Today we are thrilled to present Craig Fischer's essay on the first half of Alan Moore's epic comic book series, Providence.

Providence is set in 1919, immediately after World War I (or what a group of fish-human hybrids calls “the Great Dry Cull”), and tells the story of Robert Black, a reporter for the New York Herald who is galvanized by an encounter with a scientist named Dr. Alvarez. In Providence #1, Black and Alvarez have a long talk about, in Black’s words, “a buried or concealed America composed of everybody’s secret lives. I could imagine a whole hidden world of individuals trading occult or exotic science lore and information, a society of characters as striking as Alvarez that conducts itself unseen below the daily fabric of America.” Hints of this occult underworld inspire Black to resign from the Herald, and travel to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to conduct research about this “hidden world” for a book (Marblehead: An American Undertow) he wants to write. The first four issues of Providence feature Black interviewing eccentric characters associated with the occult underground—Alvarez, book seller Robert Suydam (#2), trader Tobit Boggs (#3), and Garland Wheatley and his reclusive family (#4)—but Black is skeptical of the power of this underground until, in Providence #5-6, he is victimized by indisputably uncanny mystical forces.


A possibly rhetorical question arising out a conversation with Sammy Harkham: If everyone is so angry about Angouleme, why not simply publicly demand a change in administration and threaten a boycott next year? That should be the only logical response to such incredibly bad behavior. Unless it's too lucrative for European publishers not to do, which would make sense.

We've got book reviews in bulk from TCJ contributors Sean Rogers and Jared Gardner.

Here's an interview with the ever-great Bill Griffith. 

9 Responses to Baddies

  1. Iestyn Pettigrew says:

    I’m kinda with you on this Dan.

    Especially as there are other cruddy moves in the past, like Franck Bondoux trying (and failing thankfully) to trademark Angouleme’s name in past years.

    As I understand it – they’re actually a firm hired to run the logistics of the festival, and Bondoux owns that firm. Perhaps there are contractual issues around that? Personally, I think there are also some serious structural questions that are being ignored.

    It’s been very ‘helpful’ that these things have happened because all that’s being dealt with is Bondoux’s missteps, not the structural issues.

    Why has no-one asked any of the judges voting for the long list how that list was missing women – because Bondoux has received all the criticism.

    Matt Madden seems to someone who could shed some insight – having been on the jury for the prizes, he might well know others who were involved in the grand prix decisions, or at least have access to them?

  2. Frank Santoro says:

    Part of my “deal” with my French publisher is that I will go to Angouleme to promote my books when they come out. If I don’t go to Angouleme and then to Paris to do appearances the book will sell less–alot less. I was thinking of saying to my publisher “I don’t feel like going to Angouleme next year” – and I know he’ll say no way and that I must go. I know I sold basically half of what I sold in France in that first weekend.

  3. Mike Dawson says:

    I’m in the same boat as Frank (same publisher too!). The things that happened at Angouleme recently are awful, but if I personally decided to boycott the show (assuming I get invited back again in the future), I’d feel more like I was letting my publisher down than sending a message to the festival. I suppose like any action of this sort, it would only work if it happened en masse, or if it started with some cartooning “heavy hitters” first.

  4. Mike, Frank, others: collective organizing really is the only way to make a difference. There is such a think as a tactical way of going about things to apply pressure. You can’t do it individually. The open letter to Angouleme FIBD regarding their sponsorship by Sodastream was such an effort, we did not have to escalate to the level of a boycott call, and we won.

    Those concerned about sexism, or poor management, could try something similar.

  5. Maybe another option is to organise outside of the official Angouleme?

    By which I mean – organise alternative awards, organise alternative presentation and exhibitions. Instead of walking away, lead by example. Give talks on diversity and lost, forgotten or hidden history. Open up the closed discourse, not by demanding a change in culture, but by simply being different from that culture and letting people see how much greener the grass can be?

    Just a thought.

    (Suddenly, out of work and after seeing my kids I feel more positive – see what a positive influence good things can be!!)

  6. Rosse says:

    @ Iestyn: you’ve guesssed it, it’s purely contractual issues with 9e Art+ (Franck Bondoux’s firm). It has been dysfunctional for quite a while, interweaving with regional and national political interests.

  7. sammy says:

    I think many publishers care about how their artists are treated, and the context their work is seen and exhibited in, despite, and hopefully more so, than the sales and awards afforded to those who take part in Angouleme. Surely, French publishers can agree on the common sense idea that they need to get Bondoux kicked the fuck out of there.If Bondoux doesn’t step down, they should not exhibit there, and put there energy elsewhere if possible. I think Cornelius boycotted the festival in 2006, and exhibited in a space near the festival, but clearly outside of it(apologies if this incorrect). Since I am not a part of the culture or economics of the European comics industry, I can only make these suggestions lightly, but I hope publishers, editors, and cartoonists aren’t just shrugging their shoulders going “oh well”, which sounds like they are doing-that a whole bunch of cartoonist received “real” awards moments after a group of cartoonist were humiliated in front of them, pains me. They should have taken their “real” awards and thrown them against a wall. Everything I can read in english about all this is couched as “unfortunate”, how theses sorry events marred an otherwise great show. But these are big things. These should be deal breakers. There is so little self respect in our industry, due to much we can not control, that to shrug this one off and just accept it, because we have nowhere else to go, is truly pathetic and painful to contemplate.

  8. Dan Nadel says:

    Amen, Sammy.

  9. R. Fiore says:

    The prank is the sort of thing an asshole would think is funny. If you’re the publishers what you’re thinking is that they shouldn’t let this indispensable marketing platform be screwed up by an asshole, not that you’re going to give up the marketing platform because an asshole is involved in it. The event has sponsors, right? Sponsors aren’t fond of bad publicity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *