This cartoon is signed by both the cartoonist, David Ostow (dko), and his frequent collaborator, Dan Salomon (djs), so I assume it originally had a caption by Mr. Salomon or is based on one of his ideas. It’s set on the beach of a tropical island. Jesus is standing to the right of a young man in contemporary summer clothing and looking at the sand, where there is a set of huge three-toed footprints. Jesus is talking.
I suspect this was inspired by “Footprints,” a poem about a guy who dreams he’s walking along the beach with God. Scenes from his life flash across the sky, and when he looks back, he notices that only one set of footprints appeared in the sand during his most trying periods. Had God abandoned him when he needed God’s help the most? No, God was carrying him.
The identity of the person who wrote this is hotly contested and the subject of several lawsuits filed by people who, for some reason, want credit for the poem. One of them, Carolyn Carty, says she wrote it when she was six, and that sounds about right.
Here’s my “Footprints”-inspired caption: “Something was carrying you, but it wasn’t me.”
I then suggested that God must have been overtired when He created the beast that made those footprints: “Toward the end of the sixth day He made a few careless mistakes.”
Now let’s see how you did:
There were a lot of references to “Footprints,” and these were the best:
- “If you ever turn this into an inspirational poem, you might want to leave this part out.”
- “I suppose this is one of those times when you expect me to carry you.”
- “If we run into that thing, I will carry you.”
- “This is where it carried both of us.”
- “Our footprints are under his.”
- “It was then that he carried me.”
- “And here is where you and I were riding a dinosaur.”
- “This is when Godzilla was carrying you.”
There were several clever references to biblical passages:
Genesis 2:2: “And on the seventh day, He hid.”
Genesis 7:9: “My father had Noah save two of whatever these are?”
John 2:1-11: “This seems like a good time to turn some water into wine.”
Matthew 15:32-39 and Mark 1:8-9: “I hope it likes baskets of fish.”
1 Peter 2:21: “I’ll follow those. You follow mine.”
And Matthew 5:5:
- “That one about the meek inheriting the earth might be wrong.”
- “He just laughed when I said the meek will inherit the earth.”
- “Blessed are the meek…but this thing shall inherit the earth!”
That last caption, which is great, would be even better without the exclamation point. Louder is rarely funnier.
This entry addresses the fact that the footprints were left by a creature with three toes—“I see you have a sloth problem”—but doesn’t address the presence of Jesus. Still, it made me laugh.
I like this caption—“I’m rethinking this whole second coming”—but “Second Coming” should be capitalized.
Finally, we have two entries that suggest the paradisiacal setting is actually Heaven:
- “And over here is the part of Heaven that never made it into the book.”
- “Relax. You’re already dead.”
That last entry is this week’s winner.
Lawrence Wood has won The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest a record-setting seven times and been a finalist four other times. He has collaborated with New Yorker cartoonists Peter Kuper, Lila Ash, Felipe Galindo Gomez, and Harry Bliss (until Bliss tossed him aside, as anyone would, to collaborate with Steve Martin). Nine of his collaborations have appeared in The New Yorker, and one is included in The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.