• Grace Wright

Undermining Fantasy in Wynonna Earp and The Sensational She-Hulk

Writer: Grace Wright

Editors: Cecilia Lee & Holly Roberts



In analyzing the metafictional conversations creators Beau Smith and John Byrne have with their characters, Wynonna Earp and She-Hulk respectively, how can the criticism of the problematic portrayals of the female characters they incorporate into the text open up mainstream American comics to more inclusive practices and wider readership?


While Beau Smith’s Wynonna Earp and John Byrne’s She-Hulk may look like visual victims of their era in the comics industry, at least they got the opportunity, unlike many of their female contemporaries, to talk back to their creators about their portrayals.[1] In both Beau Smith’s original run of Wynonna Earp (1996) and John Byrne’s work on The Sensational She-Hulk (1989-1994), the creators utilize in-text conversations with their characters to incorporate criticism into their own works. The metafictional conversations Wynonna and She-Hulk have with Smith and Byrne respectively often revolve around problematic aspects of their designs and speak more generally to the troubling portrayals of female characters that developed in the mainstream American comics industry during the 1990s. In seeking to understand the implications of these two comics, Mark Currie’s definition of metafiction as a borderline discourse provides a solid framework for exploring the overall impact of the comics’ metafictional elements. Additionally, Currie uses essays by Robert Scholes and Patricia Waugh to create the ‘Defining Metafiction’ section of his book, Metafiction, and the slightly different tacks they take from Currie’s definition allow for a closer reading of each comic’s individual approach to metafiction.[2] In analyzing the function of metafiction in both texts through these theories, the aim of this paper is not only to better understand the problematic visual objectification of female characters in comics but also to understand the ways in which those portrayals can be undermined to create more inclusive practices.


The landscape of mainstream American comics in the 1990s is essential context for understanding both the problematic nature of the ways She-Hulk and Wynonna Earp are portrayed, and how metafiction functions in both Wynonna Earp and The Sensational She-Hulk. At the time that these titles were being published, the mainstream comics industry in America was experiencing a major shift. The 1980s had produced a radical change in the kinds of comics being published with creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller.[3] Additionally, the Comics Code Authority released an internal document in 1989 that relaxed constraints due to pressure from DC, while the rise of the direct comics market simultaneously made these relaxed codes almost a non-issue, given stores’ willingness to sell comics with or without CCA approval.[4] On a broader scale, the erotic entertainment industry was becoming more mainstream in American popular culture.[5] As Mike Madrid notes in his book Supergirls (2009), this led to 'the line between comics and "entertainment for men" continu[ing] to diminish throughout the decade.'[6] The convergence of these factors, signs of a greater cultural shift, demonstrate that not only were comics creators able to portray more sexualized female characters, but mainstream consumers were more comfortable with reading and purchasing that content. This created an atmosphere in which female comics characters shifted away from their previous iterations and moved closer to being portrayed as adult entertainers.[7]


It bears saying that erotic portrayals of female bodies are not inherently problematic, but that issues arise in the way that eroticism is depicted. The portrayal becomes sexual objectification when female characters are rendered as a collection of sexualized parts instead of as whole bodies and characters.[8] In Ways of Seeing (1972), John Berger articulates the difference between eroticism and objectification in art as the difference between nakedness and nudity.[9] He argues that while nakedness is a natural state, nudity is a performed sexuality targeted at fulfilling the fantasies of the presumed heterosexual, male viewer while negating the desires of the portrayed female body.[10] According to this theory, the popular ‘Bad Girl’ style of the 1990s – portrayals of women as both violent and sexually objectified – can be seen to serve the same function of satisfying the gaze of the ‘spectator-owner’ as the oil paintings he discusses.[11] Instead of portraying naked or even just erotic images of women, the style creates images of women that are designed to be purely fantasies, void of identity beyond satisfying that role.[12] The characters of Wynonna and She-Hulk were created in the context of this visual culture, and neither were exempt from the dominant ‘Bad Girl’ style that pervaded the mainstream comic book industry at that time.

However, in giving their female characters the ability to talk about their problematic depictions, Byrne and Smith complicate the gaze of the assumed reader by disrupting the idea that Wynonna and She-Hulk’s bodies are purely meant to be sexualized fantasies. In Ways of Seeing Berger identifies exceptions to the problematic nudes created for the gaze of the ‘spectator-owner.’ In pieces of art where the female subjects are unclothed yet portrayed with their own personality and a relationship to the artist, the spectator is preemptively blocked from ownership of the model’s image.[13] The interruption created by the metafictional elements in the comics similarly allows Smith and Byrne to disrupt the portrayals of Wynonna and She-Hulk as nothing more than objects of desire. The reader is no longer framed as the sole person interacting with the image for the purposes of fantasy.


