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.
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.
The recent cover releases of Providence issue 10, suggesting that it is going to deal with “The Haunter of the Dark” (as opposed to the more general expectation that that would be in issue 12), combined with the events of issue 8, and a recent reread of Promethea, have sparked a new idea in my head about where this is all going.
The short answer is that it has nothing to do with copyright. The copyright situation with Lovecraft’s works is complicated, as explained by Chris J. Karr over at Black Seas of Copyright, but the bottom line of it is that the original pulp versions of Lovecraft’s fiction that appeared in Weird Tales and Astounding Stories – including classics like “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” “The Shadow Out of Time,” and At the Mountains of Madness – are all considered to be in the public domain in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and many other countries.
Moore is free to use and refer to Lovecraft’s creations—but he is being careful about doing so in Providence for literary reasons. Continue reading →
We’re still refining them, but our basic annotations for Providence #3 are up. In this issue, Robert Black travels to Salem, which is very much a portrayal of the town of Innsmouth from Lovecraft’s short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” There are lots of parallels with Lovecraft’s “Innsmouth” and with Moore and Burrows’ earlier Neonomicon issues #2-4 which also take place in Salem.
There is a new Alan Moore Providence interview out this week in Bleeding Cool #16. The interview is only available in the print edition, though a few follow-on questions and responses, that apparently didn’t fit, were posted online here.
[W]hen I got the opportunity to do Neonomicon, I probably wasn’t taking it as seriously as it needed to be taken. I was relying on my own imperfect memory of Lovecraft’s work and trusting that it would be adequate. Though I’ve very proud of the work we did on Neonomicon, it did present a couple of problems. The first was that I had carelessly identified Lovecraft’s Innsmouth with Salem, whereas Lovecraft himself says that Arkham is Salem.
The interview outlines extensive year 1919 period research undertaken by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, Steve Moore, Joe Brown, and Ariana Osborne, as well as Moore’s introduction to Leslie Klinger’s New Annotated Lovecraft.
Moore discusses Lovecraftian research he has been reading. What many readers of these interviews may miss are references to specific works of Lovecraftian scholarship that Moore peppers his response with, which give some insight into his process. Continue reading →