Providence 9

Providence 9 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence 9 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Below are annotations for Providence, No. 9 “Outsiders”  (40 pages, cover date May 2016, released 1 June 2016)
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, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.

General: In early November 1919, Robert Black arrives at Providence, R.I. to pay a call of Henry Annesley of the Order of the Stella Sapiente. After an excursion to St. John’s Church with young Howard Charles, Black pays a visit to H. P. Lovecraft, who helps Black get situated with some rooms and then the pair visit Lovecraft’s mother at Butler Hospital.

Cover

Page 1

The panels are drawn from Black’s point of view, complete with the uncomfortable stares from passers-by. This is to contrast with the viewpoint of Henry Annesley on subsequent pages.

panel 1

  • The setting is a train interior at Union Station, Providence, Rhode Island. The date is November 14, 1919.
  • Robert Black’s reflection is in the middle of the train window. His image is ghostly, translucent, in contrast to the people on the platform. This foreshadows visually how he will be treated as an outsider, and how he isn’t necessarily entirely in the same reality as the rest of Providence.
  • Black seeing his own reflection also contrasts with Henry Annesley’s extra-perceptive glasses. Black sees his reflection dimly, while Annesley sees an invisible world teeming with creatures.
  • The sign reads “Providence” for Providence, RI. Or, as commenter cent points out, not exactly: “the ID is missing (significantly for Robert, cut off from true familiarity with his own cavernous depths), leaving PROV-ENCE… which is to say, Robert is “en provence”, out in the provinces – and attracting all sorts of unwelcome attention with his big-city attire and demeanor. An outsider, for sure.”

panel 2

  • Most of the trees are bare, suggesting late fall or early winter.
  • The setting is Waterman Street at Benefit Street, looking east; compare to contemporary street view.

panel 3

  • First appearance of Henry Annesley. Annesley was first mentioned in Providence #7 P11,p1, and is Providence‘s analogue for Crawford Tillinghast in Lovecraft’s “From Beyond“. Commenter Vlado points out that, according to “An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia”, Henry Annesley was the name for the protagonist in “From Beyond” in Lovecraft’s first draft of the story.
  • “Randall” is Randall Carver, from Providence #8.
  • “Wallace Tillinghast” – see annotations for Providence #8, P1,p1.
  • The setting is George Street at Brown Street, looking east; compare to contemporary street view.

panel 4

  • Annesley is wearing old-fashioned, colored spectacles. These are very unusual for the period.
  • “How has Providence been treating you so far?” is a line that can be read many different ways. (Thanks to commenters Vlado and Whitney.)
    • “How has Providence (the city) been treating you (Robert Black) so far?”
    • “How has Providence (the philosophical concept) been treating you (Robert Black) so far?” Ironic, since Black doesn’t believe in the concept, yet it is clearly true within his world.
    • How has Providence (Alan Moore’s graphic novel) been treating you (Robert Black) so far?”
    • How has Providence (this graphic novel) been treating you (the reader!) so far?” Is the book living up to your expectations, now that you’ve read the first two thirds of it, and we are just starting the final third?
  • The street setting is the same as panel 3 above.

Page 2

panel 1

  • The full-page panel is from Annesley’s perspective.
  • The tint of the color shows the world through Annesly’s glasses. This is a reference to Lovecraft’s story “From Beyond,” where the scientist Crawford Tillinghast built a resonator that enhanced human perceptions to the point that they could perceive strange, otherwordly creatures:

    Suddenly I myself became possessed of a kind of augmented sight. Over and above the luminous and shadowy chaos arose a picture which, though vague, held the elements of consistency and permanence. It was indeed somewhat familiar, for the unusual part was superimposed upon the usual terrestrial scene much as a cinema view may be thrown upon the painted curtain of a theatre. I saw the attic laboratory, the electrical machine, and the unsightly form of Tillinghast opposite me; but of all the space unoccupied by familiar material objects not one particle was vacant. Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of other unknown things, and vice versa. Foremost among the living objects were great inky, jellyish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine. They were present in loathsome profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as solids. These things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from sight.

  • The appearance of the creatures jives with Lovecraft’s story, but also appear to be at least a slight homage to the film it inspired, From Beyond (1986).

    Still from "From Beyond" (1986)
    Still from “From Beyond” (1986)
  • The chapter name “Outsiders” is a reference to H. P. Lovecraft’s famous story “The Outsider“; several critics, such as Michel Houellebecq have characterized Lovecraft himself as an outsider, though Moore postulated just the opposite in his introduction to Leslie Klinger’s The New Annotated Lovecraft. It being a plural is due to many outsider figures in this story: certainly Black, and both Howard and Susie Lovecraft, arguably Annesley and Charles, and, in a different sense of ‘outside’, the purple creatures.
  • The use of the unusual wording “from beyond the eighteenth century” (emphasis added) is probably a nod to the title of the Lovecraft story. (Thanks to commenter MS for pointing this out.)
  • “The stranger or intruder, I’m afraid, is just one more thing to mistrust or even fear.” refers to Lovecraft’s xenophobia, which was quite prevalent during that time.
  • The view is on George Street looking westward toward Magee Street. Compare to contemporary street view. Brown University is on the right; the building to the right of Black is Rhode Island Hall.
  • Panelwise, the border, normally rough, is here ruler-straight. From Neonomicon (beginning #3 P5,p1) and various instances throughout Providence (beginning #2 P15,p3) the straight panel borders indicate a heightened perception of paranormal activity.

Page 3

panel 1

  • “Roulet and Colwen” are Etienne Roulet and Japheth Colwen, first mentioned in Providence #2: P12,p1 and p2 respectively.
  • “Our fraternity” is the Stella Sapiente, or more fully the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente. They are the American coven associated with Liber Stella Sapiente book. See Suydam pamphlet pages at end of Providence #2 for extensive background.
  • “Brown’s University” is Brown University. Wikipedia says “It is sometimes erroneously supposed that Brown University was “named after” John Brown, whose commercial activity included the transportation of African slaves. In fact, Brown University was named for Nicholas Brown, Jr—philanthropist, founder of the Providence Athenaeum, co-founder of Butler Hospital, and, crucially, an abolitionist.” All three of these linked details resonate with the themes of Providence, of course.
  • The location is George Street at Brown Street; the 1812 in the fence is visible in this contemporary street view. According to Brown, the numbers on the fence correspond to class years that donated to install the fence in 1903.

panel 2

  • The creature passes without comment through Black’s head, recalling in “From Beyond” how the creatures were seen “occasionally walking or drifting through my supposedly solid body.”
    • There may also be an encoded joke here: The creature is not impeded because Black’s head is is, in some senses “empty”.
  • “Light from the far violet frequencies and further still.” – Ultraviolet light has a higher frequency (i.e. shorter wavelength) than light in our visible spectrum; as the frequency increases it shifts into x-rays. This is a reference again to “From Beyond” (“You thought ultra-violet was invisible, and so it is—but you can see that and many other invisible things now.”)
  • “Athol” is Athol, Massachusetts, where Black met the Wheatleys in Providence #4.
  • “Salem” is Salem, Mass, where Black met Boggs et al. in Providence #3.
  • Panelwise, the borders are again ruler-straight – see P2 above.

panel 3

  • “The worst type of inbred trash.” refers to Garland Wheatley’s grandsons having been conceived via incest with his daughter, literally inbred.
  • “The Boggs project was getting out of hand.” Presumably refers to the “plague” that swept through Salem, suggested to have actually been a massacre by the Deep Ones.
  • Shadrach Annesley was introduced in Providence #3 P7,p4.
  • The setting is Benevolent Street looking east toward Brown Street; compare to contemporary street view.

panel 4

  • “So my great… my uncle is still with us, then?” confirms a relation between Henry and Shadrach, though whether Shadrach is his great-uncle or a more distant relation is unclear – though possible, given Shadrach is apparently more than 250 years old.
  • “We’d, uh, we’d heard there’d been an accident. A lightning-bolt or something.” refers to the events in Lovecraft’s “The Picture in the House,” as reflected in Shadrach Annesley’s story in Providence #3. Given the sort of “accident” that befell Garland Wheatley’s wife (as told in Providence #4), it may have been no accident.
  • “He was always a man with a tremendous appetite for life” alludes to Shadrach Annesley being a cannibal.
  • Annesley’s house is at 22 Benevolent Street; compare to contemporary street view. In “From Beyond” it is described as an “ancient, lonely house set back from Benevolent Street.”

Page 4

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  • “The Babbitt House on Benefit Street” is the house which inspired Lovecraft’s poem “The House” and his short story “The Shunned House.”
  • “The occult is that which is hidden. Through our science we hope to reveal it” is reminiscent of Lovecraft’s fiction. His early stories were marked by a greater reliance on the occult (which literally means “hidden” in Latin), but, as he progressed, he focused more on science fiction, though never surrendering either. One of the hallmarks of weird fiction is occupying the grey area between the more well-defined genres of fantasy and science fiction.
  • Diagrams on the wall appear to be studies of some of the creatures visible through Annesley’s specs.

panel 2

  • “The Kitab” is the Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyya or Hali’s Booke of the Wisdom from the Stars in English; Providence‘s analogue of the Necronomicon.
  • “The Saint Anselm copy” is the copy of Hali’s Booke held at St. Anselm’s college, which Black viewed in Providence #6.

Page 5

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  • “My own mental condition” again shows that Black is in denial over some of the things he has seen and experienced.
  • “I lost a loved one recently” refers to Black’s lover Lily, who committed suicide in Providence #1.

panel 2

  • “The Redeemer Prophecy” foretells that a Redeemer will come to “set things right,” as related in Hali’s Booke. It appears that H.P. Lovecraft is the Redeemer, so here Annesley is downplaying the prophecy, apparently misleading Black. The prophecy is first mentioned in Providence #2 P39 (Suydam’s pamphlet page [10]), then explained in Providence #4 (beginning P9,p4) by Garland Wheatley, and then detailed in Hali’s Booke in Providence #6 P34-35.
  • “Garland Wheatley was obsessed by it.” refers to Wheatley’s attempt to fulfill the prophecy, as told in Providence #4; the Stella Sapiente are hinted at trying to fulfill it in this own manner.

panel 3

  • “Well, it’s this sense that there’s more to everything than I perceive… not getting the whole picture” is ironic, given Annesley’s current viewpoint of the invisible world around Black, but also perhaps a suggestion that Black knows he has missed out on a great deal of the subtext of things in his journeys so far.
  • Panelwise, the borders are again ruler-straight – see P2 above.

panel 4

  • “Optics and metaphysics” recalls the proverb “The eyes are the window of the soul.”
  • “With our view of time, in a sense it’s already fulfilled” recalls Moore’s sense of time as 4-dimensional solid echoed in the Kitab (see Providence #2 P31) and the ending of Neonomicon #4: from outside of time, all the events of time have already happened. In “From Beyond” Tillinghast references non-linear time: “you were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned coward, but now I’ve got you! […] do you suppose there are really any such things as time and magnitude? Do you fancy there are such things as form or matter? I tell you, I have struck depths that your little brain can’t picture!”
  • The board between Black and Annesley appears to contain more of the studies of the creatures.

Page 6

panel 1

  • “A rank within our order, like a Tyler in freemasonry.” refers to, in Freemasonry, the “Tyler” or “tiler” is the office of the guard of the outer door, acting as gatekeeper. In this context, it resembles the purpose of Yog-Sothoth in “The Dunwich Horror” (“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.”)
  • “Yokel” is a slur for an uneducated country person.
  • “In 1889 there was an arranged marriage” refers to H.P. Lovecraft’s parents; Winfield Scott Lovecraft married Sarah Susan Phillips on 12 June 1889.
  • “European monarchs do it all the time.” Monarchy was on the wane after World War I, but arranged marriages were historically common.

panel 2

  • Small images of the otherworldly creatures are visible through Annesley’s spectacles.
  • “Our Order-head’s daughter” refers to Stella Sapiente order-head Whipple Van Buren Phillips, H.P. Lovecraft’s maternal grandfather. Phillips appeared in Providence #8, P6,p4 and P10,p2. He had three daughters, one of which was Sarah Susan Phillips.
  • “A novitiate member whose work involved metals” refers to H.P. Lovecraft’s father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, who was a travelling salesman for the Gorham Silver Company. W.S. Lovecraft first appeared in a flashback in Providence #5 P13,p3, then in the Stella Sapiente photo shown in Providence #6 P10,p1 and Providence #7 P11,P1.
  • “Happily, they produced offspring almost immediately.” refers to H.P. Lovecraft was born 20 August 1890, which would put his conception about 8-10 weeks after the marriage took place.
  • “Sounds almost… dull.” makes the reader wonder if Annesley is feeding Black a careful line of half-truths. Here we have another “layer” – what is the truth? The embittered but darkly fantastic stories of the almost primitive Boggs and Wheatley’s, or Annesley’s prosaic, mundane version? The contrast appears deliberate, echoing Lovecraft’s transition from fantasy to science fiction.

panel 3

  • “By 1899 we had other editions” suggests that the order had either better or more complete translations, or perhaps original editions, and echoing the many editions of the Necronomicon in various expurgated editions and foreign languages. In “The Haunter of the Dark,” the Church of the Starry Wisdom had an admirable occult library – so impressive, in fact, that an entire book has been written about the volumes in its collection: The Starry Wisdom Library.
  • “We’ve always enjoyed a close relationship with the Catholic Church” is rather odd, as the Catholic church has been traditionally opposed to some fraternal organizations like Freemasonry. On the other hand, anti-Catholic sentiment has often suggested shadowy conspiracies within Catholicism.
  • First appearance of Howard Charles, Providence‘s analogue of Charles Dexter Ward from Lovecraft’s “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”

panel 4

  • Howard Charles’ green tie, and his eagerness to hear about New York, may both be coded signs of his homosexuality.

Page 7

panel 1

  • “A direct descendant of Japheth Colwen” echoes “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” where Ward was a descendant of Joseph Curwen; the Stella Sapiente would be a natural start for genealogical research if this is the case.
  • Commenter Sithoid points out that Henry Annesley may well be related to Howard Charles. Henry Annesley is a descendant of Shadrach Annesley (P3p3). In “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”, Curwen (Colwyn’s original) marries the daughter of one of his ship captains, named Tillinghast. Given that Henry Annesley is also based on a Lovecraft character named Tillinghast (see note at P1p3), it seems reasonable to suppose that, in the world of Providence, Japheth Colwyn married a daughter of Shadrach Annesley, leading (eventually) to the birth of Howard Charles. Charles is probably unaware of this relationship, though Annesley may well be.

panel 2

  • The segmented worm moving invisibly through Black and Charles’ crotches suggests the homosexual attraction which is implicit in the subtext between the two.
  • Panelwise, the borders are again ruler-straight – see P2 above.

panel 3

  • Picking off a (possibly nonexistent) piece of lint from someone’s clothes is sometimes used an excuse to observe their reaction to your physical closeness, preparatory to more overt flirtation. See also Providence #1, P30, where Black describes Prissy Turner “standing picking pieces of imaginary lint off of my shoulder”.

panel 4

  • “Did I tell you his name was Howard too?” refers to Howard Phillips Lovecraft, whom Black met last issue. Why does Moore give this character the first name Howard? Possibly to emphasize the links between Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Charles Dexter Ward (the model for Howard Charles). Both are Providence residents, and both are obsessed with antiquarianism, old architecture, and old books. See also note for P8,p2.
  • “St. John’s Church” is a former Catholic church which served as the inspiration for the Church of the Starry Wisdom in Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.” This church appears on the cover of Providence #10. The name is also reminiscent of St. John-Divine, from Providence #4.
  • “It’s been a privilege, Mr. Black.” is, again, Black failing to notice the importance which Stella Sapiente members (former and current) impart to having met him.

Page 8

Japheth Colwen, from Suydam's pamplet in Providence #2 - art by Jacen Burrows
Japheth Colwen, from Suydam’s pamplet in Providence #2 – art by Jacen Burrows

panel 1

  • “You look a little like woodcuts of Colwen I’ve seen” refers to Colwen’s portrait on Suydam’s pamphlet page [5] in Providence #2, P34. In “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” Ward bore an uncanny resemblance to a portrait of his ancestor.
  • The setting appears to be just outside Annesly’s house (though Black and Charles appear to be walking east when they should probably go west – perhaps they are going to the corner to cross); compare to contemporary street view.

panel 2

  • “I’ve had a sheltered upbringing. Hardly been outside Rhode Island my whole life” recalls how Ward is considered by many critics to be based in part on Lovecraft himself, who had something of a sheltered upbringing.
  • The setting appears to be on Benevolent Street looking east toward Benefit Street; compare to contemporary street view.
  • Panelwise, the borders are again ruler-straight – see P2 above.

panel 3

  • The location is the corner of Benefit and Benevolent Streets.
  • “He moved to Providence around the time of the witch-trials” is a detail is borrowed from Curwen’s biography in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”:

    Joseph Curwen, as revealed by the rambling legends embodied in what Ward heard and unearthed, was a very astonishing, enigmatic, and obscurely horrible individual. He had fled from Salem to Providence—that universal haven of the odd, the free, and the dissenting—at the beginning of the great witchcraft panic; being in fear of accusation because of his solitary ways and queer chemical or alchemical experiments.

  • “Well, as a scientist… or an alchemist… he’d be suspect.” – The pre-science practice of alchemy eventually developed into the scientific discipline of chemistry; presenting alchemy as misunderstood science reflects something of how Lovecraft combined the occult with science fiction – or as Arthur C. Clarke would later put it, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
  • “H-he worked with Jacques Roulet at Roulet’s house” is perhaps an error, since the house here belonged to Etienne Roulet, who we know Colwen to have worked with. The error may be Moore’s, or may be Charles’, as he has only recently learned some of this information, and may not have all the details clear.
    • Commenter keshavkrishnamurty points out that there is some evidence Colwen did work with Jacques Roulet back in Europe:

      Suydam’s pamphlet gives a clear hint that Japheth Colwen, who is infamous for not aging, had been present on the Mayflower voyage of 1620 [Issue #2 P39]. Hekeziah Massey was born in 1613 [#2 P36], and Etienne Roulet’s mother was born in 1616 [#2 P35], making Colwen by far the eldest of the three senior Stella Sapiente members. Now, Jacques Roulet was charged with lycanthropy (werewolf-ism) in 1598 and he was alleged to have possessed a copy of the Liber Stella Sapiente from 1498 [#2 P35], [a latin version, possibly] the very incunabula found in the Steeple on Page 10, panel 3. Etienne Roulet is known to have brought Hali’s Booke, the *English* translation of the Latin version [#2 P33]. With all this data about dates given in Suydam’s pamphlet, the only person who could conceivably have associated with Jacques Roulet at the end of the 16th/start of the 17th century and brought the Liber Stella Sapiente to America would have been Japheth Colwen, in 1620.

      While it is by no means certain that the book seen on P10,p3 is the same copy Jacques Roulet possessed, Occam’s Razor does tend to suggest it.

panel 4

  • “Nowadays it’s mostly called the Babbitt House, after the people living there.” refers to 135 Benefit Street, the titular “The Shunned House“; see contemporary street view. In 1919, the Babbits were living in 135 Benefit Street. Lovecraft’s aunt and mother lived there very briefly in 1919 as well.

Page 9

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panel 3

  • This view does not really correspond to any present day route along Providence’s rivers, though it could perhaps be the historic Cove Basin at the location of the present day Rhode Island State House.

panel 4

  • The “Moses Brown School” is a private Providence college preparatory school.
  • “I thought that was real exciting” and “With the uniforms and everything? I’ll bet” again, again appears to be plausibly-deniable flirtation on, at least, Black’s part.
  • “If I’d passed my medical” follows on what Black said in Providence #8, P7,p3 he was rejected for enlistment during World War I for unstated medical reasons.
  • “Saint John’s Church” was initially mentioned P7,p4 above – see P10,p1 below for description.
  • This panel sets up a page-turn reveal.

Page 10

St. John's Church. Image via Flickr user Will Hart
St. John’s Church. Image via Flickr user Will Hart

panel 1

  • “some of the Italian people from Ruttenberg and Mount Pleasan” – Commenter Sithoid notes that “Rutenburg (sic, per map in the comics) and Mount Pleasant are districts in Providence. According to Wikipedia, Mount Pleasant as well as Federal Hill were the local “Little Italy””.  The area labeled Rutenberg in the frontispiece map is now called Olneyville, while the area marked on the frontispiece map as Olneyville is now called Hartford.
  • “The Stella Sapiente were given space in the steeple for their meetings” recalls the use of the steeple by the Church of the Starry Wisdom in “The Haunter of the Dark.”
  • “Right to the church’s biblical foundation, he says” could possibly refer to the Redeemer prophecy as an analogue to the Christian messiah, as told in the gospels of the New Testament and the person of Jesus Christ. Critics, particularly Donald Burleson in Disturbing the Universe and Robert M. Price have noted the parallels between “The Dunwich Horror” and the conception, life, and death of Jesus (deliberate, as “The Dunwich Horror” was based in part on Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan”); Moore also drew a deliberate parallel between the events of Neonomicon and the Annunciation of Mary.
  • “Like the Freemasons claiming ancient origins” refers to how Freemasons assert that their order goes back to the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
  • The church is Saint John’s Roman Catholic Church, on Atwells Avenue in Federal Hill in Providence, RI. The church building is now demolished; the site is today Saint John’s Park. The church was Lovecraft’s inspiration for the Starry Wisdom church in “The Haunter of the Dark

panel 2

  • Entering the church through a gap in the fence recalls “The Haunter of the Dark“: “The fence had no opening near the steps, but around on the north side were some missing bars.”

Page 11

panel 1

  • “Held each other tight or something?” is Black still being deliberately suggestive.

panel 2

  • “Just old books” are the Stella Sapiente’s “other editions” and occult library. These are described in “The Haunter of the Dark“:

    “Blake found a rotting desk and ceiling-high shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. Here for the first time he received a positive shock of objective horror, for the titles of those books told him much. They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers; the banned and dreaded repositories of equivocal secrets and immemorial formulae which have trickled down the stream of time from the days of man’s youth, and the dim, fabulous days before man was. He had himself read many of them—a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d’Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn’s hellish De Vermis Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation or not at all—the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and a crumbling volume in wholly unidentifiable characters yet with certain symbols and diagrams shudderingly recognisable to the occult student.”

  • The “stone from Manchester” – see p12,p1 below.

panel 3

panel 4

  • “The Stella Sapiente’s inner head. It’s secret chief.” references how many fraternal organizations, particularly occult ones, had an “inner” and an “outer” order – sometimes, multiple orders; each level of initiation brought a member deeper into the mysteries. Many occult orders like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn based their initiations on the degrees of Freemasonry. Organizations like the Golden Dawn and Theosophy also claimed authority to found their lodges and practice their rituals by permission – just as Freemasonry lodges traditionally had done. The Golden Dawn claimed authority from the Rosicrucians (later shown to be fraudulent), while other occultists – such as H. P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy – claimed authority from the “secret chiefs,” transcendent spiritual authorities.

Page 12

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  • “Meteorite that hit the farmland I saw” refers to the events of Providence #5 P12-15.
  • “Do you feel the atmosphere?” implies that the room is charged, as was the orgone chamber in Neonomicon (starting #2 P16,p1) and alluded to when Black visits the site in Providence #3 P15,p1.

panel 3

  • Liber Stella Sapiente is, as Black mentions, the original Latin edition which was translated into English as Hali’s Booke. The book’s history is detailed in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2. This echoes “The Haunter of the Dark” where Blake finds “a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon” in the church.
  • “This can’t be real…” – For one theory of where this volume originated, see notes to P8,p3.
  • “Cornholing” is slang for anal sex, supposedly taken from the use of a dried corn cob to perform the function later filled by toilet paper.
    • Cornhole” is also, as commenters Karl Hiller, Greenaum, and Paul point out, a children’s game involving beanbags. Howard is communicating his gayness in a way that can be easily explained away if Black turned out to be homophobic.

Page 13

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panel 2

  • “I haven’t done this in so long…” refers to Black not having had sex (from his perspective) since his tryst at the hotel in Athol, described in the Commonplace Book in Providence #4.

panel 3

  • “Does everything look blue?” is a reference to the “blewness of the air” described in orgone-charged spaces in Providence #2 P37 (Pamphlet page [8]) and Neonomicon #2 P23,p2.
  • “I can see things in the stone.” recalls “The Haunter of the Dark“: “Before he realised it, he was looking at the stone again, and letting its curious influence call up a nebulous pageantry in his mind.”
5-3 Trapezohedron image via Wikipedia

panel 4

  • The stone appears to be modeled on a “5-3 trapezohedron“. (Thanks to commenters Greenaum and MS for pointing this out.)
  • Panelwise, the borders are again ruler-straight – see P2 above.

Page 14

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  • Many homosexuals felt the need to move to more liberal environments, as a conservative hometown prevented them from exploring or fulfilling their sexual needs.
  • In 1919, Lovecraft lived with his elder aunt at 598 Angell Street.

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  • “Benefit” and “Meeting Street” are actual Providence Streets and good directions to the Lovecraft home, but they also, perhaps coincidentally, seem to describe Charles having been happy to have met with Black.
  • “I-if people thought I was queer, they’d stick me in Butler Hospital.” refers to how homosexuality was treated as a mental illness at the time. Butler Hospital is the sanitarium where both of Lovecraft’s parents died.
  • The site appears to be this three-arch doorway on 199 Benefit Street (at Angell Street); see contemporary street view.

panel 4

  • This site appears to be the intersection of Angell Street and Benefit Street; see contemporary street view. Black and Charles have parted quite a ways from Lovecrafts home, perhaps to protect themselves from any perception of their homosexuality.

Page 15

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  • First appearance of Annie Gamwell, Lovecraft’s younger aunt.

panel 2

  • “He’s an invalid. Has been since he was small.” echoes biographers accounts that Lovecraft was coddled by his mother and aunts, and the idea was impressed upon him that he was an invalid with nervous ailments – which he sometimes expressed in his letters to friends. After his mother’s death, Lovecraft overcame his more psychosomatic ailments.

panel 3

  • Lovecraft's Registration Card
    Lovecraft’s Registration Card

    “Why, he only went and tried to join the army! His poor mother, that’s my sister Susie, she soon put a stop to that.” corresponds to Lovecraft’s biography. Just after the United States joined World War I, Lovecraft attempted to enlist in the Rhode Island National Guard, and was accepted. However, his mother enlisted the family physician to have the enlistment annulled, and Lovecraft was deemed unfit for service. For further details, see the essay H. P. Lovecraft and the Great War.

  • “‘course, she’s in hospital with nerves herself now.” corresponds to how Sarah Susan “Susie” Phillips suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized on 13 March 1919.
  • “It’s a family complaint.” references Lovecraft’s assertion that nervous ailments ran through his family.

panel 4

Page 16

panel 1

  • “Robertus” demonstrates Lovecraft’s tendency to give nicknames to friends; a Latin ending to Black’s first name would be very much in character.
  • “Young granddaughter” references how Lovecraft liked to style himself as an old man, and often referred to his aunts as his granddaughters.
  • Lovecraft is wearing an older style of collar – probably one of those belonging to his father, as was his habit.
  • The small metal object on the table next to the window is probably a pocket telescope, as Lovecraft was an amateur astronomer who enjoyed such things and owned several.

panel 2

  • Lovecraft stood 5’10”; Black, by indication, is perhaps an inch or so shorter.
  • “Glass of milk” references a story told by Rheinhart Kleiner regarding visiting Lovecraft, where “‘I noticed that at every hour or so his mother appeared in the doorway with a glass of milk, and Lovecraft forthwith drank it.” (Lovecraft disliked milk.)
  • “Grandfather Theobold” is one of Lovecraft’s pseudonyms.
  • “Swell boig” is a New York accent pronunciation of “Swell ‘berg,” Lovecraft had an affection for lapsing into slang and New York dialects.

panel 3

  • “Ruinously expensive” refers to how, living most of his life in genteel poverty, Lovecraft was known to be very cost-conscious.

Page 17

The general statements of his biography as given here are essentially identical to those given by Lovecraft in his letters to friends, and accurate except where noted.

panel 1

  • Plutarch and Herodotus are well-known Classical writers, especially Plutarch’s Lives and Herodotus’ Histories. Lovecraft was a Classicist with a good grounding in such literature. More on Lovecraft’s library can be found in S.T. Joshi’s book: Lovecraft’s Library.
  • “Whipple Phillips” is Whipple Van Buren Phillips, H.P. Lovecraft’s maternal grandfather. Phillips has been mentioned as “Buren” starting in Providence #3 P11,p3 and appeared in Black’s dream in Providence #8 P10,p2. Moore has made it more difficult for Black (and readers) to make this connection, by referring to him differently: “Whipple Phillips” here, “Buren” elsewhere.
  • “After father’s death, he provided for mother and I.” recaps actual events. H.P. Lovecraft’s father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, died in 1898; Whipple Phillips continued to support the family with his business until his death in 1904.

panel 2

  • “when I was five years old” – Commenter Sithoid points out that H. P. Lovecraft was almost eight years old when his father died. It is not clear whether this is an error, or Lovecraft deliberately rewriting his own past.
  • “From fatigue aggravated by his employment as a salesman.” Winfield Scott Lovecraft actually suffered hallucinations, followed by paralysis, believed to have been brought on by syphilis. H. P. Lovecraft was apparently not aware of his father’s illness, or at least never mentioned it in his letters. For further details, see “The Shadow of Syphilis” in Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • While H. P. Lovecraft never went inside Butler Hospital, he would infrequently visit his mother on the grounds.

panel 3

  • “Old uns” echoes Lovecraft’s “Great Old Ones” or “Elder Things” – the group of alien monsters including Cthulhu.

panel 4

  • “A prominent freemason” refers to how, in real life, Whipple Van Buren Phillips was a freemason, and founded the Ionic Lodge No. 28 in Greene, Rhode Island in 1870. In the George Hay Necronomicon, writer Colin Wilson used this fact to spin a suggestion that Phillips had been the source of the Necronomicon manuscript which inspired Lovecraft’s fiction, which Moore appears to be riffing on.
  • Aunt bringing milk – see P16,p2 above

Page 18

panel 1

  •  Lovecraft and his aunt would later relocate to 66 College Street. The house was presumably also where Robert Blake stayed in “The Haunter of the Dark“: “the upper floor of a venerable dwelling in a grassy court off College Street—on the crest of the great eastward hill near the Brown University campus…”

panel 2

  • The location is indeed 598 Angell Street; compare to contemporary street view.
  • Note the black cat – little more than a shadow – off to the left; Lovecraft was inordinately fond of cats. A black cat appears in nearly every issue of Providence and Neonomicon.
Lovecraft's birth home at 454 Angell Street. Photo via hplovecraft.com
Lovecraft’s birth home at 454 Angell Street. Photo via hplovecraft.com

panel 3

  • 454 Angell Street is the house where Lovecraft was born, and his boyhood home, until the death of Whipple Phillips forced his family to downsize. The house was torn down; see contemporary street view.
  • “Zobo Kazoo” references a letter to August Derleth dated 31 December 1930, Lovecraft wrote:

    When, at the age of 11, I was a member of the Blackstone Military Band, (whose youthful members were all virtuosi on what was called the ‘zobo’–a brass horn with a membrane at one end, which would transform humming int a delightfully brassy impressiveness!) my almost unique ability to keep time was rewarded by my promotion to the past drummer. (Selected Letters 3.246)

panel 4

  • “Strive to capture certain local atmospheres” refers to Lovecraft’s writing reflecting a New England regionalism.
  • Lovecraft was experimenting with several different styles in 1919; after “Sweet Ermengarde” he chose to explore weird fiction rather than comedy.

Page 19

panel 1

  • Black read “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” in Providence #8.
  • “My physiological frailty prevented me from doing so.” – Lovecraft suffered a nervous breakdown and subsequently failed to graduate high school, and never attended college.
  • The location is the intersection of College and Prospect Streets; compare to contemporary street view.

panel 2

  • First appearance of Mrs. Willets, presumably based on Alice Sheppard, a high-school German teacher and the downstairs tenant who rented the upstairs room at 66 College Street to Lovecraft and Annie Gamwell in 1933. In “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” 10 Barnes St. (a future Lovecraft address) was occupied by a Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett.

panel 3

panel 4

  • “This western prospect of Federal Hill and the lower town is remarkable.” – When Lovecraft moved into the house in 1933, this would be where he would place his desk.

Page 20

panels 1-4

  • These form a zoom sequence. The focus is Saint John’s Roman Catholic Church – see P10,p1 above.

panel 2

  • “Unlettered autodidact” refers to Lovecraft not having attended college.

panel 3

  • “Horological” refers to horology – the art or science of measuring time.
  • “My meanderings are often nocturnal” reference’s Lovecraft’s life; he had difficulty keeping regular hours, and often was up late and night, and would walk for miles.

panel 4

  • The woman appears to be Johnny Carcosa’s mother, in the steeple of St. John’s Church on Federal Hill. This suggests that the “secret chief” of the Stella Sapiente might be Nyarlathotep – whom Johnny Carcosa claims to be an avatar of in Neonomicon. Nyarlathotep was the eponymous “Haunter of the Dark” tied to the Shining Trapezohedron in Lovecraft’s story of the same name.
    Carcosa’s mother, presumed to be a very minor character thus far, appeared very briefly in The Courtyard, Neonomicon #1 P22,p1, as well as Providence #2 P3,p4 and #8 P23,p2.

