New details, in a major interview with Alan Moore, of Moore’s forthcoming graphic novel opus “Providence” starring Lovecraft circa 1918/9. He’s…
“going to be working not only from Lovecraft’s published fiction, and his poems, and his letters, but also from his biography… this is the most demanding research I’ve done easily since From Hell.” “We have been devilishly thorough in researching this.”
Sounds good. It sounds even better that it’s a substantive Watchman-scale story, in Moore’s words a proper “extended horror narrative” like Swamp Thing was. It’ll bring “Lovecraft’s monsters” into the real world of “Lovecraft’s locales” in New England in 1919 (but “there’s no Arkham in it, there’s no Innsmouth”) which seems to mean Providence and Athol, at least. Maybe also New York?
Given the setting and the date I’m guessing Moore might be using real historical elements such as:
* the Watch & Ward Society of Boston (local censors, anti-censorship being a cause close to Moore’s heart).
* the influenza epidemic of 1918/9 and the armed barricading of Brown University by troops during that time.
* the medical use of opium among Lovecraft’s amateur press colleagues during the influenza epidemic, their opium dreams. The flu especially targeted young adults.
* Moore’s also looking at “the gay culture of America 1919”. My guess would be that Moore has a gay man (possibly Hirschfeld?) from the famous 1919-era early gay subculture in Wiemar Germany arriving in New England on a lecture tour etc.
* the Boston Police Strike of 1919, which Lovecraft saw part of (although leftists historians seem to have magnified this, beyond its true impact at the time). Maybe also the Chicago race riots of 1919.
* the 1919 anarchist terrorist bombings in New York and elsewhere.
Moore also talks in the interview of Athol (where Lovecraft’s amateur colleague W. Paul Cook lived)…
“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.”
I’ve just finished a very deep dissertation-length footnoted study of the very nearby Wilbraham (20 miles south of Athol) in relation to Lovecraft, so if Moore wants that then he’s welcome to it 🙂 Anyone know how to get him a PDF?
I’m guessing that Moore might actually set his story climax some 10 miles south of Athol, in the villages now underwater because of the immense Quabbin Reservoir (the construction of which broke ground in 1928). The now-sunken land would certainly be a nice big blank canvas to devastate, at the climax of the story. And would explain why the government covered it with miles of water. Just my guess 🙂
So based on all this I might have the plot thus: Hirschfeld arrives from Germany to promote his new pro-gay film (the first ever made); he gets clampled down on by the Watch & Ward censors in New England; he turns to the leftists to get the film shown; thus he gets mixed up with valvepunk-style anarchist bio-terrorists (a front for secret cultists); he unwittingly helps to create an erotic sex virus (later covered up as the influenza, which is why everyone was very quiet about the epidemic afterwards); they test it on the highly repressed Lovecraft in combination with morphine etc… is the rest all Lovecraft’s erotic fever-dream, or was it real? The plot has a coda which comes full-circle back to censorship, with the infamous Nazi book-burnings of Hirschfeld’s vast library on sex.