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.
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 →
Providence is lettered by Kurt Hathaway, a 30+year veteran of the comics industry, mostly lettering, but also writing and editing. Even if comics readers do not immediately recognize Hathaway’s name, you have probably read dozens of comics he had a hand in, from Aquaman to Youngblood. He is one of the current go-to letterers for Avatar Press, generating word ballons for Uber, Lady Death, Cinema Purgatorio, God Is Dead, and Providence. Hathaway was generous to give us this exclusive interview, to get some insight into an aspect of the comic creation process many readers take for granted—but which forms an integral part of how we read Providence.
The interview was conducted in June 2016 over email. We’ve added some links and images.
Facts: Tell our readers a bit about you. Where are you based? What is your background? What do you specialize in?
Hathaway: I’ve been interviewed a few times along the way, but the same theme comes up—I don’t like to talk about myself—or my work. I like to work. But I know folks may be interested in what I do and how I do it—so I’ll reach into my writer’s bag of tricks and try to make this informative—and interesting.
I’m based in Los Angeles. I went to NYU film school a million years ago and came out here to work in Hollywood—which I did for a while—all the while lettering at nights after long days in the editing room. Anyone interested can find me on IMDB, but the credits list there is woefully incomplete. I still do video work, but I suppose my main focus is on comics lettering.
I’m also a sometimes writer (TV, comics, video games), as well as an editor (mostly with Image comics—but freelance as well).
I also do logo design, general design for just about anything, book design, and pre-press.
Do you read a lot of comics? What were your favorite comics growing up? What are some of your favorite comics now?
I do read a lot, but these days they’re public domain scans that I read on my iPad. Golden Age stuff that I could never afford for real. So scans will have to do.
I got into comics as a fan in 1972 when I was 12. Marvel comics just popped up and slapped me around. I was exposed to some older Marvels by a kid across the street. It was 1972, but I was seeing 1968 stuff: Tales to Astonish, Sub-MarEE-ner, Captain America by Kirby! I was a guest several times in Kirby’s home when he was still alive and I couldn’t believe this weird journey from discovering these comics in 1972 and many years later being in Kirby’s living room while he’s telling stories about his WW2 experiences.
Anyway, I gravitated to Spider-Man—the Ditko issues are true treasures. Cap is still an all-time favorite. It was early enough that I could buy back issues for a buck or so, so it was pretty easy to amass a pretty decent collection of Silver Age goodies. I bought Batman, too and a bunch of other DC stuff.
As for current comics, I’m just too busy with deadlines and family that I don’t read much of it. I try to stay on top of lettering styles and such, but I don’t read much of it for entertainment. I like old stuff in general—old movies, old comics. I do have a backlog of current stuff I want to read, though, I just haven’t gotten to it.
Back in the 1990s you edited some of Alan Moore’s Violator vs. Badrock comics published by Image. Is there anything you can tell us about working with Moore then?
Not really, most of my time at Image is kind of a blur—I was so busy with deadlines that I don’t have many distinct memories of any particular project.
I have dozens of Image comics in my garage with my name in them, but I have no memory of doing the work. This is mostly with lettering, I’d do a book in a day and off it went. Years later it’s just not familiar.
I sound like Stan Lee, now. Spider-Man? What is this Spider-Man you speak of?
Seems to me I didn’t letter that old Alan Moore project (which was unusual for me—I lettered 98% of the Extreme Studios Image Comics books) but I could be wrong. My only memory is that his scripts were extremely detailed. Still are to this day.
There is no letterer listed for Moore and Burrows’ earlier Lovecraft-inspired stories The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Yuggoth Cultures. Did you letter any of these? If so, anything interesting you could tell our readers about that work?
That doesn’t sound familiar—I’d have to look at the work to be sure, though.
What is it like working with Alan Moore? How does Moore’s work differ from other comics writers?
As far as the work goes, I just move forward one balloon at a time until the page is done—then on to the next page. The individual writer isn’t really on my mind when I work. But reading over the Providence material is a treat—as a reader (and a sometimes writer), I can see some of what he’s doing, but I don’t read it as a reader—I look it over to see if I did anything wrong, basically.
But I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and was actually born in Providence and went to Art School in Providence (Rhode Island School of Design)—one of the best art schools in the country. I do recall walking around the local streets and seeing a plaque on one of the residences explaining that it was the home of H.P. Lovecraft. So it’s neat to be on this series from that perspective. A lot of the street names in the series are very familiar to me from my art school days.
In Moore’s scripts, does he specify much in regards to the lettering, word balloons, and captions? What sorts of noteworthy lettering specifics did he include in Providence scripts?
For the special lettering, he’ll indicate that it’s “special”—so that’s a flag for me. Sometimes—maybe even all the time, he’ll outline his idea of what that “special” is. Not the font name or anything super specific, but some idea of what I need to know. From there I come up with something that I think is along those lines. Sometimes—and I don’t mean necessarily with this series, I’ll have to rework a lettering style based on the editor or writer’s notes.
