Comics collector Pádraig Ó Méalóid and documenter of Alan Moore‘s prestigious career has turned up a remarkable find — art for Big Numbers #3 — on eBay.
Big Numbers is an unfinished comic book series by Moore and artist Bill Sienkiewicz, described by Moore as a potential magnum opus. Two issues, of a planned 12, were published in 1990 by Moore’s short-lived imprint Mad Love. However, the detail involved in the series was so intense that Sienkiewicz had problems keeping up the workload, and withdrew from the project after two issues, replaced by his assistant, the teenage Al Columbia.
After working on the artwork for the next two issues, Columbia also withdrew from the series for reasons that remain unclear. Big Numbers #3 and #4 were never published, and the series remains unfinished to this day.
In January 2009 Padraig bought Issues 1 and 2 and a “Rare Unpublished Xerox Alan Moore” on eBay for the princely sum of $49.99, the lot described as “a set of black-and-white Xeroxes of the unpublished third issue of Big Numbers, with art by Al Columbia, Sinkiewicz’s assistant, who had been scheduled to take over the project… This is a MUST for Moore fans.”
“I decided that it was at least worth investigating, and bought the item,” says Padraig. “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.”
To his surprise, the lot did indeed prove to be art for the unpublished third issue, whose script has been part of the 4ColorHeroes archive for some time. He’s now posted the work in full on his livejournal, together more background to the find.
“Everything I know leads me to believe that this is a copy of the unpublished third issue of Big Numbers, and I genuinely didn’t believe it existed, and certainly never expected to actually see a copy, led alone own one,” he says.
“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.”