Hello to everyone …
who has entered our Cartoon Caption Contests or only voted or loitered around CartoonStock.com for any reason at all. Welcome! Feel free to enter our contests, take our money, search our cartoons and if the mood strikes you, damn it, license one of them. That’s the actual purpose of CartoonStock. To make money, split it with the cartoonists, so chained though they may be to their drawing boards, those will be chains of gold and they can continue to do the brilliant work you half-emulate when you enter the caption contest.
So, yes, like everyone else online we’re here to take your money, but unlike others were here to give you some too. All you have to do is win our bi-weekly, soon-to-be-weekly, and maybe-someday-daily, caption contest and you’ll have enough money to buy a signed copy of The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons from us for the hundred bucks you win. Just kidding, you won’t have to because you get that two-tome cartoon treasure trove for free along with the Benjamin.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that our contest is an outrageous rip-off of The New Yorker caption contest. I feel ok about that, having started that contest myself back in 1999 when it was a once-a-year affair and then running it on a weekly basis from April 2005 until April of last year. And, by the time I left I had close to close to 600 caption contests under my belt which was uncomfortable especially because I don’t wear a belt.
One thing different about our rip-off is that, besides the cash, you can enter as many times as you want. That just made sense to me from a cartoonist’s point of view because as a cartoonist you would often come up with more than one caption for a drawing. We’re also innovating with the ability to effortlessly vote for your favorite captions on your phone as well as your computer so it can suck up more of your time than it already does.
So please do vote and thanks. We need your judgments. Why? As in why don’t I do it? Please. I’m running a vast cartoon empire here at CartoonStock LLC with thousands of offices throughout the United States:
Actually, those are Tesla Supercharging stations, but same difference.
In fact, I do look at all the captions, which is more than I did when I was at The New Yorker and my minions did it. Here’s a clip from the HBO documentary “Very Semi-Serious” which shows my adorable minion Colin Stokes and Mark Phillipe Eskenazi, who we called Mark Phillipe Eskenaz, for short doing that:
But looking at all those captions, well over a thousand in each of the first two contests, by oneself will mess with your judgment. First, because, let’s face it. Lots of them are lousy. Nothing wrong with that from a creative point of view. I’ve done some pretty good cartoons but many more stinkers. Fortunately, most of them didn’t make it into print. Anyway, seeing so many bad captions starts to make you think all of them are bad when they are not. And second, while there are over a thousand captions, most of them are just variations on a few themes repeated over and over and over again as you can see in this modification I made of cartoonist Ben Schwartz’s image for the first contest:
So, while I do look at all the captions, it’s good to have another set of eyes on them or in the case of crowdsourcing, thousands of sets. That said, by the power vested in me and also all of you, I’ve declared the winner of the first contest to be James Belkin with the caption “Can we skip the handshake.” Congratulations to James. You are the winner of our First Ever Captions Contest! Bask in your glory, James, and remember in addition to the hundred bucks and New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons your prize includes free supercharging at any of our offices.
Interestingly, I got feedback from a number of people who didn’t “get” the winning caption because they thought the line should be coming from the guy with pants rather than the one without them. The idea being, with that form of the joke, I guess, that you wouldn’t want to shake the pantless guy’s hand not knowing, so to speak, “where it’s been”. Another entry with the same core idea basically explains what the joke is and why the guy without pants is saying it: “This podium is the only thing that stands between me and the voters … what say we skip the customary handshake at the end?” So, that makes it very clear, but not very funny because if you have to explain your joke it’s not much of one. That said, I won’t explain the second and third place captions:
2nd place: “I usually work from home.” by Randi Finkelstein
3rd place: “My eyes are up here, Senator.” by Jeff Gindlesperger
Now to The Second Ever CartoonStock Captions Contest! featuring this image by Mick Stevens:
Here’s the wordcloud that all your captions generated:
If you look closely you can see the themes that emerged from this contest in which many entrants saw the setting as a mashup of an office and a zoo or a prison. The winning caption by Joey Narain mashed these up perfectly with “I’m doing 9 to 5”.
There were others who had exactly the same idea but whose caption tried to explain the joke rather than let us get it. Two examples:
“Yes, I’m sentenced to 9 to 5, too.”
“9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday. What’s your sentence?”
These also illustrate some general rules about writing good captions. One: shorter is better, and two: put the punch line at the end of the sentence, with nothing coming after it. Also, a good caption for the contest has to have the right person speaking, in this case, the guy. So, “Jerry, you’re an animal,” which got high marks from the raters, was not in the running for me because the wrong person was speaking. Not exactly in the same category was, “At least they got rid of the glass ceiling,” which could be said by “Jerry” but is better if the woman is speaking. Ah, too much analysis. I’m prone to that, notwithstanding E.B. White’s admonition that “analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Nobody is interested, and the frog dies.” With this in mind, please enjoy these non-dissected captions for second and third place:
2nd Place: “They’re getting serious about employee retention.” by Josh Eisenberg
3rd Place: “And yet they still expect us to think outside the box.” by Ken Gamble
No dough for these two, but we will be sending them personalized, signed copies of my memoir, How About Never–Is Never Good For You? My Life in Cartoons. First place winner Joseph Black will be getting a check plus a copy of the New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.
Yours in Good Humor,
P.S. I welcome your suggestions about the contest or anything else on cartooncollections.com. Please send them to email@example.com and I will attempt to answer all of them.
P.S.S. Both Mick Stevens and Ben Schwartz have done many hundreds of cartoons for The New Yorker magazine. Here are some of our favorites: