Women of HPL Variant Covers

Avatar Press likes to use variant covers to promote its series, particularly short-run limited series like Moore’s; besides their artistic merit, several of these covers have more to say about the contents of the book than readers might think.

Providence #1

Providence #1 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #1 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows

This appears to be Mrs. Herrero, the Spanish landlady from Lovecraft’s “Cool Air“:

Briefly consulting with Mrs. Herrero and the workmen despite a fear that gnawed my inmost soul, I advised the breaking down of the door; but the landlady found a way to turn the key from the outside with some wire device. We had previously opened the doors of all the other rooms on that hall, and flung all the windows to the very top. Now, noses protected by handkerchiefs, we tremblingly invaded the accursed south room which blazed with the warm sun of early afternoon.

Herrero appears in Providence #1 (beginning on P11) as Mrs. Ortega. The cover scene (perhaps a moment later) is depicted in Providence #11, P17,p2.

Providence #2

Providence 2
Providence #2 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows
  • The woman is Cornelia Gerritsen, who first appeared on P13 of Providence #2. She is based on a character of the same name from Lovecraft’s story “The Horror at Red Hook” where she is described as “a young woman of excellent position.”
  • The three claw-marks on the door appear close to identical with those that appear in the same issue, starting on P16.

Providence #3

Providence #3, Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #3, Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows

Labelled “Mrs. Boggs-Marsh” on Bleeding Cool, this woman definitely has the “Innsmouth Look,” as described in Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” ‘Marsh’ in this case is evidently a reference to Capt. Obed Marsh, who initiated the trade with the Deep Ones in Innsmouth, but ‘Boggs’ recalls Capt. Jack Boggs from Neonomicon #2, P15, who was supposed to be the real-life inspiration for Marsh in the universe of Neonomicon. Several of the photos in the background also display the “Innsmouth Look.”

Providence #4

Providence #4, Women of HPL variant, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #4, Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows

The fact that the woman is an albino suggests this is Lavinia Whateley, of “The Dunwich Horror.”  The figure in reflected in the trail of blood is unknown, but the wide, goat-like nose suggests it may be her son, Wilbur Whateley.

Providence #5

Providence #4, Women of HPL cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #5, Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts Keziah Mason from “The Dreams in the Witch House” resembling her Providence analogue Hekeziah Massey (see Providence #5, P8,p1.) Note the mouse hole on the front of the step where she is standing.

Providence #6

Providence #6 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows
Providence #6 Women of HPL cover, by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts Asenath Waite, from Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep” where she’s described as: “Edward was thirty-eight when he met Asenath Waite. She was, I judge, about twenty-three at the time; and was taking a special course in mediaeval metaphysics at Miskatonic. The daughter of a friend of mine had met her before—in the Hall School at Kingsport—and had been inclined to shun her because of her odd reputation. She was dark, smallish, and very good-looking except for overprotuberant eyes; but something in her expression alienated extremely sensitive people. It was, however, largely her origin and conversation which caused average folk to avoid her. She was one of the Innsmouth Waites, and dark legends have clustered for generations about crumbling, half-deserted Innsmouth and its people.”

The painting behind her may be her ‘father’, Edgar Wade (Providence #6, P10,p1), Etienne Roulet (Providence #2, P34), or some other ‘ancestor’. In any case, it almost certainly depicts an earlier body that hosted ‘Asenath’.

Providence #7

Providence #7, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #7, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

The figure appears to be a female ghoul, echoing this issue’s theme of “Pickman’s Model.”

Providence #8

Providence #8, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Probably “Mrs. Forrester” from the farm outside Manchester, NH where the “stone” came down, echoing the events of The Colour Out of Space.” The house is the same one depicted in the 1882 flashback panel in Providence #5 P13,p3. (Thanks commenter MS)

The house is the same on Providence 8 WOHPL variant cover and Providence #5
The house is the same on Providence #8 Women of HP Lovecraft variant cover and Providence #5 P13,p3

Providence #9

Providence #9, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Photo of Lovecraft's mother Sarah Susan Phillips
Photo of Lovecraft’s mother Sarah Susan Phillips

The woman depicted is H.P. Lovecraft’s mother Sarah Susan Phillips, who appears in this issue P24-25. Her identity was confirmed in an interview with Burrows: “[The Women of HPL #9 cover] is Lovecraft’s mother. It is quite a few years after the only known photos of her I could find so I had to extrapolate a bit making her harder to recognize.”

Providence #10

Providence #9, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #10, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts Johnny Carcosa’s mother who appears in Moore and Burrows earlier Lovecraft stories and comics The Courtyard and Neonomicon. See Neonomicon #1 P22. She stands at the gate of the titular courtyard – see Neonomicon #1 cover and P20,p1.

Providence #11

Providence #11, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Sonia Greene
Sonia Greene

This is apparently Lovecraft’s wife, the writer and businesswoman Sonia Hart Greene. In an interview, Burrows stated: “Just to head off future confusion, Lovecraft’s wife appears on a later cover although she isn’t in the story. She’s a bit obscured and I know it will probably be a little confusing so I figured I’d mention it.”

