Cover Image: Your Caption Has Been Selected

Your Caption Has Been Selected

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Member Reviews

Neat information, appreciated seeing the cartoons as I don't regularly read The New Yorker or its online outlets, but a bit too inside baseball for me. Sometimes I felt a little lost, not knowing all the ins and outs and details.

It also feels like it could/should have been 2 or 3 different books, as the topics wandered a bit. Maybe another editing pass would have been helpful. I really appreciate finding out where "back to the drawing board" came from, though.

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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book dealing with the history of the New Yorker cartoons, the popular caption contest and how to write the perfect line to accompany a drawing.

As a child I was a big reader. So on weekends we would also hit tag sales and flea markets to feed this need. My parents liked looking at stuff, my brother got toys, and later books, and I got material for my addiction. One time I found a photo album, with a cartoon glued to the front. Inside were more cartoons, all carefully cut from The New Yorker. I had no idea at the time, I just knew I wanted it, and for .50 cents it was mine. Much of the humor was over my head, but some I could get, and my Dad thought it was the greatest thing we had ever bought. This started my love of cartoons, one that has stayed with me. I have never entered the New Yorker cartoon caption contest, my ego couldn’t handle the loss. However I am sure that I have seen the captions that Lawrence Wood has written, as he has won eight contests, and been a finalist fifteen times. Your Caption Has Been Selected: More Than Anyone Could Possibly Want to Know About The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, is a look at the history of the cartoons, of course the popular contest, a guide to writing humor, and a look at some of the famous creators.

The book begins with a history of the caption contests, some of which had big prizes, unlike The New Yorker, the prize being that one’s name appears in The New Yorker. Wood started with captions for the contest, but has worked with cartoonists also whose work appears in the magazine. Wood discusses his love of cartoons, especially The New Yorker, and how he started entering the contest when it was only a yearly event. The behind the scenes information is interesting, going into how choices are made, the use of crowdsourcing for finalists, and what makes a good caption. There are interviews with cartoonists, editors and other caption writers, both successful, and ones who labor away trying to make it. There is also quite a lot about writing, and what works in humor, captions and in everyday interactions.

A book that had quite a lot going on. I loved the information about the captions, the cartoons and the contest, but the information about writing made this one of the best references for writers I have read. Wood is not only good at creating captions, but is a very good writer, able to share a lot of information, and make everything interesting, and helpful. Wood shares how he writes, and makes it quite clear that he asks for help, tries out ideas on others and likes advice to be given. This is something more writers need to admit, and try to do more for their writing. Also something else, Wood has had success in captions, because he never let rejection take him out of the game. That is another thing writers will have to face, and Wood makes it quite clear that while it bothers him, it makes him push on.

A great look at cartoons, and fans will enjoy this quite a bit. However the advice about writing, the rejections, the looking for advice, even the little things like grammar and voice, really come through here. A fun and funny book about cartoons, but a really good book about writing in general.

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I really enjoyed this book! I knew literally nothing about The New Yorker’s Caption Contest (or really, cartoons in general) before reading this book, but the subject seemed too fun and random to pass up. And fun and random pretty much sums up my experience. I now know quite a bit about cartoonists, comedy, and AI capabilities (or lack thereof) when it comes to humor. And I enjoyed learning every bit of it. Many cartoons were included as examples, and I found them genuinely funny and entertaining. The New Yorker has a new fan.

I highly recommend this book for getting out of a reading slump, or if you happen to love fun facts or quirky history. I read this book in one sitting and it was a hilarious start to my weekend.

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Before I understood (or cared about) the articles in The New Yorker, I read the cartoons with great enthusiasm, as so many other children have for generations. I clearly recall when the caption contest began as a yearly endeavor. I recall too when it became a weekly opportunity. And like so many other readers, I've often dreamt about entering but have never actually sat down and done it. This book, then, scratches the itch that I have had since the contest began. It's a walk through each step of the process, both on the magazine's side and on the hopeful submitter's side. It's a reference manual of pro tips for coming up with the perfect caption. It's a history of the caption contest and how it's evolved over the years (particularly interesting: how shifting early voting from internal staff to external crowdsourcing has impacted the content and style of the captions that make it to the final round). And of course, it's filled with plenty of great cartoons.

My favorite in the book is one of Wood's own captions (that did not win nor place, but he shares it in the book). The drawing shows two bald eagles looking at another bald eagle nearby who's wearing a pompadour-style toupee. One of the pair of bald eagles is saying to the other, "He uses every part of the rodent." I laughed out loud, which according to Wood, is one of the ultimate goals of caption-writing for cartoons - evoking laughter. I only wish Wood had chosen that one to submit, but then again, humor is indeed subjective. Perhaps the idea of a rodent-fur toupee for a bald eagle wouldn't be as hilarious to others as it is to me. That's the joy of cartoons, isn't it?

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this eARC for unbiased review.

