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Big Numbers #3

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Mar. 26th, 2009 | 02:28 pm

In January 2009 I bought an eBay item listed as BIG NUMBERS #1 & 2 + RARE UNPUBLISHED XEROX Alan Moore, which had this as the item information: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The REAL draw here for Alan Moore completists is a set of black-and-white Xeroxes of the unpublished THIRD issue of BIG NUMBERS, with art by Al Columbia, Sinkiewicz's assistant, who had been scheduled to take over the project.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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Comments {46}

Lee Edward McIlmoyle

(no subject)

from: lee_in_limbo
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
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What an unusual piece of work. Thank you for sharing this.

Lee.

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Well I'm damned!

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for posting this up!

I recently re-read my issues of the series that I collected when they were published. A fellow board-member posted a link here and I wanted to pop by and thank you. This is as good as it gets!

/Soup

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Jumbo

(no subject)

from: jamesb
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)
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That was a good intuitive buy, and indeed is something really very rare.

thanks for getting it, and sticking it online.

J

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
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I'll be bringing it over to Eastercon as part of my Alan Moore Show and Tell, so you can see it then.

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Flick

(no subject)

from: flickgc
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
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the edges of the Xeroxed issue have creasing and a couple of tears

In that case, if you want me to, I can repair the tears* for you at the con. Let me know if you do, and maybe send me a photo of the damage?

(Here via a link from swisstone)

* This being What I Do; I'll be doing a programme item and have with me a newspaper I did last year, if you want to have a look before you let me near them [g]

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
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Thanks very much for the offer, but they really aren't bad at all. And I konw you made the awards that were handed out at last year's Eastercon, so I'd be fully prepared to put this into your hands if I felt it needed repairs...

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Flick

(no subject)

from: flickgc
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
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Ok then!

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Jumbo

(no subject)

from: jamesb
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
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Excellent, maybe you could tell everyone you emailed.

J

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Alasdair

(no subject)

from: alasdair
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Well done, that man.

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Couldn't Get A Head

ten pages

from: lostcosmonaut
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
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have you seen these scans?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/photojoy/sets/72157594163439158/

--mza.

P.S. i am v. happy to see th whole thing posted here, thank you for going to th trouble!

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glycon

Re: ten pages

from: glycon
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, those are the ten unlettered pages that appeared in SubMedia #1. I can probably post better copies of those here at some point.

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Greg McElhatton

(no subject)

from: gregmce
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Thank you so much for sharing!

(Now I find myself wondering which bits would have been the color ones for #3, since each one was supposed to have more and more until #12 would be full color? *sigh* Until I find that portal into an alternate universe where it was completed, I suspect we will never know...)

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collating bones

(no subject)

from: signifier
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
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OH WOW.

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back from the dead to save you all from yourselves

(no subject)

from: thehornedgod
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
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Oh. Wow. Thanks for sharing!

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dascbejr

(no subject)

from: dascbejr
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
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awesome

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Thanks!

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
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What a truly great and amazing find. I have to go back and read the first two Big Numbers before I read this - but this looks phenomenal.

Wish I could attend your show and tell. I'd completely geek out.

Thanks again,
M

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure that's mostly Sienkiewicz , and the issue that Columbia drew solo (and for which the fate of the artwork is in much dispute) was #4. But there have been so many stories about that that I can't be certain.

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(no subject)

from: herringbonekid
date: May. 21st, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
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DEFINITELY ALL Sienkiewicz art.
if anyone is seeing Al's wrist here, it's because you're trying too hard to see it.... and if anyone get's their hands on the issue that Al drew, please post !

(but i'm sure Al won't be happy)

...

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: May. 24th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
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I assume you haven't seen some of Al's early work like Doghead vs his more recent Betty Boop characters in hell style. Besides the fact that Al can do a damn good imitation of Bill, some of the art here is closer to Al's work on Doghead than anything Bill did.

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jasonturner

(no subject)

from: jasonturner
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Wow, thanks for posting these! It seems amazing to me that they have not turned up all over the place, these many years.

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
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That's what I thought! I really couldn't believe something as important as this simply managed to slip through the net for so long.

