Providence 4

Providence 4 cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence 4 cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Below are annotations for Providence, No. 4 “White Apes” (40 pages plus covers, cover date August 2015 – released September 2, 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: This issue was released 2 September 2015.  Issue 4 covers have been publicized via this Bleeding Cool articleRead ourProvidence #4 preview here. We’ve got basic annotations published for the comics pages, with notes on the Commonplace Book soon, and will continue to revise and refine. We strongly suggest reading Lovecraft’s story “The Dunwich Horror” if you want to understand Providence #4 references.

Cover

  • The regular cover depicts the Wheatley farmhouse in Athol, Massachusetts, based on the Whateley farmhouse in Dunwich, Mass. as described by Lovecraft in “The Dunwich Horror.”

Page 1

panel 1-4

  • The panels on this page are done primarily in reds and yellows, and appears to be a depiction of thermal imaging, as used by some animals, and famously used by the aliens in the Predator film series. Combined with the illegible spoken text, it suggests that the perspective is of a character with very different senses than humans.
  • This page depicts the events, including dialogue, from Page 23 below, but from the point of view of Leticia Wheatley’s invisible monster-like son named John-Divine.
  • As noted by commenter, David Car Mar, comparing P1 and P23 the timing of the word balloons is different. The order speakers speak in reversed between the two pages… likely alluding the different perception of time for Lovecraftian creatures (see also mention of time in panel 4 below.)
  • Panelwise, the edges of the panels are crisp straight lines, which contrasts with the slightly irregular hand-drawn edges throughout most of Providence (and Neonomicon.) Generally the straight line border has represented a higher level of consciousness – see the dream sequence in Providence #3 beginning on P17 (also Neonomicon #3, P5-9 and #4, P22-23.)
  • The four panels (as does P23) form a fixed-camera sequence, which Moore uses frequently, including in Watchmen.

panel 3

  • First somewhat clear appearance of Leticia “Letty” Wheatley – for character explanation see P12,p1 below.

panel 4

  • The text in the caption box is Black’s barber, who appears on P2.
  • “Inbreeding” was a theme in several of Lovecraft’s stories, most notably “The Lurking Fear” and “The Dunwich Horror.” For more on inbreeding in Lovecraft’s fiction, see Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • “Different idea o’ time” actually compares with the different idea of time expressed by Brears and Sax at the end of Neonomicon #4. While the barber appears to be voicing colloquial stereotypes and prejudices, there may be an unknowing grain of truth in what he says.
    The barber views a reversed clock (see P3,p2), so this statement contrasts with his profession’s unusual perception of time. (Thanks commenter Moses Horowitz)
  • “Or behave by decent standards” is another disparagement, but compares to the abandonment of normal social mores exhibited by many of the cultists in Moore and Burrows’ Lovecraftian comics, including the promiscuous orgies of the Dagon cultists in Neonomicon #2 and Providence #3.

Page 2

panel 1

  • Black is in a barber shop in Athol, Massachusetts. The reverse letters read “Barber’s Est. 1898” – and his reason for being at the barber is explained on P29; this also establishes that the date for the events of this issue is 4 August 1919.
  • As noted in the Commonplace Book (P29 below) the reason the barber is holding a candle near Black’s ear is that he’s applying a singe – an antiquated and now rare hairdressing practice. That this remote barber still practices the outdated singe is a subtle contrast: Athol’s barber is primitive compared to NYC’s, Wheatley is perceived as primitive compared to the Athol barber.
  • The issue’s title “White Apes” refers to Lovecraft’s short story “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family“, first published under the title “The White Ape.” It was Lovecraft’s belief that modern humans represented a particular refinement and specialization of the human species, and in line with contemporary studies in eugenics like the Jukes and the Kallikaks, miscegenation between races would result in degeneration as the white “stock” would be lost. His fictions elaborated on this to a fantastic degree, with white-furred “ape-like” creatures featuring in not just “Arthur Jermyn,” but “The Lurking Fear” (caused by incest) and “The Beast in the Cave.” As Lovecraft shared the common misconception that humans had arisen from apes (rather than a common ape-like ancestor), this degeneration often took the form of a “de-evolution” as if man was regressing to an earlier form. This popular misconception was also the source of common racial epithets directed at black peoples (comparing them to monkeys, gorillas, apes, etc. as a way to dehumanize them), who were falsely held by scientific racialists like Ernst Haeckel to be more closely related to apes than other races. Lovecraft’s prejudices were informed and shaped by this scientific racism.
  • “No better’n niggers” is Moore’s showing racial prejudice of 1919 white America. The early 20th century was marked as the nadir of race relations in the United States, and the use of ethnic slurs was sadly common and accepted.
  • The middle bottle is Bay Rum aftershave.

Page 3

panel 1

  • Black confirms that he is in Athol (the real-world inspiration for Lovecraft’s Dunwich) looking for the Wheatley family (Moore’s counterpart to Lovecraft’s Whateley family). Presumably for anyone that missed an issue.

panel 2

  • “Warlock Wheatley” is analogous to Lovecraft’s “Wizard Whateley”; a warlock is a male witch.
  • The clock facing Black is probably a barbershop clock, which has reversed numerals so that the person looking into the mirror can tell the time.
  • “Pequoig here on Main” refers to the Pequoig Hotel on Main Street in Athol, now an retirement home. In Providence #3 Commonplace Book (P32) Black mentions that he has checked in to the Pequoig. The Pequoig is shown on P4,p1 below.

panel 3

  • “Cass Meadows” is an area in north Athol, long a farming region, going back to pre-Colonial times. It is now a conservation park area. Moore is being meticulous in geography here, so unless it bears especial interest, we’ll forego further.
  • “Garland” is Garland Wheatley, first mentioned in Providence #3 P10,p2 and first appears on P7,p4 below.

panel 4

  • A “Medicine Man” is sometimes called a lay, faith, or folk healer, usually lacking in formal medical education and preferring natural, herbal, occult, faith-based, and/or atypical methods of curing disease or healing wounds.
  • The striped pole is an ancient and popular marker for a barber’s shop.
  • Commenter skeletonpete points out that overall, this barber shop scene draws a contrast between sciences and the occult. Summarizing the excellent comment further: the barber is dismissive of “some medicine man,” though barbers could be seen (historically) as a profession equally ostracized from his station by a hierarchical cabbal. Barbers were once the go to medical dispensers and surgeons. The barber shop was displaced by the surgeon’s theater. Doctors separated themselves via their own guilds and secret societies.

Page 4

The Pequoig Hotel, Athol MA. Photo by Marc N. Belanger via Wikipedia
The Pequoig Hotel, Athol MA. Photo by Marc N. Belanger via Wikipedia

panel 1

  • The top center 4-story building is the Pequoig Hotel.
  • More carts and horses on the street than cars, further suggesting the rural nature of Athol. The little piles in the street are probably horse droppings.

panel 2

  • As in earlier issues, flashbacks are shown in sepia tone.
  • “Laroy Starrett” is Laroy S. Starrett, founder of the L. S. Starrett Company in Athol, MA. Again, Moore showing his work establishing the realistic setting.
  • Black looks a bit tired from his bus ride from Salem.

panel 3

  • This appears to be Athol’s Main Street Bridge over the Millers River – compare to contemporary Google street view.
  • On the right is a black cat. Black cats have cameos in Providence #3 (P3,p4) and #7 (P25,p4), also three of four Neonomicon issues, and may tie in to Lovecraft’s life and works. See annotations for Neonomicon #1 P17,p4. (Thanks commenter Lalartu)

panel 4

  • Another flashback. The dotted speech bubble indicates whispering, which would be appropriate in a public library.
  • “Arrived later from Salem” is a reference to the exodus from Salem due to the oncoming Witch Trials. The difference between the upstanding and “blighted” branches of the family also derive from the family background given in “The Dunwich Horror“: “The old gentry, representing the two or three armigerous families which came from Salem in 1692, have kept somewhat above the general level of decay; though many branches are sunk into the sordid populace so deeply that only their names remain as a key to the origin they disgrace.”

Page 5

panel 1

  • Another flashback.
  • “Bloodlines can degenerate over time. Intellectually, morally….even physically.” is a succinct recap of Lovecraft’s own belief in biological degeneration. Keep in mind that this was set after the idea of heredity had been established but before DNA was discovered.
  • “Round-topped hills” is a reference to the hills and mountains described in “The Dunwich Horror“:When a rise in the road brings the mountains in view above the deep woods, the feeling of strange uneasiness is increased. The summits are too rounded and symmetrical to give a sense of comfort and naturalness, and sometimes the sky silhouettes with especial clearness the queer circles of tall stone pillars with which most of them are crowned.
  • “Redskins” are Native Americans.
  • “Scalpings” was a practice of removing the scalp, or top of the head containing the hair, popularly attributed to Native Americans, though the practice was quickly picked up by the colonists.

panel 2

  • Presumably the Lower Village Cemetery mentioned in the barber’s instructions (P3,p4 above) to the Wheatley residence. It appears to be today’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Mount Pleasant Street at North Orange Road.

panel 3

  • “I think the past gets in the marrow of a place, and maybe of its people likewise” echoes Lovecraft’s deep felt attachment to and identification with the past, as well as to his native city of Providence.

panel 4

  • The Dunwich Horror” opens with: “When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of the Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean’s Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.” This is that fork; see also P24,p4 below.

