Was This Caption Necessary?

Cidu Bill on Mar 12th 2013



Filed in Bill Bickel, New Yorker, comics, humor | 36 responses so far

36 Responses to “Was This Caption Necessary?”

  1. Judge Mental Mar 12th 2013 at 10:54 am 1

    It was for me as I didn’t get it until I read the caption. Part of the problem I wasn’t 100% certain what was impaled on the pikes ( I was thinking “are those toupees are some sort of bird?” )

  2. James Pollock Mar 12th 2013 at 11:14 am 2

    Birds? Those are clearly Beatle scalps.

  3. J-L Mar 12th 2013 at 11:18 am 3

    Without the caption, I thought it was showing some sort of weird sporting event, clearly cruel to birds, but with the athletes indifferent to the birds’ plight.

  4. ~~Silk Mar 12th 2013 at 12:10 pm 4

    This is very timely. Buzzards are gathering by the hundreds in NJ towns, and the US department of Agriculture is hanging dead vultures in trees to scare them off. Buzzards can’t stand the sight of a dead vulture. (I suspect they avoid evidence of possible poisoning.)

    There are announcements on the radio to tell people not to be startled by the sight. Story at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/new-jersey-hangs-dead-vultures-trees-ward-pesky-buzzards-article-1.1285980

  5. Ian Osmond Mar 12th 2013 at 01:16 pm 5

    It’s over-explained. It needs a caption, but that one is too wordy. Maybe something like, “Works much better than our old scarecrow.” A punchline has to be punchy. That’s why it’s a punchline.

  6. Bob Mar 12th 2013 at 01:18 pm 6

    I thought they were Beatles wigs, and figured the joke must have something to to with the fact that there were five of them.

  7. zbicyclist Mar 12th 2013 at 01:23 pm 7

    Yes. It’s not obvious those are crows on the sticks.

    This isn’t something real farmers would do. But, if it is something they would do, there’s no reason to think the urbanized New Yorker readers would know that.

  8. Ted in Fort Lauderdale Mar 12th 2013 at 01:23 pm 8

    I don’t think it’s particularly amusing either way, but I didn’t think the caption was necessary to figure out what was going on. Admittedly, the crows on the pikes aren’t very clearly drawn (maybe more so in the original?), but from context it was clear what they must be.

  9. Winter Wallaby Mar 12th 2013 at 01:40 pm 9

    The caption was necessary for me. I could tell that those were crows without reading the caption, but my mind didn’t jump right away to “ah, those much be a replacement for a scarecrow.”

  10. jjmcgaffey Mar 12th 2013 at 01:47 pm 10

    Gamekeepers used to hang up “vermin” on a fence, partly to show off their prowess at catching them (like a cat bringing its trophy to you!) but partly because at least some of them would be warded off by the sight. Crows and weasels apparently reacted; raptors not so much. I can’t think of what else would have been considered vermin at that point.

  11. furrykef Mar 12th 2013 at 02:38 pm 11

    I believe Ian Osmond (#5) has it — yes it needs a caption, but it needs a better one.

  12. Myth Mar 12th 2013 at 03:24 pm 12

    Yeah, agreed that a more succinct caption would be the ideal.

  13. yellojkt Mar 12th 2013 at 04:03 pm 13

    The collective noun for a group of crows is a ‘murder.” Just coincidence?

  14. farmer Mar 12th 2013 at 04:49 pm 14

    Needs the caption. I thought they were hairpieces or something. Also agree it’s too wordy.

    “Now that’s a scarecrow” or something.

  15. mark d Mar 12th 2013 at 05:49 pm 15

    I think it needs a caption since I didn’t recognize the crows. “Crowscares beat scarecrows.”

  16. Frank the curmudgeon Mar 12th 2013 at 06:11 pm 16

    Puzzled for a bit until I realized they were scarecrows. Caption would have cut recognition time.

  17. Jeff S. Mar 12th 2013 at 06:37 pm 17

    I got it, but only because I experienced a somewhat similar situation several years ago. My father was a biology professor at Missouri State University. One year, they had several hundred thousand starlings show up and try to make a home. They university came to the biology department to come up with a humane solution, since killing all the birds was somewhat impractical. The solution they came up with was this:

    They poisoned one bird and recorded its death calls, then duplicated the sound several times over so it sounded like a whole flock of starlings were dying, then played the tape across the campus. Eventually, the birds left because they didn’t want to get poisoned. It was an audio bird on a pike.

