More HP Lovecraft sorry! This time in comic book form.
But like all of Alan Moore’s work, this is no breezy picture book: it’s dense with words and ideas and detail. It’s challenging and subversive and subtle and smart, and quite simply one of the best comics I’ve ever read.
A three-book series, Providence succeeds where so much modern Lovecraftian fiction fails: it doesn’t settle for fawning homage. Rather, it takes the elements that made the Old Gentleman so unique and enduring and uses them to build something truly original; a meta-textual monument that blends Lovecraft’s life – historical and imagined – with his work, his ideas, his bigotry and his legacy.
Set in 1919, Providence tells the story of Robert Black, a young gay journalist who travels to New England – Lovecraft country – to research a novel on the occult. The early issues are particularly dense with exposition and dialogue, but if you’ve ever read Moore before you know that already. Stick with it: the second half of the series moves more briskly and delivers on much of the earlier promise.
The series is a prequel to Moore’s Neonomicon, another Lovecraftian series I haven’t read. By reading Providence first I’m no doubt missing some of the complexities for which Moore is renowned; and the ending – clearly intended to bridge the gap between the two series – is somewhat jarring in isolation. But none of this stood in the way of my enjoyment or appreciation of this masterwork.