Read Before Providence 12: Speculations on the End of an Era

Providence 12 Dreamscape variant cover – art by Jacen Burrows

Next week, March 29, 2017 (update: looks like it may be the week after: April 5), Providence #12 will be available. After Moore and Burrows’ The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Providence it feels a bit like the end of an era. Moore’s text version of The Courtyard first saw print in 1994. Lovecraftian elements appeared in several of Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stories. 2010 saw The Courtyard‘s future spun into four issues of Neonomicon. Then, from 2015-2017, Neonomicon‘s world stretched into so-far-eleven prequel issues of Providence. Alan Moore has hinted that he also has another brief Lovecraftian comic coming in the near future.

For Providence issues two through ten, Facts in the Case would preview what our contributors expected was coming next, and especially what Lovecraft stories appeared very likely to form the basis of each issue.

Providence 12 Women of HPL variant cover. Art by Jacen Burrows

For issue 12 the upcoming themes are not so clear.

In many ways, Providence #11 completed the circle: Black’s journey – and Providence itself – returned to the point where it began in issue #1, and then skips forward to pick up where Neonomicon left off when it ended. While we’ve been treating Providence as a kind of prequel, there have been hints all along that this wasn’t quite the case.

As Sax, Brears, Perlman and Barstow – all characters from The Courtyard and/or Neonomicon, have popped up toward the end of Providence #11, it probably makes sense to go back and read through The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Providence to see where we are heading. A very pregnant Brears appears on the Women of HPL variant cover for issue 12.

This post will feature some speculation on what might be ahead – and invite readers to comment on how Providence might end up.  Continue reading

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Open Thread: How Will Providence End?

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A snowy suicide chamber on the cover of Providence #11 – art by Jacen Burrows

With Providence #10’s shocks receding and great new covers for Providence #11 released today via this Bleeding Cool article, we don’t have long before Moore and Burrows’ series concludes. The future, or maybe the past, is looking pretty cold and bleak for our struggling protagonist Robert Black.

Providence 11 Women of HPL variant cover - art by Jacen Burrows
Sonia Greene on the Women of HPL Providence 11 variant cover – art by Jacen Burrows

We’ve been inundated with comments – which we really do enjoy and appreciate, and definitely use to fill out our annotations. For right now we are keeping the comments closed on the Providence #11 annotations page and we’re hoping that our readers will comment on this post with speculation on what will happening next. The week issue #11 comes out (it looks like November) we’ll open the comments for that page.

Alan Moore seems to sometimes telegraph what’s coming next, but still manages to surprise and keep readers guessing. Just how badly have we all predicted the series in the past? Most of us have been proven wrong as soon as the next issue is released. See our earlier prediction threads:

p.s. If you’re looking for more Providence insights, see where we recently published the remainder of questions and answers from Jacen Burrows’ Ask the Artist interview. Read the excellent revealing interview here. Burrows stated that he is interested in responding to some more questions as the series concludes. Add your questions as comments on the interview page.

Read Before Providence 10: What Haunts Providence?

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Providence #10 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Providence #10 is due out in stores this week (then again maybe not this week, but fairly soon anyway), and in this third and final act, the revelations regarding H. P. Lovecraft and the Stella Sapiente are coming fast and thick—but every new revelation seems to bring with more questions and new mysteries. While we’ve speculated quite a bit about where Moore & Burrows might be headed for the climactic revelation, for readers getting ready for this issue, we’d like to focus on a few specific questions, and the stories that might influence this issue. Spoilers below the fold.

 

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Read Before Providence #9: Introducing The Shunned House

The Shunned House. Left: Providence 9 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows. Right: photo by Flickr user AKuchling
The Shunned House. Left: Providence 9 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows. Right: photo by Flickr user AKuchling

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.

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Open Thread: What Next For Providence?

As we were putting together our preview post for Providence #8, we simultaneously hit on ideas of trying to predict what is still in store for the remaining issues of Providence. There are only four more issues, so where is Black headed? What Lovecraftian lore will he interact with?

Below are some of our predictions. As you can tell from reading below, even the contributors to Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence have somewhat different takes on what is still in store. Add yours in the comment thread below. And enjoy the ride while Moore and Burrows surprise us all.

