Providence 5

Providence 5 cover - art by Jacen Burrows
Providence 5 cover – art by Jacen Burrows

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

>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index

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.  

Cover

Page 1

panel 1

  • 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. JenkinsProvidence‘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.

panel 2

  • “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.

panels 2-3

  • 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.

panel 4

Undated photo of St. Anselm College - via Wikipedia
Photo of St. Anselm College circa 1920 – via Wikipedia
  • 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.

Page 2

panel 1

  • 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)

Page 3

panel 1

  • 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.

panel 2

  • “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.”)

panel 3

  • “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 [2] 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.
Coat of arms for the dioceses of Manchester, NH. Image via St. Lawrence Parish Community
Coat of arms for the dioceses of Manchester, NH. Image via St. Lawrence Parish Community

panel 4

  • 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.)

Page 4

panel 2

  • “Vitality” and “lifeless specimens” both reveal Dr. North’s interest in life energies. (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
  • “The Kitab” – see P3,p1 above.

panel 3

  • “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.”

panel 4

  • “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.”

Page 5

panel 1

  • “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.

panel 2

  • 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.)

panel 3

  • “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.

panel 4

  • Railroad Street” and “Granite Street” are actual Manchester, NH streets. Commenter Sithoid found an 1892 map on which they can be seen (near the larger “West Manchester” lettering).
  • Merrimack” is the Merrimack River. This would be the analogue of Arkham’s Miskatonic River.

Page 6

Manchester's MacGregor Bridge (also called the Bridge Street Bridge.) Image via Bridgehunter.
Manchester’s MacGregor Bridge (also called the Bridge Street Bridge.) Image via Bridgehunter

panel 1

  • 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.

panel 2

  • 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).

panel 3

  • 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.

Page 7

panel 1

panel 2

  • 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.

panel 3

  • “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.

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 8

Providence's Hekeziah Massey and Browne Jenkynne are analogs for Lovecraft's Keziah Mason and Brown Jenkin from the story
Hekeziah Massey and Browne Jenkynne illustration from Suydam’s Pamphlet – Providence #2, P34. Art by Jacen Burrows

panel 1

  • 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.

    Witch House, Salem, MA
    Witch House, Salem, MA

panel 2

  • “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 [7] (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.

Page 9

panel 1

  • 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?”

panel 2

  • “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.

panel 3

  • 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 [2] 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.”

panel 4

  • “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.”

Page 10

panel 1

  • “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.

panel 2

  • “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.)

panel 3

  • “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)

Page 11

panel 1

  • “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.”

panel 2

  • “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.”

panel 3

Map detail showing Amoskeag, Co., Sebbins Brook, and multiple Darrah places
Map detail showing Amoskeag, Co., Sebbins Brook, and multiple Darrah places
  • Mentioned above “Sebbins Brook” is a tributary to the Merrimack River, south of Goffs Falls.
  • Commenter Sithoid notes the presence of multiple “Darrah” residences near Sebbins Brook on an 1892 map.
  • “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.)

panel 4

  •  Captions are Black speaking with Frank Stubbs; voiceover technique is similar to P1, 5, and 7 above.
  • Commenter Sithoid found an 1892 map that shows “Devonshire Mills Coal Sheds” in Goffs Falls.

Page 12

Lovecraft's sketch of the blasted heath from
Lovecraft’s sketch of the blasted heath from “The Colour out of Space.” Image from Klinger’s New Annotated Lovecraft via Ross Byrne

panel 1

  • 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.”

panel 2

  • “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)

panel 3

  • “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.”

Page 13

panel 1

  • The “Forrester” family are Providence’s analogue for the Gardners in “The Colour out of Space.”
  • “Father Bradley” – see p3 below.

panel 2

  • “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.
Winfield Scott Lovecraft, father of HP Lovecraft
Winfield Scott Lovecraft, father of HP Lovecraft

panel 3

  • 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.”

panel 4

Page 14

panel 1

  • “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.”

panel 2

  • “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.

panel 3

  • “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.

panel 4

  • “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.

Page 15

panel 1

panel 2

  • “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.

panel 3

  • “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.

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 16

panel 1

  • Moore accentuates the non-reveal (see last panel) by Black stating “there was nobody there by me.”

panel 2

  • 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.)

panel 3

  • 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)

panel 4

Page 17

panel 1

  • “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.)

panel 2

  • “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.

panels 2-4

  • 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.

panel 3

  • 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 [5] 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.

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 18

panel 1

  • 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.

panel 2-4

  • These three panels form a zoom sequence, which Moore uses frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen #1.

panel 3

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 19

panel 1

  • 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.

panel 2

  • “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.

panel 4

  • “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.”

Page 20

panel 1

  • “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.

panel 2

  • “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.)

panel 3

  • “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.

panel 4

  • 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?

Page 21

panel 1

  • 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.)

panel 2-3

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 22

panel 1

  • 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?

panel 2

  • 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)

panel 3

  • 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.

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 23

panel 2

  • Black leaves his raincoat at the foot of the bed.

panel 3

  • The view is the same as P9,p3 and P11,p2, but the panel border is different – irregular, hand-drawn.

panel 4

  • Duplicate of Page 21,p4 including straight-line border.

Page 24

panel 1

  • Duplicate of Page 22,p1 including straight-line border.

panel 2-4

panel 4

  • Captions are Black talking to Hector North; the last speech panel belongs to James Montague.

Page 25

panel 1

  • 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.

panel 2

panel 3

  • “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.)

panel 4

  • 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.

Page 26

panel 1

  • “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.

panel 2

  • “Feeling animated” and “fit to wake…” again refer to reanimation. The complete phrase is “fit to wake the dead.”

panel 3

panel 4

Page 27

Commonplace Book

(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.

Page 28

Commonplace Book

  • 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 #3Hawthorn 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.

Page 29

Commonplace Book

  • 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.

Page 30

Commonplace Book

  • “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.

Page 31

Commonplace Book

  • 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.

Page 32

Commonplace Book

  • “[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.

Page 33

Commonplace Book

  • “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.

Page 34

Commonplace Book

  • “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 [7]) and “a striking thirty-nine year-old [with a] reputation… as a harlot or adulteress” (page [8]) and further as familiar with sexual passages of the Kitab (page [8], 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.

Page 35

Commonplace Book

  • “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.)

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Commonplace Book

  • “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.

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  • “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.

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  • “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.

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  • “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.

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  • “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 [2] 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 be bubbles” 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.

Back Cover

  • 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

 

 

 

 

176 thoughts on “Providence 5

  1. Things are really starting to pick up in this issue! Robert Black encounters Asenath Waite, Herbert West, Keziah Mason and Brown Jenkins and the aftermath of the comet from The Colour Out of Space. I’ve really liked the slow build, but now it’s seeming that the threads are starting to bind themselves together. It’s my favorite issue so far.

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  2. I have to say things really seem to be cumming to a head this issue. The first 4 issues seemed to be a following a trend of done-in-one tales with Black seemingly clueless as to the forces hes entrenched himself with.

    This issue Black finally FINALLY realizes some truly weird shit is going on around him and no it’s not a dream. That he even admits to possibly going mad is liberating if only because he’s forced to confront the truth. And of course we have the Witch tell him outright to his face that he is the Herald, though that part still goes over his head… for nao.

