Why The New Yorker sent me a $5.00 check 25 years ago

Here's the check stub: NewYorker check.JPG And here are the details: The New Yorker prints typos and other journalistic or linguistic errors as space fillers at the ends of columns, accompanied by appropriately funny comments. Right now, the magazine has cut down the use of such fillers to a bare minumum, and you're lucky to find even one per issue. But years ago, each issue was awash with them, and they were anticipated and relished almost as much as the cartoons. 

It was well-known that the editors welcomed submissions of column fillers from the public. What was not known, at least by me, was whether or not The New Yorker actually paid for a filler that was printed. My guess was that there was no payment involved.

Nevertheless, I've always been a kind of typo maven, and I used to regularly submit any that I came across in newspapers and magazines. Of course, they would go separately from my cartoon submissions. For instance, here's a clipping from Stock Market Magazine that I sent to The New Yorker in 1982: unemployment clipping.JPG Most of the time, my submissions were never acknowledged, much less used, which didn't bother me at all. I never sent along a SASE for their return. However, this time I actually received the item back, with this rejection slip attached to it: NewYorker rejection.JPG Yes, that's a "Sorry –" handwritten on the bottom of the note. This was an interesting development. I continued to submit column fillers as I found them, still convinced that no payment was involved.

Then, one day I received The Check. Five dollars! The envelope contained just the check with the stub, and no other communication. It was for a typo that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, I recall, but I'm sorry to say that I've completely lost track of the item and even of the date the check arrived, except that it was in the early eighties. I remember thinking, "Oh, I guess a zillion people sent in the typo on the same day, and The New Yorker is just sending a token payment of five dollars to each of us." (And that's still what I prefer to think about it.)

I also remember showing the check to my friend and fellow-New Yorker cartoonist-wannabe Tom Wesselmann, and the laughs we shared over it. We agreed the check should definitely be framed and hung prominently in my studio. I know I kept it around (unframed) for a long time, but eventually I must have cashed it, because all I have left is the stub.

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Welcome to the Eli Stein Cartoon archive. To begin, read my introduction and personal notes, and then please look at the cartoons, which are categorized by either decade, publication name or topic. I’ve included some personal comments, memories and photos below many of the cartoons. I’ll be adding cartoons, memories and photos ad infinitum. Remember, your comments are appreciated (just click on the “comment” link at the bottom of each post).