Page 6

panel 1

  • The Wheatley residence, as depicted on the regular cover of the issue; further identified by the name Wheatley on the mailbox.
  • The large number of slugs (on mail box and below) and snails (lower-left) emphasize the decay of the property.
  • To the left of Black on the porch, the small copper or brass pot is a classical spittoon for disposing of juice and saliva from chewing tobacco.

panel 2

  • The device to the left of Black’s elbow is an old mechanical, hand-cranked washing machine.

Page 7

panel 1

  • The drain pipe from the roof empties into a rain barrel; possibly the only source of fresh water if the Whateleys lack a well or nearby freshwater stream.
  • The door to the shed on the right is visible chained and locked, recalling from “The Dunwich Horror“: “one of the many tool-sheds had been put suddenly in order, clapboarded, and fitted with a stout fresh lock.” The shed contains Leticia Wheatley’s invisible monster-like son.

panel 2

  • The shed is visibly the same as from the Women of HPL variant cover for this issue.
  • Pools of blood are visible in front of the doors.

panel 3

  • It is never quite shown clearly, but it is visible in the upper right corner (and P9,p1), the shed has a gambrel roof, a staple in Lovecraft’s descriptions.
American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood
American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood

panel 4

  • First appearance of Garland Wheatley. Wheatley is Providence’s analog for Old Wizard Whateley from “The Dunwich Horror.”
  • Wheatley’s constant toting of the pitchfork is reminiscent of the famous painting American Gothic by Grant Wood. It’s also typical in popular depictions of the devil (thanks commenter Daniel Thomas.) It also perhaps resembles the three columns of the tree of life – see P16,p1 (thanks commenter bobsy.)
  • Compositionally, Moore and Burrows do interesting things with the pitchfork; here it visibly appears to capture Black.

Page 8

panel 1

  • Wheatley is wearing a variety of charms and pins, representing his membership in various organizations. Most of these appear to be distinctly benign: the compass of the Freemasons, the downward-horns and scimitar of the Shriners, an Elks Lodge pin, the triangles of the Knights of Pythias, the double-eagle pin of a 32nd degree mason, etc.
  • Compositionally, Black’s three upraised fingers sort of hold off Wheatley’s pitchfork.

panel 2

panel 3

  • Garland is in his slippers, which with his housecoat suggests he came directly from the house.
  • “Salem boys” are Providence #3‘s Boggs and Hillman mentioned above, who reside in Salem, MA.

panel 4

  • “Hali’s Booke” is 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.
  • “1912” is the year that Wilbur Whateley was conceived – on May Eve 1912, according to “The Dunwich Horror.”

Page 9

This page expands on the Wheatley’s break from the Stella Sapiente order, mentioned in Providence #3, P10.

panel 1

  • The “society” and the “group called the Stella Sapiente” are the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente, the American coven associated with Liber Stella Sapiente (aka Hali’s Booke or the Kitab – see above panel), Providence’Necronomicon analog. See Suydam pamphlet pages at end of Providence #2 for extensive background.
  • First mention of “Saint Anselm College in Manchester” which is apparently Providence‘s equivalent to Miskatonic University in Arkham. Manchester is the real-life city of Manchester, New Hampshire. There is an actual Saint Anselm College (located directly alongside Manchester, officially in Goffstown, NH.)
    Originally, Lovecraft had based Arkham on Salem, Massachusetts, but in Neonomicon Moore had erroneously identified Salem with Innsmouth (see Neonomicon #2 annotations P3,p2), thus, he needed to find a different town as a basis for Arkham within the context of Providence.
  • “1890” is the year Lovecraft was born.
  • In “The Dunwich Horror” the Whateleys also bought cows, which they used to feed Wilbur Whateley’s monstrous twin. Note that these cows appear sickly – with bleeding sores, as in Lovecraft’s story: “the herd that grazed precariously on the steep hillside above the old farmhouse, and they could never find more than ten or twelve anaemic, bloodless-looking specimens. Evidently some blight or distemper, perhaps sprung from the unwholesome pasturage or the diseased fungi and timbers of the filthy barn, caused a heavy mortality amongst the Whateley animals. Odd wounds or sores, having something of the aspect of incisions, seemed to afflict the visible cattle…”
  • Analogous to “The Dunwich Horror” the second story of the Wheatleys’ home is being worked on, to contain the Leticia Wheatley’s invisible monster-like son, when it outgrows the shed.

panel 2

  • A closer look at Wheatley’s talismans and fraternal society pins. The coin or medallion bears a Cross Potent.
  • “When they brung that stone down, ’82” refers to Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space.”

panel 3

  • A much-bowdlerized version of the events of “The Colour Out of Space“; in Lovecraft’s story the meteorite was supposed to have been taken away by researchers from the university, where it evaporated. Here, Wheatley suggests that was a polite fiction.
  • “On farmin’ land” is one of a handful of places where Moore makes a fairly strong connection between Wheatley and the land he inhabits. Later (P10) he walks Black to the wetlands. When he sees John-Divine is loose he swears by “the Old Land” (P23,p1.) It’s possibly to contrast between the rural Wheatleys and the (presumably) urban Stella Sapiente.
  • “Spirits it off to Rhode Island” suggests that the current headquarters of the Stella Sapiente is in Providence, RI, probably making them the reality behind the Starry Wisdom Church from Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.”

panels 3-4 (and P10)

  • Note the contrast that the natural world is thriving outside of the Wheatley’s property, while inside it things are pretty run-down. Outside the farm gate, bracket fungi (P9,p4 and P10) grow on trees, and P10 shows a full forest canopy, fresh water, dragonflies, frogs, turtle, etc.
    This matches Lovecraft’s description from “The Dunwich Horror”: “The trees of the frequent forest belts seem too large, and the wild weeds, brambles, and grasses attain a luxuriance not often found in settled regions. At the same time the planted fields appear singularly few and barren; while the sparsely scattered houses wear a surprisingly uniform aspect of age, squalor, and dilapidation.”

panel 4

  • “Old Wade and what’s his name, General Pike’s associate” appears to refer to the same the Wades and the Burens, mentioned in Providence #3 P11,p3, by Boggs who states “the Stell Saps these days, your Wades and your Burens, they’re too high and mighty for us.”
    This appears to point to an elitism split in the coven, with presumably educated Wades, Burens, looking down on more working class Wheatleys and Boggs.
  • It is not clear if the General Pike mentioned is the Revolutionary War commander Zebulon Pike or the Confederate general officer Albert Pike (or another Pike.)
  • As Black alludes to, the “Redeemer prophecy” is in the Kitab. It is mentioned in Providence #2, P39 (Suydam’s pamphlet page [10]) which states “… the book’s [the Kitab] delirious prophetic texts. Inspired by mentions in these of the prophesied ‘Redeemer, by whose byrthe, the great disorder of our worlde shalle once more be above’…” This possibly refers to the events of Neonomicon, and, if that’s right, then the Wheatleys are mistaken.

