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Off My Mind: Joker Pulls a Boner

What is the story with the Joker's boner?



A couple weeks ago I tried clarifying the story behind the image of Batman saying "Quiet or Papa Spank!" If you've seen that, you've probably also seen the image above. I felt this panel also deserved an explanation. Once again, this really did happen. 
 
  When did this happen? It was in Batman #66 from 1951. That means the word "boner" had a completely different meaning than it does today. 
 
The story dealt with the Joker trying to commit a wacky crime. His plan was to rob the electric company by turning off the power. He had one of his henchmen pull the fuses for the building ten minutes after he enters. Taking an elevator up to the 24th floor, he begins his crime. Do you see where the "boner" is coming in? With the power out, there's no elevator. Going down the stairs, the Joker and his henchmen run into Batman and Robin. In order to make his escape, he has to leave his loot behind. The newspaper quickly declares that "Joker Pulls Boner of the Year." In other words, the Joker goofed up. Hence, the use of the word "boner."
 
That won't be the last we'll see of the word "boner" in this issue. 
 == TEASER == 
As the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker is the one that usually makes the jokes. He vows to make the city regret ever mentioning the word "boner." By the time you finish reading this story, you will as well. 
 
 Joker then decides to take the "great boners of all time" (such as the Battleship Missouri getting stuck in mud, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Trojan Horse, etc) and turn them into crimes. Are there more boners in the story? Yes. There are many many more boners. The entire story is only twelve pages (there's two other stories in the issue). Throughout Joker's attempt to create boners whenever he can, we end up with lines such as: 
  • "It was quite a boner!" 
  • "Stung by his boner, Joker lashes back!" 
  • "Batman will make the boner of the year" 
  • "What does he mean, Bruce? How can he force you into a boner?" 
  • "I'm worried about the boner he's preparing for you." 
  • "Batman's greatest boner!" 
 
It might be funny seeing the word "boner" used over and over but after nearly forty times in twelve pages, it gets to be a bit much. There's just too many boners in this story. What have we learned today? The meaning of words have changed over the years and Joker really likes pulling boners

133 Comments
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Posted by Achilles.

 
That is seriously wierd

Posted by KRYPTON

Interesting. Amazing what Batman's comics were like 59 years ago. 

Posted by NXH

LULZ XD

Posted by AmazingSpiderMike

Wasn't "Boner", Mike Seaver's  best friend on Growing Pains?

Posted by Mainline

The timing matters... checking the Etymology Dictionary: 
 
boner.
"blunder," 1912, baseball slang, probably from bonehead. Meaning "erect penis" is 1950s, from earlier bone-on (1940s), probably a variation (with connection notion of "hardness") of hard-on (1893). 
 
So a story from 1951 would be either before the prurient meaning or at least early in its history making it a slightly more subtle joke than it would be today, relying on a meaning that had not made it into the lexicon of most.

Posted by comicbikerscott

good news
Posted by difficlus
@Achilles. said:
"  That is seriously wierd "
now it is back then it wasn't lol...
Edited by countvontrey
@Mainline said:

" The timing matters... checking the Etymology Dictionary: 
 
boner.
"blunder," 1912, baseball slang, probably from bonehead. Meaning "erect penis" is 1950s, from earlier bone-on (1940s), probably a variation (with connection notion of "hardness") of hard-on (1893).  So a story from 1951 would be either before the prurient meaning or at least early in its history making it a slightly more subtle joke than it would be today, relying on a meaning that had not made it into the lexicon of most. "

I was thinking I could have been a subtle joke of the writers here. Just the sheer number of times boner appears makes be believe it's no accident. As if the writers had heard of the second meaning for the term and used it profusely knowing most wouldn't get the joke.
Posted by ImperiousRix

Linkara (of thatguywiththeglasses.com fame) just recently mentioned this issue in his Atop the 4th Wall: Top 15 Comics I'll Never Review video.  His reasoning was he figured people just wanted him to say boner a bunch of times, and that the comic wasn't any sillier than the majority of silver age comics. 
 He then proceeded to say boner about 20 times, as well as "erect penis".

Posted by sora_thekey

I understand why the use of the word boner seems normal... I mean it was so many years ago, but I still find it... disturbing!

