Welcome to the four hundred and sixty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and sixty-two. This week, did Stan Lee really coin the phrase “Nuff’ Said”? What single Uncanny X-Men page drive John Byrne to quit drawing the title? Finally, was Larry Hama forced to add words to a silent issue of Wolverine?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Stan Lee coined the phrase “Nuff’ Said!”
Do you know how there are certain jokes and/or cultural references that just do not stand the test of time? Hell, I do a whole column here about those sort of references (and explaining them when they show up in old comic books). I am reminded of this when dealing with the idea of whether Stan Lee coined the term “Nuff’ Said”
Stan Lee, longtime Marvel Editor-in-Chief and co-creator of many of the most famous characters in the history of comics (like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, X-Men, Fancy Dan, Iron Man and Thor) is himself likely the most famous comic book creator alive today.
Lee is known for his charisma and his catch phrases, including his most famous one, “Exclesior!” However, another famous phrase he uses a lot is “Nuff’ said.” Here it is in an ad for a Stan Lee cologne, even!
It has become so famous that Lee himself is often credited as coining the term. My pal Duy Tano asked me on Twitter the other day if Lee actually DID coin the term.
As it turns out, he did not. He clearly has popularized the phrase in our time (although, to be fair, other people WERE using the phrase in the 1960s, as well. Nina Simone even named one of her late 1960s albums Nuff Said and I doubt she was referencing Marvel Comics of the time) but the origins of the term go waaaay back to a series of jokes that are now so old that no one remembers them beyond etymologists.
You see, for a while in the 1830s in the Northeast, a popular joke was to use acronyms for long phrases. You see it all the time to this day with stuff like ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) or ROFLMAO (Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off).
However, the trend went to absurd degrees when people began using acronyms for MISSPELLED words as a joke. So, for instance, KG for “Know Go.”
One of these popular misspellings was, of course, Nuff’ Said (occasionally even more mangled as Nuff’ Ced). One popular acronym was NSMJ (“Nuff’ Said ‘Mong Jintlemen”).
So no, the phrase/term was a popular one for over a century before Lee began using it. It just wasn’t all THAT popular, as the term did not exactly catch on. So Lee definitely popularized it.
Amusingly enough, one of those misspelled acronyms DID catch on. “Oll Korrect,” which became the famous “OK” was adopted as a slogan for then U.S. Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren in the US Presdiential Campaign of 1840 (he was nicknamed “Old Kinderhook,” so his supporters would use OK for THAT). It is amusing to see a fad become SO popular that the term is now just part of our everyday language.
Thanks to Allen Walker Read for his tireless research into determining the origins of the term “OK,” which has been shrouded in myths and mystery for over a century now, but Read’s explanation has now pretty much been accepted as fact. And thanks to Duy for the question!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did the producers of How I Met Your Mother have more than one “back-up” mother before the actual mother was revealed?
In the past, I’ve written about the problems that John Byrne had while working on Uncanny X-Men with Chris Claremont. His main issue was that the two men would plot out the book, Byrne would then draw it but since Claremont would script it before the book went to print, then Claremont would essentially have final say on how the book was presented. This was most famously an issue during Days of Future Past, when Claremont dramatically changed the ending via an added caption (you can read the old Comic Book Legends Revealed on that here).
Byrne was very angry. So angry that I had written that Byrne almost left the title over the incident. However, I was mistaken. Byrne did not leave the book over that since he had ALREADY left the book over a prior incident. Days of Future Past was drawn before Uncanny X-Men #140 (the issue before Days of Future Past) came out, and it was THAT book that led to Byrne quitting the title when it came out (and the next three issues were just books Byrne had already drawn/was in the middle of drawing).
My friend JohnByrneDraws let me in on the info via his awesome site, JohnByrneDraws.
Again, as noted, Byrne was routinely irked at how Claremont’s ability to change things via his scripting duties just trumped Byrne’s efforts and after a while it just wasn’t worth it to him. The final straw in this battle was a somewhat surprising page from Uncanny X-Men #140…
Byrne was irked that he drew Colossus easily tearing out a tree stump and then Claremont wrote dialogue and captions that made it as though it was a struggle for Colossus to tear out the tree.
While that, of course, was just a minor instance, Byrne just saw it as emblematic of all his troubles with Claremont changing the story after Byrne drew it so he decided that enough was enough and he left the book.
So if you have Uncanny X-Men #140, you own a little bit of comic book history.
Thanks to JohnByrneDraws for the info!
Wolverine #102, the final issue of Adam Kubert’s stint on Wolverine, was an interesting issue (besides being set during one of the more…interesting periods in Wolverine’s history just in general. I did a recent Abandoned Love on this era, where Wolverine had devolved into a feral state).
It had no dialogue and only had captions where Elektra tells a story of her childhood while Wolverine is off on a silent adventure.
The issue was written by Larry Hama, who wrote and drew the famous “Silent Issue” of G.I. Joe…
(Click here to read an old Comic Book Legends Revealed about how the silent issue came to be)
Reader Ariel S. asked if Wolverine #102 was originally intended as a silent issue but Hama was forced to add the captions. I asked Hama about it and he graciously filled me in:
Yes, that is true. I still didn’t like the idea of inserting words into a story that was already so effectively told with just the pictures, that I decided to tell a completely different story in the captions. You can “read” the Wolverine part in the visuals, by ignoring the captions and get a complete story, and you can read just the captions while ignoring the pictures and get a wholly different complete story, OR you can read the pictures and words together and a blended composite. I had thought that all this would have been obvious to many readers, but apparently, it was not. Some people read only one aspect and seemed to block out the others. I’ve had many fans come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed the story about Elektra when she was a little girl, and the gardener who hadn’t always been a gardener- and they think they saw those pictures. They are taken aback when I inform them that there were no images of those scenes at all. I later wrote a story where Wolverine (during the bone-claw period) gets taken by Electra to her old home, and we actually get to see the older version of the gardener, and the would-be assassin who was forgiven.
Thanks for the info, Larry and thanks for the suggestion, Ariel!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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