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Comics archive! Mark Trail

Shout-outery

Gil Thorp, 7/18/14

Tongue loosened by wine and Mimi’s sultry charms, Gil slurs out his commitment to mediocrity and refusal to reason with anybody, ever. And dammit, slow as he is, that tuba player is one hell of a receiver.

Mark Trail, 7/18/14

“I’m not interfering in your relationship with Lori …. That said, here are my opinion and advice regarding your relationship with Lori!” Mark has suppressed all feelings since 1946, but that dam has now burst with him loving and missing Cherry all willy-nilly, and here he advises Dirty to go work on his relationship. The long-awaited Mark Trail/Mary Worth crossover has begun, and it’s going to be awesome.

Funky Winkerbean, 7/18/14

Because comic book conventions are inherently fascinating, I had complete confidence that Comics Curmudgeon readers would follow this week’s Funky Winkerbean with rapt attention so I didn’t have to look at it. Thank you, generous readers!

But Comic John’s coy little shout-out in panel two is just too irritating to pass by. Tired joke, sitcom-style “That’s Our Crazy!” take, grandiose validation of the speaker’s own in-group, ugh. Pair that with the over-rendered “uncanny valley” look that suggests ol’ Skunkhead was drawn from life and now here I am considering the possibility that Comic John might be an actual real person living in the same world as me and seriously have you no mercy, Funky Winkerbean?

Judge Parker, 7/18/14

I do believe that’s a Business Plan Sam’s holding there. Steel yourselves.

Lots of name-checking going on in Judge Parker this week. Mopey Eurotrash Jules the other day, and now wealthy Parisian Cancer Rachel and country-music legend, solar entrepreneur, and real-estate titan Rocky Ledge, né Milton Rasmussen, husband of award-winning actress and equestrienne Godiva Danube, née Brunhilde Akermann. I kid you not.

There must be a point at which a comic moves so slowly that it needs to spend every strip reminding readers what’s gone before. I’m taking dibs on calling that point the “Parker Equilibrium.” Ironically, Apartment 3-G was first to reach it.


Just a reminder that there are no Comments of the Week on my watch — Josh will be back July 28 with an extra helping.

But to sate your lust for comics-themed Friday entertainment in the meantime, I have assembled “Twirlin’ Tommie Thompson” – two seemingly endless conversations with Carol Collins in Jack Riley’s magical barnyard, featuring Red Tommie and Blue Tommie and a swirling kaleidoscope of backgrounds:

It’s a little less annoying if you draw a little dot on your monitor at the tip of Tommie’s nose. But don’t use permanent marker like I did – it lasts a surprisingly long time.

– Uncle Lumpy

Dirty feelings; dirty thoughts

Mark Trail, 7/15/14

“Call me Dirty, Mark, like my good friends do! You like me, Dirty, don’t you? I sure like it when you talk to me: Dirty. And I will be Dirty for you any time and any way you want!”

In Carson McCullers’ novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, people constantly confide their deepest feelings in a character who is utterly incapable of understanding or helping them in any way. Mark Trail is exactly like that, but with more elephants and no actual hunting.

Archie, 7/15/14

One of the paradoxes of experimental psychology is that the paradigm for secondary reinforcement, which increases the frequency of a behavior, is identical to the paradigm for frustration, which decreases it. Both paradigms present stimuli associated with a primary reinforcer such as, oh, say, sexual release, but withhold the primary reinforcer itself. Archie, of course, has been dining out on that association for a long time – start with a stereotypically porny setup like oiling up your mostly-naked girlfriend by the pool in front of her angry but impotent father, but then cut to some dumb pratfall. Readers know it won’t deliver — it hasn’t for 72 years, and never will. I guess I’m just asking why anybody reads Archie, since it’s not porn.

Lockhorns, 7/15/14

It didn’t occur to me before seeing this panel today that Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn are never shown in casual daywear — check it out. Apparently in the absence of any sort of emotional connection they had been relying on deeply-ingrained but meaningless rituals to keep their lives from flying apart: parties, dress codes, weekly visits with Dr. Pullman, and other mechanisms to sustain their empty, endless charade of a marriage. It worked, too, right up until the instant Loretta said, “We’re not staying together for the sake of appearances — any more.”

