The penultimate issue of Providence came out yesterday, and it is a reference-packed tour de force taking the narrative from Black’s 1919 to the present day. Eagle-eyed readers can spot “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Horror at Red Hook,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “The Thing at the Doorstep”, Robert E. Howard, William Burroughs, Clark Ashton Smith and much, much more. There are also plenty of ties to Moore and Burrows’ The Courtyard and Neonomicon.
The Facts Providence team has first-run-through Providence #11 annotations up. Site authors and readers will continue to review, update and add details. Look them over and let us know if there are things we got wrong or missed.
Just announced today: Avatar will be publishing a series of ten extra variant covers for Providence #11. This new limited edition set are “Century” variant covers drawn by Raulo Caceres, artist of Moore-curated anthology Cinema Purgatorio‘s Code Pru. Each cover depicts a scene from Lovecraft fiction. Each Century issue retails for a whopping $39.99, with the set of ten retailing for just $285. While supplies last, purchase Century variants at Comics Cavalcade.
These Century variants are the only Providence artwork so far that is not the product of Providence’s hard-working artist Jacen Burrows. Though perhaps Mitch Jenkin’s photograph at the end of Providence #7 also counts in this category.
The sales figures for August 2016 are in at Comichron, and we’ve updated the Innsmouth Gold page accordingly. There are still a few things in the works here at the Facts blog, but since we have been pretty quiet lately while we wait for the next issue, we thought it might be interesting to briefly talk about the business side of things.
First off, publishing gaps between issues are routine in the comics world, especially with small press publishers. The ability to churn out multiple titles on a monthly (or weekly!) basis requires writers, artists, inkers, colorists, letterers, and editors to work very fast and with a great deal of coordination, and when some of those folks probably juggling multiple projects, sometimes they just don’t make the page per day needed – and that’s without any printer delays. The downside to these lapses is the long wait between issues, which can put off customers (especially on short-run or limited series), and these kind of gaps are usually (although not always) associated with a drop in sales. The drop between Providence #9 (June 2016) and Providence #10 (August 2016) was about 530 copies, or roughly 4% of the direct sales readership; that’s a little less but about comparable to the drop between Providence #6 (Nov 2015) and Providence #7 (Feb 2016), and we’re probably going to see a comparable drop between #10 and #11, just because of how the issues are being spaced out.
Other factors also come into play. The secondary market for comic books used to be a lot smaller, dominated by specialist sellers like your favorite Local Comic Book Store – the folks you would go to when you missed a back issue and wanted to read what happened. The triple revolutions of collected editions, digital editions, and the internet comics marketplace has substantially opened up the market for “back issues.” Now readers can compare prices and survey inventory from comic stores and independent sellers around the globe; put off hardcopy comics and just get digital copies of any missed issues missed on Comixology or Avatar Press’s web store; or…just wait for the collected edition to come out, so that you can sit down and read the whole thing at once.
The latter is what I suspect a lot of readers are doing. Having missed an issue due to the delays in the schedule, or unsatisfied with the pace and dropped the series, many readers are likely just waiting for it to end so that they can pick up the collected edition…of course, they may well end up paying for it.
This is the Camelcamelcamel chart for the Providence Act 1 Hardcover Limited Edition, released in May 2016, tracking the sales prices – minus the more extreme price spikes, which are caused by feedback loops in automatic pricing algorithms used by some Amazon sellers; even so, you can see how the red and blue of 3rd party sellers on Amazon reflects a fairly typical cycle of price spikes and resets. Amazon sold through their inventory around early July, leaving the market at the mercy of 3rd party sellers – which tend to spike and then drift back down, although the asking price in general has steadily risen – which is pretty typical for many out-of-print books on Amazon. The lesson being, if you want the limited edition, you should probably pick them up for cheap as they come out. Continue reading →
Excitement abounds for we enthusiasts of Alan Moore, HP Lovecraft and Weird Fiction, as the crashing denouement to Providence looms overhead. Considering that the exact release date for Providence #11, let alone #12, is aptly unknowable, now is the prime time for speculation. Such speculation should not, of course, be limited merely to theorizing on what happens next, but could also stretch to the overall motives and meanings behind the series, and how that might predict what happens next.
