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<   No. 1460   2007-01-25   >

Comic #1460

1 {scene: Hitler's Brain's chamber in Nazi HQ in Berlin}
1 Hitler's Brain: How could you let them escape?!
1 Haken: {accusingly, pointing at Erwin} Erwin did not stop Fraulein Doktor Smith, mein Führer!
2 Erwin: When we were in Poland, I put a tracking device in her shoe.
3 Hitler's Brain: Then... you know where they are going?
3 Erwin: Ja, I tapped into die device.
3 Hitler's Brain: Good work, Erwin!
4 Haken: {caustically} And what do these tapped slippers say?
4 Erwin: There's no place like Rome.

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This is the result of the latest caption competition, run back in the first week of January, 2007. This entry was sent in by a reader who wished to remain anonymous. I couldn't go past the completely unexpected and top quality pun in the last panel, combined with the good in-story explanation for how the heck the Nazis manage to figure out that Ginny is leading the Jones family to Rome, and the very in-character behaviours of the characters.

I received 90 entries in 48 hours. About half of the entries were based on "all roads lead to Rome" as a punchline, including several where the last lines were slight variations on "How do you know they're going to Rome?" "They left on a road!" Now, while this was good enough for me to use once, I really didn't want to use it twice in such quick succession.

The next largest group of entries were of the "Nazi science sneers at plot holes" ilk. I got that exact line a few times. Several people even more completely shattered the fourth wall, with dialogue like: "But why Rome?" "Because the author said so!"

A couple of people sent in non-PG-rated entries, which, although rather amusing to contemplate, could not be used...

And some people really took the brevity instruction to heart this time. My favourite came from Greg Mulert:

1 Hitler's Brain: Go to Rome!
2 Haken: Jawohl!
3 {silence}
4 {silence}
While hilarious in a totally metahumour fashion, this wasn't particularly useful for actually explaining what was happening.

I won't list any more runners-up here, since some of them contain lines good enough to adapt and use in following strips. Thanks to everyone who entered!

2016-09-21 Rerun commentary: Around this time in the history of the strip, captioning competitions started to become unwieldy because of how many entries they were attracting. A brief search seems to indicate that this was the last one I ever ran.

I do like the interaction with readers that captioning competitions allow. If I did it again in the future, I think I'd put a bit of effort into semi-automating it somehow, though, rather than just generating a deluge of emails to go through manually.

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