams are able to prophesy the future – possibly this is part of Black’s herald status – see P13,p1 above.
- “I’m not crossing the picket” This seems to be simultaneously a train and the Actor’s Strike. (“Crossing a picket line” refers to the act of working in defiance of a strike action.)
- “Even gas is coming out on strike” – On a literal level, referring to workers in the natural gas heating industry, but also referring to the gas chambers used in the Nazi Holocaust.
- “The whole country could be blown to Russia…” – Conflates fears of physical explosions caused by natural gas with fears of a Russia-style Communist Revolution. See the opening to Providence #7 (and notes) for more on this.
- The facial birthmark from P3,p2 above reappears.
- On the right is the suicide chamber (“exit garden”) from Providence #1.
- “Some place to take a leak” – A transition from the “gas-leak” to the need to urinate; Moore is playing with words here, switching between homonyms.
- Commenter Sithoid:
“sunken exit garden” – Charles mentioned sunken gardens in Chapter 1 (P7,p2), probably meaning “low places” like bars or clubs frequented by their gay community.
- Commenter John Eggington informs us that “sunken gardens” was early 20th century gay slang for the restrooms in the Times Square subway station.
- Bryant Park, in New York City, is depicted on P1 of Providence #1.
- The setting on the left of Black’s head is unknown; it doesn’t quite match any of the backgrounds seen yet. (It may be a New York City subway station?)
- “Sarlem, Nathachusetts” – A mix-up of Salem, Massachusetts and Sarnath, a city in the Dreamlands, notable in Lovecraft’s “The Doom That Came to Sarnath.” Commenter Mateusz Kopacz notes “Nathachusetts may have been derived from NATHaniel Hawthorne (since Black have read “The Scarlet Letter” before going to bed) or JoNATHan (since most of the dream looks like it has originated out of sense of guilt).”
- On the right, made clear in the following panel, is Tom Malone from Providence #2.
- “The business with the gas-chambers” again refers to the Holocaust, or at least the exit gardens.
- There is an “A” on the back of Black’s jacket, representing the Scarlet Letter from the novel that Black was reading before bed; the “A” means “Adulterer,” and may represent Black’s feeling of having betrayed Lily.
- “This sign doesn’t look right” – This has several layers of meaning. It refers to the “Sarlem” sign, to the “Scarlet Letter” on Black’s jacket, and quite possibly to the Elder Sign seen on P11,p4. (Thanks to commenter Sithoid for inspiring this line of thought.)
- This seems to refer to events in the future, after Black has written the book he is currently researching.
- These panels are set in Providence‘s near future (see P18,p1 regarding Black’s dreams as prophesy.) The panel depicts Moore and Burrows version of J. Edgar Hoover‘s 1927-28 investigation into the events of Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth,” which take place nearly 10 years after Providence’s 1919.
This scene is depicted in The Courtyard #1 P22,p2 (see image right) with Hoover in Salem/Innsmouth, though the town is not mentioned by name, but as “some backwater seaport in Massachusetts” whose name has been blacked out.
- “infestigated” – Moore is playing with words here, the idea of an “infestation” and an “investigation”
- “undermen” – An echo of the German untermensch, or sub-human, used to refer to “inferior races” – but also here echoing the underground activities of the groups
- “Sarlath” is possibly Moore’s equivalent of Lovecraft’s “Sarnath.”
- “Sluice” – To wash away or wash out with water”.
- “Finally, a saline solution” – Saline is a solution of salt in water, often used as eye drops; again Moore is playing with words, referring to the aquatic origins of the Deep One hybrids, and to the Nazi “final solution”.
- The two men on the right are J. Edgar Hoover (front) and his alleged lover Clyde Tolson. (Thanks to commenter Giz for identifying Tolson.)
- “something smells fishy about them island women” – Black’s mind working out the intimations that Boggs had made of the Deep One women
- “hebrewsexuals” – A conflation of Black being undercover both as Hebrew and a homosexual.
- “They end up together in the showers” – As commenter Judgment Dave points out, this is “both referring to homosexual encounters in the showers as Robert mentions (in bed to Lily on Pg17 p2) and the use of ‘showers’ as gas chambers in the WWII Nazi concentration camps.”
- “under the covers” – Literally meaning, the creature under the sheet, metaphorically referring to what’s happening in the bedroom, i.e. sexual matter
- Tolson’s hand is apparently fiddling with Hoover’s trousers, probably suggesting again closeted homosexuality
- “Trawling me” – A fishing technique involving a net or seine; also used as a metaphor for searching.
- Turner now spots the Innsmouth look.
- “I thought I’d left you on the train” can be read multiple ways: “I thought I’d left you (behind, when I left New York) on the train”; “I thought I’d left you (just now, when I disembarked, but you remained) on the train”; or “I thought I’d left you” (in the sense of ending our relationship). (Thanks to commenter Sithoid.)
- “Camp” can mean “gay” in this context.
- “Camp” and “concentration” again refer to the concentration camps from Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth” and from the Holocaust. Moore is inverting Lovecraft’s tropes. Moore is associating Innsmouth folks with persecuted innocents, especially WWII Jews. “Masterwork” evokes “Master Race”.
- “You Marblehead” – A mix of “you blockhead” (meaning, “you idiot”) and a reference to Marblehead, Massachusetts.
- “My work, it’s going to make me free…” – In the German concentration camp of Auschwitz, the sign over the gate read “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work makes you free.”)