    What’s moar the next issue looks like it’ll be a loose continuation of this one, giving us some breathing room from the tightly confined done-in-ones. The world is beginning to open for us the reader and Robert. What’s really is that a lesser writer would be content to keep Black passive as he just passes thru the history of Cthulhu as an eye witness. But Moore clearly has something special in store for Black and it’ll be interesting to see what happens as he as a direct influence on the story while still not contradicting Lovecraft.

    I would guess Black remains mostly passive until the final issue or two to leave the most leeway before Moore delivers what’s sure to be a crushing ending. We know the world doesn’t end, since the present of Neonomicon is the same as our own but might a possible connection to the pregnant FBI agent be in the works?

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    • You could almost argue that in each case a toll is being taken from him for safe passage through the nether realms, not unlike the gold coins placed on people’s eyes when they were buried in the times of the Ancients. Or, analogously, that each fresh encounter is stripping him, physically and by extension mentally, until his final revelation will drive him mad. He did spend a lot of time naked in his dream in #3, and that was the only one not ambiguous in terms of being a dream…

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  3. Page 5, panel 2: “That’s the very least of it” hints at the college’s rejection of North’s eccentric, and eventually criminal, research about reanimation, as described in the Lovecraft story.

    Panel 3: “Revivalism” is a Catholic movement, based on fervour of faith. Of course North’s “revivalism” is of an entirely different kind…

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  4. Note the moon on page 13 and pages 20 and 23. It has been at least about 18 days before the night Black goes to Dr. North’s house.

    Mr. WADE is probably Providence’s analogue for Ephraim WAITE. Both are from Salem/Innsmouth. On page 6, panel 2, Elspeth says “I’m thirteen and a half”. I think “half” refers to Mr. Wade.

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    • You may also notice in the panel where she parts ways with Mr. Black, their body language matches – furthering the implication that she’s a man in a girls body.

      Also, as with other elements in this series I think we’re way before Elspeth meets her equivalent of Edward Derby – she was twenty-three when they made friends, and she’s thirteen now. More likely in #6, adorned with her image on the variant cover, we’ll meet her ‘mad father’ – i.e., her mind trapped in his body.

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      • That’s if soul transference works both ways. I haven’t read Lovecraft, so I don’t know. Might her mad dad just be a body with no soul left?

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  5. During Black’s dream sequence on page 17, it is raining. This suggests that the rainstorm that Black experienced on his way to St. Anselm (which left no puddles and which no one else seemed to notice) was actually a premonition of this moment.

    Also, if Black was actually trapped in the Witch House for 18 days, that might explain why fall seemed to be “arriving early” from Black’s perspective — he was experiencing a moment some two weeks (or more) in the future, after the leaves had started to turn.

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    • We both seem to have been posting under the name “Mike”. To avoid further confusion I will from now on use another name.

      Also; maybe the beginning of this issue doesn’t suggest a premonition, but instead illustrates that Black is so confused by the fact that time has passed differently in the Witch House that he doesn’t remember exactly what happened the day he arrived in Manchester, and adds to his memories certain elements, like the leaves that started to turn, which would suggest an arrival at a later date.

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  6. I think that Seigor and Mike might be on to something when they point out that 18 days have elapsed before Black makes his way to Dr. North’s house. The dialogue between Black and North seems to confirm this.
    Black: “I-I mean for all you I could be some dangerous maniac, seeing as you only met me this morning.”
    North: :This morning? Oh, you poor boy, you HAVE been shaken up, haven’t you?”

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  7. Who is Walter Race?
    I know it’s similar to Warren Rice from the Dunwich Horror…but the Father bit seems to be off.
    Is there some other character he can be, or is the simplest answer the right one?

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  8. Great annotations as usual.

    In page 1 panel 1, you can see a figure that looks a lot like Black fleeing the Witch House, complete with suitcase, again underlining that Black has been trapped in a time loop. In panel 2 he refers to “folks all running for shelter”, suggesting he even saw his future self running, but as usual missed the paranormal nature of the event.

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      • It looks like the route from Bedford – St Anselm wouldn’t take you past Dr North’s house on Orange Street, so it’s likely Robert will leave town immediately following another visit to the college, rather than legging it directly from, say, the re-animator’s basement.

        I like Robert’s habit of freaking out and running away from things in a panic, and enjoyed the humour in his wordless (second) exit from the bedroom in this issue. It’s a deft bit of balance in the script, to go from the horror of the dream sequence to light relief – a page or two of nothing but ‘man getting the fuck out of there’ – it lets you breathe without dispersing the tension in the situation.

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    • Hm, in Neonomicon, just hearing the word (and a bit of DMT) set off things in Aldo Sax’s brain. Maybe from that point, time gets weird? Will have to re-read. Maybe it prepares him to experience what happens.

      The idea of time as a solid, through which we experience a slice at a time, but could potentially step outside of, is a long-held one of Moore’s. It’s in the freakout end-of-the-world bit in Promethea, with a really awesome mixing with comic-strip protocol, where space proceeds in place of time, and everything happens one frame at once. Or the bit on Leng in Neonom.

      Indeed even Grant Morrison does a shitty version of it in Invisibles, but no need to worry about upstarts when we have an ascended master.

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  9. At this point following troubling dream sequences Black has lost both his hat and raincoat. I wonder if we’ll see them again.

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  10. Love it. Thanks for everything. Two slight notes: 1) in the original, the familiar is always Brown “Jenkin” (no plural, collective or possessive, all of which are intriguing possibilities for the Alan Moore version) 2) scarce in “these accounts” makes the metacanonical reference a little more explicit, so to speak.

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  11. Isn’t “Imagine somebody coming up with a weapon… a gun or a bomb… that could do the same thing” also referencing the ending of Watchman?

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    • I thought it was more in general reference to the threat of atomic weapons – just as the link was made in #3 between the “Exit Gardens” and persecution of the Innsmouth people with the gas chambers used by the Nazis. Decades before Hiroshima, Lovecraft envisioned an artificial weapon dropping from the sky and releasing an invisible, near-undetectable presence which killed people slowly and painfully.

      It’d be an interesting reading comparison – “The Colour out of Space” against Raymond Briggs’ “Where The Wind Blows”…

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  12. Could James Montague be a flipped reference to Montague Rhodes James? Master of the weird tale and of course an influence on Mr. Lovecraft.

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  13. Page 6, Panel 2 – I believe (but could be mistaken) that Marblehead was meant to be the model for Kingsport, not Innsmouth. Incidentally, Black’s short essay on Marblehead in the day book could be read as a (very nasty) alternative take on the beginning of “The Strange High House in the Mist.” Instead of the sea-mist bringing dreams to Kingsport, the sea brings the dregs of humanity to Marblehead.

    Page 13, Panel 3 – It’s really pretty mindblowing if Lovecraft’s father was one of the movers and shakers in the Stella Sapiente. It may explain why (almost) every dubious Mythos figure Black meets is so polite to him and so anxious to, in the words of Massey, impress their knowledge on Black, so that Black can impress it on HIM (presumably referring to good ol’ Howard Philips himself). Lovecraft seems to have been fated or doomed to receive all this knowledge from Black, because of who his father was.