Commenter lonepilgrimuk points out that the splattered eye/face is reminiscent of Watchmen‘s blood on smiley-face motif – see cover of Watchmen #1.

Providence #12

Providence #12, Women of HPL variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

The cover depicts a very pregnant Merrill Brears, the protagonist of Moore and Burrows’ Neonomicon.

> Go to Moore Lovecraft Annotations Index

41 thoughts on “Women of HPL Variant Covers

  1. RE: #8 – The house behind her is identical to the one depicted in #5 flashback to the “bringing down the stone”, so I’d say it’s pretty certainly Mrs. “Forrester” from Colour Out of Space

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anybody else mildly disappointed that there was no female ghoul appearance in #7?

    I’ve been impressed from the get-go by even the idea of the Women of HPL covers. While most people writing about Lovecraft tend to highlight his utter lack of female characters and point towards misogyny and fear of women, Moore as usual isn’t attempting to apologize or skirt the issue, instead choosing to turn a spotlight Lovecraft’s female characters. Yes, sometimes they’re made up (#3), or brought more to the forefront than they originally appeared in Lovecraft’s work (#1), but they’ve always appeared in the issue until #7. I absolutely LOVE the image, I think it’s one of the better covers in general, but it’s interesting that we don’t even see a female ghoul in any of Pittman’s paintings, let alone meet one like we do King George. It feels lazy after such a concerted effort to highlight these characters. I was so thrilled, for example, with Cornelia Gerritson’s appearance in #2 (that satiated the nitpicky lovecraft nerd in me even more than Suydam’s appearance), that it’s hard not to be disappointed with #7. Lovecraft never wrote of any explicitly female ghouls to my knowledge, and admittedly there is a dearth of female characters in Pickman’s Model, but even sticking in one or two female ghouls into the paintings might have helped.

    Hopefully this is the aberration rather than a trend. Mrs. Gardner from Colour out of Space appears on #8, and even if she was kind of a non-character in the original story, a lot happens to her, there’s a lot of meat on her story and I’m hoping he can pull out a great extrapolation of her (as he did with Lavinia in #4)


    • It’s kind of an open question whether there *are* any female ghouls. King George jokes about coming from between women’s legs, but he also says “We are boys”, so it’s hard to say what’s going on. Perhaps the ghouls reproduce through miscegenation, or… something else.
      My mental image of Mrs. Gardner will always be influenced by transformation of Kathleen Jordon Gregory in THE CURSE, a not great but not entirely ineffective adaptation of The Color Out Of Space. The scene where she sews the embroidery to her own hand and then her face falls off is… brrrrr.


  3. With the shared characteristics of Pickman/Pittman and his eventual becoming a ghoul, their origins may not include a female ghoul’s involvement if they are mortals turned to ghouls. The inclusion of a female on #7’s cover certainly proves their existence in Moore and Burrow’s mythos, so I’m glad to have seen it.


    • One of the ghouls on the subway painting on page 12 seems to be more slender than the rest, and to have no beard (more or less in the center of the painting, holding the right arm of a man in a black suit). So maybe this is the ghoul depicted on the cover, but the image is for from clear.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It looks to me like the ghoul farthest to the right in the photo at the end of the issue may have female instead of male genitalia, but I don’t fancy breaking out a magnifying glass to stare at ghoul-junk.

        As for Pitman not drawing any female ghouls, I’m not sure we can say that. He doesn’t actually paint any of their genitalia, and for all we know female ghouls have beards and body hair just like the males, and are just as muscular.


      • I get these in digital format, and I AM willing to zoom in on a picture to look at ghoul-junk 🙂 It’s not 100% clear, but the ghoul on the far right seems to me to have male genitalia, albeit somewhat-large testicles and a somewhat-small penis.

        It’s also holding a small bottle. What’s up with that?


  4. I mean that’s just splitting hairs really. even if one of the tiny portraits in the issue could arguably feature possibly potentially a female ghoul, my point is that it’s a shame this Women of HPL cover doesn’t have the same impact as the others- it’s not highlighting a female character and inviting us to view things from her perspective. It’s no big deal continuity issue really. It’s more just that when I saw the cover months earlier, I was intrigued and surprised that a female ghoul might be an actual “character” ala the other Women of HPL covers, and inevitably let down a little when this was not so!

    though if we ARE splitting hairs, the one on the cover we’re discussing is clearly different from those male ghouls- much less body hair for example, different build, and we can probably assume they’d have breasts, no?


    • Problem is there’s only 3 characters through most of the story in #7, all men. The policeman is a fourth, and a bloke too. The only women are a couple of victims of rapes in the chaos at the beginning. It’s difficult to choose, and it is introducing an element, female ghouls, that are nowhere else.

      Maybe he could’ve chosen one of Pitman’s paintings, some poor woman being crept up on by a ghoul. Pretty starved for choice in this issue.


  5. I’m throwing in my #9 vote for some form of analogue of Rhoby Harris, the widow of the original inhabitant of The Shunned House, who goes mad and has to be confined to the upper floors.

    WHY? she seems middle aged and her outfit is of a period definitely more antiquated than 1919. and of course the general aura of creeping madness present


    • …and also the general Shunned House theme that seems apparent (the regular cover, Roulet on the portrait cover). Though other issues have mixed and matched stories on the covers of course.


