Below are annotations for Providence, No. 5 “In the Walls” (40 pages plus covers, cover date September 2015, released September 30, 2015)
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Jacen Burrows, based on works of H.P. Lovecraft
Note: some of this is obvious. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
General: Robert Black goes to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he visits St. Anselm College, Hekeziah Massey’s house, the meteor site, and ends up at Dr. Hector North’s home. The narrative loops in “nested time” with ambiguous blending of dream and waking time.
- The house depicted is the titular house from Lovecraft’s story “The Dreams in the Witch House.” See additional detail on P8,p1 below.
- The setting is the road from Bedford, MA to Manchester NH. The year is 1919, with the month and date ambiguous due to a time loop that puts Black somewhere between August 18-19 (see Providence #4 P40) and September 10 (see Providence #6 P17,p1.)
- The sign reads “Welcome to Manchester.” Manchester is Providence‘s analogue for Lovecraft’s Arkham.
- The man running (left) is Robert Black, though it is also Black’s knees on the lower right. Black is experiencing some kind of time loop. The Black on the left running is shown at the end of the next issue – see Providence #6 P25,p3-4.
- The hand belongs to (and is the first appearance of) Mr. Jenkins, Providence‘s analogue for Brown Jenkin, Keziah Mason’s familiar in “The Dreams in the Witch House“- see P17,p3 below.
- As revealed on P2, the voices are Father Walter Race and Robert Black. Moore does this voiceover a number of times this issue, where Black is describing what has just happened to the next person he encounters. These are noticeable as they are in a caption box, in quotes – then the person Black is speaking to is page-turn revealed on the following page.
- “This is your only time in Manchester” is an unusual phrasing, more typical would be “your first time in Manchester.” Commenter alexxkay suggests it is the first of many subtle indicators that time here does not act in the ordinary fashion. It could also be grimly prophetic, Father Race somehow knows that Black will not survive to return.
- “How are you finding it?” generally means “What do you think of this place?” but Black’s answer on p2 indicates he has understood the question more literally along the lines of “How did you find your way here?” As commenter alexxkay points out, this understanding has a slightly strained tense, again hinting at time issues.
- Commenter Judgement Dave suggests that the rain in Manchester, NH, may allude to running joke that it always rains in the English city of Manchester.
- Panels 1-4 form a fixed-camera sequence.
- “Mr. Jenkins” is Providence‘s Brown Jenkin of “The Dreams in the Witch House” – see P17,p3 below.
- Black is again visible running, at the very left edge of the panel. (see Providence #6, P25,p2).
- Commenter Judgement Dave suggests that the “trees already changing color” may allude to the effects of the meteor – see P13 below.
- Upon entering Manchester/Arkham, the roadside trees go from green-yellow-brown to full green, despite Race mentioning “it hasn’t rained in a while.” This seems to show the paranormal nature of Manchester/Arkham.
- Commenter alexxkay suggests that, as the rain has ceased suddenly and the trees are less autumnal, the narrative has returned to “normal” time, August 18, 1919.
- Burrows appears to have used this circa 1920 photo (right) as a reference for this panel. The buildings on the left are St. Anslem College‘s Eaton House and Alumni Hall. Alumni Hall also appears on the cover of Providence #6. St. Anselm College is Providence‘s analogue for Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University.
- “Cloisters” references that St. Anselm was a cloistered monastery before the college was founded.
- “Father Bradley” is Rev. Denis M. Bradley, Bishop of Manchester, who had a hand in the founding of St. Anselm. He appears on P13 below.
- “Meteorite” refers to the events of “The Colour out of Space.” The college opened in 1893, after the fall of the meteorite and subsequent evens described in the Providence timeline; see also P13 below.
- First appearance of Father Walter Race. Race is apparently Providence‘s analogue for Miskatonic Professor Warren Rice, from “The Dunwich Horror.” Both are language professors.
- “Mystery had contaminated the brickwork” could describe Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University, frequently at the core of weird supernatural tales. Commenter alexxkay points out that it also describes “The Colour out of Space,” which features a contaminating force that affects both living and nonliving matter.
- The issue’s title “In the Walls” refers verbatim to a pair of Lovecraft stories “The Rats in the Walls” and “In the Walls of Eryx.” The title also refers to portions of “The Dreams in the Witch House” where the narrator frequently hears “scratchings and scurryings in the walls” and where, when the house is torn down, bones and various other objects are uncovered from the spaces between the walls. (Thanks commenter Dudezilla)
- Black heard about Lovecraft’s “The Colour out of Space” meteorite earlier in Providence #3 P10,p3 and #4 P9,p2-3.
- “Arab alchemical work” and “Hali’s Book” refer to 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, and explored in much more detail in Suydam’s pamphlet pages in Providence #2 P32-40. Generally these annotations refer to this book as the Kitab.
- “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.) See Suydam pamphlet pages at end of Providence #2 for extensive background.
- “Philanthropical” might be another play on words, as it literally means “for the love of man.”
- The seal on the wall seems to be a variation of the St. Anselm College seal – though it does not quite match any online today.
- The Latin text on the inner circle is the actual St. Anselm College motto:”Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini” (translates to “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.”)
- “Dr. Wantage, our librarian” is the Providence analogue to Dr. Henry Armitage, the Miskatonic University librarian from “The Dunwich Horror.”
- “An invented alphabet and vocabulary… terms like ‘yr nhhngr'” apparently confirms that the invented language portion of the Kitab (see Suydam’s pamphlet page  in Providence #2 P31) is indeed Aklo.
- “Yr nhhngr” is one of the Aklo words that Carcosa gives to Sax in The Courtyard #2 P17, p1. The words were invented by Lovecraft, originally appearing in “The Dunwich Horror,” where Wilbur Whateley writes “They from the air told me at Sabbat that it will be years before I can clear off the earth, and I guess grandfather will be dead then, so I shall have to learn all the angles of the planes and all the formulas between the Yr and the Nhhngr.” Cryptography and invented alphabets were relatively common for medieval Arabic and alchemical works, and dovetail Lovecraft’s use of Aklo as an older coded language in “The Dunwich Horror.”
- “Nested time” describes the time-loop that Black experiences in this issue and the next.
- First appearance of Dr. Hector North, Providence‘s analogue for Herbert West from “Herbert West—Reanimator.” Herbert West is a nefarious physician who repeatedly experiments with “revivification of the dead.”
- North wears a green tie, like Black does, which was a covert sign for homosexuality.
- “Goffs Falls” is a waterfall along the Merrimack River, in southern Manchester, NH.
- “Meteorite site” again refers to Lovecraft’s “The Colour out of Space.”
- “Sebbins Brook” is a tributary to the Merrimack River, south of Goffs Falls.
- The sign to the left of Race is the coat of arms of arms of the Diocese of Manchester. Thanks commenter alexxkay who notes that symbols visible on the seal include a crown, fleur-de-lis, and a fasces (bundle of arrows.)
- “Vitality” and “lifeless specimens” both reveal Dr. North’s interest in life energies. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “The Kitab” – see P3,p1 above.