    Page 19, Panel 2 – I believe Etienne Roulet is the vampiric creature from “The Shunned House.” If so, he may be using soul-transference to keep himself alive. Also, “I uncovered another way” may refer to the discussion of Massey in Suydam’s pamphlet in Issue 2. Through an examination of a portion of the Kitab called “The Azure Garden,” Massey discovered that through awful rituals involving bestiality and other things, she could “provoke a blewness of the aire” to call “our true and sertain friends.” This may be how she befriended (or gave birth to?) Jenkins, and the light in the room when she is there in the dream does seem to have a grey-blue tint.

    Speaking of Issue 2, the pamphlet also describes the Kitab’s discussion of eternity as a solid, in which everything always is happening simultaneously and time is a measure of distance, not duration. The temporal hijinks going on in Issue 5 could be a demonstration of that.

    Page 20, Panel 2 – “Of a type and convention to religion” could also refer to the Madonna and Child, which Massey and Jenkins appear to (horribly) mirror. Now we head into wild speculation, but if this is true, it could also reference Moore’s discussion of the sephira of Binah and the Whore of Babalon/Madonna in his miniseries Promethea (the coming of Cthulhu and the Strange Aeon that Brears mentions at the end of Neonomicon could likewise be read as a reference to the discussion of The Aeon tarot card in Promethea).

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    • Your point regarding Lovecraft himself is exactly what I were thinking – I was tipped off by the reference made in #1 by Prof. Alvarez to the finding of Dr. Livingstone by another Herald journalist. The good doctor asks Black if he’s also going to make an expedition into the heart of darkness, but leaves it up to us to make the connection vis-a-vis locating someone important. Add to that Willard Wheatley’s threatening references to the ‘Redeemer’ in #4 and I’d guess that in the fourth act of the story (between #9 and #12), Black will meet up with young Howard and perhaps gift him a copy of his book.

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    • As far as turning the air “blew”, that’s the colour of Orgone, right? Which is necessary, in Neonomicon, to summon the Deep One. It’s generated by kinky sex, if not actual bestiality. Maybe bestiality is what you do when there’s a shortage of pervs but plenty of animals.

      So perhaps Massey summoned some other eldritch abomination, and that’s wee Jenkins father.

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  14. “Of a type and convention to religion” also could in reference to the blasphemous staging wherein she resembles Mary nursing the infant Jesus.

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  15. In P20, Panel 3, is it only me who sees the geometry of the house shift even more awfully? It may be just how Burrows drew Black walking down the stairs, but I swear it looks as though we’re looking at him from overhead – as if he’s walking on a horizontal plane.

    Also, can we read the ambiguity of the line “Can I take you anywhere?” in P21, Panel 4 to mean travel through time & space, as implied in P1?

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  16. Also also, I thought you’d comment on the obvious symbolism of Brown Jenkins talking about mazes – after all, he is part rat. Inhumane experiments with rodents in mazes call to mind the WWII imagery of #3, and could even be seen as an analogy for what the powers-that-be are doing with Black; throwing him into different mazes, tossing obstacles and rewards his way and seeing which way he’ll run.

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  17. I think I know where Moore is going with the meteor they found in Issue #5, the one from The Colour Out Of Space. Panel 3, Page 13, we see a sharp, black point sticking out of the well. I think its the “Shining Trapezohedron” from The Haunter of the Dark, the one the Starry Wisdom cult has stashed in that abandoned church in Providence. It fits both the chronology and answers what the Stell Saps did with it.

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  18. It’s interesting that to note that Black has only fled from the scene when confronted by female antagonists. First from Lilith in the caverns beneath Suydam’s flat and then from Massey suckling her “rat-baby”.

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    • He’s fled from two bloody horrible monsters! I don’t think he’s actually scared of naked women, nobody’s THAT gay. I think you’re reading too much in, unless Alan’s making an allusion to Lovecraft’s fear of sex. Which he could be.

      Apart from young Wilbur, who was just a bit fishy looking, has he met any male monsters? The Lilith actually attacked him, and nursing a rat-monster is a bit unnerving. Neither were ordinary women. Robert so far has been dumb enough not to notice all the fishmen and the like.

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      • Depends on what you mean by a monster. He met the revenant from “Cold Air” in issue 1, as well as various Deep One hybrids, the cannibal from “The Picture in the House”, and the Terrible Old Man in issue 3.

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      • It’s not stupidty as much as a willful thickness. He’s *choosing* not to see the worst in the horrible men in his surroundings, for the sake of propriety as much as improving his odds of wresting a story from it all.

        Note that when he flees Massey, he’s saying “I don’t want to know this.” He’s fleeing recognition– and I’m using that word in its most multivalent sense. Qua Gaddis, recognition isn’t merely the act of seeing things for what they are, it’s giving oneself over to the vision. Robert’s not there yet.

        It’s certainly noteworthy that women are the ones who force the shock of recognition from Robert, but it’s not the whole story. His orientation as much as manners of the period encourage him to blinker himself. In his journals we encounter Black sleeping with a man he considers his intellectual inferior, someone who actively irritates him, but he keeps up the charade because it means he gets laid. This isn’t unusual, by any means; people do this all the time. But it’s in the stark naked moments of recognition, confronted by monstrous avatars of death, age, and (if you like) the road not taken which elicit an honest response of flight-or-fight in Robert.

        And as we’ve seen throughout: Black isn’t a fighter. He’s wholly passive, a gay jew passing as a white middle-class intellectual. (Which I also find fascinating b/c as much as Black is a stand-in for Lovecraft, he’s also the “acceptable” avatar for a fictional comic book protagonist.) Everyone’s telling him he’s the herald and he’s choosing not to hear how the significance because he’s putting all his mental energy into a pretense of socially acceptable normalcy.

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      • Brian, by “monster” I’m going for literal monster. By “revenant” you mean Alvarez? He’s a bit unusual but he only uses the temperature method, he’s presumably never killed anybody. He seems an ethical and moral man, and very philosophical, with reference to him and Estes testing only on themselves, which is standard medical ethics for the odd unusual scientist who needs to test something drastic on human beings.

        A cannibal isn’t a literal monster, still a human being, if a horrible one. And the fishmen, well as we’ve noticed, Robert is plain thick!

        The important difference though, is that none of these men / man-things attacked Robert, that’s only been “Hoo Hoo” from issue 2. Massey didn’t attack him so much as terrify and imprison him (in time and space). He’s only really had the issue 2 monster want to directly attack him. Hector North, sure, but he’s (presumably) an independent character, not working for the Stell Saps, and only wants Robert for his body! He wouldn’t have attacked from the front.

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      • The Saint,

        I dunno how much he’s deliberately ignoring all the weirdness, he doesn’t mention it in the Commonplace Book, or talk about it to others. He seems genuinely innocent, and daft as a brush. He’s been unstintingly pleasant to every freak and nutcase he’s come across so far!

        Massey is the first time he’s really realised anything, and that had to be shoved into his face. “Qua Gaddis”, nice phrase though, I’ll remember that!

        >It’s certainly noteworthy that women are the ones who force the shock of recognition from Robert, but it’s >not the whole story. His orientation as much as manners of the period encourage him to blinker himself.

        By “women” there’s been one monster and one witch who, as I say, made it utterly obvious. No recognition or cognition at all required of Robert.