It is important to note that this does not absolve the ‘nude’ depictions of women either examined in the theory or depicted in the comics of their problematic nature. At no point is autonomy necessarily given to the pictured women, who remain understood in the context of their creator or viewer. Smith and Byrne appear to be talking to their female creations on the page but are in reality having conversations with themselves, under the guise of their female character’s false autonomy. However, while the criticism introduced by their metafiction does not necessarily inherently excuse the problematic nature of these portrayals, the conversations do serve to break down the conceptualization of these characters as purely for the visual fantasy of the reader, and opens them up to other gazes and interpretations. Smith and Byrne take different approaches in their applications of metafiction to their texts, but both of their works create a state of flux that calls attention to and therefore disrupts the objectifying construction of Wynonna and She-Hulk’s bodies. Through a close reading of both texts, the particularities and functions of each author’s disruption becomes clearer.


Wynonna Earp was first published by Image Comics and combined the western and science fiction genres in an amalgamation that captured the spirit of the comics industry at the time. The titular character, a descendent of the famous Wyatt Earp, fights monsters as part of a top-secret division of the U.S. Marshals, and does so with while baring the maximum amount of skin allowed. This design did not reflect Smith’s original intention for the character. As he explained in an interview in 2016, he imagined Wynonna as a woman in her late thirties or forties, in the prime of her career, and based her on strong female role models like his mother and grandmother.[14] However, despite his protests, his editors at Image insisted that Wynonna be drawn to match ‘the heroine that could fight like Stallone and look like Pamela Anderson craze that was going on at the time.’[15] Image was particularly associated with the rise of the ‘Bad Girl’ style, which has also become known as the ‘Image house-style.’[16] For the first four issues of the series, it seemed as though Smith had reluctantly resigned himself to writing the character he imagined in the publisher-mandated style.[17] Wynonna is labeled ‘one of the Marshal Corps top “Halloween Hunters”,’ but the dichotomy between her visual and narrative characterization is stark [Fig. 1].


Figure 1. Smith et al. Wynonna Earp: Strange Inheritance (2016), p. 13

The practical logistics of her outfit in terms of movement alone make this visual and narrative pairing improbable. This panel resonates with Berger’s previously discussed conception of ‘nudity’ because Wynonna’s personal identity as a top agent is superseded by the need for her outfit to showcase her conventionally sexy body, going beyond the erotic to the impractical. Throughout the series there is an implicit, sustained tension between the unrealistically sexualized images of Wynonna and the competent U.S. Marshal that the narrative portrays her to be.[18]


Metafictional elements were not originally part of Wynonna’s character, but Smith inserts them into the narrative as a final twist to the original run in order to make a point. The end of the fifth issue, which closed out the original run of the series with Image, introduces a metafictional interlude that highlights the problematic tension between Wynonna’s role and appearance. Smith invites himself into the last two pages of the comic under the pretense of placating Wynonna about the series cancellation – or as Beau puts it ‘kinda like uh... a hiatus.’[Fig. 2]



Figure 2. Smith et al. Wynonna Earp: Strange Inheritance (2016), p. 117, Panel 5; p. 118, Panel 1.

Though the conversation is framed as a discussion of the cancellation, Smith almost immediately brings up the idea that other authors would be unfit to write Wynonna’s stories because they would have Wynonna ‘runnin’ around half naked.’[19] He addresses the issue of Wynonna’s appearance himself, rather than having her instigate any complaints, with the clear implication that he finds her overly sexualized portrayal undesirable. Once the subject is brought up, however, Wynonna rightly points out that she is already portrayed in that way, calling Smith ‘Little Mister Larry Flynt,’ a reference to the American pornographer. Smith does not attempt to deny this assertion but rather acknowledges she is right and apologizes.[20] Though the dialogue still has humor to it, Smith manipulates the course of the dialogue to personally reject Wynonna’s design under the guise of discussing the cancellation. This point is further emphasized by Smith’s final words to Wynonna as she drives away. [Fig. 3]

Figure 3. Smith et al. Wynonna Earp: Strange Inheritance (2016), p. 118, Panel 5.

