glycon (glycon) wrote,

Big Numbers #3

In January 2009 I bought an eBay item listed as BIG NUMBERS #1 & 2 + RARE UNPUBLISHED XEROX Alan Moore, which had this as the item information:

Offering the first issues of BIG NUMBERS, the aborted comic book series from the early 1990s written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Bill Sinkiewicz about the impact of the construction of a huge mall has on Northampton, England. Issues 1 and 2 were 10-in-by-10-in columes published under Moore's Mad Love imprint. Intriguing character studies and beautiful painted black-and-white art with one panel in issue 2 with color. (The plan had been that an increasing number of panels would have color, until the final issue was all in color.)

The REAL draw here for Alan Moore completists is a set of black-and-white Xeroxes of the unpublished THIRD issue of BIG NUMBERS, with art by Al Columbia, Sinkiewicz's assistant, who had been scheduled to take over the project. These might possibly be first-generation copies; more likely, they are second- or third-generation, but the art is very crisp and clear, and the story is easily read. This is a MUST for Moore fans.

BIG NUMBERS 1 and 2 have some creasing but otherwise would be considered at least fine. The edges of the Xeroxed issue have creasing and a couple of tears (NONE of which affect the art), and the first page has discoloration and dust.

I decided that it was at least worth investigating, and bought the item for $49.99, and was also the only bidder. If the worst came to the worst, I thought, it would at least be an interesting thing to have, whatever it turned out to be. I honestly didn't believe that I had that easily bought a copy of something that, to the best of my knowledge, simply didn't exist. But this is exactly what it is. I decided to ask the seller for a bit more information about this, and this is what I got back:-

"A number of years ago, I was a member of the CompuServe comic books forum, and I communicated with a number of professionals... One of those professionals was a friend of a friend of Alan Moore, and she had the photocopy of issue #3. She made copies for a few people, and I was lucky enough to be one." He later said, "I hope you'll forgive me, but I'd rather keep my source confidential... Anyway, the story I heard was that Al Columbia completed this issue, had it sent off for lettering and then went a little crazy and refused to release the art for publication ... In any event, this art did exist long enough for it to be photocopied."

To help protect the innocent, I'm not going to mention the seller's name!

In any case, everything I know leads me to believe that this is a copy of the unpublished third issue of Big Numbers, and I genuinely didn't believe it existed, and certainly never expected to actually see a copy, led alone own one. Even Alan Moore doesn't have a copy, to the very best of my knowledge, which in this case is considerable, as I decided to specifically ask his permission before I posted this here. He is happy for it to be made available to the world, so here it is.

A few notes: Firstly, at least some of this art looks like Bill Sienkiewicz's, but some of it doesn't, which is presumably Al Columbia's. A few of the pages are a bit askew, which is how I got them, but I've left them as they are, only trimming my scans up to where I felt the page images were, but otherwise leaving them as the were on the pages I have. It certainly looks as if these are not first-generation photocopies, so the images are not as crisp and sharp as they could be, but they're probably the best we're going to get to see, except for the unlettered art for some of these pages that was in SubMedia #1.

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