Can Alan Moore do for Lovecraft what he did for superheroes?
So Watchmen is this seminal work in comics, right? It took our cape-and-tights sensibilities and turned them forever on their ear. Without Watchmen, who knows what comics would be like today? We might have reverted back to smiling Bob-Kane-style Batman! But we didn’t, and we have Alan Moore to thank.
Meanwhile, H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos sort of lives in its own little world. Many moons ago, plenty of fellow genre writers worked back and forth with Lovecraft, coming up with all manner of ancient, madness-creating creatures. But I think, if we’re being honest, that Lovecraftian style has kind of languished over the years. It’s not that people don’t write it, it’s that it never had that redefining Watchmen moment.
And it’s not like Alan Moore has never written in that style. In the past, we’ve even recommended his story Allan and the Sundered Veil. And within the last few years Moore also did a short comic series called Neonomicon that definitely had the tentacle touch of Lovecraft to it.
But neither of those stories did what Watchmen managed to do so well — redefine a genre forever. But now Alan Moore is working on what, in some ways, is a follow-up to Neonomicon, called Providence. And this one sounds like the genuine article. Alan Moore talked with The Beat about it recently, and what he had to say got us very excited. Check this out:
…with Providence, what I am doing is, I’m looking as much at American society in 1919 as I am looking at Lovecraft, in terms of my research, and I am connecting up Lovecraft’s themes, and Lovecraft’s personality, to a certain degree, with the tensions that were then incredibly evident in American society. So, there’s that element of it, but the amount of research that I’m doing into America 1919, into the gay culture of America 1919, into the way that American society was just beginning to cohere around that point, and the research upon the actual places, because this is set in a real America – there’s no Arkham in it, there’s no Innsmouth, but there are real locations which I believe are coherent sites for the Lovecraft stories that I’ve connected them to. Which means that, for example with issue four, I’ve been accumulating a huge wedge of reference material relating to the town of Athol in Massachusetts. I know more about Athol than probably people living there do. We’ve got the entire history of the town, its current situation, maps from different periods – I am doing my best to make this absolutely authentic.
So that is very promising. This notion of really doing the research, really understanding the reality of that world Lovecraft was trying to portray, could really give Providence an edge that other contemporary Lovecraft stories often lack. As for the comparison with Watchmen …
It’s actually a little bit like Watchmen in that it – the basic premise of Watchmen was, if these ridiculous characters, superheroes, actually existed in a real world, then what kind of characters would they be, and what kind of real world would it be to accommodate them. And it was also commenting upon superhero fiction and various other things while it was doing that. …
It’s obviously a completely different animal to anything like Watchmen, but there is that point of similarity. It’s starting from – if Lovecraft’s characters, if Lovecraft’s monsters, if Lovecraft’s locales actually existed in A Real World, then what would they really be like, and what would the world be like? So it’s the same premise, but it’s taken me into some very interesting new directions.
So there you have it — Alan Moore is approaching Providence with the same zeal and passion he had with Watchmen. It won’t be the same (because nothing can be), but the prospect of Moore reinvigorating Lovecraftian mythos has us salivating and hopeful that it will mean a new dawn for old Cthulhu and the rest of his creepy buddies.
(via The Beat)