An eBay bidder stumbled upon a startling item offered for sale in January—a photocopy of the never-published third issue of Alan Moore's planned 12-issue comic-book series Big Numbers.
Big Numbers was a complex tale exploring chaos theory and fractal geometry via an examination of the effect a new shopping center was having on the lives of the inhabitants of a small town. Moore published the first two issues of the 1990 series through his own company, Mad Love, out of a desire to retain control of his work in the aftermath of Watchmen.
"The idea was that we were going to produce a really good comic, publish it ourselves," said Moore in 2000 in an interview at blather.net. "We were really committed to it, and it was my money that was kind of supporting the entire thing."
Only two issues, drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), were ever published, though it had long been known that Sienkiewicz' assistant, Al Columbia, had drawn two further issues, unseen for nearly 20 years. Until today.
The complete third issue was posted this afternoon, with Alan Moore's permission, at the LiveJournal account of a user known as glycon, who had placed the winning eBay bid.
As to how the photocopy came into the seller's possession, for that we can thank one of the Internet's earliest online communities.
"A number of years ago," wrote the seller, "I was a member of the CompuServe comic books forum, and I communicated with a number of professionals ... One of those professionals was a friend of a friend of Alan Moore, and she had the photocopy of issue #3. She made copies for a few people, and I was lucky enough to be one."
The item is so rare that, according to glycon, "Even Alan Moore doesn't have a copy."