Must-see morning clip: Even David Remnick doesn't "get" every New Yorker cartoon

"60 Minutes" learned about the magazine's elusive selection process, headed by cartoon editor Bob Mankoff

Prachi Gupta
March 24, 2014 5:10PM (UTC)

On Sunday's "60 Minutes," Morley Safer interviewed New Yorker editor Bob Mankoff, the man cartoonists need to impress to get one of the 17 cartoon slots each week.

This is a tough feat even for accomplished New Yorker cartoonists. "We all probably do probably 700 or 800 cartoons a year we hand in. And it's, we're lucky if we sell 30 cartoons a year. So that's a lot of rejection," said veteran New Yorker cartoonist David Sipress, speaking on behalf of fellow cartoonists Ben Schwartz, Roz Chast and Charlie Hankin.


After combing through hundreds of cartoons each week, Mankoff then presents his favorite ones to New Yorker editor David Remnick. But, as any longtime New Yorker reader knows, there's always that one cartoon that makes no sense.

Right -- what's the deal with that? Here's Remnick's take:

Remnick: At least five times a week somebody'll come up to me and say, "I didn't get such and such a cartoon."

Safer: Including me.

Remnick: Well, and here is the deep secret: including me once in a while. I will pick a raft of cartoons. And then later it'll come time to run this cartoon. And I'll look at it, and I won't quite get it anymore. Because sometimes the grenade goes off in the moment and then it doesn't repeat down the line.

Safer: Well, a friend of mine who's a New Yorker writer maintains there's at least one cartoon in every issue in which you're not meant to get it.

Remnick: I'm gonna keep that myth alive.

As for the New Yorker's other "deep secret," how much the magazine pays for each cartoon -- Remnick won't say anything except that "nobody's becoming a millionaire."


Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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