14 years later, The New Yorker runs Seinfeld cartoon

Remember the Seinfeld episode wherein Elaine complains about how non-understandable New Yorker cartoons are and she sets out to “crack the code” using the J Peterman catalog as an excuse to talk to The New Yorker editor “Elinoff”?


This week, 14 years after that episode ran, The New Yorker is using Elaine’s cartoon (see last video clip below) in its caption contest. It’s a drawing of a pig at the complaint desk saying, “I wish I was taller.” The real New Yorker editor, Bob Mankoff wrote a rather long blog post dissecting what is funny in gag cartoons.

The second most frequently asked question is: What did you think about that “Seinfeld” episode making fun of New Yorker cartoons? Well, it was written by one of our best cartoonists, Bruce Eric Kaplan, and my initial reaction was “Et tu, Bruce?,” but over time, the episode has grown on me. I’ve used it before to compare fiction to reality when it comes to what my desk looks like and how the cartoon department operates.

And I have decided to do so again, because the episode provides a fun way to comment on issues I’m interested in. For those of you who haven’t seen the episode, I’ve created a stripped-down comic-strip version of it that includes just the pertinent parts.

Here’s a couple of the segments from that show:

7 thoughts on “14 years later, The New Yorker runs Seinfeld cartoon

  1. I entered that caption contest…as a longtime Seinfeld nut, I loved that episode. I do wonder, though, why they didn’t get BEK to draw the cartoon for the caption contest!!! THAT would have been the perfect full circle! I talked to BEK about scripting that episode, and the line “Cartoons are like gossamer, and one doesn’t dissect gossamer” was in his initial draft. Just genius.

  2. I remember that episode like it was yesterday. I’m glad they finally ran it, but 14 years? With the popularity of Seinfeld at the time, I would’ve pushed to run that toon within a month.

  3. Since being a successful cartoonist for well over 20 years, I now know the secret to getting into the NYer… become an actress playing a cartoonist. That’s the ticket.

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