Bill Sienkiewicz‘s unpublished cover for the sixth issue of the Alan Moore-scripted series Big Numbers is going under the hammer over at Heritage Auctions this weekend.
The story behind the creation of the ill-fated 12-issue series Big Numbers from Mad Love Publishing is as fascinating as the book itself. The Alan Moore written story was to be a non-standard genre story about the building of a shopping mall woven through with some crazy mathematics and theorems. In reality, it became an examination of the behind-the-scenes complexity of the comic publishing business.
The series stalled at issue #2, when artist Sienkiewicz bowed-out of the project, the third unfinished, although back in 2009, comics collector Pádraig Ó Méalóid, author of the recently-released book on Marvelman Poisoned Chalice, and documenter of Alan Moore’s prestigious career turned up art for Big Numbers #3 on eBay.
The detail involved in the series was so intense that Sienkiewicz had problems keeping up the workload, and withdrew from the project, replaced by his assistant, the teenage Al Columbia, who also withdrew from the series for reasons that remain unclear. Big Numbers #3 and #4 were never published.
Only 10 pages of issue #3 were ever published (in Submedia magazine, 1999). #4 never saw the light of day and the series remains unfinished.
This piece is signed by Sienkiewicz and dated 1992. The back of the board is marked to indicate the series title and issue #6. How that played out is unclear, but it is a stunning work in oil on Bristol board.
• You can bid for the Big Numbers #6 cover here on Heritage Auctions. The auction ends 9th December 2018
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With thanks to Paul Gravett and Massimiliano Turco