    • Based on issue 9, I think it is Lovecraft’s mother. We never get a good look at her in the issue, but she can clearly see the flappers and wrigglers (which this cover depicts).

      With respect to issue 10, it seems to me that Johnny Carcosa’s mother has undergone a shift in how she’s depicted. IIRC, in Neonomicon she looked very similar to the Deep One hybrids we saw in Salem. Here she’s much less “fishy.”


  6. damn. you already know what i’m gonna say! supremely disappointed there was no Mrs. Gardner/Mrs. Forester appearing at all in this issue, making it an even more bizarre choice than the female ghoul! tsk tsk


    • yup – that happens sometimes with Avatar covers (Crossed+100#15, CodePru#1 come to mind) – I see it and think – maybe they’ll carry the misprint into print… but they always seem to catch it… so I don’t get a special highly valuable one-off misprint.


  7. Yeah, that’s Susie Lovecraft. AFA Johnny Carcosa’s mother, the Innsmouth people get “fishier” the older they get, so when we see her in “Courtyard/Neonomicon,” she might be very old indeed.


    • There was just one confirmed picture of Lovecraft’s mother that I could find, and despite the similarities in appearance I’m not entirely certain it’s meant to be her (The woman on the cover has a less prominent nose and a darker complexion). I suspect it’s meant to be Mrs. Updike in “From Beyond”, Crawford Tillinghast’s housekeeper who foolishly switches on the lights during Tillinghast’s experiments and who gets herself killed by the invisible creatures. There are quite a few things going against Susie Lovecraft, in my mind –

      1. The “Women of HPL” covers so far depict fictional female characters (human or not) from Lovecraft’s stories, even if they are barely connected to the story in question (#8 being a case in point). Alan Moore appears to have based Carcosa on the yellow-veiled High Priest from The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and Carcosa’s mother from the immigrant woman chanting sorcerous incantations in Horror at Red Hook, so Carcosa and his mother qualify, at least tangentially, as Lovecraft characters. Why break the trend by including the very real Susan Phillips Lovecraft when the fictional Mrs. Updike is available?

      2. The drab, old-fashioned dress struck me as looking like something a maid or housekeeper would wear, although I suppose I might be mistaken.

      3. Why is she so prominently holding an oil lamp in the middle of pitch darkness? Why are all those wrigglers heading towards her? The only explanation I can think of is that Tillinghast had turned off all electrical light to avoid detection by those creatures and that the oil lamp attracted them to her – and they finished her off the moment the electrical lights came on.

      4. Like I mentioned before, Susie Lovecraft appears to have a more prominent nose than this woman. Even accounting for the candlelight, the woman appears to have a slightly tanned complexion, as though she’s been out in the sun – rather unlike Susie Lovecraft’s strikingly white skin.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hm, Carcosa and his mother have already appeared… Probably, #11’s or #12’s cover will show us Merril Brears?


  9. no merrill! “women of HPL” covers have become “women of Alan Moore”

    I never assumed Carcosa’s “mom” was a fish person. In fact, she seems more closely associated with the Red Hook crowd, from her previous appearances and also her appearance in Providence #2.

    She’s in, i think, a total of 3 panels throughout both courtyard and neonomicon (one of which she’s splayed out dead and nude). Interesting that Moore thought she was vital enough to bring her back. Had I not read that stuff I’d probably be wondering why there’s a heavyset older woman with a mean expression and a sleeveless blouse locking eyes with Lovecraft from the top of the Haunter church…


  10. The motif on #11, while reminiscent of “Watchmen”, could also be connected with Johnny Carcosa’s ‘ascension’ in Neonomicon #1 – http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VfDlCyTlCEY/VWDbVsYU4fI/AAAAAAAAMh0/_tFE7-dEIA4/s1600/e4.jpg – a being in the third dimension taking on the properties of the second dimension.

    It also recalls the punishment of the Antichrist in LOEG Century: 2009 – https://feexby.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/splish-splash.jpg?w=593&h=896 – turned into a 2-D image and washed away by the rain…

    A metaphor for Lovecraft’s overall influence on Sonia Greene, perhaps? Obscuring and overwhelming her mark on history through a deluge of his own work?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Again, I note that the cover of #12 oddly mirrors the Pantheon cover of ’12 – the lightning-flash and cloud-line seeming to create similar shapes to Cthulhu’s head and eye…


  12. I’m still wondering a bit about #7, the ghoul painting. The subject of this series is Women in Lovecraft, so it should be a female ghoul, but seriously, I really can’t see that in the painting. In the painting it could be equally male or female.

    I’d say the ghoul is male, and in that case:
    – it may be a female wizard inhabiting a male ghoul body, or
    – it could be interpreted as a matter of “unknowable” homosexuality, as has been suggested about some of HPL’s stories.

    I mean… Curse ye, ye Thorntons! Why can’t a male ghoul have long fingernails and a lack of bodily hair, when a Norrys is… plump!

    Ahem. Thank you, I’m quite all right now. As long as nobody says “mattress”. 🙂



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