Page 10

panel 1

  • “The Arab’s book” is the Kitab – see P8,p4 above.

panel 2

  • “’92 fire” refers to an actual fire that consumed St. Anselm College in 1892.
  • “Cunnin’-feller” is a variation on “cunning man,” a term for a type of folk magician in England and the United States; compare with “wise woman.” Cunning men, witches, and other folk magic practitioners were often distinguished from and derided by the more bookish and educated ceremonial magicians.
  • “Twenty years we waited for their experiment to work out.” is not entirely clear yet. If the experiment was decided on in 1889 or 1890, that would correspond when the product – presumably Lovecraft, born in 1890 – reached majority at the age of 21 in 1911. Interestingly, this roughly corresponds with the nervous breakdown that prevented Lovecraft from graduating high school.
  • “Petty prejudice” is, once again, Moore is casting Lovecraft’s villains in an almost sympathetic light. See also Providence #3 annotations P12,p2 and P20,p1.
  • The water body pictured is probably the Tully Brook.
  • Note the lushness of the landscape outside the Wheatley farm, contrasting with the desolation inside (see P9,p3-4 above.) We don’t have a definitive interpretation of this scene, but it seems to echo the Wheatley’s connection with the land (see P9,p3) but may also touch on early New England attitudes toward nature. What the contemporary reader sees here is a thriving wetland, though what a 1919 person would see is a festering swamp. Lovecraft’s view of nature is neither horrific nor wholehearted embrace.
    Lovecraft often describes wild nature settings in mildly sinister terms, for example, in “The Lurking Fear” there are “ancient lightning-scarred trees seemed unnaturally large and twisted, and the other vegetation unnaturally thick and feverish…” In “The Dunwich Horror” he refers to “stretches of marshland that one instinctively dislikes, and indeed almost fears at evening…” On the other hand, Lovecraft loved walks through the woods and hills, although probably that was a more managed nature than the “real” wilderness. While Lovecraft’s wilderness may add to the fright of a setting, he never really pursued a “horror of the wilderness” compared to Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows” or anything like that. What Moore and Burrows are doing here is not entirely clear – possibly they are inverting that “instinctive dislike” by portraying the marshland as thriving.

panel 3

  • In Black’s “I’d have thought serious philosophers should be above all that” Moore echoes an age-old distinction between mystical efforts to improve an individual spiritually and getting bogged down in mundane pettiness and desires.
  • “Distant stars, an eternity’s depths an how man ain’t nothin’” is a bare-bones description of Lovecraft’s cosmic outlook, which focuses on how inconsequential man was in the scheme of the universe, a mere temporary aberration on a cosmic time scale.

Page 11

panel 2

  • “Found with all her bones broke like she’d been picked up an’ dropped” is reminiscent of something in August Derleth’s novel The Lurker at the Threshold, a “posthumous collaboration” built around two fragments of text from Lovecraft.
  • If Mrs. Wheatley died in 1890, Leticia must have been born before that, making her at least 30 years old in 1919, and probably older.

panel 3

  • “Catholic affair” references anti-Catholic sentiment which lingered rather long in the United States. Most of New England’s settlers were primarily Protestant Christians
  • “Like the society’s Rhode Island Church” is presumably another (see P9,p3) reference to Lovecraft’s Starry Wisdom Church in Providence, RI (from “The Haunter of the Dark.”) It sounds like the Stella Sapiente have bought or influence over an actual church.

panel 4

Page 12

panel 1

  • First clear appearance of Leticia “Letty” Wheatley. Leticia Wheatley is Providence‘s analog for Lavinia Whateley of Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” where she is described as “a somewhat deformed, unattractive albino woman of thirty-five.”
    The lack of pigment marks Leticia Wheatley out as an albino. Albinism is a recessive genetic trait, sometimes associated with inbreeding.
    Unlike Lavinia Whateley, who is described as having “crinkly albino hair,” Leticia’s hair is straight; Leticia also lacks the Whateley’s characteristic chinlessness, though she seems to share her father’s high cheek structure.
  • It may be a slight stretch, but wherever Leticia Wheatley appears, she has some sort of halo behind her head: here a picture frame, next panel the oval table, mostly the picture frame thereafter. Possibly this refers to her being a sort of Virgin Mary. (Thanks commenter Mir Kamran Meyerr)
  • “Figurin’ out” would normally imply math, this seems to be closer to sorting out her thoughts, hence the crayons. This is perhaps the first clue that Leticia is either not very intelligent or not altogether right in the head.

panel 2

  • “Your story” may refer to Providence as Black’s story.

panel 3

  • “But he’s…” is a slip of Leticia’s, presumably thinking of her other child locked in the slaughter shed out back.
  • “Willard” is Willard Wheatley, the Providence counterpart to Wilbur Whateley
  • “Mrs… uh, Miss Wheatley” – Black not used to dealing with unmarried mothers.

Page 13

panel 1

  • “Unless Willard’s off up in the hills again, he’ll most likely be about his studyin’.” – In “The Dunwich Horror,” Wilbur Whateley studied his grandfather’s books of magic and lore and went up among the standing stones on the nearby hills:He ran freely about the fields and hills, and accompanied his mother on all her wanderings. At home he would pore diligently over the queer pictures and charts in his grandfather’s books, while Old Whateley would instruct and catechise him through long, hushed afternoons.
  • “Upstairs … renovatin'” refers to how, in “The Dunwich Horror,” old Wizard Whateley repaired the house, and then expanded it to accommodate Wilbur’s growing twin. Unlike in Lovecraft’s story, Wheateley’s house currently lacks a ramp to lead cattle up from the ground floor to the second story.
  • Panels 1-4 form a fixed-camera sequence, which Moore uses frequently, including in Watchmen.

panel 2

  • The picture on the wall has halos, suggesting a religious scene like the Madonna with child – however, this scene includes two children with halos, foreshadowing Leticia’s twins.

panel 3

  • As mentioned above, in “The Dunwich Horror,” at some point the Whateleys moved the growing twin from the locked shed to the upstairs of the house.

panel 4

  • “John-Divine” is another slip. With the “Redeemer” prophecy, the Stella Sapiente appear to be melding Hali’s occult prophecies with Christian mythos to some extant. It’s interesting to note that “The Dunwich Horror” (and it’s precursor, Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan“) deliberately echo the supernatural conception, birth, and death of Jesus Christ, a thread that has been picked up by Mythos author and religious scholar Robert M. Price, and noted especially by Donald Burleson in his book Lovecraft: Disturbing the Universe.

Page 14

panel 2

  • “Oughter” – Archaic or regional term, “ought to” or “should.”
  • “People like pictures [in books]” is perhaps Moore giving a nod to the popularity of comics. (Thanks commenter The Gentleman Mummy)
  • Panels 2-4 this page and continuing p1-4 the next page all form a a subtle zoom sequence; Moore uses zoom sequences frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen #1.
Old postcard showing Sentinel Elm in Athol, Mass.
Old postcard showing Sentinel Elm in Athol, Mass.

panel 4

  • “Sentinel Elm off Moore Hill Road” is analogous to how, in “The Dunwich Horror,” the supernatural conception took place atop Sentinel Hill. However, there is no Sentinel Hill in Athol, but there is a Sentinel Elm Farm, noted for the Sentinel Elm:
  • “My own recollection’s got bits missin’ form it” possibly refers to how, in “The Great God Pan“, Mary’s seeing Pan rendered her an imbecile.

 

Page 15

This page largely hints that Garland Wheatley was responsible for the impregnation of his daughter in 1912, a view also suggested by some other critics.

Commenter Pete Angelo observes: “On Page 15 panel 4 – the white egg shape in Letty’s eye reminds me of a fertilized embryo attached to the uterus wall – which would be appropriate here since she’s describing conception.” These white egg-shaped highlights are visible for the whole page, and there is one in each eye – suggestive of twins.

panel 1

  • “Syringes” used for artificial insemination in cattle was actually relatively new in 1919, so this might be somewhat unlikely but not necessarily anachronistic.
Nightjar #2
Nightjar #2

panel 2

  • “An the nightjars, they was callin” refer to nightjars, a species of whippoorwills. In Lovecraft’s story, the bird associated with the Whateleys was the whippoorwill, which would supposedly capture the soul at the moment of death. Nightjars are featured prominently in Moore’s comic of the same name, part of which was published in Yuggoth Creatures.

panel 3

  • “Daddy is makin’ the angles” likely refers to the hypergeometry of Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.”
  • “He was… just big balls, you know?” is a twofold reference: on the one hand, to testicles, and on the other hand to Lovecraft’s description of Yog-Sothoth as “a congeries of iridescent globes” in “Out of the Aeons.”

panel 4

  • The close-up zoom into the character’s eye was used earlier by Moore in Miracleman.

Page 16

tree-of-life
Qabbalah Tree of Life

panel 1

  • This depicts a flashback to the event: Garland Wheatley apparently possessed and mating with his daughter.
  • The overall color is that of Leticia Wheatley’s eye, showing us that this is her viewpoint.
  • The “spheres” hanging above him take the form of a Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The tree of life appeared briefly in Providence #2, in Suydam’s home (P10,p1) and on the cover of his pamphlet “Kabbalah and Faust” (P12,p4.) It’s also prominent throughout much of Moore’s Promethea.
    Associating the Tree of Life with Yog-Sothoth (the god-monster-entity who impregnates Lavinia Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror“) has overtones both with “The Dunwich Horror“‘s declaration that “Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.” as well as the Kabbalistic magic of Kenneth Grant.
  • On the left is the Sentinel Elm – see P14,p4 above.

Page 17

panel 1

  • “Schoolin’ at mathematics” references the association between magic and mathematics in Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.” So this could be the truth and still jive with young Willard studying sorcery.

panel 2

  • “Playmates his own size” foreshadows of Willard Wheatley’s appearance, like Wilbur Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror” who grew at an accelerated rate.
  • Garland Wheatley’s pitchfork frames Leticia Wheatley’s face, sort of capturing or threatening her.