- Note the fish-scales appearing on Turner’s leg.
- The drawings are similar to but don’t seem to match any on the walls of Boggs’ tunnels; the figure with the antlers may be a reference to the similar figure in True Detective.
- The far wall, with bricks above and tiles below, (shown here and subsequent panels) matches that of Neonomicon‘s underground pool chamber, shown starting Neonomicon #2 P18. The drains (and shape of the room) somewhat resemble Neonomicon‘s underground changing room, shown starting Neonomicon #2 P16.
- “Schwartz” is German for “Black.” Many European immigrants changed their names for more English or American-sounding names when they emigrated to the United States.
- “Robert… the herald” is another reference to Black as herald. See also P13,p1 above.
- “You’re the herald, all right” – see P13,p1 above.
- The suicide chamber mortician appeared in Providence #1 (beginning P14) standing in similar postures as shown here. As far as has been shown to this point, the mortician never appeared in Black’s presence. Similar to including future events (see P18,p1 above) Black’s dreams are able to envision contemporaries he has (most likely) not met.
- The figure of the mortician is dressed in severe black, which stands out on the page; Nyarlathotep is sometimes known as “The Black Man,” such as in Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.”
- “flapping and gasping” – Fish taken out of the water begin to asphyxiate, flopping around and gasping for breath. Exit gardens work on a similar principle.
- The swastikas on the wall are more clearly similar to Nazi swastikas now.
- The fish have the faces of Boggs and his wife.
- “Make you wear Little Stars” – A reference to the Nazi practice of forcing Jews to wear the Star of David, so they could be easily identified, conflated with the “Starry Wisdom.”
- The use of the word “swamp”, besides being another evocation of water, also recalls the first time that Moore wrote a dream sequence packed with densely overlapping verbal and visual imagery, Swamp Thing #22, “Swamped”.
- “Bogged down” – A pun on the name, but indicative of the racial sentiment at the time, as sometimes expressed by Lovecraft, that measures had to be taken to preserve the white race and civilization from miscegenation.
- “Bigger fish to fry” is a common saying meaning that there are more important matters to deal with. But “fry” can also mean juvenile fish, which seems relevant to this issue’s themes.
- Now Tom Malone is in Black’s bed, reading The Scarlet Letter.
- “Unnameable” – Recalling a characteristic term of Lovecraft’s.
- Oddly, when Black awakens, the panel borders don’t transition back to being particularly rough.
- The window is open. When we last saw it (P16,p3), it appeared that Black had just closed it in preparation for bed. Did he change his mind? Or did someone else open it while he slept? (Thanks to commenter DC Books.)
- Repeats P1,p1.
- “pay his reckonin'” means, on a literal level, “pay his hotel bill”. However, it can also mean “submit to fate”.
- The Parish newsletter features Oannes prominently, suggesting a closer connection to the “Friends of Oannes” than coincidence. The phrase printed beneath is a variant of the King James Version of Matthew 4:19; see P35.
- “Glad I got to meet the feller all the talk’s about” is probably another reference to Black as the herald of some kind – see P13,p1 above. People are apparently already talking about him.
- “Athol” and “Garland Wheatley” were mentioned above – see P10,p2. Athol, a real town in Massachusetts, is Providence‘s equivalent of Lovecraft’s Dunwich. Black is traveling to meet the Wheatleys/Whateleys, who have an English translation of the Kitab.
- The woman’s mouth appears to have the Innsmouth look.
- These panels form a fixed-camera sequence, indicating the passing of time.
- The second building from the right has a gambrel roof, a staple in Lovecraft’s descriptions, including that of Innsmouth.
- “Misery Island” is apparently Providence’s analog for Devil Reef in “Innsmouth.” Commenter Jack Devlin points out that Misery Islands are a real-world location.
- The bus driver is Joe Sargent from “Innsmouth,” also spotting the Innsmouth look.
- The passengers faces are concealed to both the reader and to Black. Below they are revealed to have the Innsmouth look – see description P4,p4.
- The swim out to Misery Island recalls a similar scene recalled by Zadok Allen in “Innsmouth.”
- The “sunk’uns” (sunk ones) are the aged interbred human-Deep-One inhabitants of Innsmouth who take to the sea as they get old.
- The bus ride – complete with mother and child – to the train ride at the beginning of the book, another example of Moore’s tendency to mirror the narrative in layout.
- The man, of course, has the Innsmouth look – note the wrinkled neck resembling gills. The partially shown passenger on right also spots telltale neck wrinkles.
- “Gargees” – Possibly a shortening of “Gargouille de la mer” from Neonomicon #4, P20,p3.
- These two form a fixed-camera sequence.
- All of the passengers, other than Black, clearly have the Innsmouth look- see description P4,p4.
- Black is reading a copy of the August 1919 Judge magazine (often published before the beginning of the month).
Page 27 – Commonplace Book
- “Well, everything’s happening at once, I guess” – Commenter Sithoid points out that “this is a literal description of the Yr Nhhngr concept!” (For more on Yr Nhhngr, see The Courtyard, or the Commonplace Book for Providence #6.)
- “Posey” is Ephrahim Posey, Black’s boss at the New York Herald.
- “Prohibition has passed” refers to the U.S.’s nationwide ban on alcohol. According to Wikipedia, the initial Wartime Prohibition Act took effect June 30, 1919, with July 1, 1919, becoming known as the “Thirsty-First.”