- “The four methods [of elongating life – explained in the Kitab]” were initially mentioned in Providence #1 (P16,p1) then outlined in Providence #2 (P11,p4): diet, temperature, transference of souls, and revitalizing a cadaver. Dr. North/Herbert West practices the fourth.
- North is probably overly friendly because he is interested in killing Black and trying to revive his body. From “Herbert West—Reanimator“: [West] resorted to frightful and unnatural expedients in body-snatching. … I did not like the way he looked at healthy living bodies; and then there came a nightmarish session in the cellar laboratory when I learned that a certain specimen had been a living body when he secured it.”
- “Dr. Hallesley” is apparently Providence‘s analogue of “Dr. Allan Halsey” in “Herbert West—Reanimator.”
- First mention of James Montague, Providence‘s analogue for the unnamed narrator of “Herbert West—Reanimator.” See appearance on P25,p1 below.
- The hesitation (“…”) undermines the implicit relationship between North and Montague. Several of Lovecraft’s stories, including “Herbert West,” include adult males who are close friends – probably a borrowing from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson stories as much as anything, and not implicitly homosexual, though some critics have read sexual relationships into those stories, or made them explicit in their own expansions on Lovecraft’s stories. So here, Moore isn’t breaking new ground so much as realizing an already established trope; Black being a homosexual and having an interest in the Kitab provides a providential basis for interacting with North.
- “We were in Flanders during the war” again refers to the events of “Herbert West—Reanimator“: “Dr. West had been avid for a chance to serve as surgeon in a great war… When I say that Dr. West was avid to serve in battle, I do not mean to imply that he was either naturally warlike or anxious for the safety of civilisation… There was, however, something he wanted in embattled Flanders; and in order to secure it he had to assume a military exterior. What he wanted was … connected with the peculiar branch of medical science which he had chosen quite clandestinely to follow, and in which he had achieved amazing and occasionally hideous results. It was, in fact, nothing more or less than an abundant supply of freshly killed men in every stage of dismemberment.”
- “Someone who knew his way around Greenwich Village” is subtle way of saying “homosexual.” Greenwich Village is a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, where homosexuals were and are common (see annotations for Providence #1, P9,p2.) Black recognizes this asking if his homosexuality is “that obvious.” Black asks if North is too homosexual to join St. Anselm’s faculty, ie: if he is facing discrimination.
- The building is, again, Alumni Hall.
- North responds to Black’s veiled query by suggesting that St. Anselm’s contains a number of homosexuals. (A not uncommon rumor aimed at Catholic clergy, as they are exclusively male.) Though St. Anselm founder Denis M. Brady does have the middle name Mary, North is referencing homosexuals of the day using female names, including Black’s lover Jonathan/Lilly Russell, emphasizing the common confusion between sexuality and gender roles during this period. Commenter Greenaum points out that a “Mary” is slang for a gay man.
- “That’s the very least of it” could be North saying that his homosexuality is less shunned than his work attempting to revive cadavers, or possibly atheism or association with non-Catholic religions.
- “Appreciate a male body in good condition” has a double meaning. It is a gay pick-up line, but more darkly refers to North’s interest in a cadaver to try to revive (see P4,p3 above.)
- “More of a revivalist” has a double meaning. It can refer to a type of non-Catholic Protestant Christian, but reviving is what North/West does to cadavers.
- Similar to P1 and revealed on P6, panels 3 and 4 captions are Black speaking with Elspeth.
- “Railroad Street” and “Granite Street” are actual Manchester, NH streets.
- “Merrimack” is the Merrimack River. This would be the analogue of Arkham’s Miskatonic River.
- First appearance of Elspeth Wade who is Providence‘s analogue for Asenath Waite, the soul-transferring villain from Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep.” In Lovecraft’s story, she is a student at Miskatonic University, and is “dark, smallish, and very good-looking except for overprotuberant eyes; but something in her expression alienated extremely sensitive people.”
Soul-transference is, of course, one of the four methods in the Kitab, and in Lovecraft’s story the Waites were one of the prominent families of Innsmouth, and connected with a coven in Maine. It remains to be seen if Elspeth is a member of the Stella Sapiente or another renegade. It is possible that her father is the Mr. Wade referred to in earlier issues – who first appears on P13,p3 below.
(Note that the reader does not learn Elspeth’s last name until next issue – Providence #6 P8,p1)
- That Elspeth Wade calls Black a “young man” is a clue to her actually being the young girl she appears to be. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “No call to go thinking I’m a little child” refers to the transference of souls in “The Thing on the Doorstep.” Though Elspeth is the body of a girl, she’s actually possessed by the spirit of her father.
- Black apparently did get lost. He is not on Granite Street, but just upstream on Bridge Street. He and Elspeth appear to be standing on the MacGregor Bridge.
- The Glover School in Marblehead, Massachusetts apparently stands in for the Hall School of Kingsport in “The Thing on the Doorstep.” In Lovecraft’s story, Asenath Waite’s family came from Innsmouth and had Deep One heritage; this is not yet apparent in Elspeth’s depiction.
- Lovecraft included few children in his stories, but it is notable that in Providence #4 and Providence #5 Black has met two enfant terribles, Willard Wheatley (only 6 1/2) and now Elspeth (13 1/2).
- Dr. North as “not… very reputable” refers to Herbert West’s nefarious activities to revive cadavers.
- Dr. North’s “behavior was simply shocking” again references “Herbert West—Reanimator” which frequently uses the words “shock” and “shocking.” Electrical shocks are also part of the method of corpse revivification, including in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which “Herbert West” was inspired by.
- “John Goffe‘s Sawmill… back in 1722″ is actual Manchester history. Elspeth knows more history than might be expected because she is possessed by her father.
- “I get [history] from my daddy Edgar who passed away” again refers to “The Thing on the Doorstep.” In Lovecraft’s story, Ephraim Waite was the father of Asenath Waite: “He had died insane—under rather queer circumstances—just before his daughter (by his will made a nominal ward of the principal) entered the Hall School, but she had been his morbidly avid pupil and looked fiendishly like him at times.”
- First mention of Mrs. Macey – see P8,p1 below.
- Compare this view to the present-day Google maps street view.
- Pointed out by commenter The Gentleman Mummy, as they part, their body language matches, which furthers the implication that she’s a man in a girls body.
- Captions are Black speaking with Mrs. Macey/Massey, similar to P1 and P5 above.
- Compare this view to the present-day Google maps street view.
- First appearance of Hekeziah Massey, known here mistakenly as Mrs. Macey. Massey is Providence‘s analogue for Keziah Mason, from Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Massey is depicted and explained in detail in Suydam’s pamphlet – see Providence #2 P34, 36-38. In Lovecraft’s story, she is a witch who uses magical-appearing mathematics to travel in the fourth dimension.
- “Harry’s town” and “Tyng’s town” are older names for Manchester.