 

Page 18

panel 1

  • First appearance of Willard Wheatley, Providence’s analog for Wilbur Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror.” Willard fits Wilbur’s goat-like description: “The strangeness did not reside in what he said, or even in the simple idioms he used; but seemed vaguely linked with his intonation or with the internal organs that produced the spoken sounds. His facial aspect, too, was remarkable for its maturity; for though he shared his mother’s and grandfather’s chinlessness, his firm and precociously shaped nose united with the expression of his large, dark, almost Latin eyes to give him an air of quasi-adulthood and well-nigh preternatural intelligence. He was, however, exceedingly ugly despite his appearance of brilliancy; there being something almost goatish or animalistic about his thick lips, large-pored, yellowish skin, coarse crinkly hair, and oddly elongated ears.”
  • As noted by commenter Mir Kamran Meyerr, Willard Wheatley’s hands look inhuman, somewhat reminiscent of tentacles: though he has knuckles, his hands are more fluid than angular, possibly a demonstration of his kinship to the “ropelike” Yog Sothoth.
  • The shed recalls a portion of “The Dunwich Horror“: “In the summer of 1927 Wilbur repaired two sheds in the farmyard and began moving his books and effects out to them. […] He was living in one of the sheds.”
  • The horseshoe above the door is a common good luck charm.

panel 2

  • “Herald-man” is another reference to Black as a sort of herald, as mentioned in Providence #2, P13. Black continues to interpret these mentions as referring to his former work at the New York Herald newspaper.
  • “Tess’racts” are Tesseracts: a mathematical concept of four-dimensional analogs of cubes. They fit neatly into the implication of “higher dimensions.” The “cubes” that Willard is manipulating are actually the three-dimensional cross-section of the 4th-dimensional tesseracts he’s playing with.
  • The map on the wall is labeled “Athol.”

Page 19

panel 1-4

  • Throughout this page, Willard is manipulating the clear cubes in ways that would seem to defy the normal laws of physics. The reader can see this, though Black can’t.
  • The four panels form a fixed-camera sequence, which Moore uses frequently

panel 2

  • “Ahm near six un’ a haff” fits “The Dunwich Horror” timeline. If Willard was conceived May Eve 1912, as Wilbur Whateley was, and born nine months later, that would be the correct age for July 1919. As with Dunwich’s Wilbur, Willard matures at a supernaturally fast rate.
  • Willard’s explanation of tesseracts is pithy but essentially correct.

panel 4

  • “In the ‘Deemer story” refers to Redeemer Prophecy, mentioned P9,p4 above. Going a bit metafictional now; the Wheatleys are trying to realize the narrative of the Redeemer prophecy from Hali’s book, and the Herald is from a different section or prophecy. However, the details of the Redeemer story don’t fit the events of Neonomicon – but they do fit the events of “The Dunwich Horror” and possibly Lovecraft’s own life – indeed, it would seem that H. P. Lovecraft is the Redeemer experiment of the Stella Sapiente.
    While many fans have been speculating that Black will somehow inspire Lovecraft to write his stories, have we got it all wrong? Are the stories already written, in Hali’s book, and the characters acting them out? Moore has played with enough metafictional  narratives it’s too soon to tell, but it does make readers wonder at what level this story is being told or should be understood at.
  • “thuh crazy granpappy, un’ thuj wjajt=faced wummun, un’ thuj bad-lookin’ bwoy” – This part of the Redeemer prophecy has clear echoes with both “The Dunwich Horror” and Lovecraft’s own life – after the death of Lovecraft’s father, HPL lived with his grandfather and mother (whose opinion on Lovecraft’s appearance was, in HPL’s own words “devastating”). The parallels between “The Dunwich Horror” and Lovecraft’s family structure have been noted by several critics.
  • Two-dimensional representation of a tesseract. Image via xxx
    Two-dimensional representation of a tesseract. Image via Brian Grimmer Blog

    The description and depiction of the tesseract matches various depictions available on-line, for example see Brian Grimmer Blog.

  • The tesseract does include a Jewish six-pointed star, though this may be coincidental. (Thanks, multiple commenters)

Page 20

panel 1

  • “With aor competishun’s whut yu are.” is, again, the suggestion of a division among the various cults – see, for example, P9,p4 above.
  • “Put thuh buried places back on top” sounds like a reference to the sunken island of R’lyeh, where Cthulhu sleeps.

panel 2

  • “The Aklo lettuhs” is a reference to the Aklo letters, a kind of ancient code-language in the Necronomicon in “The Dunwich Horror” and to a meta-language in The Courtyard and Neonomicon. Lovecraft borrowed the Aklo letters from Arthur Machen’s “The White People.”

panel 3

  • “Ah knows who yu is better’n yu do” seems to again refer to Black’s status as some kind of herald (see P18,p2 above.) Other Lovecraftian beings somehow seem well aware of Black, including Zeke Hillman who stated that Black was “the feller all the talk’s about” (Providence #3, P23,p3)

Page 21

 

panel 3

  • A photograph of Willard Wheatley and, presumably his brother – who, like Wilbur Whateley’s brother, is naturally invisible, though you can get an impression of his size from the depression on the couch cushions. The inscription on the bottom is “the Boys 1917.”
  • “Ronald Underwood Pitman” appears to be the Providence analog for Lovecraft’s Richard Upton Pickman from “Pickman’s Model” and other stories. Like Pickman, Pitman lives in Boston’s North End. (Nitpicky note: Pickman was actually already mentioned under his Lovecraft-given Pickman name in Moore’s The Courtyard #1 P21,p1. and #2 P9,p2.)

Page 22

panel 2

  • “Every month about this time, he takes his nap” is not entirely clear. Monthly cycles are often associated with menstruation, but unless Willard Wheatley is an hermaphrodite, it’s likelier to be some other issue with his hybrid physiology. Commenter Alexx Kay suggests these might have to do with Willard’s prodigious growth.

panel 4

  • “Bears Den” is a small cave near Athol, and a detail in “The Dunwich Horror.”

Page 23

panels 1-4

  • This scene, from the point of view of John-Divine Wheatley, is shown on P1 above.
  • Though we can’t see or hear the invisible child John-Divine, apparently the Wheatleys can. The image of Leticia Wheatley cajoling her child back into the shed, and the Wheatley’s reaction to Willard letting him out, lends resonance with the image of the Women of HPL variant cover for this issue, suggesting Willard might do something to his mother.
    This provides a narrative frisson with the opening statement that “Country people, they got a different idea of time” – as the Wheatleys apparently do see things differently than most folks.
  • As commenter Alexx Kay points out, Black doesn’t seem to notice that the shed contains no equipment for “slaughtering” (as Wheatley states P7,p4 above), but does contain pictures on walls, as if it were a bedroom.

Page 24

panel 1

  • “Saint Anselm” – see P9,p1 above.

panel 2

  • “Stell Saps” – see P9,p1 above.
  • “You’re headed for Manchester” is a bit prophetic. Black is tracking down the Kitab, and that’s where he can find it, but Black didn’t state this to Wheatley earlier.

Page 25

panel 4

  • The crossroads reads “Old Turnpike” and “North Orange Road.” This intersection is shown on P5,p4 above.
  • “There was no hand to hold me back” – The first two lines of Lovecraft’s poem, “The Ancient Track“, continued on the next page.

Page 26

panels 1-4

panel 1

  • Moore wrote a Lovecraftian short story titled Zaman’s Hill (annotated here) though this was based on another of Lovecraft’s poems, the Fungi from Yuggoth cycle.

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.)

Commonplace book

July 30th

  • Moore plays a tiny expectations trick in revealing the gender of the brunette. Black mentions “a pretty brunette” (Providence #3, P34) but even though we know Black is homosexual, it is easy to assume he is describing a female. Not until this issue is it revealed that the brunette is a gay male. As in Providence #1, Black is so closeted that even in this Commonplace Book diary, he doesn’t let the reader know what gender his lovers are.
  • Marblehead: an American Undertow echoes Richard Lupoff’s novel Marblehead, originally published as Lovecraft’s Book. The novel is a fictional episode involving Lovecraft becoming involved with an American national socialist movement tied to Nazi Germany. (Marblehead, MA is a real life town, Lovecraft based his fictional Kingsport on. Marblehead was mentioned a few times in Providence #3, beginning P9,p1.)
  • Garland Wheatley – see P7,p4 above.
  • Mr. [Tobit] Boggs of Salem – see Providence #3 P7,p4.
  • “Wilde” is Oscar Wilde, famous Irish fantasist and homosexual.
  • The World Turtle mytheme is most prevalent among the native peoples of North America, and formed the foundation for the popular Discworld series by the late Terry Pratchett. To a small extent it prefigures a Lovecraftian mythos: humans as insignificant, at the whims of larger entities.