- “All this stuff with the actors” is the 1919 Actors’ Equity Strike depicted on P1-2 above.
- Though Black states that he doesn’t “see where this is going to end except in trouble,” his prediction is wrong. At least from reading Wikipedia, the strike appears to have ended with little trouble. This is perhaps in contrast to Black’s dreams being able to see the future (see P18,p1 above.) Black’s conscious brain is not able to see the future.
- “Ah, frailty thy name is Robert” is a phrasing Black has lifted from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The original states “Frailty thy name is woman” hence it also alludes Black’s homosexuality blurring gender, referring to gay men in female terms.
- “Pious status as a widower” references Black’s lover Russell’s suicide in Providence #1. Even though they weren’t married in any legal or religious sense, Black was very attached to Lily. Compare with the scarlet letter on his jacket in P19,p1.
- “My usual haunts around Times Square” refer to places where Black meets men for homosexual sex. Times Square is, of course, a bustling major destination intersection in mid-Manhattan. In Providence #1 (P29) Black mentions that he lives in the Times Square neighborhood. In Lovecraft’s time, it was (and still is) a neighborhood where homosexuals lived openly, according to Alan Moore – see quote in annotations for Providence #1 P9,p2.
- Tom Malone is the detective Black has a crush on – see Providence #2, P2.
Page 28 – Commonplace Book
July 3rd continued
- “Yeats and the Celtic Twilight” refers to William Butler Yeats. W. B. Yeats is a famous Irish poet who participated in the Celtic Revival or Celtic Twilight, a literary resurgence of utilizing traditional Irish literature, mythology, and folklore. Yeats was also an occultist, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
- “A well-dressed young fellow with pomaded hair… [with] some sort of gag tied across his mouth that tended to distort his speech in some way” is Providence‘s first reference to Johnny Carcosa, who appears in The Courtyard and Neonomicon.
Page 29 – Commonplace Book
July 3rd continued
- “Some malefic deity that’s been cast down to an aquatic hell beneath the sea […] a creature human in its basic form though reminiscent of both octopus and dragon” – A reference to the Cthulhu, as described in Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” : “yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.”August Derleth in particular would elaborate on the parallels between Cthulhu’s imprisonment and Satan and the rebel angels being cast out of Heaven in Christian mythology, though Lovecraft never stated or chose to pursue such connections, which has divided fans about Derleth’s interpretation of the Cthulhu Mythos.
- “Milton” is John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, a seminal epic poem of English literature based around the casting out of Satan and his legions from Heaven, and the creation of Hell.
- “Visions… could only be expressed… by the creation of a whole new language” refers to Lovecraft’s use of invented languages. In Providence/Neonomicon/The Courtyard these are Aklo. Moore refers to the linguistic technique as “glossolalia” in some interviews.
- “Stein or Eliot” refers to Gertrude Stein and T. S. Eliot. These authors are noted members of Modernism, which sought to reject traditional styles in favor of breaking new ground. It’s interesting to note that Black has a high regard for the contemporary artistic and literary movements of the period, which were largely anathema to Lovecraft’s antiquarian interests.
- “Guillaume Apollinaire” is a French poet, writer, and art critic associated with Cubism, Orphism, and Surrealism.
- The story of the tattooed man has parallels with other weird works, notably Edgar Allan Poe’s conte cruels.
Page 30 – Commonplace Book
July 7th continued
- “our Good Samaritan who’s no doubt wishing that he’d kept on walking down the road’s far side” – Commenter SIthoid points out that this “seems to contradict the notion that the protagonist met the delusional man in a “dive” as opposed to a road, but it’s a quote from the original parable (Luke 11:31-33)”
- The position of the tattoo on the cheek recalls the birth-mark on the face of the train conductor – see P3 above.
Page 31 – Commonplace Book
July 7th continued
- The “Gothics” refers to Gothic fiction, a literary genre that combined horror and Romanticism; Lovecraft’s fiction falls into the modern Gothic.
- “Keats’ Endymion” is John Keats‘ poem Endymion (1818)
- “The Dreadful Mask” is something of an inversion of Lovecraft’s “The Outsider.”
- Commenter Sithoid points out that “the concept of a mask that can’t be removed can be traced back to folklore (i.e. Japanese “Onibaba”)”
- While sharing similarities to the dream sequence on P18, this takes place several days before Black’s journey.
Page 32 – Commonplace Book
July 19th continued
- Some parallels with the stories in The King in Yellow, but continues the themes of hiding and disfigurement of the earlier stories – echoing in some ways Lovecraft’s idea of the “Innsmouth Look,” but more personally showing how Black’s life is influencing the themes of his fiction.
- Black is writing the day after the events of the comic proper.
- The “Pequoig Hotel” was an actual hotel in Athol, MA. Though it is no longer a hotel, the building is still adorned by the word “Pequoig” (Google street view) and is located at the actual “corner of Exchange and Main [Streets] in Athol” (Google maps.) Pequoig is the name of the Native Americans in that area.
- “Actors picketing” – see P1-2 above.
- “Penn Station” is the main NYC inter-city rail station.
- “Bill Fields” – see P1,p3 above.
- “Eddie Cantor” was a Broadway actor.
- “if it were, say, the fire brigade or the police force who were agitating” – Commenter Sithoid points out that this is foreshadowing of chapter 7.