- Referencing “Witch House,” the angles of the house depicted defy normal geometry. The two front surfaces of the house can’t be parallel and still meet in the corner on the right. Note the line of the roof and the lack of distinct lines indicating joins. Other than that, the house appears to be an older half-timber construction with many antiquated features, including gas lamps, and does not resemble the Witch House in Salem which Lovecraft used as the basis for his story.
- “Mrs. Macey? Close enough” is perhaps Moore allowing Black to mistake Massey as Macey so that he does not recognize her name from Suydam’s pamphlet (in Providence #2) – see panel above.
- “Goffe boy opened his mill” is the same 1722 Manchester history referenced on P7,p2 above. This indicates Massey has lived a long time; she was older than Goffe in 1722. According to Suydam’s pamphlet page  (Providence #2 P36) Massey was born in 1613, so she’s around 306 years old here. See notes on her longevity in annotations for Providence #2 P37.
- “It’s never been right popular.” references a few passages from “Witch House,” where the current day house was “unpopular, hard to rent, and long given over to cheap lodgings” further the narrator “managed to get the eastern attic room where Keziah was held to have practiced her spells. It had been vacant from the first—for no one had ever been willing to stay there long.” (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “Gable Room” refers to a gable: the triangular endpiece where two roof pitches meet. The Witch House here has four gables, counting the small, dark-windowed gable directly below the chimney that seems to be hanging out in space.
- Massey being “mostly in another space nearby” again references “The Dreams in the Witch House” in which Keziah Mason travels “beyond the three dimensions we know.”
- Visible to right of the fourth step from the top is the first of many rat holes in the walls of Massey’s house. These again reference “The Dreams in the Witch House” which includes numerous rat-holes appearing, being fixed, and re-appearing.
- Commenter Karin points out “One more non-Euclidean feature in the Witch House: Look at the green wall on the far left. How, exactly, is it connected to the wall beside it?”
- “Put this place to the question.” is a subtle reference to the Inquisition, as the St. Anselm men would have been Catholics, subtly referencing Massey’s history as a witch who had suffered through periods of persecution.
- “Father Upton” is an analogue of Math Professor Upham in “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Both ‘-ham’ and ‘-ton’ are suffixes for settlement in English.
- “Professor Bywood … physical sciences” is likely an analogue of Miskatonic Physics Professor Atwood from At the Mountains of Madness.
- “Wise woman” is a term for witch.
- “Talking about time like it was a width or a length” is again discussing time as a fourth dimension. Readers have already seen that playing with the concept of time is an aspect of Lovecraft mythos being discussed in Providence and Neonomicon and a concept Moore has mentioned elsewhere – for examples, see the annotations for the “higher mathematical dimension” section of page  of Suydam’s pamplet (Providence #2 P31.)
- Panelwise, the border here is ruler-straight, compared to the uneven hand-drawn borders for most panels in Providence and Neonomicon. In other places (see Providence #4 P1) this seems to indicate a paranormal perception. Someone or something is watching Black and Massey. commenter alexxkay notes the implication of being watched is deepened by Black’s statement “I bet you don’t miss anything.”
- “I miss the Galliard” references a Renaissance dance style, alluding to Massey’s longevity – see P8,p2 above. (Note that, similar to P1,p1 above, Massey’s response is in a different sense than Black’s statement was likely intended. Black’s “don’t miss anything” is “miss” in the sense of fail to notice/understand; Massey’s response is to “miss” in the sense of longs for.)
- “Old attics… you have to watch that they don’t do your head a mischief” has a double meaning. The obvious meaning is that one can bump one’s head on a sloped ceiling. It also references “The Dreams in the Witch House” in which the narrator experiences “brain-fever [as]… the curious angles of Gilman’s room had been having a strange, almost hypnotic effect on him.”
- “Subsidence” refers to the way that, as houses age, portions of the foundation may settle into the earth unevenly, putting stress on walls and building timbers so that floors and ceilings are warped or not always level. In extreme cases this can lead to the collapse of the house, as happened in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
- “A body can’t see where they’re putting their feet.” perhaps refers to fourth-dimensional travel in “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Humans who are traveling extra-dimensionally perhaps cannot see with 3-dimensional eyes, or perhaps do not seem to possess normal human bodies while travelling, therefore no feet. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “All manner of oddities hidden away in them over time.” refers to how in the end of “The Dreams in the Witch House” various objects turn up hidden in the walls or above the ceiling: human and abnormal rat bones, fragments of many books and papers, and a “variety of utterly inexplicable objects.” (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- Note the mouse-hole on the left – see P9,p1.
- The small window on the sloped portion of the roof would make this the odd gable noted in P8,p1.
- “It’s an honor to have you in my home” could be just a truism, but perhaps ties into Black’s role as herald (see initial mention Providence #3 P13,p1) It sounds somewhat reminiscent of Hillman saying “Glad I got to meet the feller all the talk’s about” (Providence #3 p23,p3.)
- “My whiskery companion Mr. Jenkins” is refers to “The Dreams in the Witch House” human-rat witch’s familiar Brown Jenkin – see P17,p3 below.
- “I swear I don’t know how he gets some of the places he does.” suggests that Jenkins is more skilled at extra-dimensional travel than Massey. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “It’s a familiar name” is a play on words, as Brown Jenkin is the witch’s familiar.
- “Scandals and secrets” is a possible reference to Winesburg, Ohio, a popular novel by Sherwood Anderson that unveils some of the secrets and scandals kept quiet underneath the facade of a small town. Compare with the secrets unearthed in “The Dunwich Horror.”
- Commente Daniel Thomas points out that this is also similar to Peyton Place, which is a composite of many New England towns, including Manchester. This suggestion is strengthened by a mention of the novel in Providence 12, P13, p1.
- “Space-meteorite” is again from “The Colour out of Space.”
- “Noah Forrester” is Providence’s analogue for Nahum Gardner of “The Colour out of Space.”
- Note the panel border – see P9,p3 above. Again, the dialogue reinforces the notion of watching: “Some people can’t see what’s in front of their noses.” (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- Mentioned above “Sebbins Brook” is a tributary to the Merrimack River, south of Goffs Falls.
- “If I’m not apparent when you’re back” means that Massey could be travelling to a fourth-dimensions space, a la “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Commenter alexxkay notes that this phrasing also reinforces Moore’s conception of space-time; Massey is “always here”, whether or not she is apparent. (For more on Moore’s “eternity as an unchanging solid” – see Providence #2 P31.)
- Captions are Black speaking with Frank Stubbs; voiceover technique is similar to P1, 5, and 7 above.
- First appearance of federal agent Frank Stubbs. (Though he looks like he may be the agent who appears with J. Edgar Hoover in Black’s dream – see Providence #3 P19,p3-4.)
- The setting is the “blasted heath” where the meteorite landed in “The Colour out of Space” where it is described as “five acres of grey desolation that sprawled open to the sky like a great spot eaten by acid in the woods and fields.”
- “Our men coming down sick all the time…” refers to the lingering effects of “The Colour out of Space,” or, alternately, radiation sickness or some other malady.
