The Birds

Cidu Bill on Sep 20th 2012


Follow-up: The way the strip was supposed to have looked, according to Jimmy Johnson:


That’s what they get for getting married on the poop deck.

Filed in Arlo and Janis, Bill Bickel, CIDU, Jimmy Johnson, comic strips, comics, humor | 39 responses so far

39 Responses to “The Birds”

  1. Kilby Sep 20th 2012 at 05:35 am 1

    I have no idea what the joke is supposed to be, but I assume it has something to do with the sky, unless it’s simply the fact that the guy in the middle is completely absorbed by the view of her cleavage. I would also like to mention that these three characters are sitting (or standing) with no visible means of support.

  2. Kamino Neko Sep 20th 2012 at 05:44 am 2

    The guy in the middle is her husband, Kilby.

    And, yeah, I’ve no idea what the joke is, either.

    But I can guarantee the comments on the gocomics site are going to be primarily about how it’s foreshadowing doom for the marriage, since pretty much every other strip concerning the marriage got same.

  3. Rundstyk Sep 20th 2012 at 06:09 am 3

    I don’t know if superstition is same in US as in northern Europe. Here it (beside an urgent need to get clean clothes) suggests luck, if You are hit by droppings from a flying bird. The direction of the eyes of the astonished vicar (parson, padre, priest) and Gene as opposed to the looks of the bride to me suggest a such occasion.

  4. Lost in A**2 Sep 20th 2012 at 06:20 am 4

    I was wondering whether the strip was missing dialog. I’m guessing that Mary Lou heard something along the lines of, “You may kiss the bird,” instead of “bride.”

  5. DemetriosX Sep 20th 2012 at 06:37 am 5

    At there’s some speculation that a storm is coming and only Mary Lou has noticed, but I’m not buying it. My guess is that She got hit by some bird poop, hence her looking up while Gene looks at the spot that was hit. (I’m told that in Germany getting pooped on by a bird is good luck.)

    Of course, it’s not unknown for Jimmy Johnson to have a set-up one day and the payoff on the next, so we may know more tomorrow.

  6. Soup Dragon Sep 20th 2012 at 06:54 am 6

    DemetriosX #4 has it. A classy poop joke. Now, will there be smashing later on?

  7. Powers Sep 20th 2012 at 09:01 am 7

    How are we supposed to know this is a wedding? Mary Lou is wearing purple, and there don’t appear to be any guests.

  8. Woodrowfan Sep 20th 2012 at 09:12 am 8

    If you read the strip everyday you know this is a wedding as that’s been the storyline for the past several weeks…

  9. Elyrest Sep 20th 2012 at 09:38 am 9

    Powers is right - this might not be the actual wedding. The preacher may just be talking to Gene and Mary Lou before the ceremony. I’ve no clue to what’s going on though.

  10. Jonathan Sep 20th 2012 at 09:42 am 10

    On the Arlo and Janis blog, Jimmy Johnson points out that this version is mis-colored, so we don’t see the punch-line (or more accurately, the punch-blob).

    If you go to:

    You will see that this is one for the “Eww” file…

  11. GiP Sep 20th 2012 at 09:42 am 11

    JJ explains it at with the proper black and white version as the color is wrong and hides the actual (as expected) poop joke.


  12. James Pollock Sep 20th 2012 at 09:56 am 12

    Anyone who has lived at the coast keeps a watchful eye out for seagulls. For, um, the impolite reason noted above.

  13. Cidu Bill Sep 20th 2012 at 11:40 am 13

    Elyrest, just previous to this, the preacher said “Time for the ceremony” — so absent an elaborate con, that’s what this is.

  14. Tonya Sep 20th 2012 at 12:39 pm 14

    I see poop on the groom’s left shoulder in the last panel. Still have no idea what the point is though.

  15. MollyJ Sep 20th 2012 at 12:40 pm 15

    So this is the ceremony. And the guy on the left is the preacher. And he says “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” And a bird poops on the groom. That’s what my take is.

    I wonder if Mary Lou and Gene are going to be feeders or smashers.

  16. Chakolate Sep 20th 2012 at 12:54 pm 16

    I wonder whose fault? The way it was supposed to look, it’s a not-too-funny but understandable joke. By coloring in the bird’s stain, the whole thing is just … nothing.

    So who does the coloring for strips?

  17. jjmcgaffey Sep 20th 2012 at 01:44 pm 17

    Syndicate colorists, I believe - there are a lot of strips that lose their point because the colorist got it wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t affect the joke, but it’s still wrong - there was one strip relatively recently (which wasn’t Peanuts, I don’t think, but a similar kids-with-big-heads look) in which all the skin tones were bright orange. No idea how the colorist thought that could possibly be right.

  18. Chakolate Sep 20th 2012 at 02:37 pm 18

    Thanks, jjmcgaffey. When I saw the strip on my RSS feed, I could see the blotch was colored dark purple. I wouldn’t have seen it at all if I hadn’t seen the original here.

  19. Judge Mental Sep 20th 2012 at 05:02 pm 19

    [blockquote]I wonder whose fault?[/blockquote]

    I am pretty sure it was the bird’s fault. I guess Gene *could* have pooped on his own suit. But not on the shoulder, and not in the time elapsed between the third and fourth panels.

  20. Mary in Ohio Sep 20th 2012 at 06:44 pm 20

    The fact that she is putting a ring on his finger in panel one kind of made me believe it was a wedding, even if I didn’t follow the strip closely.

  21. Elyrest Sep 20th 2012 at 07:00 pm 21

    You can see a ring being put on a finger? I guess if I knew that’s what it was, but otherwise…

  22. Ooten Aboot Sep 20th 2012 at 07:07 pm 22

    I don’t think this can be the wedding. There are no witnesses (presumably they’re still indoors partying). Is there a state that does not require the presence of two witnesses? More likely it’s an impromptu rehearsal.