- “Bolshevik” is the Communist faction that eventually became the leading party in Russia. It is used as a general term for socialists in the United States and other countries, particularly those that favored collective bargaining such as unions.
- Salem “had a fire just a few years back” refers to the Great Salem Fire of 1914.
- “Bus pulled into a semi-circular enclosure backing onto the North River waterfront” matches the description of the town’s “large semi-circular square” in “Innsmouth“, see also this map of the fictional Innsmouth.
Page 33 – Commonplace Book
July 24th continued
- “1914 fire” again refers to the Great Salem Fire of 1914.
- “Hillman Hotel” – see P6,p1 above.
- “Zeke Hillman” – see P4 above.
- “Nearly everyone has the same look…” describes the “Innsmouth look” – see P4,p4 above.
- “Boggs Gold Refinery” – see P5,p2 above.
- “[Robert] Suydam” – see Providence #2, P7,p3.
- Tobit Boggs, Increase Orne, and Shadrach [Annesley] – see P7,p4 above.
- “Bear-like” is a bit of homosexual slang (although probably anachronistic); a “bear” is a larger, hairer man that keeps to a masculine persona, in contrast to effeminate or “camp” behavior.
- “Naumkeag” is the Native American name for Salem’s North River.
- Annesley’s home “hit by lightning in the 1890s” refers to Lovecraft’s story “The Picture in the House.”
- “Gobble me up” is an unknowing pun by Black, who mistook cannibalistic interest for sexual interest.
- “Stella Sapiente” and “Hali’s Book” – see P10,p1 above.
- “Dr. Alvarez” – see Providence #1, P12,p1.
- “Garland Wheatley” – see P10,p2 above.
- “Something about a stone in 1882” – see P10,p3 above, refers to Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space.”
Page 34 – Commonplace Book
July 24th continued
- Black as “the herald” – see P13,p1 above.
- Suydam, Gerritsen, and recovering from being gassed – see Providence #2. Note that Black did not mention his employ at the New York Herald newspaper when recovering – see Providence #2, P24-25.
- Marblehead is, aside from being a real life town and an inspiration for Lovecraft’s Kingsport, the name of a novel by Richard Lupoff that stars H. P. Lovecraft.
- Calling attention to the misquoting of Matthew 4:19, visible on the facing page.
Page 35 – Parish Newsletter – cover
- The crossed figures are an oar and a bill-hook; the figure in the book is Oannes.
- The phrase printed beneath is a variant of the King James Version of Matthew 4:19:
– KJV: And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
– St. Jude’s: And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishes of men.
Page 36 – Parish Newsletter – Reverend’s note
- The word-play on these pages echoes that during Black’s dream-sequence. There are too many to go into each slip in great detail, but a few are worth calling out:
- “sumer” – A play on the season “summer” and “Sumer,” the region where Oannes/Dagon worship was prevalent
- “Oannes look” – A play on “the Innsmouth Look”
- The text quoted does not come from any of the regular books of the New Testament, but may be an apocrypha or other not-widely-known gospel; notably it has no obvious connection to the Epistle of St. Jude. However, it does touch on several aspects of Christ’s gospel in the New Testament, such as the miracle of walking on water; further it uses specific language from the gospels, such as the “scales falling from their eyes” (Acts 8:19), and the general refusal to acknowledge him – compare with Wilbur Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror,” which (based on Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan”) is a sort of diabolic pastiche of the conception and crucifixion of Jesus.
- “the idel of the Philistines” – Mentioned in 1 Samuel; Dagon (identified with Oannes) was a Philistine god that appeared as combination of man and fish.
- “through black abysses to dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever” – Echoing the end of “Innsmouth”:”[…] down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Y’ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever.”
Page 37 – Parish Newsletter – Reverend’s note
- “Old Signs” – Elder Signs, swastikas, see P11.
- “Promised no land” – Echoing Matthew 5:3 and similar ideas of the meek inheriting the “promised land.”
- “Rupture” – A parallel of the Christian eschatalogical concept of “Rapture“, but with the idea of a bursting membrane, possibly as a reference to a Grant Morrison-style cosmology like that shown in The Invisibles, where the Old Ones will “break through” (rupture) the membrane between universes.
- “more than one but less than many” – This phrase, which appears again on P38, seems to indicate something like “few” or “a couple”. Note that here, it refers to exactly two people. Does Deep One culture have no specific concept of “two”? They are capable of using significantly larger numbers in dates, at least…
- “Close-eyes” and “Little-foot” – disparaging descriptions of non-Deep One hybrids; compare with Boggs’ “big-eared, crowdy-eyed” comment from P11,p4.
- “pink boiled sex-stick of a dog wrapped up in bread” – A hot dog
- The joke recalls an old Gary Larson cartoon of a fish’s revenge on fishermen, concealing the hook in appropriate bait.
- “yh’naghu” and “yh’nak’hu” – The pastor is including Aklo language lessons amid the parable. The “repeated many times by voice and in air” recalls the concept of mantras in occult practice.
- “…an noise that is not voluntary and is not itself an unpleaseant thing” probably refers to laughter, which the locals are capable of, but clearly not very familiar with. (Thanks to commenter Pete).
- “roe” are Fish eggs. In this context, they are children.
- “Oannes keeps you safe within his mouth” refers to mouthbrooder fish, which hold their young inside their mouths. Though it also sounds like “Innsmouth.”
Page 38 – Parish Newsletter – Notices
- The whole tone combines the banal, folksy small-town church business and style with references to esoteric subjects.