Posted by Danial79

That is seriously hilarious! :D

Posted by Joe_E_Nigma

come on, this joke has been online forever. 

Posted by Video_Martian

O_O

Posted by primepower53

"force you into a boner"

 

I died laughing at that!

Edited by Mainline
@countvontrey: Given the cover and "40 times in 12 pages" it was undoubtedly intentional, but more subversive then than it is today.
Posted by countvontrey
@Mainline: Exactly.
Posted by GothamRed

regardless of what it means, using those lines out of context must be a great conversation starter.  "Say have you heard the story about Batman's greatest boner?"

Posted by ckal

 "I'm worried about the boner he's preparing for you."
 
Lmao.

Posted by G'bandit

Hehe boners :P

Posted by Mumbles

lol, just an old expression. Captain Hindsight says they should of used a different word.

Posted by Silver Knight75

Wow...Just....wow 

Posted by Lvenger

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha... ahem must be mature about this sort of thing (stiffled snigger)

Posted by InnerVenom123

LMFAO
Posted by Fugu

WHY SILVER AGE?! WHY!! 
>facepalm<

Posted by Jotham

This article gave me a boner. No, wait. This article is a boner? How are we supposed to use the word?

Posted by Adam Michaels

How times change things, right?  These panels have a COMPLETELY different meaning 60 years later.
Posted by AMS

Just think what kids in the future will think of our comics today lol.
Posted by batman_is_god

This was hilarious.
Posted by TheMess1428

It's just like when I used to read the early stories of the Justice League of America and there were stories that included Martian Manhunter using "gay" for "happy" and "queer" for "weird."

Posted by cmaprice

Actually, guys, at this point in history people were using "boner" as slang for an erect penis. It merely wasn't as commonplace as the use of it to mean a mistake. The more common slang between the 1910s and 1950s were "bone on" and "hard on" believe it or not.

Posted by goldenkey

this would have been funnier if Babs wrote the article.

Posted by Kid_Zombie
@Mumbles said:
" lol, just an old expression. Captain Hindsight says they should of used a different word. "
Captain Hindsight is the man. Where would we be with out him.
Posted by KasadyCarnage

Told ya he was gay,
Posted by weapon154

WTF

Posted by blaakmawf

I think the hot for words chick did a video on this.

Posted by knife

The word boner was used overly in the 1950's, case in point there were science films I watched as a teenager in the 70's that the narrator was always saying that science had pulled a boner, which broke the class up in laughter. I still make the mistake of calling flip-flops by their 70's word tongs.
Posted by Dracade102

"Stung By His Boner, Joker Lashes Back!" 
Now That CAN'T Be Real!!!
Posted by ArtisticNeedham

Did they explain on continuity or an Elseworlds comic that Batman and the Joker came to some sort of truce for a while where Joker wasn't killing people?  (I think referring to the era of wacky pranks and giant props).

Posted by mickoreo_LZ

 Way too funny some of those lines in the story. These old Batman stoires just keep getting weirder and weirder

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Hehe...
Posted by Karkarov

This would have been so much funnier if jokers plan to force batman into a boner had somehow involved robin.

Posted by drac96

This made my day.

Posted by danhimself
@ArtisticNeedham said:
" Did they explain on continuity or an Elseworlds comic that Batman and the Joker came to some sort of truce for a while where Joker wasn't killing people?  (I think referring to the era of wacky pranks and giant props). "
Morrison kind of touches on it in his run...there wasn't a truce...just another side of the Joker's insanity
Online
Posted by weaponxxx

Coincidentally "erectile dysfunction" during the 1950's referred to the act of sabotaging a newly completed skyscraper, Viagra was a popular television show, and male genitalia was a thing of the past... oh the 50's. Why did we ever leave you?

Posted by iLLituracy

I love how the cover is of a Joker totem pole.

Posted by bybeach

I remember boner in as making a stupid mistake. It' at least seems to me to have had both meanings as long as I can remember. A related use of term of sorts would be the use of the word 'gay'. which I avoid doing . I know these days it means dumb, especially for those who are in some kind of cultural/sociological superior state of knowing....but it doesn't seem right to me. 
 
In fact it sucks.. .......
 
Posted by innocence

Wizard Magazine covered this a long time ago.

Posted by Theodore

hahahahaha "How can he force you into a boner?!"

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