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

From Joe:

  • Robert Black has to get to Providence, RI – the birthplace and longtime residence of H.P. Lovecraft and the setting of many of his stories – or why would Moore call this series Providence?
  • In Providence, RI, Black will likely interact with Lovecraft mythos that have already been alluded to and/or foreshadowed:
    – Black will visit Federal Hill’s sinister “huge, dark church” prominent in “The Haunter of the Dark.” “Haunter”‘s Starry Wisdom sect are the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente (or Stell Saps) introduced in Providence #2. It looks like the church’s Shining Trapezohedron is the meteor from “The Colour out of Space,” shown in Providence #5 P13,p3. According to Garland Wheatley, the meteor was spirited “off to Rhode Island” by the Stell Saps (Providence #4 P9,p3.) Black may die from a lightning strike as Haunter’s protagonist Robert Blake did.
    – Black will visit “The Shunned House.” The titular house, located at 135 Benefit Street, was mentioned in the closing lines of the Suydam pamphlet excerpt in Providence #2. Shunned House villain Etienne Roulet also appeared in Suydam’s pamphlet, and was revealed to have possessed Elspeth Wade in Providence #6.
    – Black will likely encounter Japheth Colwen who is Providence‘s analogue for Joseph Curwen from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Colwen was shown and described in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2.
  • Maybe at some point, readers will get a look at Suydams’ other pamphlet, also from Providence #2 : Kaballah and the Faust Legend.
  • Lastly, Black should come into contact with H.P. Lovecraft himself. Will they come face to face, perhaps have hot gay sex together, with Black later regaling Lovecraft with his stories of a hidden America? Or will it just be Black’s Commonplace Book falling into Lovecraft’s hands, somewhat reminiscent of the fate of Rorshach’s journal on the very last page of Moore and Gibbon’s Watchmen?

From Alexx: Continue reading

Read Before Providence #8: The Key to the Dreamlands

H.P. Lovecraft's Randolph Carter or Providence's Randall Carver - Providence #8 Portrait variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
H.P. Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter or Providence’s Randall Carver – Providence #8 Portrait variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Providence #8 is among Avatar Press’ April 2016 releases, which means it could come out any day now.

We do not have any actual advance knowledge, but, from issue #8 covers and from the conclusion of Providence #7, we are expecting the issue to center on Randall Carver, the Providence analogue of H.P. Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter.

Carter began life as a stand-in for Lovecraft himself in “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (1919), which began as one of Lovecraft’s dreams. In that story, Carter, “a bundle of… frail nerves,” and his friend Harley Warren are occultists who uncover a set of stairs leading underground—where horrors lie. This echoes nicely with the subterranean themes explored in Providence #7.

Carter also appeared in “The Silver Key,” “The Unnameable,” The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (a collaboration with E. Hoffmann Price) and is mentioned in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.” Carter is Lovecraft’s most-recurring human character. His adventures bridge the gap between two different “cycles” of the Cthulhu Mythos: those set in the “real world” of the Miskatonic Valley (including “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Thing on the Doorstep”) and those set in the Dreamlands (including “The Cats of Ulthar” and “Celephaïs”).

Pickman (Providence #7’s Pitman) too is a transitional character in these works, appearing on his own in “Pickman’s Model,” and together with Carter in “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.”

Lovecraft never got around to describing Randolph Carter in any great detail in his stories; as the narrator of the tales readers get an impression of an older man, well-educated, erudite if retiring.

Fittingly the Randall Carver on the covers of Providence #8 appears to be based somewhat on Lovecraft himself, in a dressing-gown and oriental slippers, surrounded by the books and relics of a lifetime of occult study. The main differences with Lovecraft appear to be the addition of graying temples and a Holmesian pipe; Lovecraft had smoked cigarettes when he was younger, but gave it up, and never took up the pipe.

Carter is a weird fiction author very analogous to Lovecraft. Continue reading

Read Before Providence #7: Introducing Pickman

Providence #7, Portrait variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows
Providence #7, Portrait variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Providence #7 was announced for February 2016 (update: comes out February 3), though sometimes Avatar Press issues arrive sooner or later than the actual cover date. Below is our best guess at what to expect in Providence #7.

Towards the end (P18,p2) of Providence #6, Robert Black says he will head for Boston to meet the photographer Ronald Underwood Pitman.

Keen-eyed readers will recall two Pitman photos shown earlier in Providence. Pitman’s photograph of the Wheatley boys appeared in Providence #4 P21,p3. Pitman’s photo of the Stella Sapiente hangs in the St. Anselm College library, shown in Providence #6 P10,p1.

From the name, the 21 Henchman Street, North End, Boston address, and Providence #7’s regular and Portrait variant covers, it is clear that Pitman is the Providence analogue for Lovecraft’s Richard Upton Pickman. Pickman is a character that appears in Lovecraft stories “Pickman’s Model” and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

After the jump are more Pickman details, including a minor Lovecraft spoiler. Continue reading