- “Golden mitre” – A mitre is a bishop’s distinct conical cap; in context, this may refer to the odd golden helmet spied by Black in P9,p4.
- “a Historical Society” – A callback to Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth,” where the Newburyport Historical Society purchased such a piece from a pawnbroker who took it from an Innsmouth man, and which they held on to despite “the insistent offers of purchase at a high price which the Marshes began to make as soon as they knew of its presence, and which they repeated to this day despite the Society’s unvarying determination not to sell.”
- “The Great Dry Cull” – Apparently a reference to the First World War, from 1914-1918.
- The name “Jonah” is associated with the Biblical story of Jonah, who was swallowed by a whale. “Seely” is an archaic word meaning frail or simple-minded; as Commenter Sithoid points out, it may also be read as a pun on the aquatic mammal “seal”.
- “more than one but less than many” – Possibly a discreet in-joke to the Discworld Trolls’ method of counting in base four – “one, two, three, many” – which would correspond with the Boggs’ tally-marks being grouped in four.
- “Finney” is, as Commenter Sithoid points out, a fish pun.
- “Grand Eel” – The Esoteric Order of Dagon, and apparently the Friends of Oannes, were at least superficially based on Masonic orders which were widespread at the time. “Grand Eel” and “Master of the False Lights” recalls similar titles, such as the Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, and the ranks of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
- “Cuttle”, as commenter Sithoid points out, suggests “cuttlefish”.
- “Viking vishitors” – A reference to the Viking discovery of North America, particularly their camp at Vineland. Pre-Colombian European contact was a recurrent topic in some of Lovecraft’s letters to his friends, and possible Viking legacies or remainders are still popular today, though a combination of real and pseudohistory.
- “man-herders of the old Bering bridge” – Referring to the crossover of the ancestors of the Native Americans across the Bering Strait from Siberia to North America; during the last Ice Age the sea level was low enough to create a land-bridge on which humans and animals crossed to the continent.
- “fingers-many” – five fingers “many” times. If “many” is 4, this would be age 20. Commenter Sithoid suggest that this “should be read “as many as there are fingers” which may be 5, 10 or 20, depending on how they’re counting.”
- “Beecher” may refer to “beach”.
- “shedding and removal of the infant-sex-stick” – Something close to circumcision, although it sounds more involved.
- “the rut” – Ritual orgies at certain times of the year are a hallmark of certain pagan and pre-Christian religions, thought by some anthropologists as a way to coordinate pregnancies.
- “no ilcohol” – Prohibition extends even to Dagon cultists, apparently. Possibly because it makes them “il” (ill).
- “breaking off of the sex-stick inside to thwart other maters is no lunger encouraged” – A tactic of the wasp spider; the implication seems to be that the Deep One hybrids can regenerate their genitalia as necessary, and so some have pursued mating strategies to deny other males access to females after sex.
Page 39 – Parish Newsletter – Notices
- “seasons-many” – Commenter Sithoid suggests that, since this is referring to August 25, that seasons-many “means 4 (“as many as there are seasons”).”
- “misborn may in good conscience be commendaed to the bosom of Oannes” – Infantcide, in so many words, where imperfect or unwanted children are exposed to the elements to die.
- Shadrach Annesley’s account drives a connection between the Stella Sapiente history of Providence #2 – including Colwen, Massey, and Roulet and the Friends of Oannes. Again, Moore is establishing a history and tighter connections between the disparate elements of Lovecraft’s Mythos.
- “Amoskeag Falls” – A reference to an area in New Hampshire inhabited by the Pennacook people, related to the locale of “The Whisperer in Darkness.”
- “lightning-struck” – Another reference to the end of “The Picture in the House.”
- “Itccccc” was suggested, by commenter Sithoid, to be a pun on “five seas”. Commenter Pat Conolly notes that in the hardcover Providence volume 1, this was corrected. It later reads “That book is a curiosity, in so much as it seems” so apparently the ccccc was simply an early error.
- “whatever it may be a fellow’s looking for within it, there he’ll find it” – The beginning of attributing magical characteristics to the book, beyond the actual knowledge or sections it may contain.
- “Four paths around the graveyard” – referring to the content discussed in Providence #1:
- “required considerable ice” – Dr. Alvarez’ method, based on “Cool Air”
- “revitalising them what’s passed either with fluids or a preparation of their powders” – the “Essential Saltes” method of Colwen/Curwen from “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” and possibly the vampirism alluded to in “The Shunned House.”
- “the putting elsewhere of a fellow’s essence” – This refers to both the soul migration from “The Thing on the Doorstep” and the tiny bottles with suspended lodestones from “The Terrible Old Man” and “Two Black Bottles.”
- “healthy eating” – The cannibalistic diet of “The Picture in the House,” and possibly ghouldom such as in “Pickman’s Model.”
Page 40 – Parish Newsletter – Notices
- A retelling of the backstory of “Innsmouth,” essentially, recalling many of the essential historical events (albeit in a more favorable light). Notably, the break between the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente (“Wise and Starry folks” – a play on the Starry Wisdom church from “The Haunter of the Dark”) and the Friends of Oannes came in ’46 after the Deep Ones rose up to massacre townfolk in reprisal for their treatment of Boggs and the other Dagon cultists, an event that was blamed on “plague.”