August 2nd

  • “Poe” is Edgar Allan Poe, famous American short story writer, and one of Lovecraft’s chief inspirations. Much of the form of Lovecraft’s fiction owes itself as much to Poe’s early detective stories as much for his weird and gruesome tales.
  • “This story would involve a young investigator…” is Moore basically capturing in a nutshell the trope of the occult investigation that Lovecraft, though he did not originate it, helped to popularize and which forms the basis for innumerable pastiches, and of course, could well serve as the basis for the plot of Providence itself.
  • “Tom Malone” – see Providence #2, P2.

Page 28

Commonplace book

August 2nd continued

  • “Epistolary form” is a story or novel that is told in the form of a collection of documents, usually letters (epistles), but also diary entries, statements, newspaper accounts, etc. rather than a direct narrative. Lovecraft used found documents, letters, and other such literary mechanisms in his own fiction for a number of purposes, ranging from exposition to framing devices. The most notorious example is “The Diary of Alonzo Typer.”
    Commenter oddforum points out that with the Commonplace Book and other back matter, Providence is being told partially in epistolary form.
  • “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is, of course, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula is the epitome of the epistolary form.
  • “I think it’s important to make one’s more fantastic stories as believable as possible” again echoes some of Lovecraft’s thoughts on the matter, as expressed in his Notes on Writing Weird Fiction.

Page 29

Commonplace book

August 3rd

  • “Share his miraculous abilities and longevity” in some ways echoes the cannibalism and associated longevity of “The Picture in the House,” suggested last issue.
  • Black’s interest in looking great for the brunette explains why was in the barbershop (P2-3 above), and sets the date for the events of the issue.

August 4th

  • North Orange Road is an actual street in Athol. The “Old Turnpike” is not, or has apparently since renamed. See P5,p4 above.
  • Cass Meadow – see P3,p3 above.

Page 30

Commonplace book

August 4th continued

  • Garland Wheatley’s appearing like a goat, is reminiscent of descriptions of his grandson (and possibly son) Wilbur, in “The Dunwich Horror.”
  • Knights of Pythias” is a fraternal and secret society.
  • “Hali’s Book” – see P8,p4 above. (Generally call the Kitab in these annotations.)
  • “Stella Sapiente” – see p9,p1 above.
  • “Bringing down the stone… 1882” refers to the events of “The Colour out of Space.”
  • “Redeemer prophecy” – see P9,p4 above.
  • “Daughter Leticia [Wheatley] – see P12,p1 above.

Page 31

Leticia Wheatley’s first drawing

  • A childlike rendering of the scene shown on P16 above, showing Leticia Wheatley (marked with red eyes due to her albinism), Garland Wheatley, the Sentinel Elm, and the connected spheres of Yog-Sothoth/the Tree of Life.
  • Additional detail from commenter Ross: Leticia’s drawing of Willard’s conception has the various colored spheres of the Tree of Life/Yog-Sothoth. The violet or purplish one likely represents Da’ath, the sphere of the Abyss, which in Moore’s Promethea, was shown as a gateway through which various lovecraftian creatures entered our cosmos. There’s mention of HPL in that issue, and a cabal of occultists called the Blacks Brothers.

Page 32

Leticia Wheatley’s second drawing

  • A rendering of “John Devine,” (called “John-Divine”) Leticia’s other son, who is invisible to the reader (see P1 and P23.) The overlapping features of the creature – including the black outline of old Garland Wheatley’s face – correspond with the description given in “The Dunwich Horror“: “It was a octopus, centipede, spider kind o’ thing, but they was a haff-shaped man’s face on top of it, an’ it looked like Wizard Whateley’s, only it was yards an’ yards acrost. . . .”
  • The overlapping aspect of the drawing may represent the creature’s multi-dimensional nature, where only certain parts of it are visible at a time.

Page 33

Commonplace book

August 4th continued

  • “Poor fellows coming back from Europe at the end of last year” refers to World War I. Moore is perhaps suggesting that Leticia Wheatley’s slow-witted-ness is post-traumatic stress.
  • “Sentinel Elm” – see P13,p4 above.
  • “These things going on among the rural poor” refers to incest, and generally interbreeding.
  • “The ultimate monstrosity” has a double meaning: incest, and Yog Sothoth (see P15-16 above.)
  • Willard Wheatley – see P18,p1 above.
  • “Goat-like look” echoes descriptions of Wilbur Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror.”
  • “He said he was sixteen and a half” is Black’s mistaken hearing of Willard Wheatley saying he is six and a half – see P19,p2. His Lovecraft analog Wilbur Whateley matures abnormally fast in  “The Dunwich Horror.”
  • “I remember a big pot of glue there” is wrong – see P18-21. Not for the first time, Black is remembering incorrectly.

Page 34

Commonplace book

August 4th continued

  • “[Willard Wheatley’s tesseract] gave me a mild headache” is a reference to Black not being able to perceive a fourth-dimensional object.
  • To “gawp” is to stare rudely.
  • “[Willard Wheatley] had something wrong with both legs” refers to Wilbur Whateley (in “The Dunwich Horror“) whose legs “roughly resembled the hind legs of prehistoric earth’s giant saurians; and terminated in ridgy-veined pads that were neither hooves nor claws.”
  • “The caption underneath the picture had a misprint… ‘the boys’ instead of just ‘the boy’…” is Black misinterpreting the photo (P21,p3 above) of Willard and his invisible brother John-Divine.
  • “Ronald Pittman” – see P21,p3 above.

Page 35

Commonplace book

August 4th continued

  • “The Pequoig [Hotel] – see P3,p2 above.

August 5th

August 12th

August 13th

  • “That they thought…” is Brown avoiding using a gendered pronoun, to avoid admitting his homosexuality.
  • “Chatterton” is Thomas Chatterton, then a famous British poet.

Page 36

August 13th continued

  • Milwaukee, WI, is Black’s hometown – see Providence #1, P6.
  • The sea-narrative has some obvious overtones with growing up homosexual (“had been made to feel unnatural and unworthy simply because of his human nature”), and echoes some of the homosexual interpretations of “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”
  • Eugene O’Neill” is an American realist playwright.

Page 37

August 13th continued

  • “I was starting to get quite excited about all the shipboard material” is possibly a veiled reference to the prevalence of situational homosexuality aboard maritime vessels, an occupation almost exclusive to men.
  • “Badge of shame” references The Scarlet Letter, mentioned in the next sentence.
  • Black was reading “Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter” in Providence #3, P16,p2.

August 14th

Page 38

August 14th continued

  • Gustav Moreau” was a French symbolist painter; several of his most memorable feature fantastic monsters. Commenter Mr F notes that Moreau appears in Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, vol 2.
  • Hieronymus Bosch” is a Medieval Dutch painter, also noted for his fantastic monsters. Moore references Bosch in his Splash Brannigan story in Tomorrow Stories #7.
  • A “chimera” is a creature made of disparate parts, the word taken from the chimera of Greek myth.
  • “Perhaps the occasional vampire or were-wolf” – Lovecraft’s horror fiction was exceptional in part because it eschewed traditional monsters and familiar horrors in favor of breaking new ground.
  • “Verne or even a Wells” – Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, early science fiction writers.
  • “Well’s Martians” – Referring to The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, where Martians invade the Earth.
  • “Bierce” – Ambrose Bierce, American writer, see annotations in Providence #1.

Page 39

August 14th continued

  • “Richard Marsh’s more popular The Beetle” – The Beetle was a supernatural horror novel released at the same time as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, written by Richard Marsh (pseudonym of Richard Bernard Heldmann). The Beetle has a cameo in Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, volume 2 (thanks commenter Ross.)

August 17th

  • Prissy Turner and Sous le Monde featured back in Providence #1.

Page 40

August 17th continued

  • “Miss Dingbat” – A bit of a derisive nickname for his erstwhile lover, “dingbat” is a colloquial idiom for someone silly.

August 19th

  • “Dr. North” – A possible analogue to Dr. Herbert West of Lovecraft’s “Herbert West—Reanimator.”

Back Cover

  • This letter is quoted from Lord of a Visible World 239, a sort of autobiography of Lovecraft pieced together from his correspondence.
  • “Munn” – H. Warner Munn, a fellow pulpster and correspondent of Lovecraft.
  • “Cook” – W. Paul Cook, an amateur journalist and publisher, friend of Lovecraft.
  • “Bear’s Den” – The aforementioned landmark which Lovecraft incorporated into his fictional Dunwich region.
  • “Lillian D. Clark” – One of Lovecraft’s aunts.

>Go to Moore Lovecraft Annotations Index
>Go to Providence #5

105 thoughts on “Providence 4

  1. With Wilbur Whateley on the portrait cover and Lavinia on Women of HPL there is a great possibility this is the Whateley house. It resembles the house in the film of the same name as Lovecraft’s work. The moon is also shown behind it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “the dunwich horror” is probably my single favourite lovecraft story… i am having quite a hard time keeping my anticipation for this instalment under control..!