        I don’t think he’s blinkered by manners, they require him to be pleasant to normal, non-monster people. And he’s genuinely a decent man, and doesn’t think less of people for being poor, weird, or even incestuous. Being despised by society, while still a good man, is something he knows all about. So he knows better than to judge quickly, indeed he never judges at all. He warns Elspeth about that.

        I also think being gay back then would keep him acutely aware. Having to put on a convincing charade requires an understanding of the people you’re trying to fool. Equally finding a partner who himself will be under-cover in public requires a lot of perception to see the signs, as you manoeuvre through the process of acknowledging yourself without giving anything away to the wrong person. Actually on this notion I don’t think he was going to just flat-out ask Thomas Malone if he was gay. There’d be a bit more of a dance before he did that. Up until the point he’s got Tom’s dick in his mouth. (FWIW, “gaydar” isn’t worth shit!)

        Maybe in New York you could survive the scandal of being publicly outed, if you were nobody famous. But it was still illegal back then. Chances of having your life ruined, pretty high I’d think. It’s not too long after poor Oscar wrote his ballad of Reading Gaol, while in Reading Gaol. That prosecution ended Oscar’s life in society.

        >In his journals we encounter Black sleeping with a man he considers his intellectual inferior, someone who >actively irritates him, but he keeps up the charade because it means he gets laid. This isn’t unusual, by >any means;

        It’s not unusual, you can still find something charming or attractive about someone. Was he really that irritated? I forget the guy you mean, the hotel clerk? Can’t remember much about that. You need some attraction to fuck somebody, or else nobody would discriminate in their choice of partner.

        >people do this all the time. But it’s in the stark naked moments of recognition, confronted by monstrous >avatars of death, age, and (if you like) the road not taken which elicit an honest response of flight-or-fight >in Robert.

        Road not taken? You mean women? He’s never been propositioned, or even had a woman show an interest in him. Except maybe a little from the secretary at the Herald but that’s nothing serious. I might accept the theory that the scary-women thing is maybe a nod from Alan towards HP’s sex life, or whatever such thing HP had instead of one. But nothing to do with Robert. He’s fled from genuine horrors, been very pleasant as ever towards women. He was unbothered about Mrs Ortega pulled fresh off the cock with her noble odours, and was polite to Miss Gerritsen.

        >And as we’ve seen throughout: Black isn’t a fighter. He’s wholly passive, a gay jew passing as a white >middle-class intellectual. (Which I also find fascinating b/c as much as Black is a stand-in for Lovecraft, >he’s also the “acceptable” avatar for a fictional comic book protagonist.)

        He IS a white middle-class intellectual! Well if Jews are white. The particular Jew Robert is looks pretty white, there are much darker, more ethnic Arab-looking Jews, but Rob’s not one of them.

        It’s well past time we had gay protagonists in comics, who did things other than being gay, talking about being gay, or are oppressed (for being gay). He’s a happy and successful young homosexual man. He gets the sex, attraction, and love parts of being gay. The important, actually relevant parts (Alan just makes writing look so easy!). The rest really hasn’t mattered.

        Gay-Dor, with his enchanted butt-plugs, is for Marvel’s attempt at being “mature”. Not real comics for grown-ups! WATCH as he battles the twin menace of Catholics and Republicans!

        >Everyone’s telling him he’s the herald and he’s choosing not to hear how the significance because he’s >putting all his mental energy into a pretense of socially acceptable normalcy.

        Nah, that’s second-nature, first-nature in fact, by now. He’s been hiding his gayness since adolescence, I’d bet. And his Judaism since whenever he imagined it was a problem. Did Jews have a bad time in the USA back then? In New York of all places!?

        He has plenty of mental energy to spare. He’s just overwhelmed, first by Jonathan’s suicide, second by all the really freaky shit that keeps happening to him. And he’s a modern, educated man, he’s not going to expect horrors from beyond time to turn up in someone’s airing cupboard. Journalists aren’t easily spooked, his mind is going to naturally look for rational explanations. Even when the truth is right in front of his face, because who’d believe such crazy things? More likely it’s just stress, affecting his mind.

        There might be significance to this life “under the surface”, which he thinks he’s writing about, or at least intended to at the beginning. He thinks the surface is convention and society, but it’s something much deeper down than that! I think his double-life is going to turn out to be an important part of the story. He thinks he’s the one who’s doing the fooling.

        Great story, Alan, keep it up!

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  19. Just got to the end of the comic proper, and I’m wondering… does anyone fancy transcribing the very long, handwritten bits at the end? I’m 38, and like most of the post-computer generation, I don’t think I’ve written more than 5 pages by hand since I left school. I’ve typed megabytes. Thus even I can’t read my own writing in cursive, which I learned formally at school.

    So my problem is, reading the Commonplace Book entries is slow, tiring, and annoying. Couldn’t Alan have given Robert a bloody portable typewriter? It’s a real effort to read, and I don’t appreciate it. Could somebody better at reading script than me, do a massive favour to the Internet and type them in?

    I’m mildly tickled that Alan’s interviews on Youtube need transcription, I’m English and have no trouble understanding a Midlands accent, but the handwriting completely floors me. Even Alan uses a computer now! He must have had to pay somebody to write that out longhand.

    Apart from that… Loving Herbert “North” West’s slapping on the puns about appreciating poor Robert’s body. I dunno if Hector’s actually gay, he’s kindof over-doing the knowing puns. Perhaps he’s pretending, to get his hands on what he really wants, Robert’s body! Then again, back then, one couldn’t just ask, so perhaps he just really wants to get his point across.

    Also the “dream” sequence, Robert running through a bit of hyperdimensional geometry. Robert’s landlady really lays it on thick too, not exactly “living” there for a long time… She probably built the house. And it presumably doesn’t spend all it’s time in the ordinary 3 dimensions, hence the FBI guy not knowing.

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      • Well I suppose HP was heterosexual. Provisionally. I dunno, it’s a bit difficult to figure exactly, which I suppose gives Mr Moore a laugh. In this case Robert quite likes sex, with dudes. Maybe Alan’s insinuating HPL was secretly gay? It doesn’t seem likely, he was much weirder than just a man in a lavender marriage.

        Then again, Robert can’t be just a transparent stand-in for HPL, would be too easy. So there have to be differences. But it’s not exactly sex he’s running from, they’re both legitimate monsters. He wasn’t at all bothered by the landlady in issue 1, caught with her knickers down.

        I suppose it works if Robert’s not afraid of sex or women, and it’s just a coincidence from his point of view. But as readers we can guess the extra dimension. If HPL had been writing the story, he’d have been scared!

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    • As much of a chore as it may be to read, I’m okay with it because I think it’s part of the period flavor: people don’t enjoy reading handwriting anymore, but handwritten script was just as common as type at that point in history. It’s also anti-cinema, a counterpoint to the comics narrative itself, which uses & abuses film-friendly technique. Techniques which are anything but commonplace at the time of the story! We’ve come to take it for granted that stories are always told in this fashion, but compare Nosferatu to Vampyr. The two are about as similar as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari resembles Serpent & The Rainbow… I digress.