- “We got the newspapers hereabouts to keep quiet” echoes how, in the first few paragraphs of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” government agents pressured newspapers into silence: “Newspaper men were harder to manage, but seemed largely to coöperate with the government in the end.” (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “Eleventh of June, ’82, in the early hours. Landed by the well, I reckon.” references how in “The Colour out of Space,” the meteorite came in the early hours of June, 1882, and landed near the well.”And by night all Arkham had heard of the great rock that fell out of the sky and bedded itself in the ground beside the well at the Nahum Gardner place.”
- The “Forrester” family are Providence’s analogue for the Gardners in “The Colour out of Space.”
- “Father Bradley” – see p3 below.
- “Bradley”, “Mr. Wade” and “an English feller” – see next panel.
- Note that the moon appears to be waning crescent. Compare to full moon on P20,p4.
- The sepia panel depicts the past. This is 1882, when the meteor hits in “The Colour out of Space.”
- First row, left to right, are first appearances of Mr Wade, Denis M. Bradley, and Winfield Scott Lovecraft, the father of H.P. Lovecraft. These are apparently members of the Stella Sapiente in the 1880s.
- Edgar Wade was mentioned in passing by Tobit Boggs in Providence #3 P11,p3 and by Garland Wheatley in Providence #4 P9,p4. Wade is some sort of higher class member of the Stella Sapiente coven, who was responsible for breaking ties with lower class members including Boggs and Wheatley.
The reader does not learn Wade’s first name until Providence #6, P10,p2. Edgar Wade is Providence’s analogue for for Ephraim Waite from Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep.” In “Doorstep” Waite is described as a sinister “magical student” who practices soul-transferrence to possess the body of his daughter Asenath Waite. His daughter’s analogue Asenath Wade first appeared on P6,p1 above.
- Denis M. Bradley is a founder of St. Anselm College. He was mentioned above (Pages 1 and 5.)
- H. P. Lovecraft’s father Winfield Scott Lovecraft was a salesman for the Gorham Silver Company, and noted (despite being born an American) for his English accent, and was often mistaken for an Englishman. Suydam refers to “a funny little Englishman” who sold items for the Boggs Refinery (see Providence #2 P12,p3), this was apparently W. S. Lovecraft. In 1882, Winfield Scott Lovecraft was not yet married to Susie Phillips.
- In the background, presumably the analogues for Ammi Pierce, his wife, and their child, who in Lovecraft’s story: “He and his wife had gone with the three professors from Miskatonic University who hastened out the next morning to see the weird visitor from unknown stellar space, and had wondered why Nahum had called it so large the day before.”
- Some of the points of the meteorite are visible on the right, looking decidedly artificial. Commenter alexxkay notes that in “The Colour out of Space,” there is no mention of the meteorite having points. This presumably Moore setting up the meteor as the “Shining Trapezohedron” from “The Haunter of the Dark.”
- Panels 3 and 4 are a fixed-camera sequence, depicting the same site in 1882 and 1919.
- “Got changed” is again from “The Colour out of Space.” Lovecraft noted about the vegetation: “Never were things of such size seen before, and they held strange colours that could not be put into any words. Their shapes were monstrous, and the horse had snorted at an odour which struck Stephen as wholly unprecedented. That afternoon several persons drove past to see the abnormal growth, and all agreed that plants of that kind ought never to sprout in a healthy world.”
- “That’s what got the government involved” contrasts with “The Colour out of Space.” This government involvement in the Mythos is not in Lovecraft’s original story, but effectively foreshadows or presages their efforts in “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and the parallel events to come in Salem.
- “Imagine somebody coming up with a weapon… a gun or a bomb… that could do the same thing” foreshadows the atomic bomb.
- “There’s talk of building protective domes” refers to the anti-pollution domes covering the major urban areas, depicted in Neonomicon and mentioned in The Courtyard. See explanation in Neonomicon #1 annotations P9,p4.
- “That’s about as likely as them enforcing Prohibition” is another place where Black (when not dreaming) is a poor predictor of the future (see also Providence #3, P27 Commonplace Book for July 1st.) Prohibition is the federal ban on alcohol, approved June 30, 1919.
- “Some Polack with a real old place he can’t let, but that’s all closed up” seems to refers to “The Dreams in the Witch House,” but with some differences. In Lovecraft’s story, the contemporary witch house is rented by a Polish landlord. In Lovecraft, “the house was unpopular, hard to rent, and long given over to cheap lodgings” but not “closed up.” Contrary to Black’s “we must be talking about different places” in the following panel, these are the same place… but perhaps Massey comes into and out of normal space-time. (Thanks for clarification from commenter alexxkay)
- “Polack” is, of course, an ethnic slur for a Polish person, indicating Stubbs prejudice.
- Stubbs is already taking out another cigarette, indicating he’s a chain-smoker.
- “Shooting star” is a commonplace name for a meteorite. It is tradition to make a wish when you see one, and was immortalized in “When You Wish Upon A Star” in Disney’s Pinocchio (1940.)
- “Somebody insane saw it fall, and this was their wish” is a somewhat apt way of describing what happened, with the Stella Sapiente having “brung that stone down” according to Garland Wheatley in Providence #4 P9.
- Captions are Black speaking with Dr. North. The transition is similar to P1, 5, 7, and 11 above. This is a false page-turn reveal (see another Moore use of this technique in Crossed Plus One Hundred #6 P7,p3.) After the earlier transitions, the reader expects to see whom Black is talking with, but it is not made clear until Pages 24-25. This narrative device also underlines the talk of time throughout this issue, emphasizing the non-linear nature of the narrative.
- Moore accentuates the non-reveal (see last panel) by Black stating “there was nobody there by me.”
- There are a number of ways that Massey’s home changes subtly between panels/pages, perhaps indicating shifts in time and reality. The rug shown on P13,p4 has disappeared now on P16,p2. See also the changing chair (P22,p4 below), railing (P20,p2) and changes in the patches on the walls and the rat holes (detailed by commenter alexxkay.)
- Note the rat-hole (referencing “The Dreams in the Witch House” – see P9,p1) on the wall, visible between the slats of the chair.
- Subtle changes in the room (see P16,p2 above) include the upper missing patch is now several feet higher than where it was on P10,p1. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “Hee hee” (here and the next two panels) sounds like the squeaky voice of a rat.
- Panelwise, the straight yellow-line border of the panel is the same format as the underground Lillith sequence in Providence #2 beginning on P15,p3. This may indicate a dream sequence in Black’s perception (and it may just be a convention to get a border around an all-black panel surrounded by black comics gutters.)
- “Where I’m from, everything’s like me” indicates Jenkins is not singular, nor from around here. This sequence makes more sense once it is revealed Jenkins is a member of a race that travels through time, see P20,p1.
- Panelwise, the border here is ruler-straight, compared to the uneven hand-drawn borders for most panels in Providence and Neonomicon. See P9,p3 above.