Not only is the cancellation not brought up, but the promises Smith makes to Wynonna as she drives off imply that more comics about her will be published in the future. If the argument was really about the cancellation, then Wynonna’s need for more clothing would be a moot point. In making this the final note, however, Smith’s last words on the series have completely shifted the argument from being concerned with the cancellation to Wynonna’s objectification. Smith appears to have inserted himself into the narrative expressly to problematize Wynonna’s visual representation, intentionally drawing attention to the problematic nature of Wynonna’s portrayal throughout the series.

Smith’s introduction of criticism in this last scene interacts with his fiction to create a different interpretation of Wynonna’s appearance. The quadrants Robert Scholes’ formulates in his essay ‘Metafiction’ to approach the often-ambiguous nature of metafiction provides a useful structure for understanding the alchemic reaction this creates in the text. By approximating the relationships between life, fiction, criticism, and metafiction into to four quadrants: form; ideas; existence; and essence, Scholes is able to focus on the interplay of those concepts rather than perfectly define them.[21] In Wynonna Earp, Scholes’ development of the fiction, criticism, and metafiction of form are the most applicable. Scholes sees the fiction of forms as fiction that ‘at one level simply accepts the legacy and repeats the forms bequeathed it, satisfying an audience that wants this familiarity.’[22] Because the character design of Wynonna fits into a specific visual culture, Scholes’ description of form maps neatly over Wynonna’s narrative. Scholes goes on to frame criticism of these forms as interested in the way a text relates diachronically to other works as well as how a text works individually.[23] The criticism that Smith inserts into the text is concerned with both Wynonna’s figure and the particular space her design occupies as an established form in comics. It is in the interaction of these two levels of focus that the most useful aspects of the metafictional criticism in Wynonna Earp come into play.


By including this metafictional twist, Smith retroactively incorporates criticism into not just the final issue, but the series as a whole, opening up her portrayal in every previous issue to reinterpretation. Just as Smith integrates criticism into his narrative, Scholes brings together his theory of fiction and criticism of form to conceptualize a metafiction of forms. In order to understand how the combination of fiction and criticism would function, he explores the interaction through the lens of John Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse (1968), specifically through the titular story, in which a boy lost in a funhouse imagines a new and better funhouse in order to console himself. In this reimagining, Scholes discovers that ‘The energizing power of Barth’s universe is the tension between the imagination of man and conditions of being which actually prevail.’[24] From within the text, the boy is able to conceptualize a new interpretation of what amounts to the text that he is in. In other words, he is able to reimagine his already fictional reality. Smith does something similar in pulling against the ‘conditions of being,’ or the style Image insisted upon. Smith in effect reimagines his own ‘funhouse’ within the confines of a reality he dislikes, creating a new context for Wynonna’s problematic design from within the comic.


The further effect of Smith’s metafictional shift is that he takes the narrative and repositions it to be a parody as opposed to an accepted industry practice. Scholes situates parody within his discussion of fictions, rather than metafictions, of form, but in considering this text, his concept of parody is well-suited to understanding how the latter works. Scholes posits that eventually all fictions of forms are aggrandized to the point that they begin to disintegrate. Parody is a part of this process, utilizing the specific form of a fiction to undermine it, and create room for the growth of another form. [25] Unable to prevent his publisher from having Wynonna drawn as a sex object, just as the boy in Lost in the Funhouse cannot escape his surrounding, Smith concludes the original run by making a parody of the visual style in order to distort the original intention. By addressing Wynonna’s sexual objectification in a way that is humorous but does not compromise the negativity of the portrayal, Smith opens up the entire narrative to the possibility of being read as a play on the Image style. This reading creates the potential for a new path that seeks a better portrayal within the remnants of the old.

Like Smith, Byrne incorporated metafictional play into his work on The Sensational She-Hulk that tangled with the problematic depictions of the character on the page. However, his methods differed significantly in terms of both scope and application. Instead of using metafiction as a final twist Byrne integrated it into the fabric of She-Hulk’s identity and used the metafictional aspects of She-Hulk to critique both the expanse of the Marvel universe and the real-world comics industry. [26] Due to her metafictional abilities, Donald Palumbo attributes to She-Hulk ‘an almost unique insight into the nature of her existence – a special ontological superiority.’[27] While Palumbo does a meticulous job of cataloguing the various ways in which She-Hulk’s metafictionality plays out, Patricia Waugh’s definition of metafiction allows his idea of ‘ontological superiority’ to be further elaborated upon. Waugh describes metafiction as a form ‘constructed on the principle of a fundamental and sustained opposition: the construction of a fictional illusion (as in traditional realism) and the laying bare of that illusion.’[28] In terms of the opposition Waugh describes, the essential function of Byrne’s metafictional play can be identified. Byrne builds not only She-Hulk’s characterization but her narrative in the tension between working within the conventions of the comics industry and a ‘laying bare’ of those same conventions.


