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Mark Trail’s Hard Choices Wilderness Academy

Mark Trail, 10/5/09

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Mark Trail’s clan is part of a network of isolated, hard-working, rural-cabin-based families who don’t get many visitors. Our reluctant poachers actually have more than a passing similarity to his old friends who own Sneaky, except instead of harboring sinister raccoons they just have a cat — a heavily sedated or dead cat, if the limp, compliant way it’s just letting Cindy tote it about is any indication. Anyway, one wonders how they all stay in touch. They could swap rustic livin’ tips on the Internet, or at least they could if any of their rustic shacks were actually connected to municipal electric or phone lines.

There’s something distinctly unsettling about Mark’s quick transition from “Rusty has been complaining about my cooking” to “You’re a beautiful young lady, Cindy!” The best case scenario is that Mark is going to set her to rustling up some grub for his young ward, both as a way to get her accustomed to her womanly duties and to see if she’d make a suitable mate for the lad once they both reach the traditional Lost Forest marital age of 13. But more likely, part of the purpose of this camping trip is to teach Rusty that sometimes when you’re very hungry, you need to eat things that you wouldn’t eat otherwise, and Nature’s Way is to start with the smallest and most feeble. (You’ll notice that we haven’t seen Sassy in a while.)

Dennis the Menace, 10/5/09

Today’s Dennis the Menace offers an amusing set of metaphorical nesting Russian dolls when it comes to absolute and relative chronology. Henry Mitchell is the father of a child who, I’ve always assumed, is in the 6-8-year-old range; obviously there’s an extremely wide range of ages that Henry himself could be based on that, but if pressed, I would place him somewhere between 35 and 45, and probably at the lower end of that scale. So, yes, he’s safely in the generation that spawned the whole “cartoons for grownups” phenomenon, which really took off with the monster success of the Simpsons twenty years ago. Which in turn of course means that Dennis could not possibly remember a time when cartoons were, in fact, for kids.

And yet, Henry goes about his day wearing black pants and a white shirt and a bow tie most of the time, which marks him out as a Stereotypical ’50s Dad, which has him being born in, I dunno, 1920 or so. This makes him about 90 years old, or means that he’s watching the 1955 version of Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Family Guy or whatever (and note that one of the cartoon characters is himself sporting Henry’s trademark outfit) on the DuMont Network.

Apartment 3-G, 10/5/09

Make fun of Dr. P (side note: my new nickname for the Professor is “Dr. P”) all you want, but before I met my wonderful and charming wife, I had a certain attraction to women who were mean, bad, and/or crazy (see also my devotion to Margo Magee), so I can sort of see where he’s coming from here. Pill-addled? Possibly suicidal? Hinting at a troubled, mysterious past? Shouting into the phone at someone who is probably supposed to be bringing her more drugs? Sign me up!

Pluggers, 10/5/09

You know, this cartoon would be a lot less confusing if the sarcastic postal clerk weren’t himself capable of flight. “Sorry, we don’t deliver via carrier pigeon anymore. I mean, I’m a carrier pigeon myself, but … you know, union rules. Now they’ve got me behind this desk, and let me tell you, it’s a drag.”

110 responses to “Mark Trail’s Hard Choices Wilderness Academy”

  1. Armrha
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:44 pm [Reply]

    I’m interested where this Apartment 3-G story is going. Maybe Dr. P will get his own spin-off strip.

  2. zenvelo
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:48 pm [Reply]

    Isn’t “Mary” in Mark Trail actually his wife Cherry? I think Bob the Poacher and Cherry are taking advantage of Marks’ apparent lack of memory, and are about to inform him he has no family or home and would be better off living in the swamp.

  3. AeroSquid
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:49 pm [Reply]

    DtM: Hey ! I know that show ! It’s “The Clinkertons” from 1962. They’re trademark end-of-show shtick is clinking tea cups together and yelling: “No more kids for us !”, while their lackwit child looks up and wonders what all the hoo-ha is about. Well, it’s about YOU little Kevin Clinkerton. Every week you force your parents to reaffirm their separate-bededness. Especially after what you did to the cat.

  4. Eau de Plugger
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:49 pm [Reply]

    How does Joey’s bare midriff figure into your Dennis the Menace timehole?

  5. Marion Delgado
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:50 pm [Reply]

    Glad Josh caught today’s DTM.

    My speculation on the next two:

    “Mr. Wilson says the country’s been goin’ downhill since the Franklin Pierce administration!”

    “Mom finally broke down and got me that pet duck I was nagging her for!”

  6. gh
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:50 pm [Reply]

    Dr. Pill Pushing Papagoras. Now with more Ps!

