Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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So How Many People Enter the Cartoon Caption Contest, Anyway?

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Sure, it’s been answered before. But has it been answered with decimal points? When I was reading John’s interview with brand-new contest winner Richard Hine (whose girlfriend is the novelist Amanda Filipacchi, whom I met many moons ago in my other lifetime; I’ll never stop being startled by these coincidences), I wondered anew how many people send in caption entries every week. I’ve heard a few numbers batted around, and I knew it was a few thousand.

Being a Nation-trained fact checker and print journalist packed to the brim with integrity, however, I couldn’t let that kind of imprecision stand. So I went right to the source: cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. His reply was satisfyingly complex: “Through the first 100 caption contests there have been 672,361 entries. So that comes out to an average of 6,723.61 entries per contest. I always find that .61 entry quite funny but incomplete.”

So there you have it: Richard Hine had a lot of competition, and so do you, brave caption-contest entrant. Good luck! If you’re feeling stung by weeks of rejection, soothe yourself by putting a few new spins on a 1933 Thurber cartoon with the irrepressible Radosh gang. I actually think Thurber would have enjoyed reading these.



Im one of the finalist for the cartoon caption contest going on right now. I was always wondering how many people really submit. Are these numbers for real? I tryed to get into the finals for about 10 weeks now and when I got the call from NYM I was thrilled.

So 6,723 and change are the odds? That’s ok by me, say what are the odds some guy from Albuquerque New Mexico could win over a guy from a city of 7 million?

Still more winners from CA so who can tell. Since I was a little kid I’ve alway loved the cartoons of NYM. As far back as 35 years ago, as as kid, I wrote one and sent it in. I was bad but it was funny if I only had talent in drawing cartoons. With the contest I just have to come up with half of it. The words.

My contest is pending and I hope I win, The New Yorker has always been nearby in my home since I was a little boy and even having my name in it as a finalist is a great honor! Here in the badlands of the Southwest USA there are some who love the New Yorker!

I love your between the lines! Have a great day!

carlton holtJune 22, 2007

Hi there! Yep, these numbers are for real—right from the horse’s mouth, not that Bob Mankoff is a horse. Have you seen David Marc Fischer’s map of the winners so far? There are definitely some Southwest people representing there! Good luck to you!

BTW, I believe Carlton Holt’s contest is the one being judged right now—devilishly hard to find online because the Cartoon Bank keeps changing the contest urls, so I’m giving up, but it’s the one described in this Blog About Town post. To wit:
The next trio confronting the odds—in Contest 103 [there’s a link here, but it doesn’t go to the contest under discussion anymore, which is not David’s fault] (man in window talking to priest, cop, and firefighter on ledge)—consists of

“Fellas, your empathy for victims is outstanding.”
Darryl Brown (NY, New York)

“Excuse me—does this joke need a lawyer?”
Eric Friedenwald-Fishman (Portland, OR)

“I know this may not be a good time, but the rioters are burning down the cathedral!”
Carlton Holt (Albuquerque, NM)

Hola from New Mexico,

I’m Carlton Holt again. Well I didn’t expect to win a few weels back, now I know how it is when a celeb is waiting for an award! Anyway the lawyer joke got it of all things, I thought the other guy would beat me, oh well!

As I said before the final vote was cast, I know already that lawyers love lawyers jokes and god knows there are a lot of lawyers in our great land and like the elite who is all knowing and the simple folk who are indeed just as enlightend I bow to the will of the people.

Still, thanks for all the votes for me I loved having my name in the NYM, wow that was enough, first in my family and we’ve been reading for over 5 decades.

I will keep submitting for every cartoon be my caption good or bad and by the way emdashes rules!


carlton holtJuly 18, 2007

Hi again from the Land of Enchantment, ie: Albuquerque, New Mexico,

I’m curious as to how long it takes a person to come up with a caption with the NYM contest?

When I look on line or take my issue of NYM, in my grubby little hands, I take, on the adverage about 10 mins to come up with something worth turning in. Although the one time I was honored with a finalist mention, took me about 5 and sometimes at least an hour or more. It’s certainly a fun puzzle isnt it?


carlton holtAugust 04, 2007

Is every cartoon submission read? I was curious as to the number of judges needed to review the nearly 7,000 entries.

ali gelorminoAugust 21, 2007

Good question! I sent it on to someone at the Cartoon Bank in hopes they can answer it. But as far as I know, yes!

Hey, I keep trying to impress with my thought of what would be good for a caption. Sometimes the pic is beyond me but I try of course. I love the mental challange and I try to do it right away. But believe me, think of a good caption within 10 mins and then walk away and try again. Because humor deserves that! Enjoy!

carlton holtSeptember 23, 2007

I would like to enter a cartoon idea, i have nothing more than that, but i am the voice of the main character, it is called: Bunnys Adventures, as i have already said i am the voice of the main character, which is Bunny!
If you could hook me up with a cartoon company i would be eternally grateful!!!!
Thankyou, yours sincerely katie


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