Bill Sienkiewicz 1990: Big Numbers #3

Top 5: Lettered thumbnails, published by Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s on his blog
Bottom 5: Finished artwork published by SubMedia Magazine #1

From the outset, Sienkiewicz locked himself into a demanding and expensive artwork development process he had never attempted before: thoroughly thumbnailing Moore’s densely nuanced scripts, extensive use of a large group of models for reference, and the painted photo-realistic artwork. Keeping this up for twelve 40-page issues would be challenging under even optimal conditions. 

But between issues #2 and #3, life happened: Sienkiewicz was going through a breakup with his girlfriend, his mother passed away, as did two of his models, his main model got married and moved away, and even one of the child models went through a dramatic growth spurt to a point where he no longer looked like a child, as well as the infamous falling out with his assistant, Al Columbia. Sienkiewicz’s well-being spiraled downwards right behind the time and money. And while he completed issue #3 in a slightly different style, he had to resign the project.

I felt awful, I felt I let Kevin down, I let myself down, I let Alan down. Much later, I called Alan and basically apologized, not for what I went through, which was real life, but for how, in jeopardizing the project and all. Alan was very generous, a total gentleman. There is no acrimony with anyone, except those who were responsible for spreading the rumors.

— Interview with Ashley Wood, SubMedia Magazine #1

It remains one of his greatest regrets of his career and has often commented that “a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t think of wanting to finish it.”

In 2011, Sienkiewicz broke his silence and provided his account of those days on Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s blog. It is illuminating and a must-read for any fan of either Sienkiewicz or Big Numbers.