- First clear view of Mr. Jenkins. Jenkins is apparently sort of human-looking form of Providence‘s analogue for Brown Jenkin, Keziah Mason’s familar in Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.” In “Witch House” Jenkin has “long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its paws were like tiny human hands.” Jenkins appears in rat shape on P19-20 below, as well in the illustration of Massey on page  of Suydam’s pamphlet (Providence #2, P34) where he is labeled as “Browne Jenkynne.”
- Jenkins’ tail partially visible in the bottom center of the panel. It is clearer in the next panel.
- “A maze you can’t see” describes the setting of “In the Walls of Eryx” by Lovecraft with Kenneth Sterling. Commenter Dead Walrus notes that half-rat Jenkins’ talk of mazes echoes experiments done where rodents run through mazes.
- “I just dreamed that… that we’d already arrived in Manchester” is an indication, as in the dream-sequence in Salem in Providence #3, that Black’s consciousness is perceiving things that have not happened yet. Black’s dreams seem to move outside the three dimensions we know, to see events that are going to happen.
- Panels 3 and 4 comprise a fixed-camera sequence.
- Commenter alexxkay points out that “by the time” is an amusing phrase to Jenkins (he follows it with “hee hee hee” laughter) because, from the perspective of an extra-dimensional being like himself, it is meaningless. Jenkins sees space-time as an “unchanging solid” – see Providence #2 P31.
- In the bottom center of the panel, the tip of Jenkins’ tail is visible. Black is staring at it, recoiling, jerking his shoulders upward.
- Panelwise, the border here is ruler-straight, compared to the common uneven hand-drawn borders (see P9,p3 above.) Though the setting and coloring are exactly the same as P16,p4, the panel border is different, indicating some kind of paranormal perception.
- These three panels form a zoom sequence, which Moore uses frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen #1.
- The woman is Hekeziah Massey (introduced on P8,p1 above.)
- Neither Black nor the reader sees Massey, until Black puts his glasses on.
- “We all kept alive in different ways” is a reference to the different means of avoiding death in the Kitab – see P4,p3 above.
- “It was so that we could be here to see you” seems related to Black’s status as a herald – first mentioned in Providence #3 P13,p1.
- The human-rat creature is Mr. Jenkins – see P17,p3. Jenkins is in rat form, echoing Mason’s familiar Brown Jenkin. Jenkins is suckling at Massey’s breast. It was common superstition that witches’ familiars fed off blood from a new teat or nipple that grew on their body, the hallmark of a witch.
- Massey may be nude for a number of reasons. From a strictly practical standpoint, it provides access for Jenkins to suckle. From a folkloric standpoint, witches were often supposed to have gone nude or “skyclad” for some of their rites and revels. From a symbolic standpoint, some critics have characterized “The Dreams in the Witch House” in terms of a wet dream (i.e. a dream with a heavy sexual element). Any or all of these possibilities may have appealed to Moore and Burrows.
- “We all have intelligence we’re anxious to impress, that it in turn may be impressed on him” again (see panel above) seems related to Black’s status as a herald. The “him” referenced is likely H.P. Lovecraft.
- “The shipmaster, his was one of the third ways” refers to Shadrach Annesley, a ship’s captain who extends his life through cannibalism – see Providence #3 P7,p4.
- “The Frenchman, his was one of the fourth” is apparently French-born Etienne Roulet (see Providence #2 P33-35), who probably used the method of revivifying a corpse from essential salts a la The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
- Massey’s wording choices are slightly odd. She says “one of the third ways” and “one of the fourth” which might both more typically be stated as “one of the four ways” of avoiding death in the Kitab (see P4,p3 above.) Grammatically, Massey’s statements imply that there are multiple “third ways” and multiple “fourths.” Commenter alexxkay points out that there are multiple “third ways” and “fourths”; each of the “four ways” is a category descriptor, containing multiple specific methods.
- “I uncovered another way” apparently means one not detailed in the Kitab.
- “A matter of ice” refers to preservation with cold, as in “Cool Air” (see Providence #1.)
- “Nor the particular meat” refers to cannibalism, as in “The Picture in the House” and Shadrach Annesley of Providence #3.
- “Salts” is apparently raising the dead from their “essential saltes,” as in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
- “Fluids” is raising the dead with a serum, as in “Herbert West—Reanimator.”
- Notably, Massey leaves out the transference of souls.
- Massey and Jenkins have extended their lives via “certain protractions” apparently refers to a hypergeometry technique for extending life mentioned in Lovecraft’s “Dreams of the Witch House”: “Time could not exist in certain belts of space, and by entering and remaining in such a belt one might preserve one’s life and age indefinitely; never suffering organic metabolism or deterioration except for slight amounts incurred during visits to one’s own or similar planes. One might, for example, pass into a timeless dimension and emerge at some remote period of the earth’s history as young as before.” Massey’s only-occasional presence in this dimemsion is broadly suggested by much of her earlier dialogue: “This house was standing empty” (P8,p2), “I’ve not been what you’d call living here for a long time. Mostly I’m in another space” (P9,p1), “if I’m absent at your departure” (P10,p1), and “if I’m not apparent when you’re back” (P11,p3).
- “All cornered different” suggests the angles in the hypergeometry of “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Commenter Greenaum points out that it is another of rat-like Jenkin’s references to being in a maze – see also P17,p3 above. Commenter alexxkay notes that this also references the proverbial phrase “like a cornered rat.”
- “Foreign to Euclid” meaning outside of Euclidean geometry, references the hypergeometry of “The Dreams in the Witch House” and other of Lovecraft’s stories. Euclidean geometry is based on certain axioms or postulates, such as that two parallel lines will never intersect, which holds true for our observable universe. However, mathematically, there are systems that work even if these are not true – such as parallel lines that intersect.
- “The animal is thought to be indigenous” is not obvious, but suggests that Jenkins is actually a member of the Hounds of Tindalos, created by Lovecraft’s friend Frank Belknap Long in “The Hounds of Tindalos” (1929). The Hounds live outside normal space-time, and are biologically immortal. Massey’s means of immortality, then, might perhaps be a pact or exchange with these creatures.
- “Cunny is scarce in these accounts” is a reference to the general lack of women and sex in Lovecraft’s work, but also apparently the male-dominated nature of the Stella Sapiente. “Cunny” is a synonym for cunt, pussy, or vagina; in other words women, and more specifically sex.
- “In our narratives” is another reference to characters being aware that they are in a story, similar to Wilfred Wheatley in Providence #4.
- Commenter alexxkay suggests that “we may signify without constraint” is Massey (and Moore) pointing out that a text is not limited to a single meaning, but can be interpreted in many ways.
- “Of a type and convention to religion” is a reference to Massey/Mason’s stereotypical appearance and activities reminiscent of a witch. It is notable that “The Dreams in the Witch House” is the only Lovecraft story where the Christian cross has any power or effect; it may be she deliberately embodies this stereotype to mislead others as to her real capabilities or nature.
- The number of vertical posts in the railing has changed. In this panel there are eight; on p10,p1 there are five. (The house is shifting – see P16,p2 above.)
