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How many of you remember Big Numbers?

In the late 1980s and early ’90s, there was a big self-publishing movement in comics. The big year was 1988, which saw both Dave Sim’s Toronto meeting and Eastman and Laird’s Northampton (Massachusetts) Summit; the latter was where the “Creator’s Bill of Rights” was drafted. For a while it seemed like everyone interesting in comics was starting their own company and publishing just what they wanted to publish and hoping that somehow profits would come out of it. Looking back, it seems a bit like a precursor of the webcomics scene.

Alan Moore’s company was called Mad Love. Mad Love published the AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) one-shot, two issues of Big Numbers, and (as far as I can tell) nothing else.

Big Numbers was going to be Moore’s magnum opus, the work that made Watchmen look like a kiddie book. It was planned as a 12-issue series, set in Northampton (England), using metaphors from fractal mathematics to examine the lives and activities of the town’s residents as an American shopping mall opens up. The writing was Moore at his sharpest. The art, by Bill Sienkiewicz, was gorgeous.

The series stopped after two issues. Sienkiewicz couldn’t handle the workload, and his assistant Al Columbia took over and, I dunno, I’ve heard rumors about Columbia destroying his own art and quitting the project, but I don’t know if they’re true. Moore considers the project cursed, and doesn’t plan on finishing it. I hadn’t expected to ever see anything more.

Till today, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] eurotard. Here:

(no subject)

Date: 2007-02-23 12:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] womzilla.livejournal.com
As I understand it, Sienkeiwicz's specific complaint was that Moore's descriptions (and needs) were so specific that he felt it left him no room for creativity--that it was as demanding as anything he'd ever drawn, but only as rewarding as technical drawing.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-02-23 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladymondegreen.livejournal.com
That is exciting, if you can ever find issue 2 for me to read. ;0)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-02-23 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredfred.livejournal.com
Cool. Thanks for making this more widely known. I've always loved the two issues of Big Numbers.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-02-26 09:20 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Bill has also said that the model he was using for this project died...so, that _could_ have been a factor.

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