- “Naumkeag” is the name of the Native Americans that lived in the Salem area, and also their name for the North River. According to Wikipedia, it derives from native words for “fishing place.” Salem is situated on the actual Naumkeag River, here apparently standing in for the Miskatonic or Manuxet River.
- “black pudding” – A kind of sausage made from congealed blood.
- “Satorday” – Possibly a reference to the old SATOR magic square.
- Taken from Lovecraft’s Selected Letters 3.423. It’s worth mentioning that the date on the letter is given as 31 October 1931 in Letters to Elizabeth Toldridge & Anne Tillery Renshaw.
>Go to Providence #4
>Go to Moore Lovecraft Annotations Index
122 thoughts on “Providence 3”
On page 4 panel 3 when we first see Hillman in profile, his head is positioned such that it almost seems as if his head is that of the marlin’s hanging on the wall beside him, a clever visual nod to the aquatic heritage hinted at throughout the issue.
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Moore said that he has read a stack of books by Slavoj Zizek.
Zizek talks about the concept of “neighbor” and “other”. In this lecture he says that the alien, unknowable other is under the surface of the neighbor and connects this to horror fiction.
“When Freud and Lacan refer to the injunction to love thy neighbor they refer to this dark impenetrable abyss which is the neighbor.”
“One should hear in this term all the connotations of horror fiction. The neighbor is the evil thing which potentially lurks beneath every homely human face.”
Starts at 35:34
I think this is something Moore is playing with. At first it looks like the Innsmouth people are going to be relatable, misunderstood people who are persecuted by their snobby neighbors. But when we read the pamphlet we realize they are much more alien and horrifying than we imagined.
Also, in issue 10 Lovecraft and Black talk about Poe and how it is impossible to really relate and understand what happens in someone else’s head.
I think it will be similar with Lovecraft, he will remain a mystery and we won’t really know where some of his weird affectations come from.
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Hi, i just wanted to point thay in page 26, panel 3, when the passenger answers to Black “they’re seals all right”, I think Moore use a double meaning for:
a) A seal as a symbol of tragedy, a mark, like the scarlet letter and the svastika used before, the deep ones are a symbol of Cthulhu and the destruction to come.
b) with the accent of innsmouth, it could pass also as a version of “the stars are right”, that’s why everyone smiles recognizing Black as the herald.
Thanks for this great blog 🙂
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Page 14, panel 1: “So, what you think of my Negathlia-Lou? She’s quite a CATCH, now, ain’t she?”
Another double meaning on Moore’s part. “Catch” as in “a desirable woman” and as in “catching a fish.”
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Page 15, panel 2. You wrote “Black’s reaction no doubt comes from the similarity between this underground space and the one in his “vision” under Red Hook.” While this may be true, there’s another possibility: as in Neonomicon, Black may be suddenly and uncomfortably aware of sexual arousal due to the orgone energy in the area, as you mentioned in Page 15, panel 1. Given that the only potential partner in the vicinity is an old fish-man, it might explain why he feels the need to get the hell out of there.
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Good observation; added.
Didn’t anyone note that when Robert goes to bed before the dream sequence his window is closed. When he waked up, it is all the way open. Not sure if there is any significance to this.
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I wondered if someone had used a means to sedate him, like a gas leak, and then had one of the women, like Negathlia-Lou attempt to mate with him. The result being odd dream with sexual references. The guilty party opened the window possibly to clear the air in the room, to enter and exit by the window, or perhaps to be able to see the sea during the mating. Just a theory.
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The other FBI agent with Hoover on page 19 p4 looks an awful lot like Clyde Tolson. It is generally accepted that Hoover and Tolson had a long term secret homosexual relationship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyde_Tolson
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Great catch, thanks! Note added, with credit.
Based on a quick listen to HPPodcraft.com’s analysis of “The Terrible Old Man”, I can’t help but wonder if Jacen Burrows based Increase Orne on Dr. Praetorius, of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, who keeps tiny people in jars…
Doesn’t look like much of a resemblance to me…
It should be noted that the last panel of page 26 shows a road sign that says Athol is 42 miles away, which makes it a much shorter distance between there and Salem than it is in reality.
FWIW it’s noted on our nitpicks page https://factsprovidence.wordpress.com/moore-lovecraft-comics-annotation-index/providence-nitpicks/ that the actual distance is around 80 miles
Page 17, panel 3: “It’s like an oar.” Certainly a nautical reference inspired by Black’s current surroundings.
I finally tracked down a source that was nagging me on a recent re-read – H.P. Lovecraft actual inspiration for Captain Obed Marsh in The Shadow Over Innsmouth was the eccentric entrepreneur Lord Timothy Dexter, as pointed out by S.T. Joshi in his edition of Lovecraft’s Letters to James Morton. In one missive he puts his address as ‘the offices of Ld. Timothy Dexter’.
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Page 19 panel 4, the reference to the hebrewsexuals ending up in the showers together is dual meaning, both referring to homosexual encounters in the showers as Robert mentions (in bed to Lily on Pg17 p2) and the use of ‘showers’ as gas chambers in the WWII Nazi concentration camps.
Maybe I’m imagining things, but there might be even more to this dream sequence…
Page 18 – “sunken exit garden” – Charles mentioned sunken gardens in Chapter 1, probably meaning “low places” like bars or clubs frequented by their gay community.
Page 19 – “This sign doesn’t look right” – could it be a pun about the Elder Sign? There’s a common belief (not sure if it’s actually true) that a proper Indian swastika should look left, as opposed to the Nazi swastika which does actually “look right”. Might be a stretch because there’s no visible swastikas on that page.
Page 20 – “I thought I’d left you on the train” – this line as well is pretty ambiguous: in real life Robert took a train and left Prissy in NY (“left her on the train”), while in the dream he stepped off the train, while she remained on the train (“left her on the train”).
Given the density of what’s already been found, it would be foolish to assume we’d found everything 🙂
These look good to me, and I’ve updated with credit. Catching the earlier reference to “sunken gardens” was especially good. Keep up the excellent contributions!
Thank you! I hope I’ll be able to find something else 🙂
As for the dream sequence, I think there might be two more points worth mentioning. First, the line about “leaving her on the train” on page 20 may also have a third meaning (should’ve noticed it earlier): in the dream he broke with Prissy (“left her”) while they were on the train.
Second, and this may be obvious to native speakers, but nevertheless: TIL that “crossing the picket line” means going to work while everyone else is on the strike. So on page 18 while Robert is crossing the picket (literally), he’s apologizing to make sure they don’t see him as a strikebreaker (who “crosses” it figuratively).
(One of my personal standard for annotations is “Would a translator need to know this to do their job?”)
Hi, thanks for this great web resource.
P.24 panel 4: Misery Islands are real, not just a Providence analogue.
As for the ‘gas leak’ references in the dream, as well as referring back to Suydam’s basement, I think it also refers to the way the Holocaust is leaking from the future into the present in his dream (and perhaps via the swastikas, and the exit garden chambers).
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Excellent observations! Added with credit.
A few more thoughts on identifying some characters:
1) P19, panel 4: you’ve identified the FBI agent as Clyde Tolson, but he also bears resemblance to Frank Stubbs from Issue 5. I would say he probably looks even more like Stubbs than Tolson. Not sure which version makes more sense, but maybe both should be mentioned.
2) Shadrach Annesley is a curious case: he may have one more prototype after all. We know that Shadrach’s story is related to Japhet Colwyn’s. Now, in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” where ‘Japhet’ originated he’s said to have married a daughter of one of his captains, and that captain’s name was James Tillinghast. And we know from Issue 9 that Shadrach is related to Henry Annesley whose Lovecraftian prototype was also named Tillinghast.
While the novel mentions other captains with more Biblical names (like Abraham Whipple), I believe that two Annesleys in place of two Tillinghasts are unlikely to be a coincidence. Which also casts some new light on Issue 9 itself, because if Colwyn really did marry Shadrach’s daughter like his prototype did, then Henry Annesley and Howard Charles are relatives which is never brought up. Charles probably doesn’t know it if that’s the case, but Annesley would.
I’m dubious about your point 1), as when this issue was being worked on, the character of Frank Stubbs had probably not yet been visually designed (and may not even have been conceived of).
Your point 2) took me a while to parse, but seems sound. I’ve added a note on the page for Issue 9 (P7p1).
Back here again with a final (hopefully) take at the Commonplace book. Here’s what else I noticed:
“Well, everything’s happening at once, I guess” – Heavy foreshadowing: this is a literal description of the Yr Nhngr concept!
“our Good Samaritan who’s no doubt wishing that he’d kept on walking down the road’s far side” seems to contradict the notion that the protagonist met the delusional man in a “dive” as opposed to a road, but it’s a quote from the original parable (Luke 11:31-33)
“The Mask” – the concept of a mask that can’t be removed can be traced back to folklore (i.e. Japanese “Onibaba”), but the specific mention of the title might be Moore’s nod to the movie “The Mask” and a horror story by R.L.Stine “The Haunted Mask”.
“if it were, say, the fire brigade or the police force who were agitating” – Foreshadowing of chapter 7
“seasons-many week of August… 25th August” seems to indicate that “seasons-many” means 4 (“as many as there are seasons”). This makes me think that “fingers-many year birth-fest” also doesn’t imply multiplication like your comment suggests, but should be read “as many as there are fingers” which may be 5, 10 or 20, depending on how they’re counting.
“That book is a curiosity, in so much as itccccc seems” Probably the weirdest typo in the whole pamphlet (especially given that Shadrach’s tale doesn’t contain other fish puns). The only explanation I can think of is that it’s nevertheless a pun read as “five seas”.
It could also be noted that all of the surnames mentioned in the pamphlet (Finney, Seely, Cuttle etc) are also fish puns.
Good stuff as always! Added most of it, though not all the Mask stuff, as I highly doubt those being intentional references.
Page 6, panel 3: on the right side we see that indeed, as “St. Toad’s” states, chimes of the church are cracked.
Page 19, panel 1: Nathachusetts may have been derived from NATHaniel Hawthorne (since Black have read “The Scarlet Letter” before going to bed) or JoNATHan (since most of the dream looks like it has originated out of sense of guilt).
Good notes; added.
p10 “Harrison and them” I think I finally have an idea who this Harrison might stand for. There is a sea captain & merchant named William Harris in “The Shunned House”; it would probably make sense to include him into Colwen’s network of captains since Moore was connecting Roulet with Carwen anyway. Might be wild guessing, but I don’t think there are any better candidates.