      I appreciate that Alan insists on presenting Black’s narrative in apposite forms b/c I’m not interested in remaining passive: working to take in the information enhances my immersion. Reading Eddie Campbell’s King Canute is its own experience; it would be a completely different book if the font were rendered by computer. Isn’t that part of what Alan’s doing here? Avatar books are computer-lettered; consequently I take the choice of handwriting as purposeful. (As is the color in which it’s written, I suspect; I’d be surprised if Black’s supply of purple ink doesn’t run out over the next seven issues.)

      I tend to read the issues comics in three stages: each new issue I read front-to-back, comic & backmatter; then again in conjunction with the other issues, strictly following the comics narrative; and a similar readthrough, strictly focusing on the backmatter. Each is its own experience and each demands different amounts of time & concentration. But I’m an OCD artfag. Our mileages will vary, if for no other reason than you were raised metric and I by wolves.

      It’s only been the Friends of Oannes newsletter that’s grated me, being altogether too winkingly insistent on the puns, which I felt worked against the idea of the variant spellings being typos. I thought the dream sequence in #3 was too self-aware & punning, too, sundering the tone. But that’s just my having a difference with the author. It’s his book. He should do as he pleases & my comfort be damned. A comic about Lovecraft shouldn’t be a cozy read. 🙂

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      • While, yep, the handwriting adds atmosphere, and certainly fake documents are a speciality of Alan’s, particularly Watchmen which also had one at the end of each issue. But… I get it. I know it’s his journal. But I also have to read it, and it’s annoying. Just give him a typewriter!

        It’s not a real document, it’s a comic. There’s issues of practicality. If it weren’t for Jess Nevins, pbuh, Alan’s insistence on using foreign languages in speech balloons, languages which I’m sure he doesn’t actually speak, would mean I’d have to learn Urdu and Arabic to know what’s going on in The League, since Alan decided not to offer the traditional box with translations. Alan has the luxury of a translation company, I don’t. Another alternative is to use “foreign quotes” around supposedly foreign-language text, and actually write it in English.

        You can’t just write something without intending it to be read, that’s masturbatory. The reader reconstructs the story from the page, the reader’s mind is the important part.

        Coziness is nothing to do with it, it’s purely legibility. If I can’t read a comic, I’m not getting the story. If I’m annoyed and having to work hard, it spoils suspension of disbelief and involvement.

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      • In Moore’s defense, it wouldn’t be practical for Black to be hauling a typewriter around with him. Those things are heavy, even the travel versions. It may also be that Moore is riffing off the fact that Lovecraft disliked typewriters, preferring to write longhand.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. I completely forgot about Black interrupting Dr. Alvarez and Mrs. Ortega. Black certainly wasn’t frightened by those knickers, was he?

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    • What’s really charming, is that Alan’s gone to the effort of looking up early 20th Century gay slang. It’s a joy to read and a real education. Back then there were obviously a few very witty homosexuals. There’s a similar thing, “Polari”, going back from the 1960s to, possibly, much earlier, a whole gay argot, also used by criminals and theatre types, it still is in use among a few elder actors. An actual pidgin language, though users would mostly use English words, the Polari bits just being to confuse anyone not in the know. But the stuff in Providence is very subtle and clever.

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  21. Also re P5P2, “a Mary” is another word for “a gay man”. It’s well-known, if not widely used any more, in Britain, and I’ve seen it in the odd American TV programme. So a man’s “middle name being Mary” could be a metaphor, as well as literally true in this case. Or it could simply be true in the literal sense, but Hector’s taking the opportunity for a joke and running with it.

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    • The use of “Mary” certainly jumped out at me. There was an episode of Seinfeld where some guys on the street called George a “Mary” because he jumped over a mud puddle with a certain (maybe too much) flourish.

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  22. Couple more…

    North referring to the people at the college as “these lifeless specimens”, maybe some of them really are. Or maybe that’s just him wishful thinking, making plans.

    “Heeee… we’re all… we’re all cornered different” is coming from Jenkins’ mouth. Referring to cornered, as in a maze, and also the thing that he is. “Where I’m from, everything’s like me”. Jenkins and whatever the hell his kind are, are “cornered different”. As in “differently angled”.

    Jenkins is differently angled, or many-angled. He’s (half-)native to extra dimensions. Why he can pass through time and space, and change shape. And apparently be invisible when he brushes past Black in the bedroom. Black is “cornered” in a different way, trapped in a maze he can’t see, being led down a path entirely out of his control.

    So “we’re all cornered different” refers both to Jenkins’ own kind, as well as the two of them, he and Black. Clever writing eh?

    Might be that invisibility through extra dimensions is the same thing John Divine has, his brother’s already good with tesseracts. They’re also half-human, half-eldritch monstrosity.

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  23. I don’t know if it’s been mentioned before, but in this issue some analogy between the Kitab and the famous Voynich manuscript seems apparent. I note the following similarites:
    The Voynich manuscript resides in another New England university (Yale)
    Some consider the Voynich manuscript to be in an “invented” language, just as Father Race describes.
    The Voynich manuscript contains both star diagrams and some theorize pictures of medicinal herbs. You could say it covers both medical and astronomical subjects, like the Kitab.
    Anyway I kept thinking this over the past few issues, but Race’s description this issue makes me feel somewhat sure. When reading Father Race’s work as a linguist deciphering it, it made me think immediately of Professor Steven Bax doing the same for the Voynich manuscript.
    Note also Bax theorizes the Voynich manuscript to be a transcription from some near eastern language similar to Arabic. See the following fascinating video:

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    • British author Colin Wilson actually went to far as to claim that the Voynich Manuscript was a version of the Necronomicon in some of his Mythos fiction, so it’s far from impossible – but I’m inclined to think that Moore is basing it more on Lovecraft’s description of the Necronomicon and medieval Arabic manuscripts like the Picatrix.

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  24. Just a quick random thought, is it possible that Providence is intended to be read in real time? First issue came out last days of may and happens around first days of june. If there were no delays, we’d had almost the same release/read dates as in the commonplace book. THis issue came out early, in order to reduce the delay we had before. Either way, I look forward to the all saints eve edition of the book, which will likely be number 7.

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    • By “All Saints’ Eve” you mean “Halloween”? Simpler to just say so! Looking forward to a nice eldritch Xmas.

      I don’t think time really matters much to most of the baddies in the book. The human ones have unnatural patience, the “others” don’t even live in linear time as a concept. And there’s nothing spooky about Halloween that hasn’t already been out-spooked by all the books so far. We’ve already had witches, ghouls, killers and abominations, there’s only ghosts still left! And they could just be some dimensional weirdity.

      Plus if it IS in real-time, it means poor Robert’s doomed to spending a full year investigating these shenanigans. It’s gonna cost him a fortune in hotel bills. Actually I’ve just realised the difference between using a Commonplace Book as a diary, vs an actual diary. No printed dates! So we’ve very little way of knowing, especially when Robert met that nice young Hector only this morning.

      Actually Robert’s flat-out dumbness is getting really dangerous now! It’s a little funny, actually, how dim he is. Then again perhaps I wouldn’t be so keen to go looking for monsters if I thought they really existed. You can only be naive for so long, but that makes Robert doubting his sanity really handy right about now. He can write future stuff off as an hallucination.

      It might be his sanity’s not going to be around for too long anyway, so maybe he shouldn’t worry so much about keeping hold of it!

      And zombies! We’ve had zombies too!