Page 21

panel 1

panel 2

  • “On which the cold does not indispose me” refers to one of Lovecraft’s real ailments: a severe physical reaction to cold, resulting in swelling extremities and great loss of bodily strength.
  • “Remission” again, refers to Lovecraft’s boyhood illnesses believed to be largely psychosomatic, or the result of overbearing parenting.
  • The location is the corner of Prospect and Waterman Streets; see contemporary street view.

panel 3

panel 4

  • “She’d apparently reported seeing hideous creatures…although not to me.” refers to Susie Lovecraft’s mental breakdown, generally believed to have been caused by looming disaster caused by the family’s precarious financial state.
  • These buildings are similar to some on Angell Street near Brown University (compare to this and this), and the fence is similar to ones along Brown University, but the view does not seem to correspond to any present day location.

Page 22

panel 1

panel 2

  • Lovecraft’s birth year “1889” is mentioned here and earlier on P6,p1 above. His father’s work with metal was mentioned P6,p2 and P22,p1. Moore has deliberately placed these references at either end of the issue to make it difficult for the reader (and Black) to make the connection that both Henry Annesley and H.P. Lovecraft are talking about the same person; that H.P. Lovecraft is the redeemer.
  • The “Seekonk” is the Seekonk River.
  • Blackstone Park” is an actual Providence RI park along the Seekonk, just south of Butler Hospital.
  • “The Munroe brothers” are Chester and Harold, Lovecraft’s boyhood friends.
  • The view is similar to this one into off of Irving Avenue (which veers off Butler Avenue just before Grotto Street.)

panel 3

  • “Were you aware that it is from the Emperor Nero’s grotto, decorated with fauns and chimeras, that we derive the word ‘grotesque’?” – Nero’s grotto, the Domus Aurea, was uncovered by accident in the 15th century, and the grottesche frescos of chimeric creatures was influential in the Italian Renaissance. The remembrance may come from an account by Lovecraft’s wife that Susie Lovecraft found her son “hideous” and “grotesque.” (see: Howard Phillips Lovecraft, or The Sex Life of a Gentleman).
  • As H.P. Lovecraft mentions in this panel, the site is the corner of Grotto Avenue and Lincoln Avenue; see contemporary street view.

panel 4

  • “Mr. Slaader” is Joe Slater or Slaader from “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.”
  • “Oh, you should read Dagon. That’s certainly sending a shudder through amateurdom” refers to Lovecraft’s story “Dagon” which was published in the amateur journal The Vagrant in November 1919.
  • From internet research, there is no clear evidence of an entrance to Butler Hospital at the east end of Lincoln Avenue, though this connection seems to be indicated on the Providence end-pages map of Providence.

Page 23

Historic postcard of Butler Hospital. Image via Providence Public Library
Historic postcard of Butler Hospital. Image via Providence Public Library

panel 1

  • “Paralysis?” was a result of paresis (partial nerve-related paralysis), a symptom of neurosyphilis.
  • The building is the actual Butler Hospital, as it appeared at the time – see postcard image.

panel 2

  • “His toil for Gorham’s the silversmiths” refers to Lovecraft’s father a travelling salesman for the Gorham Silver Company (noted in annotations for P6,p2 above.) As noted (P17,p2 above), unknown to Lovecraft, the actual cause was syphilis.
  • Commenter That Fuzzy Bastard points out “I suspect that the nurse’s line, “Why Mr. Lovecraft, are we here to visit young Miss Susan again?” is meant to imply that Howard is fudging when he claims his visits are infrequent. Both the “again” and the immediate recognition implies that he’s well known to the staff.”

panels 2 and 4

 

Page 24

panel 1

  • First appearance of Susan Lovecraft.
  • P24,p1 through P25,p4 form a fixed-camera sequence.
  • Black is clearly paying attention to the Lovecrafts’ conversation. From panel 2 through P25, p1 his eyes and ear are prominent. His gaze is depicted as averted, but on the 2-dimensional picture plane it is directly toward the Lovecrafts.

panel 2

  • “My young daughter!” is Lovecraft’s affectionate term for his mother.
  • “Do you think you can redeem yourself?” refers to Howard’s role as the Redeemer of the Stella Sapiente’s redeemer prophecy (explained in annotations for P5,p2 above.)

panel 3

  • “Are you another Englishman?” is a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, who though born in the United States had an English accent like his father.
  • “You are hideous.” refers to how, apparently, Susie Lovecraft actually described her son as such.

panel 4

  • Their monster” presumably refers to the Stella Sapiente’s monster.
  • “When he got you on me, his head was a ball of light!” is decidedly parallel to the conception of Wilfred Wheatley and his brother in Providence #4, suggesting Howard was conceived during a similar ritual. The he/you/me/his are confused, as is Susie calling Howard Winfield in the following panel. Could they be Winfield/HPL/Susie/Winfield? or perhaps Whipple Phillips/Winfield/Susie/Winfield?
    • Commenter samthielman points out another resonance, with Providence #6 p.30: “Here were there men made in a foreign way, so they did not seem like men at all, but more like unto things that grow on stones beneath the ocean, although monstrous big and with a great air of intelligence and purpose, and their heads were stars.” Later, same page: “…men whose heads were stars…”
  • “I was given no choice…” puts the lie to Annesley’s claim (P6,p2) that it was “All perfectly consensual”.
  • Black’s eye widens and brow furrows, indicating surprise or recognition. The line of glasses becomes formally perfectly horizontal. He might have made the connection between the Lovecrafts and the Wheatleys, though he does not mention this moment in his Commonplace Book.

Page 25

panel 1

  • “Flappers and wrigglers […] I can smell their sweat on you.” has at least a double meaning. Flappers were a name for the ‘loose’ young women of the Gilded Age. To wriggle could refer to dancing and/or sexualized persons, or to insects. As Susie Lovecraft states these, given P26 below, they might mean the invisible creatures she sees. Most biographers assume her husband Winfield Lovecraft contracted syphilis from prostitutes; Moore had previously addressed this idea in the short “Recognition.”
  • “Go away Winfield” indicates that Susie Lovecraft is confusing H.P. Lovecraft with his father Winfield Lovecraft.

panels 2-3

  • “You’ve excited them! They’re all around you” and “They’re in your mouth! They’re swimming in your heart!” refers to the invisible creatures harmlessly moving through “normal” matter (shown P26 below). Commenter Sithoid points out that this also refers to Winfield’s lies and infidelities.

panel 4

  • “Is he the one stirring them up?” suggests that Black, as the Herald, is agitating the invisible creatures by his very presence. Alternately “them” could refer to Black stirring up the Stella Sapiente.
  • “I believe she once whitened her skin with arsenic when that was the fashion among her set” references, while there is no evidence of this, the common belief that Susie Lovecraft whitened her skin with an arsenic concoction when she was younger.
    • This also ties in with the Redeemer prophecy from Hali’s Booke (Providence #6, P34): “His Mother shall be white as chalcedony”.
  • “The smaller house” is at 598 Angell Street, shown P18,p2 above.

Page 26

panel 1

  • “When my animal preoccupations were at their regrettable pinnacle.” references how H. P. Lovecraft reported that his strongest sexual desires occurred before he was 19 years old, and thereafter diminished.
  • The image is from Susie Lovecraft’s point of view. She can – without Annesley’s spectacles – perceive the invisible creatures. The creatures do indeed seem to be swarming around Black (and perhaps H.P. Lovecraft) perhaps suggesting his (or their) capacity as a kind of catalyst. The Tillinghast Resonator in “From Beyond” was said to stimulate “unrecognised sense-organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges” – which either Susie Lovecraft either has developed more fully, or have been stimulated to such degree by her experiences; this suggests that Annesley’s research is further derivative of Hali’s Booke.
  • Where most of the invisible creatures shown have resembled microscopic creatures and sea creatures, a few on this page may be noteworthy:
    – Just beyond Susan’s left hand, the creature is reminiscent of having a “squid-head with writhing feelers” as described in “The Call of Cthulhu.”
    – Through Susan’s right hand, the creature has the 5-pointed radial symmetry of the starfish-head creatures in At the Mountains of Madness.
    – To some extent the invisible creatures resemble disease microorganisms, like the syphilis that H.P. Lovecraft’s father (and possibly H.P. Lovecraft’s mother) suffered from.
  • Panelwise, the panel borders are ruler straight, indicating paranormal perception. See P2 above.

Page 27

Commonplace Book – October 31

  • “Vendome [Hotel]” in Boston – see Providence #8 P9,p3.
  • “Randall [Carter]” – see Providence 7-8.
  • “[Lord] Dunsany” – see Providence #8 P7,p2 and Page 18+.
  • “The Vagrant” was an actual amateur press publication where Lovecraft’s “Dagon” was first published in November 1919.
  • Black’s Halloween walk is somewhat reminiscent of Lovecraft’s poem Hallowe’en in a Suburb.
  • “Standard spooks” references the way Lovecraft’s artificial mythology is different from the familiar ghosts, werewolves, and vampires which populated pulp horror fiction at the time.

Page 28

Commonplace Book – October 31 continued

  • “Reassuring in their choice of horrors” is reminiscent of an observation made several times by different people, perhaps most affectionately by David Schow in “Monster Movies.” Famous monsters are like familiar old friends to horror aficionados, their habits and appetites well known, their appearances fixed in film or print. Lovecraft’s novel horrors, by contrast, emphasized the “fear of the unknown,” as detailed in his Supernatural Horror in Literature.
  • “Stoker’s Dracula” is the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.
  • “Enough to drive an ordinary person into absolute and irrecoverable insanity” is a play at the common understanding of Lovecraft’s fiction, though most of his protagonists do not actually end up in the insane asylum at the end.

Page 29

Commonplace Book – October 31 continued

  • The discussion of immigrant mythologies forming an American mythos is reminiscent of themes explored in Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods.
  • “Einstein” is scientist Albert Einstein. Lovecraft was highly influenced by Einstein’s ideas of relativity, which undermined regular notions of time and space.
  • “[Marcel] Duchamp’s nude descending a staircase” is a famous painting that relates to Moore-Lovecraft notions of time – see annotations where it was mentioned in Providence #2 P27.
  • The Gods of Pegāna is Lord Dunsany’s seminal work, detailing his own artificial mythology, which inspired the formation of Lovecraft’s own.

Page 30

Commonplace Book – November 10

  • “A fantastically obscure old book, in French, concerning legends of the South Pacific Islands” is possibly Providence’s analogue to Cultes des Goules or the Livre d’Eibon, Mythos tomes created by his friends Frank Belknap Long and Clark Ashton Smith, respectively. The South Pacific is, of course, where Lovecraft placed R’lyeh, and where Captain Marsh learned to contact the Deep Ones in “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”
  • “Some kind of grotesque aquatic deity or spirit” is possibly a reference to Father Dagon or Mother Hydra in Lovecraft’s mythology; the creature Rhan-Tegoth of “The Horror in the Museum” was also specified as sitting on a throne.
  • “The strange crown” refers to “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” The members of the Marsh family had gold jewelry and artifacts from their trade, including a tiara that the protagonist Robert Olmstead views:

    The longer I looked, the more the thing fascinated me; and in this fascination there was a curiously disturbing element hardly to be classified or accounted for. At first I decided that it was the queer other-worldly quality of the art which made me uneasy. All other art objects I had ever seen either belonged to some known racial or national stream, or else were consciously modernistic defiances of every recognised stream. This tiara was neither. It clearly belonged to some settled technique of infinite maturity and perfection, yet that technique was utterly remote from any—Eastern or Western, ancient or modern—which I had ever heard of or seen exemplified. It was as if the workmanship were that of another planet.

  • “Mr. Boggs” and “Mr. Hillman” are two of the Deep One hybrids in Providence #3.

Page 31

Commonplace Book – November 10 continued

  • “Fine stylistic points” is reminiscent of Lovecraft, well-known among his correspondents for detailed discussion of writing, providing much advice and encouragement to young writers, as Carver does here, and reviews of their work.
  • “Origins of so-called ‘magic’ may lie in the advent of language and writing” is a concept Moore has played with in other works, such as in this interview, and there is some historical basis for it, as explored by Owen Davies in Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. One of Lovecraft and his contemporary’s innovations in this regard was in an interlocking system of fictional grimoires, some with extensive publishing histories given. The idea of writing as an act of unconscious sorcery reflects later developments in chaos magick.
  • “the Bible, Torah and Koran” are the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah (Old Testament), and Islamic Quran or Koran. These are the major holy texts of the “Peoples of the Book.” Many individuals have taken these as actual occult texts, reciting passages from them to achieve healing, exorcism, or other effect, and seeking hidden information in the texts, as well as “lost” or “hidden” books.
  • “Guillot” – Claude Guillot, author of Sous le Monde, see Providence #1.
  • “Chambers” – Robert W. Chambers, author of The King in Yellow, see Providence #1.
  • “Hali”- Khalid Ibn Yazid, author of Hali’s Booke, see Suydam pamphlet in Providence #2.
  • “Whether by employing magic or by other less contentious means, it seems that words and books, demonstrably, can change our world by changing our perception of it; can precipitate it to another state entirely” is a statement that can be read on several levels. As a fictional character subject to Moore’s script, it is a literal truth for Robert Black. For the reader of the comic, reading something can absolutely change their perception of things. Likewise, the whole of issue #9 (and arguably all of Providence) deals with the question of perception, with what Black both sees and does not see, and what the comic reader sees and does not see. This may also be a subtle reference at Grant Morrison, who famously wrote the series The Invisibles as a magickal symbol.

Page 32

Commonplace Book – November 10

November 13

  • Taliesin” is a legendary Welsh bard.
  • “Twilight Odyssey” is Randall Carver’s short story, see Providence #8 P7 and P30.
  • “Officer O’Brien” – See Providence #7 P1,p1.
  • “Governor Coolidge” is Calvin Coolidge, later president of the United States.
  • “an implication that O’Brien had jumped ship” – As we know from Providence #7 (P26,p4), O’Brien has not jumped ship, but has been eaten by ghouls.

 Page 33

Commonplace Book – November 13 continued

November 14

  • “familial responsibilities around your neck that were simply too much to handle anymore” – Moore writes of another character in such a predicament in Voice of the Fire, chapter eleven, “I Travel in Suspenders”.
  • “Transported by an H. G. Wells device into an earlier time” is a reference to “The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells. Moore repurposed Wells’ time-traveler in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen story “Allan and the Sundered Veil.”
  • “Not quite a Connecticut Yankee in the court of King Arthur” refers to Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Twain’s novel involves the transmigration of souls through time, and can be seen as a forebear of “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” which also features time travel of a sort.
  • “A man by the name of Tillinghast” – See Providence #8, P1.

Page 34

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • Black’s guess “Providentials” is not quite right; it is actually “Providentians.”

Page 35

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • [Jules] Verne” is an early writer of science fiction. Moore uses Verne’s Nemo throughout the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
  • “The ether,” also aether or æther, was believed to be the substance between the terrestrial and celestial spheres in ancient philosophy, and in early 19th century science was used in physics as the substance that allowed the transmission of light and gravity, eventually replaced by Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Lovecraft generally believed Einstein’s theories, but maintained some belief in æther, or at least made some use of it in stories including At the Mountains of Madness.

Page 36

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • “Theosophists” are the Theosophical Society, an occult society founded by Helena Blavatsky in 1875 dedicated to spiritual exploration. Lovecraft had little direct knowledge of Theosophy, but received some materials concerning them from fellow pulpster E. Hoffmann Price, and mentions them in “The Call of Cthulhu.”
  • “what appeared to be a facsimile copy” may be, again, Black downplaying his actual experience in favor of what (later) seems to him to be a more plausible explanation.
  • “The Latin translation of the original Kitab made in Toledo and published in Venice in the 1490s” is in contrast with Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, which was translated into Latin by Olaus Wormius in 1228, and a version was published in Spain in the 17th century. Toledo was a center of scholarship with a reputation for occultism, associated with several real-world grimoires.

Page 37

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • “Possibly the meteorite evaporated as they claimed” refers to Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” where the “meteorite” evaporated. In Moore and Burrows’ Providence, as shown in Providence #5-6, the Stella Sapiente secreted the object away, using the “evaporation” as a cover story. The resulting object is thus equated with the Shining Trapezohedron in “The Haunter in the Dark,” which was kept in the Church of the Starry Wisdom (based on St. John’s Church).
  • “Ins and outs” and “agreeable exchange” are deliberate double entendres on Black’s part, referring to his sexual encounter.
  • “598” is 598 Angell Street, shown on P18,p2 above.
  • “Mrs. Gamwell” is Annie Gamwell, Lovecraft’s younger aunt – see P15,p1 above.

Page 38

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • “Aladdin’s Cave” is the Cave of Treasures in the 1,001 Nights.
    • Commenter Karin Allen notes that Black originally wrote “Palace” before scratching it out and replacing it with “Cave”, which seems relevant to next issue’s title, “The Haunted Palace”.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne” is the famous American writer of the early 19th century, most known for The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Marble Faun. Black was reading Hawthorne in Providence #3.

Page 39

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • “He’d be happy to loan me his contributor’s copy” corresponds to Lovecraft often having loaned out his stories to friends and correspondents.
  • [Edgar Allen] Poe” is the famous American poet and short story writer; in his early stories Lovecraft copied Poe’s style.
  • “Sargasso” is the Sargasso Sea, a region in the Atlantic named after its seaweed, which is the subject of several weird stories of ships getting lost or stuck, especially in the works of William Hope Hodgson.

Page 40

Commonplace Book – November 14 continued

  • “so full of tactile and olfactory revulsions that the reader cannot help but think that these uncomfortably visceral reactions had been brought forth from the very centre of the author’s self and sensibilities” refers to how Lovecraft very famously was nauseated by the smell of seafood.

Back Cover

  • Probably taken from Lord of a Visible World 190-191; else Selected Letters 2.46-47. Recounts Lovecraft’s return home to Providence after living in New York.

215 thoughts on “Providence 9

  1. Re: page 6, panel 2 – be aware Googling “picking lint off shoulder” leads to a number of “how to bang chicks” sites.

    Like

  2. PAGE 12. Panel 2: One other writer interested in the occult, Lovecraftiana, and orgone energy was William Burroughs. He absorbed a few Lovecraftian elements into his magical studies, see his article ‘Some Notes on the Paperback publication of The Necronomicon’ (1978), while several of the sex scenes in his work riff off of orgone’s supposed effects.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe worth noting is that that Henry Annesley was the name for the protagonist in “From Beyond” in
    Lovecraft’s first draft, but was changed to Crawford Tillinghast later, according to “An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia”

    Also, I like Moore’s in-joke at the beginning: “How has Providence been treating you so far?”, where the
    reader will recognise that the double meaning refers to Black’s traumatic experiences in Providence the book, not the city (“so far”).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Triple meaning, actually. Also, how has providence, the philosophical concept, been treating him.

      Which itself has extra meaning since Black (and HPL) both deny the existence of that providence, yet Alan Moore’s story clearly supports its existence.

      Like

      • Heck, make it four layers. Since we are looking through RB’s POV and Annesly is looking towards us, he could be Moore’s surrogate asking his readership if the series is up to our expectations. For all we know, with those glasses on he can kind of see us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It struck me on my latest reread that page 20 has a very similar thing going on, aside from being, you know, one of the best pages in the series so far. “My meanderings are often nocturnal, though there are moments: when the long last lights burnish an ancient stone wall . . . and Providence hesitates on the very cusp of another . . . world than . . . this.” It’s almost as if Moore knows what a big fish he’s got on the line with Providence and is commenting on it. Maybe it’s just because this series is almost custom made for me and my various cultural obsessions of 30+ years but I feel like he’s never come closer to the cusp of another world than with Providence. We are all not so innocent witnesses to whatever the Magus is manifesting here. Who KNOWS what will happen to reality when #12 comes out on or around the Winter Festival.

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      • “Who KNOWS what will happen to reality when #12 comes out on or around the Winter Festival”.

        Openening of the 32nd path, certainly. Keep in mind that on of the first Promethea’s issues promised that it would happen in around 2017. So I’m almost sure Moore has chosen this time for publishing that exact story not accidentally! So the dreamworld is on the horison… Tremble, mortals!

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    • If you split the word ‘Tillinghast’ in two you get, ’tilling’ which means to turn over soil and ‘ghast’ which i think is ‘ghost’ in old english, so the name could literally mean ‘digging for ghosts’ which seems highly appropriate. Apologies if this has been thought of before but it just came to me and demanded to be shared.

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  4. “Cornholing” is also the name of a traditional American fair game, where you throw beanbags at a wooden board with a small hole cut in it, and try to get the bags in the hole. I’m thinking that’s what Charles is referring to on page 12 — it makes more sense at this point in the conversation for him to still be making (hilarious) double-entendres, than to just outright admit that he and his boyhood friends were straight up fucking each other.

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    • Pretty sure young Howard was either making the reference to fairground cornholing as an unsubtle double entendre, fully intending Black to understand it. Or he simply meant bumsex. Yes, he was implying he and his chums used to sneak in the old church and fuck each other.

      Homosexual behaviour used to be very normal among adolescent boys, before the “gay” identity became a separate thing, something you were, rather than something you did. It was seen as experimenting and something you grew out of. Possibly one bad effect of gay lib is that now boys aren’t free to experiment with their friends any more, it brings the stigma, and has a greater “meaning” than it used to have.

      Back then I’m sure you wouldn’t admit to doing it, except to your close friends, but it certainly went on, wasn’t seen as a big deal.

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      • Yes, that’s what I meant. The note in the original post only mentions the anal sex meaning, which seems to imply that Howard, at that moment, was directly and openly talking about sex. I’m suggesting that it’s more likely that Howard was making a flirty double-entendre, because the whole conversation up to that point had been a series of flirty double-entendres.

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      • Nah, Mike, I think it was more likely a simple sex reference. He was asked what he and the boys got up to, when they were sneaking into the old church. The chance he meant they set up fairground games as a double entendre is a bit unlikely, doesn’t really work. The look Robert gives him implies he clearly asked if he wanted to fuck.

        It starts off with a few barely-double entendres from Grandson Robertus but I think Howard cut straight to the chase.

        I do wonder how much Howard knows, whether having sex with the Messenger in front of the Trapezohedron (would a trapezohedron have spikes? Sounds like it’s based on the trapezium shape) was a deliberate Stell Sappy plot. I’m pretty certain it was. Is there a chance Howard actually IS his “ancestor”? Not sure about that but seems likely bearing in mind all the other multi-centenarians milling about.

        “All characters as depicted in this story are over the age of 18”. Mostly! Gay sex was illegal anyway back then. The age of consent for gay sex in the UK is 16, perhaps it’s still 18 in the USA. Naughty, naughty Alan!