  7. BigTed
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:50 pm [Reply]

    A 35-ish guy in vintage suits with a hot blonde wife, a mysterious job, and a young kid he neglects or disciplines, depending on his mood? Henry Mitchell is Don Draper. The cartoon, of course, is an animated liquor ad from 1963.

  8. Baka Gaijin
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:51 pm [Reply]

    Dumb Plugger mailman. Airmail still exists but doesn’t go by autogyro anymore. Or to Siam.

  9. AeroSquid
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:52 pm [Reply]

    Pluggers: “Don’t the Civil Air Patrol Auto-Gyros still make the mail run to Kansas City every Tuesday ?”

  10. Shlomo
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:54 pm [Reply]

    I think Henry Mitchell went through one of those Freaky Friday situations. Not only is he watching a cartoon, he also ripped a hole in his pants by the knees.

    I admit to never really understanding the plot in Mark Trail. Is Mark planning on cooking Cindy?

  11. hogenmogen
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:56 pm [Reply]

    DtM: Dennis recalls a time before the Flintstones debut in the mid 1960s. I don’t even remember that time, and I remember when you had to stand up to change the channel. I do remember something called “air mail”. It was usually what we said before we threw something at someone (and I hear the Post Office also had a service by that name).

  12. Government Cheese
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:57 pm [Reply]

    DTM: Dennis’s dad is just laughing at home videos of himself toasting the latest beating of Dennis. Note the cathartic expression on the TV – as if he is toasting the mug of coffee and whiskey with the expression “WOO!”.

    Luann: Hmm a fake ring huh? Well at least Dilwood bought a ring that’s only slightly too good for her. Luann is hardly worth a $49 purchse.

  13. BigTed
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:59 pm [Reply]

    The fact that a bird is being asked to send a letter “air mail” is just a symbolic representation of the fact that we can now all deliver electronic messages ourselves, freely and instantly, with no help required from the Post Office. Meanwhile, the snide and sarcastic postal worker (who will surely be laid off in the next couple of years as more and more USPS locations are closed) represents one last dig by a political cartoonist who’s sad to see one of the only remaining surefire targets of satire disappear from the cultural landscape.

  14. buckyswife
    October 5th, 2009 at 3:59 pm [Reply]

    7 Big Ted: No no no! Please don’t pollute my Don-Draper-inhabited fantasy world with Dennis the Menace! Ick–get it out! Get it out!

  15. Anonymous
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:00 pm [Reply]

    Today is Bil Keane’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Bil. Please retire.

  16. Steve S
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:01 pm [Reply]

    Worst case scenario in Mark Trail: nothing happens at the house, then Mark and Rusty go home and talk about fishing some more.

    Best case scenario: Lost Forest Chainsaw Massacre.

  17. Spunde
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:02 pm [Reply]

    Kind of funny that Dr. P doesn’t for a moment think her conversation, appearance, or behavior toward him is why he finds Bobbie Merrill so intriguing.

  18. Larry Fine
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:03 pm [Reply]

    I posted #15; for some reason my computer took my handle out of the “name” box.

  19. BigTed
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:03 pm [Reply]

    By virtue of her height and blonde hair, Cindy is the only female “Mark Trail” character distinguishable from all the others. Which is a good thing, because if Mark has any way of telling which of the other ladies is his wife, I don’t know what it is.

  20. KarMann
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:04 pm [Reply]

    My first thought seeing “Dr. P” was that it was short for “Dr. Professor”. So, you could add Professor in there too, gh #6.

  21. hogenmogen
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:05 pm [Reply]

    Dr. Pappagreekorass: I wonder why I find Bobbie so intriguing. I can’t figure out why her parents gave her a boy’s name – like Tommie, except not boring. I can’t imagine why I find Bobbie’s company preferable to an apartment empty save for my bloated interior monologue. I don’t know why my loins are aching at the thought of copulating with a living female of my species. Maybe I should go see a shrink before my hair changes color again.

  22. Hogan
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:06 pm [Reply]

    Henry is watching a Dennis the Menace cartoon show? Paging Procter and Bergman . . . my mind is officially blown.

  23. hogenmogen
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:07 pm [Reply]

    #20 – Karman: “Professor P” sounds like he’s a rapper with a urinary problem.

  24. One-eyed Wolfdog
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:08 pm [Reply]

    I remember when bonsai was a treated with the proper reverence due to an ancient, living artform, and not just something you slap on top of your cheapass dollar store television set as if it might serve as some sort of small organic antenna.

