Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Number 1988: The Saint: song stumper and head thumper

“The Saint in the Musical Mystery” is from The Saint #5 (1949), drawn by the incredible Warren Kremer, who had two stories in the issue. Kremer, as has been mentioned before in this blog, is one of the most prolific comic book artists of all time, but is mostly anonymous to fans. If it helps any, he drew thousands of pages for comic books like Richie Rich, Casper, Wendy, Spooky and Hot Stuff the Little Devil. As a cartoonist, Kremer was fast and could draw basically anything. In his early career in comic books he did the standard comic book things, including stories of crime and horror (see the link below).

The story today shows the “behind the scenes” of a radio program. Television gets a mention in the last panel, a portent of doom for radio as it was known at the time this comic was published. Before television became ubiquitous, for millions of people nightly entertainment was gathering around the radio listening to news, comedy, mystery, quiz shows, musical variety...when television first came in it was adapted visually from what had been done for decades by people standing around microphones in a radio studio. Despite his image as a suave, well-dressed detective, the Saint could also use his fists. What would a comic book be without punches being thrown?

Additionally, “hussy” isn’t a word you hear much nowadays, much less see in a comic book, so I was amused to see “Why you jealous hussies!" spoken in anger by the Saint’s girlfriend. Hussy means a girl of loose morals, and has been replaced by cruder words. Hussy is now a quaint term. I have been known to use it, but only on very rare occasions. I live a boring life. I don’t run across many hussies.

Click on the thumbnail for a historical crime story by Warren Kremer.


Daniel [] said...

At various points, the artwork here by Kremer looks very much like that of Ditko. I persistently hope that someone more knowledgeable than I will explore the resemblances amongst the work of Kubert, Meskin, Ditko, and others; it looks as if Kremer belongs in that group.

“The Saint” is more of an informal title than an ordinary nickname, and it just seems odd for Pat to call Templar that, instead of “Simon” (or, if she were a Jersey girl, “Templar”).

Unsurprisingly, I've heard “hussy” from my mother, who never engages in the use of the cruder terms, though she eventually found the mention of some to be acceptable.

I find “hussy” interesting because of its history, intertangled with that of “housewife”. From Middle English forward, “housewife” could refer to a married woman whose principal occupation was household production; from Late Middle English until the early 19th Century until the early 19th Century, “hussy” could have this sense. From the early 16th Century, “hussy” could refer to a case for sewing equipment; from the middle of the 18th Century, “housewife” could also have this meaning. From the mid 16th Century until the early 18th Century, “housewife” could have the meaning of an impudent or immoral girl or woman; from the mid 17th Century through to-day, “hussy” has had this dire sense.

It seems that, for “housewife” and its sister to take on the pejorative meanings, someone with influence over the course of the language would have had to have had special disdain for wives who engaged in household production. I wonder who.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I don't know why the word housewife would morph into hussy (your note is the first I have heard of it), but male disdain for traditional "women's work" might be part of it.

Maybe we have spoken of this before, but words change depending on how the people of a generation use them. Right now I'm reading a Doc Savage novel, The Monsters, from 1934. I have read the word "ejaculate" three times, in this case meaning to "say something quickly or suddenly." Even the dictionary lists that definition as dated, but understanding that doesn't keep me from snickering like a 12-year-old when I read it.

Daniel [] said...

I had a friend who was very uptight about some matters. One time, when he asked me in public what a chalk-holder did, I chose my words quite deliberately: “It invaginates the chalk.”