  18. The Vicar Mar 12th 2013 at 07:42 pm 18

    When I first saw this without the caption, I thought the farmer was explaining that he was raising an experimental batch of wig plants. It would take a much better artist to make this self-explanatory to me.

  19. Elyrest Mar 12th 2013 at 08:11 pm 19

    I got that they were spiked birds right away, but I couldn’t see a joke. It didn’t even help that I had already read the article about the buzzards when I saw this comic. The caption did help, but I agree it’s too wordy.

  20. The Bad Seed Mar 12th 2013 at 09:18 pm 20

    I got that they were spiked crows right away, but was trying to figure out how they all managed to land so hard on those upright spikes that they impaled themselves. I guess I’m always hearing about how some kind of animal is accidentally killing itself on/in some man-made doo-hickey, whether it’s deer impaling themselves on wrought-iron fencing (do yourself a favor and don’t Google it) or birds flying into giant wind turbines or jet engines, or landing in cyanide ponds (used for extracting gold from rocks).

  21. Elyrest Mar 12th 2013 at 09:42 pm 21

    ” whether it’s deer impaling themselves on wrought-iron fencing”

    The Bad Seed is right - don’t Google this. I came across a deer who had done this when I was younger and on my way to catch the school bus. The deer was still alive and there wasn’t anything I could do to help. Never forgot it.

  22. turquoisecow Mar 12th 2013 at 10:33 pm 22

    Yes. I thought they were just flags or something…

  23. minorannoyance Mar 13th 2013 at 01:54 am 23

    Caption is necessary, precisely because they’re not calling the alternative a scarecrow. By describing “a man made of hay” they make a familiar object sound stupid.

  24. Proginoskes Mar 13th 2013 at 03:49 am 24

    At first, I thought those were fish instead of crows.

    Seeing that there are five of them means I just got done … counting crows.

  25. MollyJ Mar 13th 2013 at 04:37 am 25

    Jeff S - Why does poisoning one crow and recording its death calls sound like a side plot to a Psycho Killer movie? Seems like a particularly weird and twisted thing to do.

  26. Catlover Mar 13th 2013 at 06:37 am 26

    I thought the crows were beards, and the gentleman at the end looked to take out the other gentleman and put his beard on another, like a collection. Definitely needed the caption.

  27. Morris Keesan Mar 13th 2013 at 07:55 am 27

    What puzzled me the most about this one is that I didn’t realize that Bill had posted two versions of it, one with and one without the caption. I was trying to figure out why the cartoon appeared to be two identical images, and thinking, “Spot the differences? Maybe one of those rare over-under stereo pairs?”

  28. Dan W Mar 13th 2013 at 08:41 am 28

    Morris, I was thinking the same thing. Personally, I think it needs the caption, and I don’t even think the caption is too wordy. Maybe it’s because the dead crows aren’t necessarily recognizable as such.

  29. Daniel J. Drazen Mar 13th 2013 at 12:39 pm 29

    The caption actually helped since a) I had no idea they were supposed to be c rows impaled on sticks, and b) I learned that scarecrows work best if you do NOT wash the clothes — the scent deters crows rather than the illusion of humanity. I’m not cure how a carrion bird such as a crow would react to one of their own kind as an entree.

  30. Ian Osmond Mar 13th 2013 at 03:19 pm 30

    Daniel J. Drazen @ 29: They react with caution, and, if they KNOW who’s responsible, with a vendetta. Crows are smart, social, and hold grudges. Crows probably WOULD understand that displaying crow bodies was a threat — the question is whether they would decide that the area was too dangerous and leave it alone, as the farmer hopes, or decide that the right thing to do is to come in force and wipe the guy out.

  31. BeckoningChasm Mar 13th 2013 at 03:40 pm 31

    I was trying to figure out if it was a pun or something like that. “Crow-pikes? Corn rows? Um…” Without the caption it’s just strange, like a Kliban cartoon.

  32. Dave in Boston Mar 14th 2013 at 03:07 am 32

    The caption should be: “You’re scaring me.”

  33. Dave in Boston Mar 14th 2013 at 03:08 am 33

    …no, maybe not.

  34. Marie Mar 15th 2013 at 09:46 am 34

    Here I thought that the toupee harvest was very skimpy that year.

  35. VCR Apr 11th 2013 at 04:49 pm 35

    It’s not funny either way, but at least with the caption it makes sense.

  36. Nic Mar 18th 2014 at 11:05 am 36

    Farmers have hung up dead crows to keep live crows away for years. Maybe this wasn’t intended to be funny; maybe it’s from a farmer’s instruction manual.

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