This can be logical and precise, based on the evidence presented; those of us eagle-eyed readers, for instance, had by the release issue #3 or #4 realized that Prof. Alvarez’s comparison of Robert Black with that other Herald reporter who found Dr. Livingstone was subtly foreshadowing Black’s inevitable encounter with Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Equally, it is also possible that such theories become outlandish, echoing the excesses of 9/11 truthers in their drawing together of thick black lines between distant, disparate dots. Or, rarely, there might be a happy medium between the two.
I put it to you, fellow readers: Providence isn’t just about Lovecraft, his fiction, its meanings and its impact. It’s also a riposte to True Detective Season 1.
There is an excellent two-part interview with Alan Moore up at the Someone Who Isn’t Me podcast hosted by Daniel P. Carter. Alan Moore completists will be interested in listening to the entire interview: part 1 and part 2. Moore discusses consciousness, Jerusalem, magic, the Northhampton Arts Lab and much more. It includes quite a bit on H.P. Lovecraft, and even a reveal of some of what is in Providence #11.
In part 1 (minute 34:15) Moore describes the leap from pre-linguistic awareness into modern human consciousness, which he calls “the entire haunted palace” echoing the Edgar Allen Poe story The Haunted Palace which lends its title to Providence #10.
In part 2 (starting at minute 43:35) Moore speaks at length about Lovecraft, and offhandedly reveals something about Providence #11. Below is a partial transcript:
Carter: I’m going through Providence at the moment. It’s made me go back and read Lovecraft again, which I hadn’t done. I got into his work when I was really young – just in really silly ways as well. I’d found out about him through liking Metallica. They have a couple of songs: The Call of Cthulhu and The Thing That Should Not Be. Also through the role-playing game. Then started reading his work. I only read The Courtyard and Neonomicon fairly recently, after getting into Providence. It started making me look into other things like Kenneth Grant saying the idea that there was some kind of link between Lovecraft –
Moore: That Lovecraft is intuiting something –
Yeah. Which is essentially going back to something we said initially about how art is created. Where does art come from? Where does writing come from.
It’s a valid idea, I guess. It’s just that Lovecraft was such a fierce rationalist. Now I know Kenneth Grant gets around that by saying “ah – he didn’t know that he was channeling these things that are real.”
I think it’s more complex than that. The thing is Lovecraft came up with all these things purely out of his own imagination. They had enormous resonance because Lovecraft was almost an unbearably sensitive barometer of, what I suppose you might call American dread.
He was frightened about everything. He was awkward with women. He was frightened of immigrants – or despised them – if there’s any difference; but also, other than these average middle class fears of his time, Lovecraft was reading science magazines, and he understood the revolution that was going on in science: how Einstein had practically undone the whole of humanity’s conception of where it stood in the universe. And had re-written a lot of the basic rules of the universe.
I think Lovecraft was initially horrified by Einstein, but then came to absorb his theories and probably to understand them. It seems that he has understood and he’s taken them on board. So what Lovecraft’s fiction was reflecting was that we existed in a hostile random universe – well, not so much hostile but completely oblivious. A universe so vast that we were reduced to the tiniest, most insignificant speck – in a remote corner of this infinite blackness. Continue reading →
Guillermo Del Toro is, of course, the director of numerous fantastic and horrific films. He is also big fan of both H.P. Lovecraft and of comics.
The exhibition displays visual art, sculpture, films, props, comics and other objects, primarily from Del Toro’s personal collection. This is topped off by some similarly-themed artwork from the museum’s collections.
I did not expect to see any Alan Moore, but, among a lot of original comics art, there are two framed From Hell pages, but Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Continue reading →