Did you create the cover masthead for Providence? If so, describe that process.
Well, the process for that is pretty simple. I didn’t do the logo at all. Not sure who did, but as a logo designer, I can tell you it’s very effective and fits the project very nicely. I might even be jealous.
What do you use for lettering – what computer programs, equipment, and/or what kind of pen? Is it all electronic, or do you do any lettering by hand? Continue reading →
And on the corner of Bridge St. & Elizabeth Ave. is a terrible old house—a hellish place where night-black deeds must have been done in the early seventeen-hundreds—with a blackish unpainted surface, unnaturally steep roof, & an outside flight of steps leading to the second story, suffocatingly embowered in a tangle of ivy so dense that one cannot but imagine it accursed or corpse-fed. It reminded me of the Babbitt house in Benefit St., which as you recall made me write those lines entitled “The House” in 1920. Later its image came up again with renewed vividness, finally causing me to write a new horror story with its scene in Providence & with the Babbit house as its basis. It is called “The Shunned House”, & I finished it last Sunday night.
– H. P. Lovecraft to Lillian Clark, 4 November 1924, Letters from New York 82
After what seemed like a relatively slow burn, Providence moves into its final act. Providence #9 is due in stores next week, Wednesday June 1. We don’t have any advance knowledge of what this next issue holds, but we can make some educated guesses based on pre-publicized covers and other hints.
In Providence #8, Robert Black met H.P. Lovecraft, who invited Black to pay a visit to his 598 Angell Street home in Providence, RI.
Lovecraft, of course, was born in Providence, and, other than two years in New York City and many travels throughout the country, lived his entire life there. If Lovecraft is true to form, he would likely take Black on a lengthy walking tour of his beloved city, showing points of antiquarian interest and perhaps stopping for ice cream.
One site that seems likely to feature prominently in one way or another is the Babbit house at 135 Benefit Street, shown on the regular cover of Providence #9. In January 1919, Lovecraft’s ailing mother, Susie, briefly stayed with her older sister, Lillian Clark, at this house. In “The Shunned House” Lovecraft later fictionalized the house as a haunted vampire-like place sucking the life out of its inhabitants. From Lovecraft’s story:
What I heard in my youth about the shunned house was merely that people died there in alarmingly great numbers. That, I was told, was why the original owners had moved out some twenty years after building the place. It was plainly unhealthy, perhaps because of the dampness and fungous growth in the cellar, the general sickish smell, the draughts of the hallways, or the quality of the well and pump water. These things were bad enough, and these were all that gained belief among the persons whom I knew. […]
The general fact is, that the house was never regarded by the solid part of the community as in any real sense “haunted”. There were no widespread tales of rattling chains, cold currents of air, extinguished lights, or faces at the window. Extremists sometimes said the house was “unlucky”, but that is as far as even they went. What was really beyond dispute is that a frightful proportion of persons died there; or more accurately, had died there, since after some peculiar happenings over sixty years ago the building had become deserted through the sheer impossibility of renting it. These persons were not all cut off suddenly by any one cause; rather did it seem that their vitality was insidiously sapped, so that each one died the sooner from whatever tendency to weakness he may have naturally had. And those who did not die displayed in varying degree a type of anaemia or consumption, and sometimes a decline of the mental faculties, which spoke ill for the salubriousness of the building. Neighbouring houses, it must be added, seemed entirely free from the noxious quality.
Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence: Tell our readers a bit about you. Where are you based? What’s your background? What do you specialize in?
Susanna Peretz: I’m based in London. My background is in fine art, sculpting, mold making, make up, prosthetics, hair and wigs. I run my own fx studio where we provide all of the above.
You’ve collaborated in the past with Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins. Could you tell our readers a bit about some of these past projects?
I worked with Alan and Mitch on Jimmy’s End and His Heavy Heart, two short films that developed into the feature length film Showpieces which has just been released as part of a Box Set available from Amazon. The films were shot in Northampton which as I’m sure you know is Alan’s home town. The world in which part of this story is set is actually called Nighthampton – a dark mirror image of the town.
How did you collaborate with Providence artist Jacen Burrows? What came first? Did your ghoul designs follow Burrows’ ghoul drawings, or did Burrows’ drawings follow what you were doing with the prosthetics? Did you both work from descriptions from Alan Moore and/or H.P. Lovecraft?
Alan has a very vivid imagination and the brief came from him as well as an initial sketch of how he envisaged the ghouls. I am a Lovecraft fan anyway so am familiar with his style.
My process started with research into different images that related to Alan’s description. This took in studies of everything from gargoyles to monkeys to bats, canine and feline features, facial structures and teeth. Everything went in the melting pot of ideas prior to the initial sculpt which I then showed to Mitch and Alan. I believe the illustrations came after this. It was a long process!
(note: see Burrow’s later comments below)
Alan Moore is renown for lengthy comics scripts. Did he write a “script” specifically for this panel, or was it just part of Providence #7 script? How long were his instructions? Could you share any particulars?Continue reading →