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Comics archive! Mark Trail

Chekov’s soap opera strip: Put a gun on the mantle and it must go off in the next decade or so

Hi and Lois, 12/16/14

I’ve never been entirely clear on how we’re supposed to understand the Thurstons’ class position relative to the Flagstons. I mean, they live in identical houses next door to each other and Hi and Thirsty work in the same office but Thirsty and Irma’s lives just always seem a little shabbier, somehow. Anyway, I own a number of thrift-store clothing items and feel that nobody should be ashamed of shopping at such places, so I’m pretty resentful about Lois’s super-smug facial expression in panel two. “Haha, guess you wouldn’t have to wear my grubby hand-me-downs like a poor person if your husband weren’t a drunk, eh, Irma? We’re ostensibly best friends!”

Rex Morgan, M.D., 12/16/14

Oh my God, you guys, Rex Morgan is finally following through on a plot it set up literally five and a half years ago: Becka’s husband Peter worked with a sexy nutritionist, and Becka was jealous! Her suspicions were apparently fully justified despite Peter’s attempt to convince her otherwise. So see, she never particularly cared about academic independence over at the old community college or whatever the dumb faculty intrigue plot was about; she just had her heart broken! Also, in case you’re not reading along at home, Becka is telling all this to June as a way of explaining why she’s quitting her job at the clinic. A good thing to do when you’re emotionally devastated and restructuring your financial life after separating from your spouse is to give up your main source of income!

Funky Winkerbean, 12/16/14

Let’s say that, years ago you named someone in your comic “Funky Winkerbean,” to denote the happy-go-lucky nature of the character and the strip. It was the ’70s, so maybe drugs were involved. I’m not gonna judge! And then say that over the decades your strip became a charnel house of sadness and your character became a bloated, angry jerk. I think it’d probably be a bad idea to have anyone in the strip refer to him by a nickname like, for instance, “The Funk Man.” It’d just make everyone think about the name more, you know? You don’t want people thinking about the name.

Mark Trail, 12/16/14

“Say, Justin, this gives me an idea: what if you still built your titanium mine near the swamp, but then once you got the titanium out of the ground, you just admired it for a bit and then put it back? That’s a reasonable centrist compromise we could all agree on!”

Momma, 12/16/14

So Santa is an immortal magical being whose lifespan lies outside of time as we know it, and Momma is … roughly forty years younger than him? Sounds about right.

Heathcliff, 12/16/14

I like that, even in the iconography of his terrifying cult of personality, Heathcliff looks pretty bored.

Six Chix, 12/16/14

Ha ha, it’s funny because her mother died from melting, and they’re never going to hear from her again!

“We must strip-mine the Grand Canyon. It’s what Justin would’ve wanted.”

Mark Trail, 12/12/14

Looks like ol’ Mitchum isn’t just going to sit around waiting for Justin to become a tree-hugging environmental radical, as chemical company CEOs inevitably do when they spend more than a day outdoors. No, he’s going to hire some local thugs to take Mitchum out, and, even more diabolically, turn the whole thing into false flag operation! I look forward to seeing Mitchum live on TV, still splattered with Justin’s blood after his narrowly failed rescue attempt, giving an impassioned speech declaring that if we don’t start mining the Great Dismal Swamp for its precious metals right now, the eco-terrorists will have won. There won’t be a state or national park left unplundered thanks to the rising tide of pro-mineral development patriotism!

Crankshaft, 12/12/14

This Crankshaft flashback is continuing, proving that it’s not just emotionally fragile children our cut-rate Santa can make cry! Anyway, the most alarming thing about today’s strip is that I finally figured out that the aghast Montoni’s employee is supposed to be Funky, before a decade of sadness and failure grays and bloats him.

Why rage against CEOs when we could fight the real enemies: executive vice presidents

Mark Trail, 12/3/14

In bygone times, rulers were considered to be anointed by God, and criticism of them was illegal or unthinkable, and so political discontent tended to settle on their counselors. The king is of course noble and good, but he has been getting bad advice from those slippery men who have wormed their way into his entourage! This trope often appears in Mark Trail, too: Senator Baldy wasn’t really in favor of drilling for oil in a national park, it’s just that his corrupt staffer was blackmailing him! That nice lady CEO met an adorable raccoon and put a stop to all the environmentally harmful business plans laid out by her sinister ex-boyfriend! And the cycle of eternal return has brought this narrative to the funny pages again: our brushcut CEO will shut down this project once he sees that the Great Dismal Swamp is really beautiful and was named ironically, in one of those Iceland/Greenland kind of deals; meanwhile, his short-tied underling Mitchum, who has invested his own money in this specific deal in a move that probably makes for an extremely confusing corporate structure, will try to keep the CEO on the path of rapacious profit-minding. Anyhoo, I was going to say something about how this proves that modern society imbues our current corporate 1% with the same semi-divine aura that once was given to kings of old, but then I realized that Mark Trail’s relationship to “modern society” is tenuous at best.

Crankshaft, 12/3/14

Hey, did you know that Crankshaft’s Bald Friend Whose Name I Forget ran a movie theater? I sure didn’t, and I’ve read Crankshaft every day for years! I guess it’s just good narrative practice to introduce something into a character’s life that brings him joy so you can yank it away from him in front of your audience. Today’s strip is particularly hilarious, if by hilarious you mean “cruel.” Yay, your theater is going to be saved, old man! Oh wait no saving it will be expensive, haha never mind, hope you like the taste of leftover popcorn and shattered dreams.