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As Close as We’ll Get to a Completed Big Numbers: A Glimpse of a Lost Masterwork by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz

Monday, June 8th, 2020 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Big Numbers Alan Moore 1-small Big Numbers Alan Moore 2

Big Numbers issues 1 and 2. Mad Love, April and August 1990. Covers by Bill Sienkiewicz

It’s one of the great might-have-beens of comics history. First announced in 1988, Big Numbers was going to be a 12-issue series written and conceived by Alan Moore with art by Bill Sienkiewicz about a major American shopping mall being built in a small English town. It would be an intricate social-realist story touching on colonialism, gender issues, and more — all tied together by the symbolism of fractal mathematics. Moore felt it would be the logical follow-up to Watchmen in terms of complexity and formal daring, following characters in the town as the mall changed their lives in various ways, and depicting their various interconnections, large and small.

Unfortunately, it never saw completion. Two issues came out in 1990 and a third was completed before Sienkiewicz, feeling overwhelmed by the project, stepped away. The series never resumed publication, and later plans for a TV adaptation came to nothing.

But back in 1988 Moore had created a massive grid-like outline, outlining the related stories of the various main characters. Comics artist James Harvey has now put up a strikingly well-designed web version of that chart, along with annotations from transcripts of an extensive conversation with Moore about the series as preparation for the TV show. Well-placed links help bring out the connections Moore had planned. It’s an excellent, easy-to-use resource for Moore fans — as well as a good read. And likely the most complete version of Big Numbers we’ll ever see.

3 Comments »

  1. I know I had these, and I suspect they’re in a box somewhere around here. Shame it was never finished.

    (Although the one I’d really like to see completed is John Byrne’s Last Galactus Story, which started in the pages of EPIC Magazine and then, as far as I can tell, was just kind of abandoned.)

    Comment by Joe H. - June 10, 2020 7:34 am

  2. Joe,

    I totally forgot about Byrne’s Last Galactus Story! I did a quick search and found that, as of last summer, Byrne is planning to finish it and IDW (??) will publish a collected edition.

    https://insidepulse.com/2019/07/29/marvel-comics-john-byrnes-last-galactus-story-to-finally-be-completed-collected-35-years-later-by-idw/

    Comment by John ONeill - June 11, 2020 9:37 am

  3. Oooh! I will definitely pick that up when and if it appears!

    Comment by Joe H. - June 11, 2020 11:16 am


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