        I do love HP in this! Loved to have met him in real life, he sounds like amazing fun to talk to.

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  5. The final comment in the diary portion describes how it would be more horrible if a person in dire circumstances (such as alone and dying of thirst on the ocean) only thought supernatural things were occurring to them, as opposed to supernatural things actually occurring. This could be foreshadowing, although I doubt it; Black “sees” stuff that he couldn’t possibly know about (such as Brears pregnant with Cthulhu), and we as readers can see things that Black can’t which indicate that these things are actually happening (like the flappers and wrigglers from this episode).

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  6. I got the impression that it was implied that lovecraft’s birth was exactly like the Wheatley’s try at a redeemer. So that the order founder possessed his protegee (lovecraft’s father) and impregnated his mom. And when in the common place book lovecraft is referred to as “an overgrown 11 year old boy” It is because he is really only 11 but aged quickly in the same manner as Wheatley.

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    • I suspect we have a few twists and horrendous — nay unspeakable — revelations on that front. What exactly lurks in the Shunned House: was that really its “elbow?” Why she thinks she’s talking to Whipple. “My young daughter.” The gruesome final apparent non sequitur about “animal preoccupations” and forced close quarters. Great issue!

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      • Yeah, was thinking on similar lines – HPL is possessed by Whipple, as was his father, giving a literal reason for HPL to call Susie his daughter – and a reason for her to despise him (she’s aiming the barbs at HPL’s possessor) and a reason to ask if he has come to to try and redeem himself for impregnating her.

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      • His mother says “When he got you on me” instead of “in me.” A body-swap might be a rationale for the old man jokes he keeps making.

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    • I thought thee Wheatley attempt was a more crude, ramshackle attempt at begetting the redeemer: doomed to fail because it was an act of incest. HP is probably the result of a more refined, more strict execution of the ritual: through the arranged marriage and begotten by the daughter of an Order senior.

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    • Lovecraft’s a smart lad, I’m sure he, and the townsfolk around him, would notice if he was an 11 year old in his twenties strolling round the place.

      I think Lovecraft is exactly his age. Young Wilbur is six un a haff, but he’s not exactly human. Perhaps whatever the hell he is is supposed to be that big at the age of six. You can’t compare the two.

      The ball of light for a head is a dead giveaway though. Lovecraft’s mum is the only sane woman! Or at least the only one who knows the truth. She’d be ideal to star in one of his stories.

      I dunno exactly what’s up with Wilbur, maybe he’s the child of a different Elder God. Maybe the ritual wasn’t done properly. I dunno if the incest matters, even inbred kids don’t look THAT weird! Maybe it’s bad magic in Old Man Wheatley. Of course dodgy things hiding in the genes is very Lovecraftish.

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    • The more I think about it the more I go back and forth between thinking Lovecraft’s mind is developing at a rate slower then normal so that he is in some ways like a child’s mind in an adult body (the exact opposite of how Willard Wheatley’s body is developing quicker then his mind), or he his father/grandfather mind swapped with him (explains calling mom daughter, etc., and since his father was becoming paralyzed he would have extra motivation.)

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  7. Page 20. Panel 4: From S.T. Joshi’s annotations to The Haunter of the Dark, (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Penguin Classics.):

    “Some of the surface details of the plot were taken directly from Hanns Heinz Ewers The Spider, which Lovecraft read in Dashiell Hammett’s Creeps By Night (1931). This story involves a man who becomes fascinated with a strange woman he sees through his window in a building across from his own, until finally he seems to lose hold of his own personality. The entire story is told in the form of the man’s diary.”

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  8. Page 29. re the mention of ‘Nude descending a staircase’. The painting caused quite a stir among contemporary audiences when it was first exhibited in America and was ridiculed in the press, as seen in this cartoon from 1913: http://showstudio.tumblr.com/post/145255060123/the-rude-descending-a-staircase-rush-hour-at-the
    Interestingly the imagery of descending a staircase links to Howard Carter’s dream technique while the fragmented moving figure looks a lot like the representation of Leng in the encounter between Brears and Sax in Neonomicon 4 (p22 panel 4)

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      • Hey Joe, it’s Krish. You and I are Facebook friends and you probably remember I was good friends with Don Townswick back in the Tustin Meadows days. As far as I know, you and I must be the only ones left of that group that still reads comic books. I had a short spell during college in the 1980s and during medical school in the early 1990s where I couldn’t afford them, but then around 1998 when Moore launched his ABC universe I started reading again. Absolutely have been loving your Notes on Providence blog and it’s the only place I can see most of the alternate covers. Great job, man! Although the late 1970s early 1980s were really just Marvel (and DC) super-heroes for us, I’ve been into Alan Moore since about Swamp Thing #42 or so when I started hearing the buzz. I’ve faithfully found and devoured everything he’s published. With the exception of Max the Cat, I love it all!

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    • duchamp’s piece was referenced already, in the commonplacebook entry for #1 (iirc) – RB and lily/jonathan went to the vernissage and saw all the scandal for themselves

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      • So sad, in a way, that Robert and Lily had been together for at least 6 years, by what Robert writes.

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      • yes… i remember i wasn’t quite convinced by that – it’s a hell of a long time, when *casual* sex is freely available on nightly basis; still… that is the chronology AM wanted to give it… he seems to like having his characters attend such things (cf. alice, dorothy and wendy going to see *le sacre du printemps* in *lost girls*)

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    • The DuChamp painting is also important because it represents common “everyday” time and space opened to other perceptions.

      It’s should be noted that the painting is called “Nude Descending a Staircase.” Not the plural nudes. Therefore the artist is drawing attention to the fact that on a 2 dimensional plain he has broken time. His figure has arrived at its destination before it has embarked.

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  9. Note that on Nov. 13th, Black apparently views a statue of Dagon and identifies it with the crown he saw in Boggs’ refinery; probably he’ll never actually read Lovecraft’s story of the same name, or if he does, he will be his usual dense self and not connect the dots.

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  10. Also, note how Burrows’ designs for the aetheric creatures are reminiscent both of microscopic animals (e.g. paramecium) as well as creatures found at the bottom of the sea; the animal which flies through Black’s head on P. 3. would appear to be heavily drawn from the Black Dragonfish, facially.

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  11. P. 38 – Black’s description of Lovecraft as seemingly “a monstrously clever and enthusiastic overgrown 11-year-old boy”, while amusing, takes on sinister connotations when compared to the pretender to the throne of “Redeemer”, Willard Wheatley, who really is a monstrous, clever and overgrown 6-year-old. One of them seems that way, but isn’t; the other is that way, but doesn’t seem it.

    Lovely, the layers of metafiction built in here – a parallel which originates in one character (Wilbur Whateley) being based on the self-perception of the author (Lovecraft), and becoming strangely sinister when they exist side-by-side rather than one being invented by the other.

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  12. The crazy world of polyhedral geometry, via Wikipedia…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapezohedron

    There are “star trapezohedra”, with some pictures in the article. Which are spiky, but none quite like the way Jacen draws it. Including some pretty funky shapes that I think would have been better than Jacen’s. But the guy’s not a mathematician. Probably.

    An ordinary trapezohedron though is a sort-of pointy diamondish shape.

    And I’ve just discovered there’s such a thing as an “antiprism”. Not as exciting as it sounds though. Probably very few eldritch deities in those.

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    • Am I crazy or isn’t the “5/3” star trapezohedron (the 2nd one) the exact same thing as the one burrows drew in this issue?

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      • Actually now I look again, it kindof does. I recall seeing it in an earlier issue though and it didn’t. Before, it seemed to be like an angled spheroid, with gaps between the spiky protrusions. Here, it’s all spikes, like the Wikipedia example.

        At least I THINK it was different earlier….!

        I was trying to find the earlier depiction, I tried issue 5, but all that reminded me was that Keziah Mason truly has a most fearsome biffer on her.

        If anyone can find the other depiction, optionally without frightening genitalia, let me know.

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    • I was inspired to look it up, cos from first seeing it, I think in Providence 4, it didn’t strike me as any sort of -hedron. I was expecting maybe a trapezium-shaped prism, or a ball-like shape made of trapezia. Not the shape it is, that as far as I can tell, isn’t a trapezohedron.

      Of course it MIGHT be, I dunno nearly enough geometry to say so conclusively. But since it popped up again here, enjoying Rob and Howard’s delicious orgone, I was inspired to go have a look.

      Have to say, the Messenger’s pretty well provided for in the, erm, cock department. Can’t think of a suitable Lovecraftian euphemism for that, sorry. Not enough gay sex that’s crucial to the story, in modern comics.

      Oh, if you’re asking, yes… the thing in the box is the Shining Trapezohedron, that came from the sky to the Stell Saps.

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      • I’ve really appreciated how Moore has ably shifted tones within this horror book. In issues 8 and 9, Black gets to make some (seemingly) actual friends. And now he finally gets to have a mutually satisfying, entirely consensual sexual encounter. Of course, it’s being used as an orgone charger by the sinister artifact, but for once, Black’s obliviousness really does protect him.

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  13. what an interesting issue. definitely the biggest surprise was the far more time/lip service paid to “From Beyond” than “Shunned House”! What with the regular and portrait covers, I was really expecting more Roulet backstory! Also a surprising lack of “danger” in this issue, that Black is aware of or otherwise.

    That said, this turned out to be another fascinating “jumble” issue, dealing with ideas and characters from 3 or 4 different stories like #’s 5/6. certainly surprising that Black has not only already visited the church but also been up into the steeple. Black’s already residing in the fateful room that (if things go like the short story) he may perish in!

    I have a feeling that “Howard Charles” may be showing up again next issue, but markedly changed in personality… replaced by a mean-spirited doppelgänger by the name of Curwen!

    I’m curious if and when we’ll get to see a dark side of Lovecraft himself. As of now, he’s painted as a harmless, charming kook, but what with Moore’s nuanced handling of the xenophobia/nihilism in the man’s WORK, I’d be surprised and a little disappointed if we didn’t see some of this show up in his actual character.

    GREAT points above about the hilarious and disturbing double entendres in everything Mrs. Lovecraft is saying! Really loved that scene way more than I would have expected. Is she talking about crazy cult mythos, or justifiably enraged at a husband who contracted syphilis from philandering and prostitutes (flappers and wrigglers!) and quite possibly brought its degenerative madness home to her!

    Oh and I appreciated the nod to the stuart gordon film in the “wrigglers” design- another cool and tasteful instance of nodding to mythos work not done by lovecraft himself.

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    • As far as HP’s racism goes, that’s utterly normal for the period. You could still be a perfectly nice person and believe black people were halfway to gorillas. His “creation of the nigger” poem will have made people laugh, at the time.

      Maybe he’s xenophobic, but he’s a pretty phobic chap in general, as well as a hypochondriac. I wonder if madness ran in the family. Although it might be Susan’s madness came from catching syphilis from her husband, is anything known about that?

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      • I’m sure we’re all well aware that racism was “utterly normal” for 1919 (though there WERE plenty of white folks around even then who didn’t share Lovecraft’s more vitriolic notions, I don’t think Lovecraft needs to be defended in this regard), but Moore’s writing Providence almost 100 years later with a very modern sensibility, and looking at Lovecraft’s work through a very modern lens (take black’s homosexuality for example, while utterly “deviant” by 1919’s standards, in the books we are meant to look at this through modern eyes). Robert Black, at least from what we saw in #2 and #3, seems to be a more open-minded fellow than we know his idol is. And while sure, you can be an otherwise “pleasant” guy and still be a foaming at the mouth racist, and yes, Lovecraft did have this dorky goofball side to him, i think even in this issue we got glimpses behind that facade to the more troubled and depressed lovecraft lurking beneath.

