Sunday, August 28, 2016

Without Compensation or Attribution: The Afterlife of Caption Contest Captions

A copy of the Office Cartoons from The New Yorker 2017 Calendar caught my eye last week in a bookstore. The cover cartoon by David Borchart struck me because it was not originally published as one of the magazine's many office-themed gag cartoons. Rather, it is a former Caption Contest cartoon now bearing the winning caption, but without being acknowledged as such. That caption—"We're tabling the motion."—is the clever work of Patti Smart of Chicago who composed it for Contest #450 dated November 10, 2014. Although I didn't purchase a copy of the calendar, I don't see that she is credited anywhere, at least not on the outside.

Office Cartoons from The New Yorker 2017 Calendar

Instead the calendar credits the cover cartoon to artist David Borchart and to no one else:
Published Attribution of Cover Cartoon Authorship

Should Patti Smart be credited too? Of note, the Caption Contest Rules allow the entrant to retain the copyright to the submission, while granting the New Yorker the broad right to use that entry in all media "without compensation or attribution." To confuse matters, this right is specifically elucidated as one which allows the New Yorker to "...display the Submission and the entrant's name and city and state..." It is not clear to me from this possibly contradictory legalese whether or not the entrant should expect to be credited every time the  successful caption is subsequently republished.

Excerpt from the Caption Contest Rules

As a matter of good sense, it seems to me then that when former Caption Contest cartoons are published in a general New Yorker cartoon collection, it might be awkward or distracting to include the names of the successful entrants with each caption. Therefore I do not believe Ms. Smart's name belongs on the cover of this calendar with the cartoon, although I would certainly not forbid its use altogether. Yet where a specific credit is given to the artist, such as on the back cover of this calendar, it seems appropriate to credit the Caption Contest entrant as well and to acknowledge the process by which the finished gag was created. The caption contestants are not to be treated the same as gag writers who work in anonymity as a condition of their trade; instead they are uncompensated problem-solvers, three of whom compete for the public recognition that their caption more than any other has resolved a specific cartoon conundrum. The resulting cartoon comes about by a very unique process and the caption author deserves much credit when there is an outstanding result.

I should note that the Condé Nast store routinely offers prints of Caption Contest cartoons but does not credit the Contest winners:

On a further note, the Contest rules allow the New Yorker to use any submission in any manner, not just the winning entry. I am not aware of any instances yet where caption entries aside from the winning caption were published except in the context of a discussion of the Caption Contest itself.

Here are images from the first two months of the 2017 calendar with cartoons by Zachary Kanin and Tom Toro. For the record, they are not Caption Contest cartoons.
January cartoon by Zachary Kanin

February cartoon by Tom Toro


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Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #533

Here is my latest entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #533 for August 22, 2016. The drawing is by Joe Dator.

"I call this Fred's of Paris because Subway is already taken."

Note:  Last week, cartoonist Danny Shanahan reminded us that no man is an island. I decided to prove John Donne wrong and not submit a caption. Break out of your self-imposed solitude and check out the results of Contest #532.

Cartoonist Joe Dator has been spotted about town as well as on this blog. In other words, he isn't always underground.

Why can't we bungle in the jungle with Joe? Songs You're Sick Of, Joe Dator's indispensable classic rock podcast, has yet to feature any Jethro Tull, my number one band from back in the day.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Clontarf Castle, Dublin

We returned to Dublin for the final leg of our Irish journey. The new hotel was once again a converted castle.

Clontarf Castle Hotel, Dublin

The modern hotel lobby entrance is on the right.

The lobby area is set against exterior walls of the old castle.

Clontarf Castle as it once appeared

Doorbells and a warning to potential bad actors.

Shining armor

Floor tiles

Ivy covers the old and the new.

My last Guinness in Ireland

Pan roasted Wicklow lamb rump with black garlic puree and deconstructed ratatouille, Fahrenheit Restaurant. Excellent.

Straighten up and...

Note:  I no longer reside in a castle.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Donegal Town

Our travels took us to Donegal Town around nightfall on July 12. The town is situated on the River Eske in County Donegal, Ireland.

Clar Church or St. Agatha's Church (Roman Catholic)
River Eske

Low tide

A helpful reminder for American tourists at the Diamond, the town center

My nightly dose of clarity served up in the Market House Restaurant

Church of Ireland, Donegal Parish

The Olde Castle Bar and Restaurant

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle

The Olde Castle Bar and Red Hugh's Restaurant, right next to Donegal Castle

The Diamond with obelisk commemorating the Four Masters

The pharmacy is gone but the mosaic remains.

The River Eske, later

Say, that boat looks familiar...

Rising tide

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lough Eske Castle

Windmills spanned the countryside on our ride up to Donegal Town in Ireland last month. Just off the N15 was our hotel, Lough Eske Castle. The original castle facade is impressive indeed, while guest rooms are located in a large modern addition that extends to the back and side. The grounds are generously covered with figurative sculpture in bronze, most notably of a nude in the garden and a fanciful dragon on the front lawn. One of the hotel clerks had some questions for me, an American abroad, regarding Donald Trump which I fielded as best I could.


Lough Eske Castle from the garden. The guest rooms are in the modern addition on the right and in other wings.

A female nude

Sculpture at the pool

Owl sculpture






Note:  Throwing tomatoes down onto the peasants is not permitted.

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