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      • Yeah, I meant halloween. I read Dunwich horror in spanish, and I translated literally ( my bad) but I think it’s a valid term.

        I imagine some dark ritual happening on Halloween, one that will involve a kind of inititation or something for Robert.

        And aslo, besides being dumb, I think as he says, he’s just traveling for helping forget Lilly, he doesn’t care too much about his investigation ( Issue 3 he says something like:” Oh yeah, that old order” ! Instead of saying, the stella sapiente, also the Massey Macey confusion, indicate he doesn’t pay much attention to his investigation

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      • All Saints’ Eve is a valid term. But in the UK at least, we’re mostly not religious, and not many of those who are, are Catholic, who would be most likely to know the date of All Saints’ Eve. I’m a fairly knowledgable guy and I had to look All Saints’ up on the Internet. I guessed it was Halloween from the context, but wasn’t sure.

        But everyone knows the good old pagan festival of Samhain, or Halloween as it’s called now! Plastic pumpkins and ghosts ahoy!

        The sort of things Robert’s dealing with, I think long predate Christianity, or the pagan religions who invented Samhain. They’re not ordinary ghosts and ghouls, they’re creatures of science, just a different, unknown science. Stuff to do with other dimensions of time and space. Being corporeal doesn’t stop them being horrors, of course.

        You’re right about Robert though. The world’s least observant journalist! He has not a CLUE what’s going on in front of him!

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  25. Regarding the implied people in the story, who’s the English fella Detective Stubbs was referring to in the original Stella Sapiente group that recovered the meteorite? Or investigated it, whatever. Who are the other people he mentioned, come to that? It’s nice to have a site like this that covers most of the implications, suggestions, and innuendoes that Mr Moore is making. And nice as well to be able to speculate like a bunch of happy fanboys over what it all means, and what’s going on…

    The ultimate fate, according to many of us, seems to be for Robert, with whatever sanity he might have left, to pass over his findings to Lovecraft himself. Who then, I suppose, will write his famous stories which will tip of the cultsters in Neonomicon, allowing the whole story to fold itself up.

    But what if it’s something else? It makes sense, but guessing how Alan’s gonna end a story, not even halfway in? No chance! I don’t think John had even got to Mars by that point in Watchmen. We didn’t see the true villain towards the end, and it’s debatable if he even WAS a villain, and dude, nobody foresaw a gigantic psychic squid from beyond the stars, never mind a FAKE gigantic psychic squid from beyond the stars! “Imagine an alien bee, stinging reflexively upon death”. And that’s one of the few quotes from ANYTHING I can remember!

    Hey can we do italics and bold and stuff on here? Anyone wanna tell me how?

    What becomes of the Stell Saps? Particularly by the time of Neonomicon? Seems like the scene there had degenerated into a bunch of sexual weirdoes who were only in it to get a deep one off a Deep One. “Thith fuck you’re having, it’th a deep one”, one of my other few quoteth!

    So who can Robert be passing this all onto at the end? What and who’s he the herald of? I suppose he could still call down some horrible fate from beyond sanity, doesn’t HAVE to lead up to Neo completely. If he does, when does he learn Aklo? I hope we get to see The Book before too long.

    And what’s the method involving salts? Where’s that mentioned?

    It’s just like Alan to floor us with a surprise, just sayin’!

    So that’s what I want to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Revisiting the issue, I noticed an intriguing pattern in the ascent & descent of the stairwell. There’s a “floating” railing. Going up the stairs with Massey & entering the house on his own, there’s no railing; when they exit the room and when Robert leaves in a panic, there’s suddenly a railing.

    This could be an accident of detail– the disappearing pin on Wheatley’s lapel comes to mind –but as with so many other eccentricities in layout, the way the room breathes & contracts, I’m given to suspect that the differences between entry & exit are a hint at the larger Maze Robert’s in for 18 days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are a lot of differences – railing, carpet, holes, etc. – but if i understand you correctly, I think that the missing railing (P9,p4) is just behind the post. It is visible in P9,p2, then again P11,p1 (and later)

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  27. “Father Bradley … appears on PXXX.”
    Page 13.

    “… In in Lovecraft’s story.”
    This should probably read “in “Herbert West — Reanimator”.

    “…with many antiquated features, including , and…”
    What features?

    “If I’m not apparent when you’re back”
    Also, there is perhaps a play on words here with “apparition”.

    And by night all Arkham…”
    You’re missing the opening quotation marks.

    “Mr. Wade was mentioned in mentioned by…”
    Perhaps you meant “in passing”?

    “…who probably used method of…”
    Should perhaps be “used the method of”?

    “Cunny is scarce in thee parts”
    The actual text reads “cunny is scarce in these accounts.”

    More games with the room in the witch-house changing:
    P10,p1: There is a missing patch of wallpaper just above the crossbeam of the tilted wall. A second missing patch is down by the baseboard, between the bureau and the wall.
    P16,p3: The upper missing patch is still present, but is several feet higher. (Location of lower missing patch hidden by shadow.)
    P18,p2-4; P19,p2: No upper missing patch visible, though it might just be out of view. (Location of lower missing patch not visible.)
    P22,p2-3: No upper missing patch, but a rip in the wallpaper roughly where it had been. Lower missing patch is gone.

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  28. I just got home from a night hanging out in Salem and I’m pleased to report that there wasn’t a squamous or batrachian person in sight!

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  29. fascinating discussion as usual, chaps… as for black’s ultimate (grisly) fate, i reckon that is quite clearly shown to the reader early on in the series, but i don’t want to spell it out here in case i’m right (in which case i might well get accused of spoiling it for other readers)…

    … and just to weigh in briefly on the “fleeing from monstrous women” debate – yeah, i certainly see it as significant that black runs headlong from two naked females, albeit in each case he has a perfectly valid reason for fleeing – !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh come on don’t be a tease 🙂 Just put in a potential spoiler warning – we’re all grownups* here and wild speculation is part of the point of sites like this.

      *says the man with his arse out in his profile pic

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      • haha… well, true enough; but i don’t think this *is* wild speculation. i’ve read a lot of AM – like most of us, i daresay – and he does sometimes like to plant clues near the beginning for what’s coming later. actually i’m not even sure they are clues, mo(o)re just foreshadowings of what is to come: that way, once the reader has finished the story s/he can go back to the start and say “ohhhhhhhh!” – but in this case we’re not even halfway through yet. it came to me a few weeks ago when i went back to #1 again; i sent a quick mail to joe here saying that i reckoned i could see what was going to become of RB, not giving any details… i didn’t get a reply, which i took to mean he would rather not know -!

        what i should do really is put the idea down somewhere unrelated to all this, then people who want to read it can do so and everyone else can just wait for it to unfold… maybe i will do that..!

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      • cent – sorry for my lack of response. Don’t assume it’s too deliberate – don’t read too much into it – it may have just been a busy week for my work, or my daughter or something.

        At this point, for the annotations, we’re trying to do as good a job as we can of pointing out what (in our opinion) we think is definitely there, and to generally refrain from too much speculation. I think that the comments are a good place for speculation… but if it’s really speculative, we probably won’t add it to our annotations until Moore makes it clearer.

        We did this earlier blog post for speculating about what’s coming up… but the discussion has died down there… so maybe it’s time to do another predictions open thread?