    Like

  3. Hate to do this… BUT I got issue 4 in the mail a few days ago (gloat gloat- sorry!). I pre-ordered it from Avatar. Now, I also pre-ordered issue 3 which came to me LATER than the in store date! This one came
    sooner. Go figure. Anyway it’s not going to let Dunwich fans down, I gua-ron-tee! No spoilers. But it’s awesome.

    Like

  4. Don’t want to spoil anything for anybody so I’ll lay low- other than saying again it’s a dynamite issue. Alan Moore’s take on all this stuff is so fresh and brilliant.

    Like

    • You’ll also notice it’s used as a framing device in one part, around Leticia’s head – probably implying punishment for her if Garland finds out she spoke out of turn, or even foreshadowing her eventual death.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i saw the fork – i think *she* sees the fork – as a reminder of the way he abused his power to get her knocked up by the elder forces in the first place. sure, she told they “we will show them”, but he never told her WHAT he was planning to do, did he? and if he was like a cosmic syringe, then what did that make her, anyway – ?

        see, apparently out in the country that’s what you do… run them inot the barn and then use a big fork to opin them uo against a hay bale… easy enough after that. and how the hell would i know this??? erm, fair question… let’s see, actually from robert nye’s *faust* among other things…

        Like

      • jeez, soz about not proofing that before sending – !

        “sure, she told they” – shd read “sure, he told her”

        (the ones in the second para are easy enough to comprehend i think!)

        Like

  5. Surprised you didn’t note how Leticia’s talk of people needing pictures in books is a quiet nod to Moore’s own faith in the superiority of the graphic novel as a medium over prose.

    Like

    • well, i’m not sure about that. AM is also a prose writer, after all – to put it mildly. i think it’s more just letty acknowledging quietly that she struggles with reading and writing; and also – like other trauma victims – she finds it easier to communicate and work out what has happened to her through pictorial imagery rather than words. moore is just telling us how profoundly damaged she is imo

      Like

  6. You’ll find the entry in the commonplace book for August 2nd not only describes the framing device for many of Lovecraft’s stories – “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Horror At Red Hook”, for instance – but is also, in an unpleasantly sinister way, an eerie description of the story so far. How terrible for the protagonist when not only does he not know he’s in a mystery story, he doesn’t even realise that fact when he describes it to himself in his notebook…

    Like

  7. The last line in the book refers to a “Doctor North”… does this mean Black is going to meet Herbert West’s counterpart next issue?

    Like

  8. The Whateley Boy’s story about “The ‘Deemer Prophecy” might somehow fit, based on how he describes it – the “Crazy Granpappy” could refer to the Deep One that serves as the father (in that it is a primeval being with an unfathomable mind), Brears is pale and sombre and even wears whiteish makeup, and so could be the “White-Faced Woman”, and of course any Cthulhu born into this world would fit the description of a “Bad-Lookin’ Boy”.

    Like

      • What I mean is he’s referring to a generic prophecy, which could be filled by him and his but could also be filled by the people I mentioned above – as he says, the Wheatley family has competition.

        Perhaps he was hoping John-Divine would eat Rob Black, preventing his book from being published and somehow upsetting the chain of events leading to Neonomicon – and thus leaving the path clear for him and John-Divine to be the ‘redeemers’.

        Like

  9. In the commonplace book entry, Black mentions Richard Marsh’s The Beetle (1897) a superb horror novel admired by both Lovecraft and Moore, which was adapted for the screen in 1919 by British director Alexander Butler, the film is since lost, much to the consternation of cinephiles. The shape-shifting character has a cameo of sorts in The League of Extraordinery Gentlemen vol. two.

    Like

  10. Our protagonist, I fear, is a pretty poor reporter. He misinterprets things going on right in front of him. For example, on page 33 in the Commonplace book entries, Black states that Willard is almost 16 and a half, when on page 19 Willard says, “Ahm near on six un’ a haff.” Black apparently misheard that as “I’m near one-six and a half.” He also misremembers Willard using glue to assemble the tesseract, when Willard very clearly is not. As Black himself unwittingly highlights on page 28, we’re left to wonder how long Black can keep misinterpreting plainly-supernatural events going on right in front of him before he realizes the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • More likely either St John The Divine, the nutcase who apparently authored the Book Of Revelations in the Bible, or perhaps just John being a common name for a man, and he’s somehow divine, in a Lovecraftian way.

      Did HPL write much about Willard’s invisible brother? He’s not entirely a Moore creation, is he?

      Like

  11. Page 14: Framing of painting/image behind the head of Leticia Wheatley is reminiscent of halos painted behind the head of Mary in medieval/renaissance paintings. This echoes the contents of the “Madonna with Twins”-type painting behind Leticia.

    Page 18: Willard Wheatley’s fingers are drawn to appear almost tentacle-like. Though he has knuckles, his hands are more fluid than angular. Possibly a demonstration of his kinship to the “ropelike” Yog Sothoth.

    Page 20: This may have been mentioned already; the tesseract forms a Star of David.

    Page 20: Willard’s hat and shoes tend to suggest that he may possess horns and hooves, particularly in light of the possible allusion to horns (via pitchfork) on Page 17, Panel 1.

    Like

      • Glad I read all through before posting the following thought (already noticed when i was reading the comic): the structure above his head being the Tree of Life, he is ‘halo’ed by the sephiroth MALKUTH, which unites the material world to the spiritual, higher, say, Godly order.
        That is what this incestuous union effected.

        Like

  12. On page 8: panel 2, Garland Wheatley derisively refers to Zeke Hillman as “that wall-eyed bastard”. A walleye is a fresh water fish that can be found in Canada and some northern regions of the United States.

    Like

    • True, but it may also be a double meaning; “wall-eyed” is an attribute considered the opposite of “cross-eyed”, where one’s eyes typically face in different directions while resting (like a fish) rather than coordinating together.

      Like

  13. Page 31.

    Leticia’s drawing of Willard’s conception has the various colored spheres of the Tree of Life/Yog-Sothoth. The violet or purplish one likely represents Da’ath, the sphere of the Abyss, which in Moore’s Promethea, was shown as a gateway through which various lovecraftian creatures entered our cosmos. There’s mention of HPL in that issue, and a cabal of occultists called the Blacks Brothers.

    Like

  14. >“like the society’s Rhode Island Church” – Presumably another reference to Lovecraft’s Starry Wisdom Church in Providence; here it sounds like the Stella Sapiente have bought or influence over an atcual church.

    First off, you’ll want to correct “atcual”, which I suppose you mean “actual”.

    More importantly, I’d say that the Stella Sapiente is the Starry Wisdom church, as Stella Sapiente is Latin for Starry Wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ..!

    managed to miss the launch date for this in the end- just got my hands on a copy today though. ahhhh…!

    so much is *left unseen* – just enough is glimpsed. this is powerful stuff {{{@}}}

    (*lost girls* is very good on the subject of incest of course…)

    one wonders whether john-divine will be seen at some point though..! (perhaps in the next dream sequence)

    gonna go ‘way an’ ponder on this’n, some….

    Like

  16. I agree the whole “This story would involve a young investigator…” part from pages 27 and 28 did seem like Moore was having Black unwittingly sum up his own story- in fact it seemed a bit too on the nose for me in terms of predicting that Black will be dead by the story’s end.

    But I guess Black’s discussion of how the protagonist doesn’t realise they are in a mystery story means that he also doesn’t see that he’s unwittingly describing his own journey- from the epistolary form (which explains now why Providence has these Commonplace Book entries in each issue- they’re necessary for story itself to exist after Black’s demise), to the fact that the protagonist would think they it was a ‘trick of the light’ or they were ‘hallucinating’ if they saw something so out of the ordinary (a process of self-deception Black has already been through after the events in Suydam’s cellar- putting it down to a nightmare)- and how the protagonist will have severed ties with his previous life- just as Black himself as done.

    I hope I’m wrong but it does feel like Moore was almost having a little chuckle here as he had Black sketch out his own journey and tragic end without realising it.

    Like

  17. Your comparison of the Redeemer prophecy with Lovecraft’s own life is intriguing, considering Black’s note at the end of Aug 16 that the Wheatleys’ everyday life is horror enough already.

    Also makes me think of the protracted arc in “Atomic Robo” where it was revealed that Lovecraft himself was possessed all along by a nameless thing from beyond time, though not one he wrote about.

    Like

  18. Might “Well’s Martians” be a veiled reference to the meteorite from “Colour Out of Space” — if I recall correctly, it either fell in the well or poisoned the well water.

    Great annotations, by the way. Thanks for sharing it all, much appreciated.