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How are all these people so clever? The best part of the caption contest is how different some captions are. This fun little coffee table book talks about the process and the different captions that were submitted. There is a lot of advice on what makes a winning entry, with some surprises, like how it's better to suggest something not too unusual. The most clever ones made me wish I could have come up with them myself.
Reading this was so much fun that I went ahead and found a book with some of the rejected captions so I could continue my fun later. Thanks so much to NetGalley for letting me read this ARC

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Every week the first thing I and my family look at is the captioning contest at the back of The New Yorker. Before the captioning contest I always read different parts of the weekly magazine in this precise order: Cartoons, Anthony Lane’s film reviews (the best I know, still), poetry, the humor page, then go to the opening essays and get to the fiction if I can (though having it available online read by the authors now makes it more likely I will do it. I’ve been a fiction writer off and on all my life and I have been rejected by them many many times, so it is not just a pleasure to read these stories, but rich work, close reading, so I have to commit to the time).

But the caption contest is a delight we in this house all marvel at for the brilliance of the finalists, and we vote on them and inevitably appreciate the winning ones, marveling at the humor as something we just can’t quite master. Never submitted, nope, as this is not how my mind works. I recall a brilliant English professor I had, Professor Richard Tiemersma, at Calvin, who had submitted entries to Readers’s Digest for years--Humor in Uniform, as he was a vet--and had never once been accepted. He was a great writer, but it takes a certain kind of mind to do a one-liner.

Okay! So when I saw this book on NetGalley I got it right away, and it is delightful. You know Ken Jennings and Alex Trebek? Well, Lawrence Wood is to captioning what Ken Jennings is to Jeopardy, and the originator and log time manager of the contest Bob Mankoff is its Alex Trebek. Mankoff told Wood to write this book and in ten days handed him a manuscript, and in a year he had a revised manuscript to market.
This is an amazing book I had a hard time putting down, one of my faves of the cartooning variety that I highly recommend. A kind of niche book, maybe? I dunno, but tens of thousands of peoipke have participated in the contest and there are Facebook and other social media groups devoted to studying (and figuring out how to win) this process.

Even if you aren’t interested in captioning cartoons yourself, Wood’s book is still very funny. Even if you wanted o skip the text altogether, you would still have more than 150 cartoons to enjoy! But the book is written in accessible, bite-sized chapters focusing on the history of the contest, including fun anecdotes, and advice on how to win (or even just do better). It looks at lots of related issues: Can AI create funny comics? (not yet) He looks at anti-humor sites where people come up with the most deliberately worst captions possible, or cartoonists come up with uncaptionable cartoons. Is captioning “collaboration”? Aee solo-cartoonist cartoons better than collaborations? He looks at the crowdsourcing (winnowing the thousands down to three finalists) process. Are puns a good way to go? Is clever as good as funny in a cartoon?

Wood has a short section on every piece of advice, then usefully makes a handy check-off list for you to have in hand when creating. His advice is useful, but he even more usefully admits there are exceptions to every rule. In that spirit, he acknowledges some cartoonists such as Roz Chast and Gross hate the contest.

I love the contest; I love cartoons; I love a good joke; I love pithy writing; will I now try the contest? I doubt it but I still loved this book.

Thanks to Net Galley, St. Martin's Press, and Larry Wood for the early look.

Wood commentary one one cartoon:

Here’s Wood on captioning:

Wood captioning blog:

Some of his award-winning captioned cartoons:

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A behind the scenes look at the New Yorker caption contest a contest that so many people enter every week. This is an extremely competitive contest people trying to win.I really enjoyed delving in to the. history and a guide to what makes a winning caption.#netgalley #st.martins

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"Your Caption Has Been Selected: More Than Anyone Could Possibly Want to Know About The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest" is an entertaining and engaging introduction to the New Yorker's famous, perhaps infamous contest. Author, Lawrence Wood, the individual with the most wins and nominations in the history of the contest, provides insight into the contest's history and provides detailed analysis on constructing a winning caption. The book also delves deeply into the contest cultural importance and examines its current and potential future impacts. This book is recommended for anyone who loves New Yorker cartoons and wants to know what makes them tick or just plan wants to learn how to write a better joke.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, St. Martins Press, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a quite interesting book for anyone who has enjoyed reading the New Yorker and especially it's comics.

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Synopsis (From Netgalley, the provider of the book to review)

A behind-the-scenes look at The New Yorker cartoon caption contest, its history, how it's judged, and the secrets to writing a winning caption

Every week, thousands of people enter The New Yorker cartoon caption contest in hopes of seeing their name and caption in print. But only one person has made it to the finalists’ round an astounding fifteen times and won eight contests: Lawrence Wood, also known as the Ken Jennings of caption writing.

What's Wood's secret? What makes a caption good or bad? How do you beat the crowd? And most important, what makes a caption funny?

Packed with 175 of the magazine's best cartoons and featuring a foreword by Bob Mankoff, former cartoon editor of The New Yorker and creator of the caption contest, Your Caption Has Been Selected takes you behind the scenes to learn about the contest’s history, the way it’s judged, and what it has to say about humour, creativity, and good writing. Lawrence reveals his own captioning process and shows readers how to generate the perfect string of words to get a laugh. Informative, funny, and just a little vulgar, this book is perfect for fans of the contest, readers interested in how humour works, and anyone who dreams of the day they receive an e-mail stating, "Your caption has been selected."

I love thinking up captions every week for the cartoons in the New Yorker – but I never seem to be as witty and as wise as the ones who win…and some of the captions that win baffle me as I don’t find them all that funny ... but that is me. A great book for lovers of the contest and those who have a sense of humour and who are looking for a wonderfully different read.


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