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      • joe, i wasn’t offended, but perhaps i did read more into it than was necessary – anyway, right, in the end i laid some of my ideas down in the comments on the earlier post (which i had forgotten about, so thanks for linking back to it. lot of threads!)… anyone who wants to know what i’m talking about can check there…

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s only a spoiler if you have actual knowledge of what happens in the plot. Guesses are never spoilers. If they’re right, that’s just clever! And you’ll probably never get it right. If you do, you’ll be the first guy to guess an Alan Moore plot so early on. Most of the time I can’t even tell what’s going to be on the next page!

      Speculation is part of the fun, please share! It’s always interesting to see what people think, and what they’ve noticed that others might not have. Don’t worry about spoiling things, only Alan could do that.

      Another thing, that I don’t think has occurred to anyone so far… Lilith had Jonathan knocked out at her mercy… yet she didn’t EAT him. So what did she do to him? The close-up monster-porn shots imply, to put it bluntly, that she fucked him. There might well be a little homunculus on the way. The pitter-patter of, going by Wilbur Wheatley, some bloody enormous feet.

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      • “lilith” prefers eating “unripe fruit”, i.e. children… which is what suydam and gerritsen feed her, to keep her tame enough to participate in their sex orgies. or that’s how i read it anyway… [readers did speculate already (comments on #2) about whether RB got raped while unconscious, and if so whether he is gonna be a daddy without realising it. quite possible i would think! as i said at the time, it wouldn’t be the first time a moore protagonist got “used” in this way; poor old tom strong had two offspring whose conception he knew nothing about..!]

        as for my guesswork – ok, you’re right, technically it can never be a spoiler since i am not privy to any inside info here. but i’m not just casting around either – i’m going off what i reckon are visual/verbal clues AM has planted in the text early on. (usually these would not be understandable until after one has read the whole thing.) anyway, if you want to read it, it’s here, in a comment dated oct 17th. (the actual thread seems to have disappeared off the lists though..?)

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      • Cent, dunno if this is gonna end up above or below your post that I’m replying to. Damn threading!

        Anyway… I’ve read your guess, and I think you’re miles off, to be honest. For one thing, it’s a bit out of the blue, and the way a guy holds his knife and fork is surely way too subtle to be a clue, it doesn’t make sense. When you’re scattering clues, they at least have to make sense after the mystery has been revealed.

        Re Lilith, if she wasn’t after eating him, which she wasn’t, then why did she bother chasing after him? Maybe it’s a boring life amidst the green-black soapstone, and she wanted someone to talk to. But she definitely had something in mind for him.

        Since you mentioned that Suydam’s friends probably keep her down there for some rather stomach-turning sex orgies (the Deep One in Neonomicon was better looking), Black’s baby, if it happens, might not be the only one. Then again it might. Boggs, issue 3, in the tunnels, pointed out that human male / female weirdie couplings are usually fruitless, but maybe Black is a special human male.

        Thing about that, is that Black found his own way down to Lilith. Suydam left him alone to find it, but his excuse was a real one, the “fruit” needed checking. If he were going to leave Black alone deliberately, he’d use a made-up excuse, prepared in advance. So maybe the encounter wasn’t planned by whoever all these weirdoes are working for. Stell Saps, or the Stell Saps’ opponents. Maybe a green Black baby (see what I did there!) might throw a spanner in their works.

        Going back through issue 3, I noticed the bit when Boggs and Black came across the swastika. Boggs says Salem’s respectable sorts put them there to “bate” them. Not “bait”, as in antagonise. “bate”, as in “abate”, “prevent”. Them respectable folks, quite possibly terrified, use the swastika as a charm to try keep away the freaky horrible fishmen. One of the many swastikas serving the forces of goodness.

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      • (aaarrrgghhhh!!i tried replying to this and got in a terrible tangle. it’s all these gas leaks from the future, messing up my head)

        greenaum, i know what you mean about the ordering of comments, but it came out fine (more than can be said for my reply to it)

        well, i’m certainly not going to get into an argument here about how good my “guess” is or isn’t. clearly, it’s either right or it’s wrong and we shan’t know until the denouement – i.e. some time next year (please don’t let this title be subject to torturous shipping delays etc… please please please)

        what i will say is that i obviously haven’t succeeded in making it clear “where i’m coming from”, or the angle from which i’m approaching this stuff. i don’t really think it’s a matter of *clues*; i don’t think AM is trying to help readers work out in advance what’s going to happen. i am thinking more along the lines of some horrible cosmic irony: whatever RB’s ultimate fate turns out to be, the reader *will* be able to go back and pinpoint certain references very early in the story where that fate is foreshadowed. this is just part of the way AM likes to work these days and is especially typical of *neonomicon*… anyway, enough…

        as regards “lilith”, apparently i didn’t make that clear either ‘cos you seem to think i’m disagreeing with you, but i’m not. i am absolutely satisfied that her interest in RB *was* sexual – as someone else has already pointed out (iirc), “hoo hoo!” is her “booty call” (so to speak) and i’m sure that’s exactly why she was chasing him. i also agree that the encounter wasn’t planned – on the contrary, suydam made up the gas-leak story to keep RB *out* of the cellar: he (very understandably) doesn’t want anyone finding out what’s going on down there. but then everything that happens to RB is brought on himself, he himself has gone looking for it; which does not, of course, mean that it’s not all fore-ordained in some unfathomable way…

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      • “everything that happens to RB is brought on himself, he himself has gone looking for it; which does not, of course, mean that it’s not all fore-ordained in some unfathomable way…”

        Have you seen the movie “The Wicker Man”? I’m sure Moore has…

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      • yes – well, i’ve seen the original a few times, don’t think i made it all the way through the remake. and i’m sure you’re right

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  30. also: can’t remember if this has been brought up yet in the annotations, but one constant in the issues so far is that when black meets people for the first time, they often have to double-check his name. “black” is hardly a difficult name to remember, but it reminds us that he has changed his surname to pass as a gentile; in the case of characters who know RB as the Herald, it’s possible they are expecting him to be called schwarz (?)

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  31. A couple of small things I’ve not seen mentioned yet: When Robert and his landlady first ascend the house’s stairs, as we see them thru a blue-colored filter, through a window as viewed from outside the house, he says to her, “I bet you don’t miss anything.” Meaning nothing escapes her notice. Two pages later, in a similarly colored panel, on the same spot on the stairs as viewed, again, through the same window from outside, Mrs. Macey says to Robert as they descend, “Some people can’t see what’s in front of their noses.” What’s in front of Robert’s nose just then is Mrs. Macey.

    The other thing is (and I swear I thought this when first seeing the panel, long before reading the mention of the film in the comments above), in the panel where Robert flees the witch and suckling familiar, as he grasps the bannister and hurries down the stairs, doesn’t his shadow look frighteningly like that of Count Orlok in NOSFERATU?

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    • Also, when Robert is fleeing on the staircase, there’s a third occurrence of the same panel framing (looking in from outside), but NOT blue-filtered.

      (My guess is that at some point late in the series, Robert will look back on those two blue-tinted panels.)