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GIRfan

(no subject)

from: girfan
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for posting this! (here via swisstone)

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ashedrake

(no subject)

from: ashedrake
date: Mar. 26th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for sharing! <3

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his wholiness the rev drjon

(no subject)

from: drjon
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
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Oh, my goodness! This is an incredible piece of recovery. Thank you for sharing it!

Now the only question is whether or not we need to work up some sort of Sock Puppet Snake Antivenom for you...

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Billy

Wow!

from: joliet2
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
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I am stunned to see these pages. I bought the originals of Big Numbers 1 and 2 back in the day and got Bill's autograph on the first one.

I recall Alan Moore saying in an interview, "I don't know what it is about this series that makes grown men cry and policemen turn in their badges." I had given it up for dead, like David Lynch continuing Twin Peaks. To see even one more issue is a gift.

I add my thanks to those above.

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inkstuds

(no subject)

from: inkstuds
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
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Hot Shit Yo'

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(no subject)

from: chinaboatman
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
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What a find! This has to be the bargain of the century! Thanks, as ever for sharing this with us Paidrag.

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David Goldfarb

(no subject)

from: davidgoldfarb
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 06:35 am (UTC)
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Wow! I never imagined getting to read this, after two decades' time. Thanks for posting it.

(Here via a link from Todd Klein's blog.)

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much. I can't imagine a better Alan Moore post than this... though I would love to see you post his piece from Negative Burn 9. :)

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Manuscript

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 11:05 am (UTC)
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I had only ever seen this version of it until now

http://fourcolorheroes.home.insightbb.com/bn3script.html

Again, thanks for digging this up.

/Soup

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artemusdada

(no subject)

from: artemusdada
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
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Thank you very much

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Doktor Kamisama

(no subject)

from: thekamisama
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)
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In via Journalista!
Lovely scans. Surprised no one in alan_moore has linked to this one yet.

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mantichore

(no subject)

from: mantichore
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely amazing, thanks for the look. Indeed this seems to be the comic book equivalent of the Necronomicon, causing one artist after the other to snap and go barmy...

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Alison

(no subject)

from: bohemiancoast
date: Mar. 27th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
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This is fantastic. Thanks so much for posting it.

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ubiquirk

(no subject)

from: ubiquirk
date: Mar. 28th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much for sharing this. [I remember being extremely disappointed when this stopped coming out.] I'm going to have to reread my old 1 and 2. And congrats on having such a unique piece of comic history.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 30th, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Awesome! Thak you very much!

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Big Thanks!

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 31st, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
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Thank you for posting this. Big Numbers is one of those stories that I consider to be a masterpiece even in its incomplete form. There's so many good ideas going on in the first two issues, and it is a real treat to see #3.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 30th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
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Thanks to you, the new generations have now the chance to get to know about the very existence of Big Numbers.

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Thank you so much for posting this!

from: anonymous
date: Mar. 31st, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
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A remarkable and important find. I'm very grateful you posted it.

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(Deleted comment)

Re: Coolll

from: anonymous
date: Apr. 13th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
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wow thanks what a find
thanks for Alan allowing to post to here
met him last year
great bloke

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 12th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much for this! I bought Big Numbers 1 and 2 when they first came out; I was just starting high school then and Big Numbers was one of the first comics what really opened my eyes to what was possible with the medium. I remember asking my comics dealer for up to a year later if he knew yet when issue three was coming out. Even though the series was never finished, I still had (slight) hope all these years that maybe one day I would be able to see the third issue. Now I have! Thanks!

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Sep. 12th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
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Any chance of reposting this as a pdf on Rapidshare? I would hate for Moore, Sienkiewicz, Columbia or somebody to have second thoughts about this being online, and once again loosing this brilliant work to oblivion.

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(no subject)

from: suspensa
date: Feb. 22nd, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
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Man, I wish I knew how he got so much nice, rich textures in there. I wonder if he uses a photocopier or something.

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Wow. just...wow.

from: dlairman.wordpress.com
date: Apr. 17th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
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I never thought I would see this.
Thank you!

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pingback_bot

Bill'sTake on the Thing...

from: pingback_bot
date: Jan. 3rd, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
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User drjon referenced to your post from Bill'sTake on the Thing... saying: [...] managed to buy a photocopy of an apparently complete copy of Big Numbers #3 on eBay, and posted it [...]

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Question...

from: anonymous
date: Feb. 19th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
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Why wasn't this published??

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