    Like

  19. p35 – NB chatterton was specifically a forger – and his fame/remown/importance is very much tied to that. he wrote several “shakespeares” which got the academics at the time quite hot under the collar until they were exposed as fakes – the guy was not just a poet, for sure!

    Like

  20. Intended or not, Black’s barber shoppe session offers an interesting aside to the overall theme of the series; the thin line of perception between old sciences and occultism.

    Although dismissive of “Warlock Wheatley” viewing himself as “some medicine man,” the barber could be seen (historically) as a character equally ostracized from his station by a hierarchical cabbal.

    Barbers were once the go to medical dispensers and surgeons. The barber poll itself is a throwback/analog to the display of blood and bandages that once noted an establishment offered surgical services. The bay-rum is a good catch as a vestige of the profession’s previous incarnation as a medicinal outlet.

    The barber shoppe was ultimately displaced by the surgeon’s theater. “Doctors” separated themselves via their own guilds and secret societies, but read the description of the surgical chair in Machen’s opening chapter of “The Great God Pan”, and you’d expect to get a trim, or a “singe,” along with the experimental neurological procedure.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. 5.1: The reference to scalping may be intended to ironically compare with the barber’s singing a few pages earlier.

    12.3: Is the name Willard deliberately evoking the 1971 horror film (or its 2003 remake) about a boy whose only friends are rats? (A tale which is itself a bit reminiscent of HPL’s “The Rats in the Walls”.)

    18.2: I don’t think the cubes represent “three-dimensional cross-section of the 4th-dimensional tesseracts”. Given that there are exactly eight of them, I believe they are meant to be the “sides” of a single disassembled tesseract that WIllard reassembles over the course of the scene.

    22.2: Given how large he is for a six-year-old, I would expect these naps to accommodate growth spurts (and the associated “growing pains”).

    23.1: An attentive reader will note (though Black does not) that the shed contains no equipment for “slaughtering”, but *does* contain many pictures on walls, as if it were a bedroom.

    27-28: As other have noted, Black is certainly describing his own story here. What I think others have mostly missed so far is that Moore is using Black’s Commonplace Book (in part) to describe his *own* process *as a writer* in composing this story.

    32: See also Moore’s description of a magical ritual, during an extended interview with Dave Sim:
    “…I found myself seemingly in conversation with an entity that identified itself as “One of the Nine Dukes,” and then upon closer interrogation as “Asmoday.” Its “body,” when I asked it to show me what it looked like, consisted of a shifting and shimmering latticework of repeated spider motifs, all identical but at different scales. These, while keeping their colouring consistent, appeared to be constantly turning themselves inside out through a spatial dimension that was foreign to me, becoming on the reverse a similar shifting lattice, this time with a reiterated lizard motif. This would turn itself inside out and become the mesh of spiders again, and so on. As a constant background to this effect, there was a beautiful pattern composed of peackock’s-tail eyes. The entire thing was like a 360-degree sphere or field of presence that surrounded my head, moving and speaking lucidly to me (and with great politeness and charm, it must be said).”

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Thanks again for all the great work. A quick question: in my digital copy of Providence #4 the Commonplace Book part ends abruptly in the middle of a sentence. As this fact have not been adressed yet (bur perhaps i have miised something) I was wondering if it was on purpose or if my copy is somehow incomplete.

    Like

  23. Hi everyone
    2 quick thoughts.

    – Pages 1/ 23
    On each panel, word balloons are on an exactly inverted reading order ( This could be another analogy of “time passing differently”, but this time for the “paranormal” creatures).

    – On the commonplace book ( forgot the page) Black mentions that he is SURE he saw some glue on Willard’s table, which of course there wasn’t. It’s his mind filling in the gaps for things paranormal, once again a parallelism for the story described on pages 27 and 28.

    Keep up the good work! Regards!

    Like

  24. >Wheatley’s constant toting of the pitchfork is reminiscent of the famous painting American Gothic by Grant Wood. It’s also typical in popular depictions of the devil (thanks commenter Daniel Thomas.)

    True, but he’s WIZARD Wheatey, yes? The bathrobe is his robe, and the pitchfork is his staff, both signs of his office, and in the case of the pitchfork possibly needed to conduct certain magical actions.

    Like

  25. I must also say how funny it was to have the barber comment about the Wheatleys having a “different sense of time”, given his use of a backwards barbershop clock. The barber is always seeing time differently!

    Like

  26. Once again Black is using “their” instead of “his” when talking about a male lover in the Commonplace Book. As this time it is not possible to explain this by referring to a dual personality (Lillian/Jonathan), it appears that DCo was correct (in the comments on issue 1) in assuming he is doing this in order to hide the gender of his lover(s). Also when a man talks about a “brunette”, the first reaction would be to think that he is talking about a woman.

    Like

      • I missed that, sorry.

        Just wondering if his attitude here could indicate (as others have suggested I think) that Black is hiding other things in the Commenplace Book. Can anyone be so naive? Are his motives for looking for Hali’s Book really so innocent?

        Liked by 1 person

    • As a non-native English speaker, I’d like to know if this is more or less a “common” way of avoiding the gender or if it sounds as forced as it sounds to me (they/their being plural).

      Or was this some “slang” trick to avoid refering to the gender of transsexuals and/or transvestites back then? Or a rare “invention” of Moore?

      Like

      • While it would not be considered rare in 2015, in 1919, the whole idea of using gender-neutral language was nowhere near the mainstream. I don’t know if it was common in use *by* gay people back then, but it certainly wasn’t used in common discourse.

        Like

      • Alexkay I think you’re wrong about that; taking a look on the Wikipedia article for “Singular they” brings up a list of very old examples in English writing (copied below). “They” as a singular gender-neutral pronoun does not necessarily have any gender/political connotation in English:

        ——————————————–
        “If a person is born of a . . . gloomy temper . . . they cannot help it.”— Chesterfield, Letter to his son (1759);[17] quoted in Fowler’s.[18]
        “Now nobody does anything well that they cannot help doing”— Ruskin, The Crown of Wild Olive (1866);[19] quoted in Fowler’s.[18]
        “Nobody in their senses would give sixpence on the strength of a promissory note of the kind.”— Bagehot, The Liberal Magazine (1910);[20] quoted in Fowler’s.[21]
        Alongside they, however, it was also acceptable to use the pronoun he as a (purportedly) gender-neutral pronoun,[22] as in the following:

        “Suppose the life and fortune of every one of us would depend on his winning or losing a game of chess.”— Thomas Huxley, A Liberal Education (1868);[23] quoted by Baskervill.[24]
        “If any one did not know it, it was his own fault.”— George Washington Cable, Old Creole Days (1879);[25] quoted by Baskervill.[24]
        “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.”— Article 15, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).[26]
        In Thackeray’s writings, we find both

        “A person can’t help their birth.”—Rosalind in W. M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848);[27] quoted from the OED by Curzan in Gender Shifts in the History of English.[28]
        and

        “Every person who turns this page has his own little diary.”— W. M. Thackeray, On Lett’s Diary (1869);[29] quoted in Baskervill, An English Grammar.[30]
        And Caxton writes

        “Eche of theym sholde . . . make theymselfe redy.”— Caxton, Sonnes of Aymon (c. 1489)[31]
        alongside

        “Who of thise wormes shall be byten, He must have triacle; Yf not that, he shall deye.”— Caxton, Dialogues in French and English (c. 1483).[32]

        Like

      • Dissembly, I admit that the singular ‘they’ has a long pedigree in English as a pronoun referring to a *generic* or *unknown* person, I maintain that using it to refer to someone *well-known* to the speaker is a modern innovation.

        Like

  27. On the reference to Gustav Moreau, he was earlier used by Moore in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2, where he’s established as the nephew of HG Wells’s Dr. Moreau, and the monsters he painted were his uncle’s creations.

    Like

  28. Albinism in humans is not associated with inbreeding. It is a faulty gene that both parents have to have and the affected chromosones must be connected at conception.

    Some animal inbreeding has allegedly been a result of inbreeding (gorilla at Barcelona zoo) but not human.

    Like

    • I’m not sure if I understood what you meant, but “Floquet de neu / Copito de nieve / Snowflake” at Barcelona’s zoo was found in the jungle when he was little. I don’t know if he was born white because of inbreeding in the jungle. If a descendant is born white, it must be a grandchild because of how genetics work.
      I believe they thought the would’ve been killed by some animal or poachers for being so easy to spot, and took him away. But back then, they didn’t need any excuse to take him anyway; don’t know if they really cared about him being killed; they probably just thought it meant money.

      Like

    • John, actually recessive traits in themselves, albinism just being one example, are all associated with inbreeding. They are the primary reason that inbreeding produces genetic disorders (e.g. haemophilia in the royal families of Europe follows the same pattern as albinism).