        I’m sure there (sadly) won’t be any major characters of other races coming up in issues ahead to spotlight this stuff, but what I’m mainly wondering about is Black’s Judaism. Despite bizarrely marrying jewish immigrant Sonia Greene later in life, Lovecraft was a staunch antisemite. with Moore setting up Black as being in the closet about his religious background, can’t help but wonder how these two notions will butt heads.

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      • I don’t think you can criticise HP for his racism, in any meaningful sense. I dunno what his more vitriolic notions are, but thinking of black people as half-human and unintelligent was pretty normal. Even in scientific study it was assumed to be the case. The KKK were having a resurgence right around the period of Providence. People were really, really racist back then. Not out of malice. Just for the same reason people now believe what they do. Because it’s all they know, it’s the proper way of thinking and acting.

        Judging any people of the past by modern standards is always pointless, serious historians don’t do it. I’m sure in the future we’ll be seen as ignorant barbarians by Halo Jones’s society.

        Racism wasn’t “wrong” then but it is now. I agree with now. But HP would agree with then, and think I’m wrong. Utterly unsurprising.

        I’m not as well-informed about HP as many people here, so if he was a real nutcase you’ll have to fill me in.

        I’m approaching 40. I remember, vaguely, the late 1970s and early 1980s. I remember before PC (which is of course a good thing) kicked in. I remember when it was normal to hate and fear queer people. I’m sure your grandmother now wouldn’t dream of telling racist jokes, but back then she quite probably would. Things were really, REALLY, different then. And that’s just 40 years ago. The past is like another country. Filled full of ignorant savages.

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    • I get very nervous when HPL’s racism is passed over as a normal, contemporary cultural more.

      Doing so threatens to erase the experience of black people from the period, and that’s not OK. There is plenty of evidence that HPL was *much more racist* even than his peers, and it should be remembered that his opinions existed within and supported a system of oppression that was and kind of still is absolutely fucking monstrous: you can’t be a ‘perfectly nice person’ and hold views like HPL’s, because those views had very nasty consequences in the real world, shoring up a policy of mass violence towards millions of innocent and very real people living at the time.

      HPL was guilty of benefiting from, participating in and actively encouraging this monstrosity and this violence. He may have been a product of his time, but for most of his life he was an ardent supporter of a system which was self-evidently cruel and violent. Trying to understand ‘The Cthulhu Mythos’ – for want of a better term – without examining how it links to the very real horror of the history of American racism seems like trying to read a map without a compass. The racism is HPL’s true north, and the real* horror of Cthulhu Rising is the horror of racist genocide turning from fantasy into fact during the years of Lovecraft’s life.

      This is still the best article on the topic, despite the inflammatory final sentence: https://mediadiversified.org/2014/05/24/the-n-word-through-the-ages-the-madness-of-hp-lovecraft

      Also while I’m here – re page 36: some interesting evidence here to suggest the Theosophy/Cthulhu link may have been stronger than is often thought:
      http://secretsun.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/lovecrafts-secret-source-for-chthulu_9.html

      *many other interpretation of Cthulhu’s ‘true’ ‘meaning’ are possible -of course but none of them are as frightening!

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      • The message here seems to be: don’t forget, in case you like , or are starting to like or admire Lovecraft, that he was an utterly horrible and despicable person. Oh, and on an ancillary note, he didn’t really create many of the ideas people credit him with—, rather he copied/stole them from other sources.Why is there a comic called Providence anyway? Lovecraft is not admired for his racism, but for his writing. His writing seems to be standing the test of time far more than that of his contemporaries- there must be reason for that has nothing to do with his flaws. Do we need to keep pointing them out?

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      • Well said bobsy. I think there are plenty of Lovecraft stories where his racial politics don’t factor much in, that can be enjoyed without having to think about or rationalize his viewpoints. Dunwich Horror, Colour Out of Space, Mountains of Madness, the Hound, etc. But those of us who’ve read the full canon know that it’s a pervasive element when looking at his work as a whole. Lovecraft used his fear and hatred of “scary” foreigners (and basically anyone who didn’t look just like him) to add to his signature atmosphere of pervasive dread in many many of his tales (often-times to good literary effect, even if jaw-droppingly repugnant by moral standards). This kind of scene-setting racism seeps into some great stories, Dreams in the Witchhouse, the Rats in the Walls, etc. I think Cool Air is one of the few stories featuring a semi-agreeable main character of another race (with the caveat that Dr. Munoz is a spaniard of “superior breeding”)

        I’d say Horror at Red Hook, Shadow Over Innsmouth, Arthur Jermyn, and maybe Call of Cthulhu are the only blatant examples where his xenophobia turns into a PLOT element rather than just “atmospherics”. I think the notion that xenophobia is at the heart of ALL his work is an interesting interpretation worthy of discussion, but shouldn’t be used to dismiss his work (as in the article you posted). It’s easy to pick up any lovecraft story and come across an extremely off-putting description of a foreigner, which has led to a very knee-jerk reaction in our more inclusive, “PC” modern worldview. I think a lot of people in the past 10 years have been recommended Lovecraft, picked up a story and were immediately so appalled that they threw the book across the room and immediately wrote a think-piece about how everyone’s favorite horror author is a racist and nobody seems to understand that, because we’re still reading and praising him. Lovecraft fans, likewise, have a tendency to say “mehhh who cares!”, maybe because it’s old news to us, or maybe because they’re defensive that the object of their niche fandom is under attack. Neither reaction is helpful. Personally I have no problem whatsoever separating the art from the artist, and am not somebody who needs to boycott a creator (particularly a dead one).

        in the end I think his xenophobia is a perfectly valid point of conversation if looked at in a nuanced, rather than dismissive, manner. which I genuinely think Moore will be tackling in the next several issues. Not to say that I think Providence as a whole will or should be ALL about it, but I think the “point” of Moore’s very specific decision to make Black gay and Jewish (everything Lovecraft feared other than darker skin color and foreign birth) will be hammered home soon.

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      • Out of reply room to all. Everyone brings up great points; for example, Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, published in 1914, has the black children who play with Penrod and Sam actually ferociously fight anyone who calls them the n-word, and Penrod and Sam take them so seriously they actually correct their own parents (seen as Gods) about the n-word. Huge. Even Yuge.

        But the homosexual thing? Did Lovecraft ever take that on in a story? I can’t recall any. I’m sure he snarled about it in letters, but those aren’t stories.

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  14. Also kinda funny how much stuff we all predicted as far back as issue #4 is finally coming to pass. I remember making the leap that the meteorite from Colour might in fact be the Shining Trapezohedron, that Robert Black was Robert Blake, that Robert was headed for the Haunter church… This issue might have been full of big reveals to a less-primed audience!

    It’s such a weird series… the target audience is people who have an encyclopedic knowledge of Lovecraft- his life AND his works. It’s the only way to get the full scope of Providence’s genius! But what a small sliver of the population (and probably Providence’s readership) that must be…

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  15. On pg. 2, Annesley’s use of the phrase “from beyond” (“…anyone from beyond the 18th century…”) is surely not coincidental!

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  16. Long time reader, first time commenter.
    There’s a great call-back to the Wilbur Wheatley issue. Wilbur describes the set-up for the redeemer as (paraphrasing) “the crazy grandfather, the white woman and the ugly boy”. So Whipple van Buren Phillips s the crazy grandfather, HPL’s mom (with her arsenic-bleached skin) the “white woman” and HPL himself the “ugly boy”.
    I am just in awe of Moore’s plotting here. Seeds are planted half a dozen issues before they mature.

    And thank for you all your hard work!

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    • Great catch, Ivo. I completely missed that.
      Wouldn’t be one of Moore’s projects if it didn’t require re-reading to catch details like that

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      • Quick thing about arsenic: It is possibly for people to become addicted to it; the drawback to wide-spread arsenic addiction is its quick, painful ending. It causes hallucinations. Susie Lovecraft?

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    • ivo, yeah, great catch that!

      this sort of stuff is (ridiculous but true) business as usual for AM though – he is always that fucking clever, once he decides to bring his “a-game”… his first 12-issue run on (worthless rob liefeld character) supreme is just unbelievably clever, plenty of stuff in #1 which only makes sense in #12 etc etc..!

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  17. Sorry to correct you but:

    “or possibly the meteorite evaporated as they claimed” – In Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” the “meteorite” evaporated; in Moore and Burrows’ Providence, as shown in Providence #5 and 6, the Stella Sapiente secreted the object away, using the “evaporation” as a cover story. The resulting object is thus equated with the Shining Trapezohedron in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” which was kept in the Church of the Starry Wisdom (based on St. John’s Church).

    It should be from the Haunter in the dark and not Charles Dexter Ward.

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  18. What a wonderfull isue. Completely emjoyed it.

    Cloud-crawler from #8 has many common features with invisible creatures from #9. Keeping in mind that Randall said that Tillinghast called it “manifested dream”… May it be that those “flappers and wrigglers” are somehow human’s ideas, dwellers of the surface layer of subconscious? Some of them are emerging from the earth or plunge into it – probably that refers all Jungian subtarrenean stuff refered before.

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  19. That scene on Page 25 that starts with Lovecraft’s jocular greeting of “My young Daughter!” which turns into this scene of her rejecting him and calling him a monster in which he can say nothing other than a sad and poignant “Mother…”
    and his slumping shoulders with Black taking in the whole scene from a distance is for me the most powerful and touching scene in this entire chapter.

    And that bit with Black asking Lovecraft
    “Is, uh, Is everything all right?”

    And his answer
    “Oh, Yes. Acceptably so.
    Mother is a little out of sorts and needed returning to her ward.”

    reminds me of that scene in Psycho in which Norman Bates says something like
    “Mother… What is the phrase? isn’t quite herself today.”

    Plus that scene with Janet Leigh in which the subject of committing his mother to a madhouse comes up.

    “Put her someplace”

    Anyways this was just beautiful.

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  20. An interesting thing about the cover (of issue 9)- the door to the shunned house is ajar. This, I think, would indicate some kind of purposeful activity- in this key respect this cover differs from all the rest. And the cover of issue 10 shows a shadow of some sort cast by a living moving entity… an even bigger departure from the previous 9 covers which are devoid of the incipient presence of people- or things.. Thoughts?

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    • gotta agree the shadow is an ominous development in these otherwise lifeless landscapes! But I think the cover of #4 also has a wide open door on the Wheatley house… and you might consider Alvarez’s glowing window on #1 a sign of activity. It’s also interesting that some of the locales on the covers are from different time periods than featured in the comics. #2 and #9 are decrepit and abandoned versions of the buildings featured within.

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      • i was taking another look back at the weird angles of the witch-house and noticed that unlike #2 and #9, the cover of #5 features an image of the witch-house from a time PRIOR to 1919. If you take a look at the trees in the yard on the cover, there are 2. Inside the issue there is only one, and it’s much taller (but you can still see the stump of the other tree, love that detail). The fence to the right of the house is just a few canted posts inside, but still resembles a fence on the cover. All the greenery/structures behind the house are absent on the cover, leading me to believe this is the witch-house when Hekeziah had recently moved in.