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  32. I thought the blue tint might be the “blew air” that may, or may not, be the atmosphere of Browne Jenkynne’s world, suggesting that he’s watching the proceedings from all angles, both inside and outside the house. A bit of a stretch, I know, but that’s what I thought upon a second reading.

    and may I just say here how thankful I am this site exists? I would never have noticed half the visual clues we’re meant to, were it not for reading this meticulously constructed web site after reading each issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually having Lovecraftian weirdies coming from a land where Orgone fills the air would also explain why Deep Ones are attracted to it in Neonomicon, if not actually requiring it to live. You might be onto something there.

      I mentioned before, the reason the FBI guy had no recall of Massey’s house, might be that it’s not visible, or present in our dimension, most of the time, only appearing when Robert was due to pass by. The whole house definitely has more dimensions than most houses do. So a bit of a glow escaping from Orgone-land would be expected.

      Didn’t Robert get a bit lost when he was searching for his lodgings, originally? And then ended up at Massey’s house. Perhaps Massey was twisting space around him, to funnel him toward the house whichever direction he went in. Like a maze…

      In his initial journey into town, riding with Brown Jenkins, the weather and trees were wrong compared to the surrounding area of the time. I think that’s because it wasn’t AT that time. His car journey took place at a different time, possibly as he was running away from the house and kept “dreaming” of being picked up. Possibly 18 days later. His ride into town took place a good while after he’d arrived there, with the time periods being swapped round with more dimensional jiggery-pokery.

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  33. I just noticed an interesting little detail. In this issue, Herbert North is wearing a green bow tie. On the cover of issue 6 he’s wearing a red one.

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    • I wouldn’t put too much stock in the exact matching between the variant covers and the comics story. Some of the portrait covers don’t match the exact Providence analogues – but are, as far as I can tell, portraits derived from the Lovecraft story itself.

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  34. btw, have we explicitly discussed the whole twigs-and-branches-reaching-out-for-robert’s-head business yet? (it seemed too obvious to mention, but this issue really makes quite a thing of it)

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  35. i know what you mean about the ordering of comments, but it came out fine…

    well, i’m certainly not going to get into an argument here about how good my “guess” is or isn’t. clearly, it’s either right or it’s wrong and we shan’t know until the denouement – i.e. some time next year (please don’t let this title be subject to torturous shipping delays etc… please please please)

    what i will say is that i obviously haven’t succeeded in making it clear “where i’m coming from”, or the angle from which i’m approaching this stuff. i don’t really think it’s a matter of *clues*; i don’t think AM is trying to help readers work out in advance what’s going to happen. i am thinking more along the lines of some horrible cosmic irony: whatever RB’s ultimate fate turns out to be, the reader *will* be able to go back and pinpoint certain references very early in the story where that fate is foreshadowed. this is just part of the way AM likes to work these days and is especially typical of *neonomicon*… anyway, enough…

    as regards “lilith”, apparently i didn’t make that clear either ‘cos you seem to think i’m disagreeing with you, but i’m not. i am absolutely satisfied that her interest in RB *was* sexual – as someone else has already pointed out (iirc), “hoo hoo!” is her “booty call” (so to speak) and i’m sure that’s exactly why she was chasing him. i also agree that the encounter wasn’t planned – on the contrary, suydam made up the gas-leak story to keep RB *out* of the cellar: he (very understandably) doesn’t want anyone finding out what’s going on down there. but then everything that happens to RB is brought on himself, he himself has gone looking for it; which does not, of course, mean that it’s not all fore-ordained in some unfathomable way…

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    • Yep. I realise you were agreeing with me, I was just expounding. Along with speculating it’s what we’re here for!

      And I also agree on the “clues”. Most of them will only make sense on a second read-through, after you know how the story ends. Which we don’t know yet. And I wouldn’t put it past Alan to put a couple of red herrings in there. The “clues” work in the same way in Watchmen, and probably lots of other stuff, Halo Jones is another, and it’s GREAT, damn the Universe for stopping Alan doing books 4-9, but I think the man he is now isn’t the same one who wrote Halo back in the 1980s. Still, I’m sure the owners, Rebellion, would be glad to give him the rights back, if he’d maybe let them publish the rest of the series. Or even if he didn’t.

      Rebellion seem to be 2000AD / comics fanboys who made a lot of money in computer games, and bought 2000AD partly to keep it afloat, supplying a bit of cash, and also of course because there’s a HUGE amount of ideas in their back progs to create any number of games with, Rogue Trooper and the Dredd games being big sellers. The ideal owners, really. So they might be willing to give Halo to Alan just to see the book finished. I’d give him half the company if it was me.

      As well as being “clues”, AFAIK he hasn’t written the last issues of Providence yet, so he’s going to read back through the earlier ones and build on stuff he put in earlier. Sometimes fortuitously stuff he wasn’t necessarily planning on referring back to, but that actually work well as the story grows in his mind. It’s a magick / fiction thing.

      Still, the Lilith thing got too many pages to just end as it did. No skin-of-teeth escape. So I think there’s a freaky baby in there that’s going to appear later. We already know Robert is special in this story, Wilbur Wheatley even told him plainly.

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    • As the annotians always note some of this may be obvious but perhaps a cryptic reference to fungi could be connected to Lovecraft’s cycle of poems titled “Fungi from Yuggoth”…
      which Moore based his lost work “Yuggoth Cultures” on…
      which later inspired the anthology mini-series by Avatar Press, “Alan Moore’s Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths”…
      for which a comic book adaption of Moore’s “The Courtyard” was planned, titled after the 9th poem in Lovecraft’s original work and it fittingly became the title of the comic book adaption…
      which then instead was published as its own mini-series…
      which Moore – needing to pay his taxes – decided to follow up on with the 4 issue series, “Neonomicon”…
      which finally (so far) has inspired arguably one of the most well-researched and ambitious comic books to date, “Providence”(…)

      “Yuggoth Cultures” indeed… 🙂

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  36. … although you never know, on some level it may be deliberate… “stella sapiente” is cod latin anyway – strictly speaking it doesn’t mean anything – and at least some of the coven’s members would presumably have been classically educated and would have been able to translate it correctly. [“wisdom of the stars” in latin would be *stellarum sapientia*]

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  37. Speaking of small details, on page 17 panel 3, Black says “It was all so DETAILED” just before he looks down at Jenkins’ tail. Fun stuff. Forgive me if this has been mentioned. There’s a lot of stuff here!

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  38. You say, re page 37: “a second Baron Frankenstein” – “Herbert West—Reanimator” was Lovecraft’s take on a mild update of Mary Shelley’s seminal novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.

    This is actually an anachronism. Victor Frankenstein, in Shelley’s novel, is no baron; the “baron” title is the applied first in the Hammer film series, long after the events here.

    You say, re page 37: “making legs twitch though the application of a galvanising current” – A current applied to a dismembered limb can still 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 use of lightning in the novel.

    Lightning is not used in the novel to reanimate Frankenstein’s creature; that is an invention of the 1931 film. Aldini, the nephew of Luigi Galvani, the discoverer of bioelectricity, did in fact attempt to use electric current to reanimate a cadaver, at Newgate Prison, and the attempt was very public, but why Black is recalling it here (other than anachronistically in the context of his Baron Frankenstein remark) is unclear.

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    • This is interesting (and fun to get comments from published Lovecraft annotators – I have and enjoy your book.) I’ve updated the annotations above as well as our nitpicks page (for minor stuff that might be corrected in a collected edition) crediting you.

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