- “Yet unto all men…” sounds like Massey is quoting, possibly from the Kitab.
- “The wound of woman” / “frightful smile of the creator” would be kennings for the vagina (“wound” because it bleeds during menstruation.)
- “Marvel and terror both” for its creative power and alien nature to men suggesting some influence from female-centered magical thinking, as well as a possible reference to the popular (if erroneous) idea that Lovecraft was afraid of sex and/or women.
- The moon is now full, compare to the waning crescent moon on P13,p2. This raises the question: how much time has really passed? How long has Black been in Manchester, and in which order did the events occur?
- The house behind Black has a gambrel roof (as does its shed), a staple in Lovecraft’s descriptions. (There are at least a half dozen of these in the issue. The annotations don’t mention all of them.)
- These form a fixed-camera sequence.
- Commenter alexxkay points out Jenkin is once again amused (see also P17,p4 above) because he is talking nonsense from an outside-of-time perspective. From such a perspective, he cannot take Black anywhere, because he and Black are already always there.
- The setting and coloring repeat P16,p4 and P18,p1.
- The overall panel image is the same as P18,p1, with the notable exception of the border. P18,p1 has a straight line border indicating dreams or paranormal events. Here the panel border has reverted to the uneven hand-drawn borders, indicating an actual awakening – a return to the “normal” 1919 present. (See panel border note – P9,p3 above.)
- Black’s reawakening makes readers question the timeline of events: Did he dream the encounter with Massey? Or was he “remembering” events before they took place?
- Most of the panel repeats P18,p4, with multiple differences:
– Obviously, Massey is not present.
– The panel borders have shifted to rough (see above panel.)
– Black’s eyes are not visible (perhaps indicating his sight is worse in his waking life than in his dreams.)
– As elsewhere (see P16,p2), the house has shifted in a number of ways: the number of vertical bars at the top of the bed has gone from five to six, the carpet has shifted slightly, and the window is slightly larger (the horizontal window beam appears, the diagonal boards in the top right corner shift from two to three.)
- Burrows is playing with space and perspective in these shots – where before there was space enough between the bed and the suitcase to see the rat hole, now it is gone; further, we are now close enough to see the window, with the moonlight shining through. However, as we see on P20,p4, the window is on the wrong side of the house to get direct moonlight. This is not necessarily an error, but an indication of the twisted geometric space that the house occupies.
- Again, there are more subtle shifts in the room. Compared to P10,p1, the both of the missing wallpaper patches are gone, with a rip in the wallpaper roughly where the upper patch had been. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- Three rat-holes visible along the right-hand wall, despite not being visible before – see P9,p1.
- Black is wearing garters, used to hold his socks up.
- The number of vertical slats on the chair is decreasing. When it first appears (P10,p1 above) there are six. In this panel there are five. On the next page (P23,p2) there are four. See P16,p2 above for multiple subtle shifts in the house.
- Black leaves his raincoat at the foot of the bed.
- The view is the same as P9,p3 and P11,p2, but the panel border is different – irregular, hand-drawn.
- Duplicate of Page 21,p4 including straight-line border.
- Duplicate of Page 22,p1 including straight-line border.
- These form a fixed-camera sequence. The setting is the same as P22,p2-3.
- Captions are Black talking to Hector North; the last speech panel belongs to James Montague.
- First appearance of James Montague, the analogue of the unnamed narrator in “Herbert West—Reanimator” and North’s partner. Commenter Ross suggests that the name is a reference to author Montague Rhodes James whose work Lovecraft admired.
- It is clearer in Providence #6 P6,p1 but North and Montague’s home is located at 162 Orange Street – see contemporary street view.
- “I suggested Boston” refers to how, in “Herbert West—Reanimator,” they did settle in Boston.
- “When a vulnerable, healthy young figure delivers himself to our door,” again , plays on two different meanings: one for the homosexual attraction of a handsome young man, the other for a possible candidate for North’s experiments in reanimation (see similar double on P5,p2 above.)
- Formaldehyde is a preservative used in embalming. Taxidermy is the craft of preserving the bodies or parts of bodies of animals. Both are associated with mortuary affairs and tangential to North’s interests in reanimation.
- “Dangerous maniac” certainly describes Lovecraft’s Herbert West.
- “This morning” implies that Black’s sense of time has indeed suffered, or that he has been traveling through the fourth dimension, accidentally “skipping” several days.
- Panels 1-4 form another fixed-camera sequence.
- “Feeling animated” and “fit to wake…” again refer to reanimation. The complete phrase is “fit to wake the dead.”
(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.)
- This long entry apparently continues immediately after the final line of Providence #4‘s Commonplace Book, which is dated August 18th. Though, with the time loop in this issue, it is unclear to the reader what the actual date is. According to Providence #6 P17,p1 the actual date is probably (assuming Black is writing after midnight) September 10, 1919.
- “Lily” is Jonathan/Lillian Russell – see Providence #1 P1,p1.
- “Caverns measureless to man” is a line from the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as the name for a memoir of Lovecraft by Kenneth Sterling and a collection of memoirs concerning Lovecraft.
- “Robert Suydam” – see Providence #2 P7,p3.
- “Athol [MA]” – setting for Providence #4.
- “Goffs Falls” – see P3,p4 above.
- “I always used to be so clear and reasoned about everything” is Black overestimating his own rationality. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “One bad thing to happen” recalls the “one bad day” motif from Moore’s “The Killing Joke.” (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “I have a real strong feeling that things will get better soon” may be foreshadowing that things are going to get worse. Black can see the future in his dreams (see Providence #3 P18,p1) but his waking life predictions of the future are inaccurate (see Providence #3 P27.)
- “A month of two’s time” is apparently a mistake on Black’s part. Black likely meant to write “a month or two’s time.” The mistaken use of “of” draws attention to the fact that he has lately been living through “two’s time”, that is, doubled/overlapping timelines. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “The Pequoig [Hotel]” – see Providence #4, P3-4
- “Miss ‘Who’s Stravinsky?'” is Black’s “brunette” lover – see Providence #4, P29. Igor Stravinsky is a composer, whose work features in Moore’s Lost Girls.
- “Bedford” is a Massachusetts town.
- “Funny Dutch roofs… which I should learn the proper name of” refers to gambrel roofs, a staple in Lovecraft’s descriptions of New England towns.
- “Hawthorne” is Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of the The Scarlet Letter, which Black was reading in Providence #3. Hawthorn was also the author of The House of the Seven Gables.
- “Eugene O’Neill” is an American realist playwright (mentioned in Providence #4 P36.) O’Neill’s “pals” are the Provincetown Players: an influential artist collective that began in Provincetown, Massachusetts, before producing plays on Broadway in NYC.
- “Oxblood” is a reddish color. Commenter alexxkay points out: oxblood is quite evocative. Oxen were often sacrificial animals. This is reminiscent of the Wheatley’s sickly cattle (see Providence #4 P9,p1) who are effectively having their blood sacrificed to John Divine.
- “Wheatley residence” – see Providence #4, P6,p1.
- “Fortnight” is two weeks.
- “When I told him I was hoping to reach Manchester he snickered fit to bust” is (Thanks commenter alexxkay) four-dimensional Mr. Jenkins’ habitual amusement at three-dimensional humanity’s misconceptions about things like distance and travel – see also P17,p4 and P21,p4 above. “Manchester” is a New Hampshire city.
- Car “stank… sort of musky like… hamster” refers to Brown Jenkin being part rat – see P17,p3 above.
- “High heaven” perhaps evokes the higher-dimensional spaces Jenkins inhabits. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “Johnson brothers… in Milwaukee” corresponds to this wine distributor, but that’s probably a coincidence.
- Milwaukee, WI, is Black’s hometown – see Providence #1, P6.
- “Beady eyes” refers to Brown Jenkin being part rat – see P17,p3 above.
- “[Jenkins] lived with his mother” perhaps refers to Jenkin suckling at Keziah Massey’s breast – see P19 above.
- “[Jenkins] lived with his mother in the southern end of Manchester, right near the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This prosaic admission served to bring about another burst of adenoidal tittering” commenter alexxkay suggests is Jenkins amusement at the idea of “border between.”
- “Lillian” is Johnathan/Lillian Russell – see Providence #1, P1,p1.
- “Driving through a thunderstorm with folks running for cover” occurs on P1 above.
- “Lilly” is also Johnathan/Lillian Russell – see Providence #1, P1,p1.
- “Dr. North” – see P3,p3 above.
- “St. Anselm” is St. Anselm College – see P1,p4 above.
- St. Anselm College’s “Alumni Hall” – see P1,p4 above.
- “Father Race” – see P2,p1 above.
- “Hali’s Book” – see P3,p1 above.
- “Dr. Wantage” – see P3,p3 above.
- “Things don’t happen at the same pace out here as they do back in New York.” alludes to the time loop Black experiences in Manchester. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “Goff’s Falls” – see P3,p4 above.
- “Dr. Hector North” – see P3,p3 above.
- “A few things in common” refers to North and Black’s homosexuality.
- “Orange Street” is an actual street in Manchester. It is very close to the bridge depicted on P6-7 above.
- “The Merrimack” – see P5,p4 above.
- “[Elspeth] gave me a good dressing down” is an interesting choice of phrase, given that she undresses before Black in Providence #6 P18-19.(Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “No call to treat her [Elspeth] like a child… talking to a little adult” – see P6,p1 above.
- “Mrs. Macey” – see P8,p1 above.
- Mr. [Robert] Suydam – see Providence #2, P7,p3.
- “Oddities I met in Salem” – see Providence #3.
- “Wheatleys outside Athol” – see Providence #4.
- “Elspeth was … A bright and normal child who hadn’t had time yet to get infected…” is both another reference to time, and another instance of Black’s unfortunate failure to understand things. In the next issue, it is clear that Elspeth is very much infected by the soul of Etienne Roulet. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “Gaping rat holes” – see P9,p1, etc. above.
- “Subsidence” – see P9,p4 above.
- “Strangers to… conventional geometry” refers to hypergeometry from “The Dreams in the Witch House” – see P20,p1 above.
- The “spirit-level” (or just spirit level) is an architectural tool, though in this context, there’s a pun in the name: the spirits in this house are anything but level. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
- “I found its listing confines too oppressive” echoes “The Dreams in the Witch House” where the narrator experiences “brain-fever … apparently, the curious angles of Gilman’s room had been having a strange, almost hypnotic effect.”
- “Meteoric crash site” – see P12-15 above.
- “Sebbins Brook” – see P3,p4 above.
- “[Frank] Stubbs” – see P12,p1 above.
- “Bluish-grey” echoes numerous grey descriptions in “The Colour out of Space.”
- “Family named Forester” – see P13,p1 above.
- “Father Dennis Mary Bradley” is Denis M. Bradley – see P13,p3.
- “Resembling nothing more than a gigantic octopus or spider” is a possible reference to both the description of Cthulhu in “The Call of Cthulhu” and to the unseen Wheatley twin in Providence #4.
- Black drawing attention to the “first-quarter crescent moon” (see P13,p2) is Moore’s hint to help readers to notice the time elapsed between the crescent moon on P13,p2 and the full moon on P23,p4.
- “Protective domes” – see P14,p4 above.
- “Business that Garland Wheatley seemed to be in such a temper over” refers to Providence #4 P9,p2-3.
- “Stella Sapiente” – see P3,p2 above.
- Black’s speculation that he may have “misremembered” and Wheatley meant “brung it down to Massachusetts or Rhode Island” does not appear to be true. Wheatley’s quote (from Providence #4 P9) reads “It’s like when they brung that stone down, ’82, then took it for ’emselves.” (p2) and “Point is, they brung it down outside Manchester on farmin’ land.” Contrary to Black’s conclusion here, apparently Wheatley did mean that the Stella Sapiente brought the meteorite down from space. If Black does look back at his notes (Providence #4 P30), though, they are brief and inconclusive.
- “People from the order… might be the same church benefactors” is Black speculating, but it appears very likely, given that they both are Stella Sapiente leaders named Wade. See P13,p2-3 above.
- “Heaven knows how many flights of narrow and uneven stairs” contrasts with the visuals earlier in the issue, where there appear to be perhaps two flights (see P9.)
- “Slanting and off-kilter… bedchamber even more subtly stomach turning and headache-inducing” again echoes “The Dreams in the Witch House” where the room’s angles have an “almost hypnotic effect” causing “brain-fever.” – see P31 above. That the place appears “even more” so perhaps alludes to the ways the room shifts over time – see P16,p2 above.
- “Mr. Jenkins” – see P17,p3 above.
- “A maze I couldn’t see” – see P17,p3 above.
- “Huge, repulsive rat’s tail” – shown on P17,p3-4 above.
- “Desperate and depraved seductress” is an astute guess, given what we know of Massey from Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2, P36-37. Massey is described there as an “alleged… prostitute” (page ) and “a striking thirty-nine year-old [with a] reputation… as a harlot or adulteress” (page ) and further as familiar with sexual passages of the Kitab (page , etc.). It is also (as this is a “hideous thought”) showcasing Black’s disinterest in women.
- “It seemed to be a discourse on mathematics or geometry” refers to the hypergeometry of “The Dreams in the Witch House” but does not really match much of Massey’s dialogue on P19-20 above. Possibly Black heard more of the conversation than appeared on the page.
- “References to Euclid” – see P20,p1 above.