        On a similar note, the cover of #1 depicts a time after 1919, as the fire-escapes and fence in front of the building haven’t been installed yet when Robert visits. Somebody pointed this out at the time, but it seemed like just an inconsistency.

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    • “Intoxication follow’d – Kingston – East Greenwich with its steep Georgian alleys climbing up from the railway – Apponaug and its ancient roofs – Auburn – just outside the city limits – I fumble with bags and wraps in a desperate effort to appear calm – THEN – a delirious marble dome outside the window – a hissing of air brakes – a slackening of speed – surges of ecstasy and dropping of clouds from my eyes and mind – HOME – UNION STATION – PROVIDENCE!!!!

      – To Frank Belknap Long, May 1st, 1926

      Liked by 1 person

  21. The main equipment in Henry Annesley’s house – is this a version of the Tillinghast Resonator? (or perhaps in this existence an Annesley Resonator?) – if so, surely Black won’t have seen anything like this before, and given that he’s sat right underneath its main components wouldn’t he (if he were a journalist with curiosity) ask some questions about it? Is it just more evidence of his myopic interpretation of what he sees on his journey through the Lovecraftian landscape?

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    • haha the fact that after all his travels and research he’s finally sat in front of an actual, living member of the Stella Sapiente, under his resonator no less, with pictures and diagrams of horrifying flappers and wrigglers on the walls all around him, and is still bored/easily distracted enough to prefer to go off for a tryst with a 17 year old after a five minute conversation with Annesley is flat out hilarious.

      But then again, it doesn’t seem like he’s even read Suydam’s pamphlet or the Joad’s Codes closely! he’d probably have a lot more questions for Annesley, or Mrs. “Macey”, or even Howard Charles

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      • Yeah, I was kinda’ astonished that here Robert was, at the home of a Stel Sap, and he asks like 3 questions and then abruptly leaves for a hopeful booty call. George Washington, Robert is not working hard!

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      • in all fairness to poor robert, he has had a pretty rough time of it lately, and we can forgive him being led by the prick on this occasion i think – ! especially given that his host sees what is developing between the “youngsters” (cf garland’s leaving RB to make friends with letty) and practically hooks them up – i mean what *is* a poor boy to do..!

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      • It struck me that the phallic purple wriggler connecting Mr. Black & Mr. Charles through their groins and anuses when they meet might have been a very specific kind, known to Mr. Annesley, which either senses or causes carnal attraction, thus his comment, “Hmm. Looks like you youngsters have hit it off.” Then purposely sends them off to “St. John’s church, of course.”

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      • Nah I think that’s another joke, or hint, aimed at the readers. The wriggler just happened to be on it’s way through the two of them at the moment of that particular frame. I get the idea the wrigglers are constantly swimming forward.

        Either Annesley had no idea about Robert and Howard, or else it was a conspiracy to charge the stone up, and was thus planned before Robert even got there. That particular moment in the steeple chosen for Robert to launch his own wrigglers up Howard’s Carcosa-Mouth.That’s the new, polite term for that feature of the anatomy, btw.

        That, or it’s fate / Great Old Ones machinations / same thing.

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      • It occurs to me now that Annesley is probably the most “in the know” member of the Stel Saps we’ve met the whole series. He must be the one holding down the Shunned House headquarters, he MUST know not only who Lovecraft is, but obviously that he’s the Redeemer. Massey is off in the 4th dimension most of the time, and it seems like Wade/Elspeth/Ettiene is having a grand old time enjoying the college life in Manchester, Japheth we can only assume was only resurrected in between issues 9/10… So is Annesley the de facto leader of the Stel Saps in Providence? I guess the unique stel sap “view of time” allows him to not be constantly watching over Lovecraft observing the prophecy unfold.

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      • I originally thought it was just politness, the fact that everyone Robert met had written letters to everyone he met next. But now it seems like they were steering him along the whole time. He found Pickman by himself, but Pickman, and Wheatley whose house he saw the picture at, weren’t in with the Stell Saps.

        Parts of his journey don’t seem to have been steered by the SS, at least not by humans. Then again, to have a prophecy in the first place, at least a true one, you have to have some special access to the future. If the whole thing’s pre-ordained, then the SS could have spent most of the time putting their feet up, only jumping into action at the time Robert’s due to wander their way.

        Seems like he was sent on a tour, which was important, since he had to meet each of the weirdos in order for HP to later read about them. And us, of course.

        And if HP didn’t read the Commonplace Book, we wouldn’t be here reading the comic now. The fact that Robert and his book are fictional isn’t as important here as it might otherwise be.

        We’re sure this blog’s real though, right?

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    • Maybe they’re trying to off the competition? So they’re going to provide St. Anselm with really big library guard dogs soon?

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      • Ha! Yes, and “Wantige” and his friends are boning up on how to fight big invisible monsters! Get that powder and those spells ready, men. We have to stop the other Wheatley boy!

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  22. page 1, panel 1: the sign actually doesn’t read PROVIDENCE – not strictly speaking, from our point of view: the ID is missing (significantly for robert, cut off from true familiarity with his own cavernous depths), leaving PROV-ENCE… which is to say, robert is “en provence”, out in the provinces – and attracting all sorts of unwelcome attention with his big-city attire and demeanour. an outsider, for sure

    (one has to think of camus surely in this context, as well… moore is bound to have factored that one in… meursault is a famous “problematic narrator” – in his case, problematic because he is disinclined to talk to anyone, much less tell a detailed story – and this has bearing on the very clever stuff AM is now doing with RB, HPL and himself)

    Liked by 2 people

  23. There’s a typo: “Lovecraft was highly influenced by Lovecraft’s ideas of relativity”. I think you mean *Einstein*’s ideas of relativity.

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  24. As a sort of continuation of my post on #6 it could almost seem that the colors of clothes hold a deeper meaning. In particular Lovecraft is seen wearing a lot of grays while Black is still wearing the black coat he bought in Manchester. Concerning the black coat I’ve noted earlier how it seems symbolic that the black messenger should want to wear this color and rather coincidentally just after having read the Kitab which he stated in the commonplace book helped him increase his understanding of what he had happened.
    In the tree of life – which has been referenced several times in Providence and not least on page 16 of #4 (it was also featured extensively in Promethea) – black and gray symbolize the two godheads: black being the feminine godhead of (you guessed it) understanding and gray being the masculine godhead of wisdom. The only thing higher than the godheads in the tree of life is “God” (or “providence”…) and a way to reach this is for the godheads to meet/”mate”. If this sounds weird to you I recommend that you read Promethea. A simpler way to put it might be that Black serves as yin to Lovecraft’s yang and only together they will set in motion what ends up becoming Lovecraft’s renowned bibliography.
    They definitely appear to be stimulated by each other’s company – not to mention the mother suggesting that Black is stirring up the invisible creatures around her son. All in all I think that the symbolism of this qabalistic interpretation might be reflected in the characters as well as in their clothes. I could be reaching a bit far.

    Actually I think that there is a lot more to be said about the color of clothes in Providence. What is with Black’s new ties recently for instance?

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  25. Re: ties. I think Robert was turned off sexuality until Howard after the horrible body/rape. He was not into sex and his ties shifted away from green accordingly.

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    • Great point which would explain it from a more conventional angle and yet I still can’t look at the change from a red tie in #8 to a similar red tie but including yellow/orange stripes in #9 without wondering if it has any deeper significance. This is probably because I have been paying attention to the relationship between the color of clothes and the characters wearing them since #1.
      The first detail that inspired me to look into this was the juxtaposition of Mr. Black’s and Dr. Alvarez’s characters and in a parallel way their clothes: Black wears his green tie and has a sprouting interest in “the secret America” with a bit of a tunnel vision perhaps while Dr. Alvaraz is covered in a big green robe and seems to completely embrace the notion of this so-called secret America in a wise and relaxed manner – they are both wearing green but in completely opposite ways and something similar could be said about their characters. This first impression has led to me to pay extra close attention to clothes ever since 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Me, I keep fighting the urge to look at Robert when he’s appalled (say, when he sees himself beside Mr. Jenkins as he’s running out of Manchester after Elspeth bodyrapes him) and not see an appalled Hank Hill, so….

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      • @Quint&Jessel: Lol, it seems like we are all wrestling with our own deep-rooted impressions of the series..

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  26. A couple observations:

    Page 6, panel 1: The placement of a large bulb over Annesley compared to two smaller bulbs over Robert appears to contrast their relative “enlightenment”; light bulbs over heads being classic cartoon syntax.

    Page 17, panel 3: Lovecraft’s phrase for his elders relations, “Old Uns” sounds like a cheeky allusion to, of course, The Old Ones.

    By the way, if anyone needs more Providence-related ephemera to distract themselves with in the long wait before issue 10, I recently recorded two hours of retrospect on the series so far with a friend of mine who writes a very good comics review blog: https://comicsfondle.com/2016/06/05/the-comics-fondle-podcast-providence-special/

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  27. Is anyone on this website going to address the fact that Lovecraft is dark-haired here, as opposed to the natural blonde hair he had in real life? I think it’s a deliberate decision, given how detail-oriented the creative team otherwise are, and it might have something to do with the dreamy unreality of the story…

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  28. He had light-colored hair, but “we” decided that Moore and Burrows are changing reality re: Lovecraft anyway, so….

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  29. It’s neat how “looking through rose-tinted glasses”, an idiom meaning “seeing things in artificially positive light and ignoring the bad things”, is subverted here, things Annesley seeing through his glasses being the exact opposite of nice, and the glasses are revealing instead of concealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that is a neat way to think about those glasses, Konstantin! I re-read “From Beyond” last night, and besides my near-sightedness probably not allowing me to see the creatures, I think the ending of that story is so much like “open your eyes,” from a dream.

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  30. Page 11.
    It’s interesting that when Black and Charles are up in the steeple that they see no sign of the mouldering skeleton of a Providence newspaper reporter which dates from 1893 lying in the steeple of St John’s church that really features in the original Lovecraft story
    ‘The Haunter of the Dark’ which takes place in 1935 a little over 15 years after Providence in strict chronology.

    Time wise IMO that skeleton should still be up in the steeple during the time and continuity of Providence.
    But as I recall from the original Lovecraft story the skeleton is buried under a mound of dust and webs and Black and Charles were rather occupied and could have completely overlooked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Still on my first read-through, but a couple thoughts…

    Some top-notch face work from Burrows in this issue! Annesley’s smug smirk, particularly on p.5, panel 2, is just perfect; it doesn’t seem explicitly malevolent, but when one knows what he’s seeing, its malice is unmistakable. And the sketchy little faces of Black and Lovecraft, at the bottom of p. 18, are reminiscent of Jaime Hernandez in their clarity.

    It’s interesting how much of this issue is about un-weirded versions of moments we’ve seen before. Lovecraft’s study, with its bathrobed host, is like Carver’s study without the exotica and vision-quests, or Alvarez without the cold and the corpse. And the sequence where he goes to the room at Mrs. Willet’s is much like his ill-fated room-rental in #5. Perhaps it’s because Providence is where all these events flow from, so time spent in Providence is like journeying through the events of the book.

    p.18, panel 2: A small point, but I suspect that the nurse’s line, “Why Mr. Lovecraft, are we here to visit young Miss Susan again?” is meant to imply that Howard is fudging when he claims his visits are infrequent. Both the “again” and the immediate recognition implies that he’s well known to the staff.

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