Judge Parker, 7/15/14

OK, I’m posting this partly because the dialog doesn’t make any sense – it’s like the authors pasted in speech-bubbles left over from other strips so they could make a tee time:

“What do you know about the fashion business?”
“Lots! Remember Jules? He didn’t know anything about business!”
“We met at an institute design class! That has nothing to do with business either!”
“But Jules was into shoes! Are we even talking about business any more?”
“That’s what design classes are for … to spark a passion! For shoes! Or Jules! Certainly not business — or design, whatever that is!”

But I mostly want to express my irritation that we are probably headed for a do-over of one of the most grindingly dull Judge Parker stories of all time, justly ignored in Josh’s retrospective: Mopey Eurotrash Jules and Sam the Man with a Business Plan. Spoiler: Sam winds up with a million-dollar stake in Jules’ business just because.


– Uncle Lumpy

Comics Curmudgeon — the Elevening

Oh my goodness that was so exciting! And now begins the eleventh blogyear — the second blog decade — of the Curmudgeonarchy. Look on these works, ye mighty, and despair ….

Apartment 3-G, 7/12/14

Despair especially upon reading today’s Apartment 3-G! After weeks of tedious passive-aggressive banter, Carol and Tommie finally bond over a prank that would embarrass a preschooler. Giggle-snort-guffaw, indeed, and I’ll raise you “chortle.”

It’s a mercy Tommie can’t hear the quotation marks when Luann and Margo tell people she’s the funny one.

But we can …

Rex Morgan, M.D., 7/12/14

Speaking of despair, see how crestfallen poor Rexy looks as his daughter rockets past him into society’s uppermost stratum of privilege and influence. I’m betting those free cab rides and Shamu passes seem pretty shabby about now don’t they Rex, you pathetic bourgeois striver.

Mark Trail, 7/12/14

The key to compelling fiction is carefully detailed secondary characters. See, for example, how the lion’s rage and loathing are directed inward at his own cowardice, not at his feisty erstwhile prey. Let’s listen in! “Sure, Leo — run from the fucking giraffe, loser. Like he’ll neck you to death or some shit. ‘King of the Jungle’ my ass. Goddamn, warthog again tonight — Zuri’s gonna kill me.” And even at this great distance the reader can sense the vulture’s disappointment at the loss of its meal, disgust at the craven lion, and maybe a flicker of hope that Chris’s plan will save it from starvation? Of course, that assumes that the corpse of Mark Trail, all leather and sinew, could possibly be digested, even by a vulture, and even after a couple days rotting in the African sun. But hey, a bird’s gotta dream — fly high, vulture guy!

Luann, 7/12/14

When Luann wants to disappear somebody, they put him on a plane. Longtime Luann crush Aaron Hill was exiled to Hawaii, but that has disadvantages of being still nominally in the US, so the disappeared one could theoretically keep in touch by phone. The technique was perfected for Miguel and one-shot “Sanchez” by sending them to Spanish-speaking countries. It’s perfect because not only are they outside the US so who cares, but if they did somehow manage to build a working telephone out of the native soot, feathers, and animal bones, we wouldn’t hear anything on our end but incomprehensible gibbering.

I’m super-interested in Gunther’s experience actually on his flight to nonexistence (OK, Peru, but c’mon). Will he just wink out once he crosses the border, or is it a gradual process of dematerialization culminating in technical nonexistence somewhere over, say, Quito? Can he feel the interstitial tissues of his internal organs relaxing their grip right now? What kind of Last Meals do they serve on a flight to Nowhere? He and Rosa are in Business Class (thanks, Mom — bye!), so will they get a couple dishes of those awesome hot nuts with their Diet Pepsis? Does Gunther save the cashews for last, and avoid the almonds entirely? Maybe, ever the gentleman, he gives Rosa his cashews and takes her almonds? It’s the least/last thing a fella can do.



Josh has withdrawn to his garret to finish his novel (tick-tappita tick-tapp tappita), so I’ll be here through Sunday the 27th. No fundraiser this time: thus your generous contribution will be an especially welcome surprise when we send it up in the basket with his sandwiches. If you have any technical issues with the site, reach me at uncle.lumpy@comcast.net. Enjoy!

– Uncle Lumpy