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alas, poor yorick! me and the new yorker knew him

Occasionally two cartoonists will come up with the same idea independent of each other.  A variation of this happened to me recently, when a cartoonist for the New Yorker came up with a joke very similar to a Falling Rock strip I drew two years ago.  Here’s my Yorick-the-cow joke:

And here is Zachary Kanin’s:

The only similarity here is the line from Hamlet (The oft-misquoted “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him“) being used on the skull of a cow.  The punchlines are not the same, nor is the drawing style.

I was surprised when I came across Mr. Kanin’s Yorick joke.  It didn’t seem like an obvious connection to me when I wrote it, so the fact that another cartoonist thought of it as well means there’s something there.  I was also flattered in a weird way; I am at least as clever as a New Yorker cartoonist.


I’m not going to sue, New Yorker lawyers.  Don’t worry your pretty little heads.  What I will do is put forth the same deal I gave to the writers of the NBC show Community when they used a joke I thought of first: hire me!  I’d make a great staff cartoonist.  Think it over, make me an offer.


Now I’ll get back to writing jokes you’ll see in the New Yorker two years from now.

autobiography Blog

New Yorker Rejection Collection

My friend Ian got me a wonderful book full of rejected cartoons from the New Yorker. These are cartoons, from the New Yorker‘s usual stable of cartoonists, that for one reason or another failed to make the cut. They are still very funny; in some cases, they’re funnier than what actually made it into the magazine. At the beginning of each cartoonist’s section, there is a two-page spread of questions and answers. I thought, being a cartoonist who gets rejected, why not fill their questions out myself? Below are my answers. New Yorker, take note.nyer-rejected-questions1 nyer-rejected-questions2

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It’s funny that, a couple days after my post about meeting your teachers, I read this story in the New Yorker. It’s a story by Jonathan Lethem about two bookstore employees who travel to the small town in which their hero, an obscure and seemingly out-of-fashion author lives. Beware the racy drawing that accompanies the story; it is not as racy as the story itself.

I certainly hope I don’t have to go through the kind of ordeal the characters in this story do to meet my favorite cartoonists, but maybe that’s par for the course.

Does a life of telling stories make a person crazy, or do you have to be born crazy to want to make a living that way? It’s a timeless question.

autobiography Blog comic

I Am Not Funny

newyorker cartoon contest

…according to the New Yorker Caption Contest.

I’ve been entering the Caption Contest since it’s inception over a year ago. Sometimes I miss a week. I usually get the current week’s New Yorker on a Friday or Saturday. Apparently they still use pack mules to carry mail to the Western states. It’s usually okay; I stare at the captionless comic for a while, write out a few alternates in the margins, then go online by Sunday to enter. Other times I go online earlier in the week to look at the current comic. Somehow this feels like cheating, but I don’t know why.

So far, I’ve kept my perfect track record of never being picked for the top three captions. I am weary but anxious when I open the magazine to the back page (I do this first thing; it’s kind of a weird way to read a magazine). Will I see my name? I look at the top three captions from the most recent contest. Are any of them from Portland? Do any of them have my name? Sometimes the answer to the first question is Yes, in which case my anxiousness goes from Guarded (Blue) to Elevated (Yellow). Then I see I am not the person in Portland whose caption the New Yorker has picked. My anxiousness plummets to Approaching Zero (Deepest Black).

Some weeks I feel I’ve been cheated. My caption is funnier than the ones they chose. On weeks when my self-esteem is low, I blame myself. The Caption Contest is a good barometer for how my life is going.

Anyone here been one of the Chosen Three? Known someone who has been? Or have you, like me, toiled in anonymity, only to have your witty one-liner crumpled up and tossed into the venerable New Yorker rejected captions pile? Let’s all make some tea and eat cookies.