I think I can place Boggs’ refinery at Franklin Street ( https://www.google.com/maps/place/Franklin+St,+Salem,+MA+01970,+USAfirstname.lastname@example.org,-70.9004712,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89e3147171bf3fd9:0x6b9186b5a0f7fd27!8m2!3d42.5272405!4d-70.8982825 ) with some degree of certainty, because Robert sees it on his right when he crosses the bridge. The rest seems to take place around Bridge Street (which itself is a crescent), so I don’t think other bridges qualify. Historically the area where I’m placing the refinery was filled with tanneries. ( source https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:9g54xk154# )
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Certainly plausible. I love old maps 🙂 Added!
My Salem map was the sloppiest of them all so I updated it https://imgur.com/QHTOY4L (somehow I managed to miss two addresses on Bridge Street that were given in the Commonplace book). But frankly now I have more questions than answers. None of the houses on Bridge Street look like the Hillman Hotel, Friends of Oannes or St Joad (and they are all pretty old). More than that, on his path (Hillman -> Oannes -> St Joad -> Refinery) Robert has all of these buildings on his left, which is impossible. Either they took a huuge artistic license (but somehow only with Salem), or it means something. That Salem is the wrong place to look for Innsmouth and we should instead google Newburyport maps? That Jenkins is playing tricks with space? I have no idea how to find an answer, but it’s quite an intriguing question.
Early on I tried to match the Innsmouth of Neonomicon and Providence – but the Hillman hotel doesn’t really match (except for the views out of the window)… so my bet is artistic license.
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Artistic license is certainly possible, as is simple human error. Moore is very detail-oriented and precise, but “even Homer nods”.
I could certainly see the artist (or Moore) deciding that keeping the reading flow going left to right was more important than keeping the buildings on the proper side of a street.
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In Scots “seely” means happy. But it suggested to me the word “selkie,” beautiful creatures that are lured to shore and taken by men as wives. Sort of the reverse of the origins of the Innsmouth folks.
‘Sunken gardens’ is a reference to subway washrooms, particularly those around Times Square. See ‘Stud: Architectures of masculinity’
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Great catch, thanks!
Is the microscopic comment coming from the Jars in the Aklo alphabet (issue 6)?
Also there are 2 more microscopic balloons — 1 in the same panel, and 1 on panel 2 of the next page. Are there photos of those?
No, they’re not Aklo. At least, not the letterforms seen in issue 6.
We didn’t include photos of the other balloons as the “text” was identical.
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P3p3: Black is reading an issue of the New York published weekly satirical magazine the Judge. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_(magazine) Depending on the date and the cover it could be one of the following issues: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015068416406&view=1up&seq=799 https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015068416521&view=1up&seq=7
P10p4: The hook on the right could be a visual pun. With offering to show him the tunnels Tobit Biggs got Black “hooked”.
A reasonable interpretation. That same hook shows up more clearly on P7p4.
[…] Но даже ее лучше всего читать с фанатскими аннотациями. […]
Page 30, July 7th, Good Samaritan.
The part about ‘kept on walking down the road’s far side”’ is almost undoubtedly a reference to the people (in the Bible parable) who passed by the injured man without helping. Some literally moved to the far side of the road to avoid him.
The Samaritan, however, stopped and helped. Which is what the “protagonist” did with the tattooed man. He took pity on the man, listened to him, and gave him money.
So what this must mean is that the protagonist wishes he’d ignored his compassionate instincts and avoided the man completely, instead of getting involved and helping him. In other words: that he’d mimicked the people in the parable and “kept on walking down the road’s far side”.
Another great annotation.
A few errors I found:
Page 4, panel 2.
“This is the hotel where the protagonist of Lovecraft’s story ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth.'”
“This is the hotel where the protagonist of Lovecraft’s story ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ stayed.”
Page 8, panel 2.
“The panel on the left if, of course,” s/b
“The panel on the left is, of course,”
Page 12, panel 1.
“A fill-foot,” spelled “fylfoot,”
Shouldn’t that say “A fill-foot,” spelled “fylfot,” ?
Page 13, panel 2.
“It were people” This paragraph is for panel 3, which should have its own entry.
“Joseph Corwin” s/b Colwen or Curwen.
Page 19, panel 1.
It seems very odd that Robert would know that he has an A on his back. Does it happen that dreamers sometimes see their own body? In my dreams, as far as I remember, I only see what would appear in front of my eyes.
Page 31, July 7
This bullet item:
““The Mask” – Commenter Sithoid points out that “the concept of a mask that can’t be removed can be traced back to folklore (i.e. Japanese “Onibaba”)””
should be moved down to July 12.
“That book is a curiosity, in so much as itccccc seems”.
In the hardcover Providence volume 1, that now says “That book is a curiosity, in so much as it seems”.
Looks like the ccccc was simply an error by the Avatar Press printer.
Mr. F said “Robert Temple’s 1976 book ‘The Sirius Mystery’ was the first to propose that Oannes was an actual amphibian alien who helped give civilization to the inhabitants of the Near East.”
This idea was earlier discussed in I.S. Shklovskii & Carl Sagan’s 1966 book Intelligent Life in the Universe.
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Re-reading Providence in conjunction with these annotations, it’s a wonderful deepening of it all, thank you for this site!
A small thing, but it struck me that the name “Increase Orne” is reminiscent of ‘increase of the ordinary’, the exact opposite of what is occurring in Robert Black’s world (or an ‘increase of the ornery’, perhaps more like the character named here).
If it was anyone other than Alan Moore choosing the name, I’d call it too far fetched to be a deliberate choice…