It’s one of comics’ greatest mysteries, and Inkstuds interviewer extraordinaire Robin McConnell just solved it. And the answer involves…’90s indie-rock icons Sebadoh?
McConnell covers a lot of incredibly fascinating ground in his astonishingly candid and in-depth interview with cartoonist Al Columbia — do not say “tl;dl” to the two-hour podcast — but he also cuts right to the chase, asking the mercurial artist what, exactly, happened to the artwork he created for Watchmen demigod Alan Moore’s great lost comic Big Numbers #4. As you might recall from our post on Columbia’s one-time mentor Bill Sienkiewicz’s recent words on the subject, Big Numbers was intended to be Moore’s magnum opus.
It is perhaps the greatest comic never published. Intended to be a 12-issue miniseries ambitious and complex enough to make Watchmen look like Wizard of Id on an off day, Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Big Numbers was a Joycean look at life in a small English town as a big-box retailer prepared to set up shop. But this grand fiction-as-fractal-geometry experiment only managed to produce two published issues in 1990 before hitting a massive delay during work on issue #3, losing Sienkiewicz, moving from Moore’s Mad Love publishing imprint to Kevin Eastman’s Tundra, tapping Sienkiewicz’s then-teenaged assistant (and current reclusive Pim & Francie creator and alt-horror superstar) Al Columbia to take over, losing Columbia and all the pages he’d completed, and finally shuddering to a halt.