This tension is particularly evident in the way She-Hulk is portrayed as an object of fantasy. In many instances when She-Hulk is portrayed an object for the reader’s gratification she is simultaneously pointing out what her posture is meant to achieve.[29] Yet Waugh warns that to ‘analyse a set of linguistic relationships using those same relationships as the instruments of analysis, [means that] language soon becomes a “prisonhouse” from which the possibility of escape is remote. Metafiction sets out to explore this dilemma.’[30] The dilemma emerges for She-Hulk in that her portrayal presents her as complicit in her own objectification. Even as She-Hulk complains, Byrne’s continued presentation of her as a seductive visual creates, as Waugh would say, ‘a prisonhouse.’ An excellent example of this is in the introduction to Sensational She-Hulk #40. She-Hulk opens the comic jumping rope with the clear implication that she is naked. [Fig. 4]



Figure 4. Byrne, The Sensational She-Hulk #40 ‘One Potato, Two Potato’ (1992), p. 4.


While Byrne’s entire run on The Sensational She-Hulk provides a plethora of examples to study in this context, the narrative dynamic of Issue #50 not only reprises many themes of the series but also provides an interesting structure to further explore the tension in She-Hulk’s character. Issue #50, ‘He’s Dead!?,’ was Byrne’s second and final swan song on the series which he turned into a metafictional symphony. The plot follows She-Hulk and her editor Renee Witterstaetter as they go through scripts to find a replacement for a supposedly dead Byrne.[31] The narrative focuses on the interplay between the She-Hulk Byrne has created and the interpretations of her by other comics creators. In her further conceptions of metafiction, Waugh utilizes Saussure’s concepts of langue, which Waugh labels ‘codes and conventions’, and parole, or ‘any act of individual utterance’, to situate the interior work of a metafictional text as being that of langue versus parole. The ‘individual utterance’ of the single text turns back and critiques the ‘codes and conventions’ that surround it.[32] Issue #50 particularly illustrates this interaction in the scripts that She-Hulk and Renee read.


Each proposed script (with a slight exception for the issue She-Hulk likes) attempts to fit She-Hulk into a tradition that does not fit her characterization.[33] Palumbo notes at the beginning of his article that Byrne’s revitalization of She-Hulk as a metafictional character garnered ‘[...] far more success because it is more compatible with its postmodern heroine than the routine treatment first attempted.’[34] Palumbo contends that She-Hulk was initially unsuccessful because she did not fit into the mold of the Marvel tragic hero that her original series placed her in.[35] The various stories in Issue #50 also attempt to force She-Hulk into conventions that have been successful for other characters but which are ineffective for her. The following examples, in which She-Hulk is cast as Thor and an elf, are some of the most egregious. [Figs. 5 & 6]


Figure 5. Byrne, Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993), p. 13.
Figure 6. Byrne, Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993), p. 11.

Byrne, through the guise of She-Hulk’s criticism, rejects these scripts as being so ill-fitting for She-Hulk that the best option might be cancellation.[36] In particular, he reacts negatively to her appearance in the script DeFalco suggests, which is a string of thin justifications for getting She-Hulk and other female characters into as little clothing as possible.[37]

Figure 7. Byrne, Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993), p. 22.

As shown above [Fig. 7], Byrne is clearly rejecting the portrayal of She-Hulk as a prop in a fantasy narrative. Ultimately, across all of the examples, the main issue is that the different artists are trying to reform She-Hulk to fit conventions of comics that work for them rather than She-Hulk’s own identity.


Interestingly, Byrne’s ‘submitted script’ falls flat as well, imitating the failures of the previous scripts in trying to fit She-Hulk into a form not suited for her.[38] His script conversely desexualizes She-Hulk to the point of making her childlike. [Fig. 8]



Figure 8. Byrne, Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993), p. 37.

The failure of this script makes the point that desexualizing She-Hulk is not the answer to her problematic objectification. As was mentioned previously in the discussion of Ways of Seeing, the crux of the matter lies with how a female body is portrayed.[39] Byrne’s final point about She-Hulk’s portrayal is that her sexy characterization is not detrimental in and of itself to a successful interpretation of the character.

