Indicible entretien n°18 (part 2, English version)

You are one of the authors of the great blog Facts ins the case of Alan Moore’s Providence. Lovecraft’s depiction of sex is quite implicit or elusive, whereas nudity and sexuality in Alan Moore’s work are real and frontal ? Could you explain what is Alan Moore approach to HPL’s Mythos ?

Providence — Alan Moore / Jacen Burrows

It is important with Providence to realize that Alan Moore didn’t just wake up one day and decide to write it. He started out in the 1990s writing a series of prose pieces titled Yuggoth Cultures — most of which were lost, but the longest one, “The Courtyard” made it to print (as did a couple of shorter pieces).

The story itself made little splash, but it was adapted to comics by Antony Johnston and Jacen Burrows, and that did cause a splash, because it was both an intelligent and explicit extrapolation of the Mythos, full of the kind of taboo subject matter and Mythos lore Easter Eggs designed to excite fans.

Yuggoth Cultures — Alan Moore / Jacen Burrows — Avatar Press

That led to some more work with Avatar, and eventually Moore did a sequel, and collaborated with Burrows again on Neonomicon. This was much more explicit and involved than “The Courtyard” and the publisher milked it for all it was worth. Moore related in an article how he wanted to deal with all the stuff that Lovecraft had left off the page, and that’s why you have that extended rape sequence in issue #3. It’s not that there hadn’t been sexually-explicit Mythos comics before, but those all tended to be porn. This was smarter, the art cleaner, the production values higher…it was much more of a literary and artistic product, for all that some critics dubbed it Lovecraftian sexploitation.

Providence was even more ambitious yet! The Courtyard was 2 issues, Neonomicon 4 issues, and Providence was a full 12-issues. That’s as big as Watchmen. And the approach was like Watchman in that it was both a deconstruction and reconstruction of an existing medium; there’s a lot of detail to the story, both visually and in the writing, things that you can only really get away with in the longer format that 12 issues offers, but it was also building off of what Moore and Burrows had done in the previous series. It’s really the crux of the reading experience in both Mythos fiction and comic books, and Moore knows that and played to it specifically in writing Providence.

Does Alan Moore break away from the typical lovecraftian female character with special agent Brears in Neonomicon ?

Agent Merril Brears

If you want to be very reductionist, Agent Brears is a kind of Lavinia Whateley figure. Yet she is more than that; like pretty much every character Moore creates, Brears has sexual nature, and her struggles with sex addiction and openness with her own sexuality make her a much more complicated character. She struggles with agency, between being the protagonist and the victim, the sexually confident woman that doesn’t mind stripping down to join an orgy and the woman guilty that giving in to her sex addiction makes her a slut. Lovecraft would not have even hinted at the sexual psychology involved there, but Brears sort of vacillates between different roles before coming to accept and embrace her role in the narrative.

I read a few weeks ago Agents of Dreamland which I really appreciated. Kiernan’s approach to the Mythos is really smart I think. I also liked Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom. You reviewed both authors on your blog Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein ( I highly recommend it). Could you explain what’s your editorial line with this blog ?

Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein exists to shed light on “the unseen mythos.” Specifically, I look at Mythos and Lovecraftian fiction by and about women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ folks. It’s not that this fiction doesn’t exist, but for a lot Mythos readers, it might as well. You don’t see a lot of women in the older Mythos anthologies, you don’t see a lot of stories with African-American or homosexual protagonists. It’s there, it exists, but most casual Mythos fans have no idea where to start with it, or what the context in which it was created and exists within. So, that’s the idea of the blog.

For the most part, I try to keep it positive. I’m not there to nitpick stories to death, because the point is to highlight these creators and issues by showcasing stories and media that people should read, or at least be aware of.

It looks like there’s a trend or current in contemporary lovecraftian fiction to be more diverse, inclusive. Am I wrong ?

Lovecraftian fiction has always been more diverse than folks tend to think, but traditional publishing limited the outreach of minority authors. You can look through the older Chaosium anthologies, and they have a lot of the same names, over and over again in volume after volume. The rise of the internet, desktop publishing software, and crowdfunding have massively increased the connectedness of the community and lowered the barriers to entry for publishing, and in the last five years or so the commercial publishers have caught on and we’re seeing a lot more diversity and inclusivity in genre fiction as a whole, including Mythos and Lovecraftian fiction.

Which has also had some unforeseen effects. The retirement of the Lovecraft bust for the World Fantasy Award in 2015 is a direct result of a rising awareness of Lovecraft’s racism among the general populace of fantasy fandom. That’s as it may be: the cultural context of today is very different from when the award was initiated in 1975. Speculative fiction cannot afford hagiography if it is to remain relevant and inclusive.

Among all these authors you reviewed on your blog, is there one you’d like to recommend us ?

I could name a dozen. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy is one that I think a lot of people have overlooked. He has surprises for you.

According to your Twitter account, it looks like you’re working on another book . Is it a follow up to Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos ?

Yes, it’s a sort of spiritual sequel. I’d started the basic research for it back in 2015, inspired by the section on miscegenation in Sex, but various projects have gotten in the way so I only really started writing it this year, and it’s been slow going. Where Sex covered love, sex, and gender, Race and the Cthulhu Mythos will cover race, racialism, and prejudice. Don’t expect it anytime soon, though.

Thanks again for answering my questions !

My pleasure.

Artwork Loïc Muzy / Design graphique Bruno Cariou

Les indicibles entretiens de l’Association Miskatonic sont sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

L’association Miskatonic organise à Verdun en octobre le Campus Miskatonic, une convention dédiée à l’oeuvre de H.P. Lovecraft.