    Come to think of it, is it usual for the officiant to meet the couple just before the wedding (he introduced himself in Monday’s strip)? I’ve known a few clergy folk pretty well over the years (I’m 65), and none of them would have considered that an ethical practice. Religion aside, the clergy like to know that people know what they’re getting into.

  23. guero Sep 20th 2012 at 07:39 pm 23

    Ooten Aboot @22, I can’t speak for the whereabouts of the witnesses, but in defense of the clergy, on Monday he was making an announcement to everyone at the party, so introductions might be reasonable in deference to the out of town guests.

  24. Mark in Boston Sep 20th 2012 at 11:16 pm 24

    You know, there was a time when the cartoonist and the printer were allowed to work together to get the colors and the details just right. Take a look at a Sunday comic section from 1910 to see what I mean.

  25. Singapore Bill Sep 20th 2012 at 11:20 pm 25

    I had a bird let loose on me on my wedding day as well. Twelve years later and I’m still waiting for the promised luck.

  26. DemetriosX Sep 21st 2012 at 05:46 am 26

    @24. Sunday comics are still colored by the cartoonists (or somebody they hire for the task), but most dailies are colored by the syndicate. Cartoonists are generally not very happy with the results (there are jokes about trained monkeys, third world sweatshops, etc.). That’s why some daily cartoons aren’t colored, the artists have insisted on it and have enough clout to get it into their contract. A very few have managed to wangle contracts that let them do the coloring. I know Brooke McEldowney does his own coloring.

    As for the wedding guests, I think the problem is the composition of the first panel. The minister ought to be standing so that we only see his back, but Jimmy Johnson has turned him slightly so we can see his face. That makes it look like the railing is right behind Gene and Mary Lou with no room for the guests. I think the guests are supposed to be behind them, though.

  27. Kilby Sep 21st 2012 at 08:22 am 27

    OK, fine, it’s a coloring error that torpedoed a bird-poop joke. None of this changes the fact that if the artist is going to have the bride staring into the air, then he should have done something vastly more entertaining with the birds shown above the couple (such as “sparrow … seagull … vulture”). Or he could have portrayed the entire scene from a bird’s eye view - except that Larson did that one already.

  28. Keera Sep 21st 2012 at 03:12 pm 28

    Ooookaaaay, so the conclusion from all of this is that the cartoonist thinks outdoor weddings are a dumb idea?

    My observations about birds is that they do try to avoid pooping on living beings, reserving that behavior for when the living being is perceived as an enemy.

  29. Kilby Sep 21st 2012 at 04:26 pm 29

    … birds … try to avoid pooping on living beings…

    Here’s Gary Larson’s classic interpretation of How Birds See the World“.

  30. James Pollock Sep 21st 2012 at 06:32 pm 30

    Keera, our experiences vary.
    I would say that Mr. Johnson’s point is not that outdoor weddings are a dumb idea; rather, it is that if you plan an outdoor wedding at the beach, the danger of seagulls acting like seagulls justifies keeping the cake and the punchbowl under a tent. And you have to be prepared to accept (as Gene and Mary Lou have) the possibility of the ceremony being interrupted.
    Whether birds are targeting or not isn’t really the issue; it’s just probability… the likelihood of being hit depends strongly on the number of seagulls aloft. (For non seagull “attacks”, the big variable seems to be whether or not I’ve parked under a tree.)

  31. Cidu Bill Sep 21st 2012 at 07:40 pm 31

    My own guess is that Jimmy is well aware of the “bird crap landing on you as good luck” superstition, and this is his way of giving his own blessing to their marriage.

  32. Kilby Sep 22nd 2012 at 12:28 am 32

    I don’t know what part of “northern Europe” Rundstyk was referring to (@3), but I have never heard of the “lucky bird poop” superstition, neither in Germany nor in the US (despite @25 & 31). It sounds like a desperate attempt to infer a positive aspect from things falling from the sky (cf. superstitions about shooting stars = meteorites); I wonder if this could apply to lightning as well?

  33. Chakolate Sep 22nd 2012 at 12:40 am 33


    I’ve heard of the lucky bird poop superstition, but I heard it about northern Italy.

  34. guero Sep 22nd 2012 at 03:39 am 34

    Well, as long as we are on the subject of bird poop

  35. guero Sep 22nd 2012 at 03:41 am 35

    Arrgghhhh - my link thingy didn’t work! try again:

  36. DemetriosX Sep 22nd 2012 at 06:07 am 36

    @32 Kilby
    I’d never heard the superstition in America, but my German wife (aus Südniedersachsen) told me about. She seemed to think it was reasonably widespread.

  37. zookeeper Sep 22nd 2012 at 12:30 pm 37

    My mother, an O’Reilly, told me “Lucky!” when I caught one. Then there’s the pirate chatting up the young lassie: “Ohh, Long John, how did you get that hook?” “Argh, I lost me hand in a Seychelles sword fight.” Ohh, Long John, how did you get that eye patch?” “Argh, a seagull pooped in me eye.” “And that made you lose your eye?” “Argh, it was me first day with the new hook.”

  38. Mark in Boston Sep 22nd 2012 at 10:24 pm 38

    Well, if the bird happens to be a Foo Bird instead of a seagull, you know what they say …

  39. Kilby Sep 22nd 2012 at 11:31 pm 39

    @ DemetriosX (36) - Asking around showed that it is in fact a popular, yet not universally known superstition (in Germany). One person said “no, never heard of that at all” (matching my own experience), but another person completed my sentence before I had finished asking the question.

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