Byrne’s last conversation with She-Hulk, is potentially a more accurate reflection of Byrne’s opinion as to how She-Hulk should be portrayed. When She-Hulk discovers that Byrne is not dead but only locked in a closet, he makes his final stand against his removal from the series. He rejects the editor’s decision to remove him as She-Hulk’s writer because he has been working too hard, exclaiming:

Figure 9. Byrne, Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993), p. 35.

Byrne tells She-Hulk that the point of his work has been to find ‘new and better ways to portray’ her.[Fig. 9] Byrne’s claim directly verbalizes the comic’s critique of other creators trying to fit She-Hulk into conventions that do not fit her character, instead of looking for new ways to depict her. One of the main reasons the conventions fail is that there is no Marvel convention that allows the strong female that Byrne has created in She-Hulk to develop beyond the role of fantasy. Waugh offers a way out of the ‘prisonhouse’ of analyzing language with language, or in this case comics with comics, through Hjelmslev’s concept of metalanguage. Building upon Saussure’s ideas of the signifier and signified, Hjelmslev conceptualizes ‘metalanguage’ as language that that signifies another language. [40] In order to find space for She-Hulk beyond the existing conventions of the Marvel Universe, which ultimately failed her, Byrne made She-Hulk into a signifier that takes the comics industry as its signified. In other words, her portrayal becomes a language that can discuss the larger language of the comics industry and the issues therein. In doing so, Byrne opened up the possibility of She-Hulk escaping from the conventions of comics to create a new identity. He symbolizes this when She-Hulk throws Byrne’s avatar out of the window for his poor script, in an ultimate rejection of all existing conventions a writer might attempt to force her to inhabit. [41] At least within Byrne’s writing of her, She-Hulk has achieved a level of autonomy that allows her to create a new path.


In analyzing the way metafiction operates in these two texts, the intention of this paper is to understand not only how metafiction informs the depictions of Wynonna and She-Hulk but also how it opens up the text to a variety of readers. Byrne and Smith are both successful in at least altering the roles Wynonna and She-Hulk play as objects of fantasy. In the introduction to Metafiction, attempting to encapsulate the many aspects of metafiction under one definition, Mark Currie writes ‘This volume begins from the definition of metafiction as a borderline discourse, as a kind of writing which places itself on the border between fiction and criticism, and which takes the border as its subject.’[42] Despite their different applications of metafiction in their narratives, Smith and Byrne’s methods intersect in the concept of borderline space. By inserting themselves into the narrative to converse with their characters, they are disrupting the pure fiction of these narratives with their own opinions and operating in the space between the visual conventions of the industry and their narratives. They take two characters who are visually portrayed as fantasies for the male gaze and problematize that role, disrupting the dream image through the direct criticism of the selves which they had inserted into the narrative.


It is important to note that neither the comics nor the creators are necessarily acquitted from being problematic, despite the potential successes of the metafictional work. There are aspects in both comics that remain troubling in terms of portraying both women and other marginalized communities. Nor does either author necessarily do enough to explicitly problematize the objectification of Wynonna and She-Hulk’s bodies. The potential for reading these texts as using female bodies as tools to justify the objectification of female bodies still exists. The less problematic readings explored in this paper are the product of close analysis and the addition of theory. For the casual reader, these levels may or may not be apparent. Furthermore, if the titles have the young male readership that the comics industry appeared convinced that they were writing for, then these metafictional twists could be understood as parodying the concept that these portrayals were problematic. For all that Currie theorizes about the borderline space of metafiction, he realistically points out that ‘metafictional reflexivity can never fully appropriate the response of the real reader.’ He elaborates that whatever the message a metafiction’s mixture of criticism and fiction is intended to convey, the reader will always interpret the text in their own way, sometimes to the point of ignoring the inherent critical elements of a metafiction.[43]


Although the inability to control the interpretations of these stories may undermine wholly positive readings, it also provides an explanation for the productive work both these comics can enact despite their problematic elements. By introducing the concept that readers may fail to comprehend the metafictional elements, Currie acknowledges that readers can access many other interpretations. The progress in depicting women in comics which both of these texts, despite their problematic elements, create through their metafictional aspects, opens up a space for readings which is accessible to those outside an assumed audience who require female characters to be objects. These narratives are moved out of the closed construction of a fantasy into a flux state where that fantasy is both perpetuated and critiqued. While still problematic, these narratives are no longer framed by a single interpretation of objectification, instead allowing a multiplicity of readings, both positive and negative. At the point of reading, neither Byrne nor Smith has any further control. Their success lies in creating access for readers othered by the objectifying portrayals of these two characters, however small that entrance may be.[44] While neither of these comics provide a schematic for entirely non-problematic narratives and depictions, they do start a conversation about what those stories might look like and open a possible path towards progression. There is still an ongoing struggle over the depiction of women in mainstream American comics. Exploring the ways in which Smith and Byrne rebelled against restrictive spaces adds to a larger, ongoing dialogue about how more inclusive comics can be created within the strong conventions of superhero comics. Analyzing these texts provides the beginnings of a theory as to how even some of the most problematic aspects can be leveraged towards a more inclusive comics industry.



