Thousands Enter Cartoon-Caption Contest

By: Dave Astor

Dave Coverly has received more than 3,000 responses since asking readers to participate in a caption contest in his March 14 “Speed Bump” comic. More than 2,000 of the entries arrived within 24 hours of the cartoon’s publication.

“It was more than I expected, definitely,” said Coverly, who noted that cartoonists aren’t always aware of how many people read their work.

In the March 14 panel, Coverly drew a gorilla in a diner seemingly declining a coffee refill. The word balloon over the animal’s head was left blank for readers to fill in.

The best entry will appear as a “Speed Bump” cartoon in late May, according to Creators Syndicate, which distributes the comic to more than 200 newspapers. The winner will also receive the original art and three inscribed books.

Why hold the contest? “I do a lot of talks in schools, and I know kids like to do their own cartoons,” replied Coverly. He said many of the 3,000-plus submissions are from adults, but expects more from younger people as some teachers have their students enter the caption contest as a class project.

The fill-in-the-blank gorilla comic also appears on the last page of Coverly’s new collection, “Cartoons for Idea People” (ECW Press). Among the other “Speed Bump” panels in the book are 32 comics watercolored by Coverly and printed on perforated pages that can be pulled out for hanging on walls or refrigerators.

Coverly is one of three finalists for the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award as cartoonist of the year. The winner will be named May 28 at the NCS meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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