There's an interesting article over on the Bleeding Cool site about comic speculators from the 70s through to the 90s, with interviews with comic store owners at the time, using Uncanny X-Men to illustrate certain market observations.
If I interpret the comments accurately, there seems to be a common opinion that the moment X-sales really took off and the title gained its 'uber' popularity, was the arrival on the series of one JB. That's not to say Chris & Dave had not done a fine job on the title beforehand - but the comments in the article suggest that the wider sales appeal (with specifically a new female audience demographic being cited), was down to change on the title.
I guess we'll never know exactly the degree to which increased readership at the time was due to the art alone, or to the input/influence on subsequent plots/characterization. If 'Elsewhen' has achieved anything, it strongly suggests both were instrumental. They certainly were for this particular reader. Once again, thank you JB - both for the then and and now.
I don't know that there was much of a female demographic in comics readership in the late '70s. I'm sure there were SOME women reading but I don't know that there were as many then as seem to be reading now.
And it's weird to imagine it, given how gigantic those stories loom in hindsight, but the numbers on UNCANNY X-MEN didn't take off until... the '80s? Absent that groundwork JB did, though, UXM might well have gotten canceled.
Edited by Andrew Bitner on 26 September 2022 at 8:03pm
I've always thought it was X-Men 173,(PS Cover, and great artwork and story inside, yes, including Ninjas...) followed short months later by the affordably priced DPS Mini Digest that set the fire burning and strapped the rocket to JB's stardom.
This is the kind of things that even today looks odd to me.
When i was a kid, if you asked what were the best series, the answer always was The Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin, and Iron Man by David Michelinie, John Romita Jr and Bob Layton.
That was my opinion, the one of my friends, and the one of the readers in the mail of the books, which published 4 or 3 series each.
And Iron Man or the X-Men were characters you knew existed only if you were in super-heroes comics, we came for Hulk, Spider-Man, Batman or the Fantastic Four, but once there, we discovered that the best series were about those characters that weren't that well known.
Edited by Stéphane Garrelie on 28 September 2022 at 2:16pm
Fans have always tended to view their personal microcosms as representative of the industry as a whole. This is why books like SWAMP THING (original), GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW and, yes, the ANAD X-MEN are remembered as hits.