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Footnotes


[1] From here on, She-Hulk will refer to John Byrne’s portrayal of the character unless otherwise specified.


[2] Mark Currie, Metafiction (London: Longman, 1995). Table of Contents.


[3] Mike Madrid, The Supergirls (USA: Exterminating Angel, 2009), p.271.


[4] Nyberg, Dr. Amy Kiste, ‘Comics Code History: The Seal of Approval’, Comic Book Legal Defence Fund, available at <http://cbldf.org/comics-code-history-the-seal-of-approval/> [last accessed 5 December 2018]. para 23; Ibid. para. 22.


[5] Madrid, p.277.


[6] Ibid. p. 284.


[7] Ibid. p.281.


[8] Carolyn Cocca, ‘The ‘Broke Back Test’: a quantitative and qualitative analysis of portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics, 1993–2013’, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Volume 5, Issue 4 (2014), p.411-428, <https://doi.org/10.1080/21504857.2014.916327> [last accessed 6 December 2018]para. 3.


[9] John Berger and others, ‘3’ in Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin Books, 1972). p.53-54.


[10] Ibid. p.56.


[11] Madrid, p.281.


[12] Cocca, para. 3.


[13] Berger, p.57-58.


[14] Beau Smith, interview by Lyanna Spearwife. Three If By Space. 12 May, 2016. Digital. Available at <https://www.threeifbyspace.net/2016/05/wynonna-earps-creator-spills-beans/> [last accessed 18 November, 2018]. para. 7-8.


[15] Beau Smith, interview by Corrina Lawson. Wired. 8 June 2011. Digital. Available at <https://www.wired.com/2011/06/comics-writer-beau-smith-on-monsters-the-old-west-and-whats-on-wonder-womans-ipod/> [last accessed 18 November 2018]. para. 17.


[16] Cocca, Footnote 4.


[17] Beau Smith (writer) and others, Wynonna Earp: Strange Inheritance (San Diego: IDW, 2016), in Comixology <https://www.comixology.co.uk/comic-reader/12265/378032> [last accessed 18 November 2018], p.11-115.


[18] Ibid. p.11-119.


[19] Ibid. p. 117.


[20] Ibid. p. 118.


[21] Robert Scholes, ‘Metafiction,’ in Metafiction, ed. by Mark Currie. (London: Longman, 1995).


[22] Ibid. p. 25.


[23] Ibid. pp. 27-28.


[24] Ibid. p. 34.


[25] Ibid. p. 25.


[26] Donald E. Palumbo, ‘Metafiction in the Comics: The Sensational She-Hulk’, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Volume 8, Number 3 (31) (1997), p.310–330, <www.jstor.org/stable/43308303> [last accessed 20 November 2018]. p.323, 325.


[27] Ibid. p. 329.


[28] Patricia Waugh, ‘What is metafiction and why are they saying such awful things about it?’ in Metafiction (London: Methuan, 1984). p.6.


[29] Palumbo, p. 315-317


[30] Waugh, p.4.


[31] John Byrne (writer/artist) and others, The Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993), (New York: Marvel Comics, 1993), in Comixology <https://www.comixology.com/comic-reader/86087/457545> [last accessed 6 December 2018].


[32] Waugh, p.11.


[33] Byrne., p.4-39.


[34] Palumbo, p.310.


[35] Ibid. p. 312.


[36] Byrne, The Sensational She-Hulk #50, (1993), pp. 3-39.


[37] Ibid. pp. 20-21.


[38] Ibid. p. 39.


[39] Berger, pp. 53-54.


[40] Waugh, p. 4.


[41] Byrne, The Sensational She-Hulk #50, (1993), p. 26.


[42] Currie, p. 2.


[43] Currie, p. 16.


[44] Though they are not quoted here this line of reasoning was inspired in part by WJT Mitchell’s chapter ‘Metapictures’ in his book Picture Theory and Helene Cixous’ article ‘Conversations’ in Twentieth Century Literary Theory. Both are fully cited in the bibliography.

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