mrosa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrosa posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Now here's a rarity: Big Numbers!

The comic book that could have been the greatest comic book of all times; such a huge undertaking, Moore densely plotted it on charts in advance; so daunting, Sienkiewicz threw down the towel after two issues, and his replacement, Al Columbia, fared no better. of the expected 12 issues, only two were published (photocopies of issue #3's art also exist), first by Moore's own publisher, Mad Love, and then by Tundra. But alas, fate conspired against it. Today we can only imagine what it could have been.

The series was conceived with the idea of breaking with every convention of comics at the time (1990): instead of 24 pages, 44; a larger format, closer to Vynil disc slipcases; instead of superheroes, the mundane problems of ordinary people. It involved fractal geometry, chaos theory, and Benoît B. Mandelbrot's mathematical ideas. The actual story revolves about the construction of a shopping center in Hampton (a fictional version of Northampton), and the way that affects the lives of several people.

(Here's the horrifying shopping center)

And this is Christine, arriving in Hampton after a nightmare:

And this is one of my favourite pages:

And this is one of those scenes that shows what a genius Moore is with dialogue:

I also love the way a scene is split in several panels; the series did this a lot:

Date: 2011-11-13 04:46 pm (UTC)
cainofdreaming: b/w (Default)
From: [personal profile] cainofdreaming
Okay. You can not convince me that that place is not a Lament Configuration. No sirree. Just one look at those "You are here." guides around the place would land you smack dab in the Labyrinth.

Date: 2011-11-13 04:58 pm (UTC)
kusonaga: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kusonaga
I don't really see how this breaks with conventions, except maybe size and length. Will Eisner already did normal people.

Date: 2011-11-13 06:09 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
"...the mundane problems of ordinary people. It involved fractal geometry, chaos theory, and Benoît B. Mandelbrot's mathematical ideas."

I submit, based on this, that Moore has only the loosest idea of what the mundane problems of ordinary people are.

Date: 2011-11-13 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Meh, I think I prefer Subnormality.

Date: 2011-11-13 08:58 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
It's funny--I can forget, for long periods of time, that this even existed, and then when someone brings it up, I get that wave of regret again that we didn't get more than two issues of it. Moore was trying to follow up Watchmen with something that was a match in terms of complexity and working on so many different levels, but at the same time having it be as un-Watchmen-like as possible, down to the choice of artist. I don't mind not seeing Twilight of the Superheroes or the completion of 1963 (both of which covered themes that have since been done by any number of people) nearly as much as this.

Date: 2011-11-13 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tpsreports
I love Sienkiewicz's art. I remember when his New Mutants came out and down at the local comic shop people where complaining that he drew Cannonball with a square head. By the time the demon bear issue came out everyone loved him. Then there was his work on the Shadow.

Date: 2011-11-14 12:17 am (UTC)
outlawpoet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] outlawpoet
Its a super interesting comic, and I follow it, but I feel like I'm missing something, like, she wants me to format my browser in a weird way, or use slow scrolling or something, because it takes me a long time to move around and read the whole things, and I need to really push to read the word-bubbles without my brain leaking out of my ears.

Maybe it would be better if I had a gigantic monitor or something.

Date: 2011-11-14 01:30 am (UTC)
leikomgwtfbbq: (OH SHI-)
From: [personal profile] leikomgwtfbbq
That was exactly what I thought.

...You know how, at the end of the third movie, there was the whole huge Lament Configuration building set over where Joey chucked the puzzle-box... *ponder*

Date: 2011-11-14 01:15 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
Someone recently posted the lettered parts of the third issue that were completed, to Facebook, I think. Should be locatable by google. I think it's been verified that it's legitimate. It certainly matches the other material that was actually posted.

It's pretty compelling stuff: I could easily see a BBC series made out of it, had it ever been completed. It's a pity that it came undone.

Ah, here it is:

Bill Sienkiwicz apparently commented on this guys posting in January of this year.

Date: 2011-11-14 05:28 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Wow, thanks--I just time machined back to the 80s. It's funny; like everyone else, I was looking for signs that it was Al Columbia doing his best Billy the Sink imitation (which was very good indeed, from what I've seen of his earlier work), until Sienkiewicz himself weighed in (here's a direct link to Word of God on the matter).

Date: 2011-11-14 05:33 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
I think that Sienkeiwicz has, in a small way, made at least a few New Mutants artists a little bit better simply by creating Warlock visually in such a way as to encourage them to bring their own A-game.

Date: 2011-11-14 06:53 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
...and I just read all of Sienkiewicz's post, and... wow. The problems that guy had. tl;dr among many personal and professional difficulties, two of the models he was using--Sienkiewicz was using photo references throughout, a la Alex Ross or Alison Bechdel--died, one (the model for Christine, the main character) got married and moved overseas, and one of the kid models underwent a growth spurt between #2 and #3. But everyone really should read it; it's very eloquent and even funny in bits, such as:

Then there were the parents who were understandably less than thrilled by the prospect of some crazy comic-book punk taking photos of their little darlings making Molotov cocktails. Can't say I blamed them. But the fact that the town where I lived and worked - Westport, Connecticut - and environs, happened to be the inspirational setting for the novel The Stepford Wives did seem particularly apropos. The contrarian in me loved the wicked irony.

And the 'little darlings' learned a skill.

Date: 2011-11-14 06:57 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
It certainly was pretty groundbreaking for a mainstream US comic.

Date: 2011-11-14 08:40 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
Yeah, it's a great read. I was prepared to say, "well, maybe you should change your art-style" and then realized that:

A) he had for issue 3
B) I was trying to tell an artist how to do his art

Big Numbers is one of those comics that when I first heard of it (but never saw it) back in the day, nobody could quite explain it to me. Now I feel the keen pang of regret that it's never been completed.


Date: 2011-11-15 12:27 am (UTC)
capt_satellite: (Default)
From: [personal profile] capt_satellite
Now you're talking DREAM TEAM. One of the greatest "what ifs" in comics is where this would have been had it gone beyond 2.5 issues it did.

And I cannot express how much I miss THIS Bill Sienkeiwicz.

Just read the Livejournal post about this.

Date: 2011-11-15 11:37 pm (UTC)
capt_satellite: (Default)
From: [personal profile] capt_satellite
OMG. It is all so clear now how devastating the dissolution of that project was for Bill. I am humbled by the scope of what they attempted, and the difficulties that hit him during the BIG NUMBERS era. Mea culpa.


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