Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Sensational She-Hulk 37: Byrne Gets Paid For Drawing Nothing

Sales had dropped on She-Hulk between creator John Byrne's runs, so he was desperately trying to goose sales with crass covers.  This time around, it's three then-red-hot characters on the cover.  Of course, as She-Hulk notes at the bottom of the scrunched up cover, the three characters (Wolverine, The Punisher, and Spider-Man) do not appear inside.  What does appear inside are blank pages.  How did Byrne get away with this stuff?  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*After last issue's new corner illustration of She-Hulk with Santa Claus, Byrne reverts to his old She-Hulk corner illustration (of course, it's scrunched up along with the She-Hulk title logo).

*The silly villain this issue is the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation The Living Eraser, which is how Byrne is able to justify storywise having three blank pages in the story.  He pulled this trick before in an issue of Alpha Flight which involved a fight in a snowstorm, which She-Hulk references in the issue.  Given Byrne's heavy workload (he was usually writing and drawing at least two books a month), it's understandable that he would occasionally fall behind schedule.  Perhaps this is one of his clever ways of catching up.  The jig is up however when She-Hulk smashes through another blank page and demands he stop before her book gets canceled.

*Byrne finds yet another clever way of running the credits, this time by having She-Hulk break a balloon with confetti inside.

*Sales were bad.  From 300,000 or so copies sold monthly during his earlier run, Byrne's latest run was only averaging 50,000 or so.  In fact, sales upon Byrne's return had only bumped up by 5,000 copies.  Despite being one of the most interesting comics Marvel was publishing at the time, the book was struggling.  One bright sign though was the publication of a trade paperback collecting Byrne's earlier She-Hulk run.  Trades weren't supercommon then, so the collection was a mark of honor.  Alas, it didn't seem to help sales much.

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