      You are correct in that it is a result of two recessive genes, one from each parent. The reason this is significant to inbreeding is that people who are closely related are more likely to have the same suite of recessive genes, whereas any two random people who are not related will have their own suites of recessive genes, but they are less likely to be the same ones.

      Of course this is not to say that everyone with expressing a recessive trait has inbreeding in their background, it’s just more likely that inbreeding will produce those traits, without necessarily being likely that someone with those traits is at all inbred.

      Like

  29. I’m not convinced that “Miss Dingbat” is a man, especially because Black remarks that the other desk-clerk is a man. We clearly see a masculine hand passing Black his key on page 4, and this could be the older clerk. Again, Black refers to “Miss Dingbat” as pretty, an odd descriptive choice for the best-looking of men, and later compares “Miss Dingbat” unfavorably to Prissy. Not that it matters, but my sense is that Black is bisexual.

    Like

  30. Maybe a meaningless detail, but on page 17, panels 3 and 4 mirror each other, maybe purposefully: panel 3 shows on the far right the dark iron (?) door beyond which John Divine lies, with a colour that’s completely different from the brown and yellow of the rest of the image, and with blood pools still just in front of it; panel 4 shows on the far left the wooden door beyond which Willard is studying, blending perfectly, chromatically speaking, with the rest of the image, and with no blood whatsoever. “Beyond the two, simmetrycal doors live the two twins, the weird, stranger, outworldy one and the more human and “normal” one”, the two panels seem to say.

    Like

  31. P3.p2
    The fact that the clock is actually depicted as *blank* may be significant. A small way of indicating that time has no real meaning (one of Moore’s common themes)?

    P5.p3
    The quote here also applies to Alan Moore’s own theory of psychogeography, as expounded in many interviews.

    “it’s nothing to shout about” evokes the “Dunwich Horror” lines: “some day yew folks’ll hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’ its father’s name on the top o’ Sentinel Hill!”” and “I heerd Ol’ Whateley say as haow some day we’d hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’ its father’s name on the top o’ Sentinel Hill. . . .”

    P10.p2
    The lush swampland calls to mind similar landscapes created by Moore, Bissette, and Totleben during their ground-breaking run on Swamp Thing.

    P11.p4
    Moore is clever in the use of the word “offspring”, which is the same word in both singular and plural.

    P12.p3
    “Black not used to” — missing “is”

    P18.p2
    I reiterate that Willard is not “playing with tesseracts”; he is constructing a single tesseract. Nor is it quite right to call these cubes cross-sections, as they are the bounding spaces of the tesseract.

    P28
    ““Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is, of course, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula is the epitome of the epistolary form.” This seems like really awkward grammar and should be rewritten. Perhaps remove the “is, of course, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula” section, since it isn’t really adding any information. Or break it into a separate sentence.

    P31
    What is on top of Letty’s head? A crown? Or is that her hair? There’s also a hat-like negative space in the purple sphere around her father’s head which may be significant.

    Like

  32. P31
    So, this is drawn by a traumatized person, soem seven years after the events, so it would be unsurprising if it were inaccurate in many ways. But let’s see what we can puzzle out:

    First, let’s catalog the spheres:
    1: Violet/light purple (with a red squiggle in front of Wheatley’s eyes, and a cone of negative space over his head). Connects to 2.
    2: Greenish-Yellow. Connects to 1, 3, 4, 5.
    3: Yellow/Gold/Orange. Connects to 2.
    4: Light Blue. Connects to 2.
    5: Dark Purple, with a Black X drawn over it. Connects to 2, 6.
    6: Red. Connects to 5.
    Note that the paths are not colored.

    Some Tree of Life color references:
    http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Tree_of_Life:Colors
    http://www.wisdomsdoor.com/tol/directory.shtml

    1: Da’ath has already been suggested. Just from positioning at the bottom, I have to suggest Malkuth. The Purple color suggests Yesod (just above Malkuth).

    2: The green would suggest Netzach, the yellow Tiphareth.

    3: If 2 is Netzach, this is probably Tiphareth; if 2 is Tiphareth, this might be Hod.

    4: Blue is generally Chesed, but a *dark* blue. As a light blue this might be Chokmah.

    5: This is generally purple, which is usally Yesod. Chesed is sometimes a “deep purple”. The X drawn across it is suggestive of Malkuth, but if that were true, then we’d be looking at a very strange orientation of the tree indeed! Alan has also associated purple with Da’ath; the X might indicate the status of this as an “anti-” sphere.

    6: Red is generally Geburah, though this is a light enough red that it might conceivably be the “rose” aspect of Tiphareth. Hod is sometimes described as “reddish-white”. Binah is sometimes “Crimson”

    Time to go reread Promethea books 3 and 4, and see if that clarifies anything…

    Like

    • Some quotes from Promethea number 20, regarding Daath: “Maybe “invisible” sephiroth means ultra-VIOLET?” That might be what Leticia is trying to indicate with number five’s dark purple overwritten by a black X. Further dialogue in that issue supports the notion that this sephiroth would be connected with this particular ritual: “Like something H.P. Lovecraft pulled out of his NOSE.” “The things that SYMBOLIZE this place don’t really EXIST anymore.” “But… That’s like a hole through EXISTENCE. Where does it LEAD? – The reverse side of the tree, maybe? Where things like THAT live?” Daath is definitely visible on the sepia-flashback page.

      I am also more confident that six is Geburah. One of the central themes of the relevant issue of Promethea is “refining fire”, the elemental force that destroys everything which is not “pure”. This obviously has relevance to a ceremony designed to wipe out most, if not all, of humanity.

      Like

    • If it wasn’t for the presence of Da’ath, I’d think this was the Qliphoth rather than the Sephirot, given Suydam’s reference to it in #2. The paths being cracks in the sky showing the darkness behind would certainly be appropriate.

      Like

  33. The name “John-Divine” also suggests “John the Divine”, one of the titles of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation.

    Like

  34. God, I don’t know where to post this, but…Willard and John Divine (Wilbur and his brother) are not the only fast-growing, precocious, creepily adult children ever. There’s Renesmee Cullen….

    Like

  35. Interesting that, if Letty and the elder Wheatley had not intervened, Black would probably have looked as if he was being ‘messily devoured by an invisible monster’.

    I don’t know if Lovecraft would have made that connection when he wrote Dunwich Horror and the history of the Necronomicon, but I’m sure Moore would’ve, with his talent for tying together pieces of literature into a shared coherent universe that the original authors didn’t necessarily intend.

    Like

  36. This may be what you meant in the annotation but the overlapping centipede-like appearance of John Devine in Leticia’s rendering would seem to be a child attempt to communicate in crayon the way Brears & Sax perceive each other (which Brears says is what is truly meant by the Plateau of Leng) at the end of Neonomicon and of course the way… certain other characters (don’t want to spoil anything for people reading annotations as they go) appear in issue 10. It’s also consistent with Moore’s vision of time across multiple works, notably Promethea and Jerusalem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not exactly. The “Leng effect” shows an organism with a more-or-less static 3-dimensional shape, being extruded through 4th dimensional time. What Leticia is drawing is the overlap of (at least) three very *different* three-dimensional shapes in the same space.

      Like

  37. Regarding Letty’s first drawing: This parallels 13-year-old Rorschach’s equally-disturbed depiction of his mother prostituting herself as his “monster dream” (which appears in the supplemental materials at the end of Watchmen #6)- both cases being innocent / naive pictorial interpretations of the violent nature of sex that impacted / traumatized our characters in an intimate way.

    Whether this is a clever nod to an earlier work by a comics master or a recycled idea by an old man running out of ideas is left for the reader to decide. Perhaps there is a deeper connection Moore is making between his two characters, but who knows…

    Liked by 2 people

  38. I have no idea as to the story behind this photo, I just stumbled upon it online. But it definitely made me think of the meteor in this issue:

    Like

  39. On Page 15 panel 4 – the white egg shape in Letty’s eye reminds me of a fertilized embryo attached to the uterus wall – which would be appropriate here since she’s describing conception.

    Like

    • Why’d you think that? Which Wheatley do you mean, the ol’ Wizard? He’s a smart man, an an expert magician / god-meddler-with. I’m pretty sure he know his son’s invisible. I’m pretty sure John Divine is invisible to all people, and that includes Wilbur.

      It’s not so Black seeing John that the old man’s worried about, so much as John killing Black. Or John generally rampaging round the place and smashing stuff up while invisible. Black would notice John Divine then, all the more for not being able to see him.

      Wilbur’s riled up John Divine, intending for him to kill Black (who is a rival “redeemer” to their own plans for the prophecy), and the rest of the family are trying to calm him down and get him back in his shed, that’s what’s going on as Black leaves.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s