- “A compelling knowledge which, if I were but to understand the slightest part of it, would utterly undo my life and reason both” describes the horror of revelation, very characteristic of Lovecraft’s fiction. It is exemplified in “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family,” where the truth of Jermyn’s origins drives him to suicide by self-immolation. While much-criticised by some as implausible or hysterical, what many critics usually fail to recognize is that this truth is seldom received plain, or all at once, but is worked up to in a series of smaller revelations (similar to an initiation), and delivered in a place or time of uncanny aspect so that the “truth” arrives with particular portent. Compare to that famous opening lines from “The Call of Cthulhu”:
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”
A number of character have been warning Black about the possibility of him encountering an impending irrevocable revelation:
– Garland Wheatley: “Them paths to the old knowledge only goes one way. Once you’re there you can’t come home no more.” (Providence #4 P25,p1)
– Mr Jenkins: “By the time you’ve realised you’re in it, it’s too late and there’s no… gettin’ out.” (P17,p4 above)
- “Brightly moonlit night” and “moonlight-flooded” are more hints of Moore’s to help readers to notice the time elapsed between the crescent moon on P13,p2 and the full moon on P23,p4. (See also “crescent moon” P33 above.)
- “Gaping like a codfish” is perhaps a version of “gaping mouth wide open like a dying codfish” apparently a simile noted in 1916.
- “Orange Street” – see P30 above.
- “Mr. [James] Montague” – see P25,p1 above.
- “Until I was relieved of all my fears” could be interpreted as until Black was killed by North, in order to be later reanimated – see P4,p3 above.
- “He knew full well what that meant” and “I know you and I’ve seen that look before” imply that Montague was afraid that North would either seek to seduce or to kill and reanimate Black if the two were left alone.
- “A second Baron Frankenstein” references “Herbert West—Reanimator” as Lovecraft’s take on a mild update of Mary Shelley’s seminal novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. Commenter Leslie S. Klinger notes that “Baron” is anachronistic, as Victor Frankenstein was only officially made a baron in the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein.
- “Making legs twitch though the application of a galvanising current” refers to the practice of applying an electric current to a dismembered limb to cause muscles to contract, which was used in Shelley’s time as a kind of traveling attraction with practitioners like Giovanni Aldini, and was something of an inspiration for her novel. (Thanks Commenter Leslie S. Klinger.)
- Marblehead: An American Undertow – see Providence #4, P27.
- First mention of Robert Black’s middle initial “D.”
- “Sodden splinters of armada out of Spain” is a reference to the Spanish Armada.
- “Rocks where centuries of moss obscured the primitive horned figures etched by vanished tribes” is possibly a reference to Dighton Rock.
- “Cromwell” is Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England
- “Heretics and conjurors who sought new climes past the long shadow of the stake” is, knowingly or not, a reference to the formative elements of the Stella Sapiente, as described in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2.
- “Bunyon’s chapbook” is Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon, an immensely popular allegorical Christian fantasy, which involved a traveler named Christian journeying through a world of sin searching for salvation in New Jerusalem (which was not the direct inspiration for the town of Salem in Massachusetts, Bunyon and the founders were both drawing on the Old Testament).
- “Temperance ladies” echoes Prohibition themes touched on in Providence #1 (P8,p3) and #3 (P1,p3) and mentioned P14,p4 above.
- “Union-affiliated Vaudevillians” refers back to the the 1919 Actors’ Equity Strike shown on P1-2 of Providence #3..
- “Fish-eyed as though risen from the ocean waves” is a poetic metaphor serving as an apt inference to the Deep One hybrids from Innsmouth – see Providence #3.
- “Bitter accents and indecipherable ululations, names unsettlingly unpronounceable” is Black waxing somewhat Lovecraftian, reminiscent of Lovecraft’s anti-immigrant worst in “The Horror at Red Hook” or “The Street.”
- “Ensconced at isolated farms… stagnant families nurse grievance, dreadful secrets and deformity in solitude” is an inference to the Wheatleys – see Providence #4.
- “Pools of declined humanity entirely unconnected to society” is similar to Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear” where there are “degenerate squatter population… witless shanty-dwellers… gently descending the evolutionary scale because of their unfortunate ancestry and stultifying isolation.”
- “Fabled and forbidden works of Arab alchemy” refers to the Kitab – see P3,p1 above. “Conveyed by sea-captains, fugitive Huguenots…” is Black borrowing heavily from the Kitab history given in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2 and the further history he’s tracked down in subsequent issues.
- “Nickelodeon” is an early type of cheap movie theater.
- “Buried and forgotten, ominous philosophies await their day with hideous patience” could almost describe Cthulhu lying in wait.
- “A little overwrought, perhaps… can’t decide if it’s [the style] too modern or it’s too old fashioned” could well describe Lovecraft’s fiction. In a recent interview Moore stated that: “He [Lovecraft] was a closet Modernist himself. …as he’s decrying all of the Modernists… actually Lovecraft is a Modernist. He’s using stream of consciousness techniques. He is using glossolalia more impenetrable than anything in Finnegan’s Wake. He is using techniques… deliberately alienating the reader or confusing the reader.”
- “Tom Malone” – see Providence #2.
- Author Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s ancestor was John Hawthorne, a judge at the Salem Witch Trials.
- “Lot less sympathetic to the idea of poor, persecuted women” refers to Lovecraft, inspired by Margaret Murray’s The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, believing in the existence of the witch-cult and that the Salem Witch Trials had actually uncovered one of their covens. Lovecraft also corresponded with a woman who claimed descent from one of the accused witches, which might have supported this romantic view of the terrible trials.
- “The fourth dimension and its strange geometry” reference the hypergeometry found in “The Dreams in the Witch House,” Willard Wheatley’s tesseract (Providence #4 P19) and descriptions of a “higher mathematical dimensional” on page  of Suydam’s pamplet (Providence #2 P31.)
- “‘Corners’ of reality” and “brightful vermin” are references to the Hounds of Tindalos, as created by Frank Belknap Long. The hounds which live outside our space-time and supposedly can only enter it via right angles. Moore implies that Mr. Jenkins/Brown Jenkin is a hound of Tindalos – see P20,p1 above.
- “A meteor falls…” is similar to the basic plot of “The Colour out of Space,” except the ending takes on a terraforming story element.
- “Streams of
bebubbles” is a possible reference to Yog-Sothoth. From a physics standpoint, higher-dimensional entities intersecting with lower dimensions might appear as cross-sections of similar strange configurations; think of a sphere passing through a two-dimensional plane; the the point of view of someone on the plane, it would appear as a circle of changing size. Moore explored a similar theme in the 1963 #3 Hypernaut story “It Came From Higher Space.”
The letters “be” are struck through – possibly because Black is tired.
- Print editions erroneously reproduced the Providence #4 quote. The actual quote (from digital editions) should be:”My mental picture of Arkham is of a town something like Salem in atmosphere & style of houses, but more hilly… The street layout is nothing like Salem’s. As to the location of Arkham—I fancy I place the town & the imaginary Miskatonic somewhere north of Salem—perhaps near Manchester.”
—To F. Lee Baldwin, April 29, 1934. (Though that quote was later printed on the back cover of both print and digital editions for Providence #6, too.)
- The letter quoted on the back has not been published. Moore probably borrowed the quoted excerpt from An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia (2001), 6.
>Go to Providence #6
>Go to Moore Lovecraft Annotations Index