  25. gnome de blog
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:16 pm [Reply]

    Aside to Pope Josh: I wear a white shirt and a bow tie most of the time, and I was born way up in the 1940s.

  26. ScienceGiant
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:20 pm [Reply]

    Out of habit, a plugger still tries to send a letter by mail. Instead of email. Or comment on someone’s blog.

  27. AeroSquid
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:20 pm [Reply]

    Luann: Never mind the ring; Luann is an adherent of Gaw. I thought they were all wiped out in 1274 during the ‘Great Apostasy’ purges.

  28. Dragon of Life
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:22 pm [Reply]

    “Is that why I find Bobbie Merrill so intriguing? Is that why I yearn to part the sweet flesh of her abdomen with this knife, and caress her kidneys with the gentle kiss of steel? Yeeess, yeeeeesss… ” See, this is what happens when people actually take their WWMD bracelets seriously.

  29. Digger
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:22 pm [Reply]

    MT: I love the way this family has decorated their home. I’m thinking of getting a circular Jack Elrod piece to hang on my wall at home.

    #19 Big Ted –
    Mark has no need to tell women apart. As far as he’s concerned, all women are scary and the best way to deal with one is to run away or play dead (below the waist, at least).

    From what I’ve gathered, Pluggers’ entire lives involve following the same routine from cradle to grave. Therefore, the phrase “out of habit” is redundant in today’s cartoon.

  30. One-eyed Wolfdog
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:26 pm [Reply]

    I really don’t understand this episode of Pluggers at all, because (1) I don’t remember, or believe there ever was, a time when you used airmail for a “special” letter, if that means something like your niece’s birthday card that needs to get from Dubuque to Woonsocket on time, and (2) as far as I know, airmail is still how mail typically goes from point A to point B in cases where a mail truck would sink due to an absence of land and corresponding presence of watery expanse between said points. And I’m sure I’ve received things with the good old “AIRMAIL/PAR AVION” sticker on them as recently as the past couple of weeks. I can’t imagine this sort of thing happens very often anyway, because Pluggers do not know people in far away places, and it must be a lot farther down on the typical plugger’s list of concerns than, for example, molting or ear mites. On which subjects I have sent in several very amusing anecdotes, incidentally, but can Brookins be bothered? Oh, goodness, no, he’s far too busy drawing this incomprehensible drivel about post offices.

  31. Ed Dravecky
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:30 pm [Reply]

    Pluggers also use time machines to travel back to before 1970 when the Cabinet-level “Post Office Department” became the quasi-independent “United States Postal Service” and all of the signs were changed. Then they call the Weather Bureau for a forecast before sending a telegram to the War Department.

  32. dr.giraud
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:36 pm [Reply]

    I think Pluggers is referring to the pre-1967-68 era when a lot of US Mail was still shipped by train. “Air Mail” WAS a special service then.

  33. Old School Allie Cat
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:36 pm [Reply]

    “Scott’s been shot!” is the new “I want my Gretchen”.

  34. Subway Duck
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:36 pm [Reply]

    The biggest problem with trying to depict a TV cartoon within a comic strip is that, for all we know, Papa Mitchell there is actually watching a live-action show, thus rendering Dennis’s observation completely pointless.

    Actually, I think I prefer to view the strip that way. It’s not really any funnier, unless you consider that the reason Dennis can’t distinguish between cartoons and live-action shows is due to a traumatic brain injury caused by a nasty fall down the stairs. Then the whole thing becomes hilarious.

  35. Jesse C
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:47 pm [Reply]

    Dennis is just mad because his dad stole his collection of tentacle rape hentai.

  36. toxic
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:48 pm [Reply]

    That thing on the TV— that’s the Aristocrats.

  37. Dingo
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:51 pm [Reply]

    How can the Mitchells possess a bonsai plant with Dennis around? Did Alice threaten to cut off his willie if he menaced that?

  38. survivor
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:55 pm [Reply]

    The best tasting meat is always from healthy, young mammals. For example, a gourmet may prefer the more tender meat from a young, healthy lamb as opposed to the meat from an aged mutton.

    There is no doubt that Mark Trail is going to feed the young girl to Rusty.

  39. seismic-2
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:55 pm [Reply]

    A3G: Poor Bobbie Merrill – denied the magnificent vocal talent of her fraternal twin Robert, Bobbie has descended into a life of popping pills and picking up profs. Aristotle is fascinated by her, since her diva-like cell phone demeanor reminds him of Maria Callas. Tune in tomorrow, when the “Toodle! Toodle! Toodle!” overture kicks off the next act of Apartment 3G#.

  40. Baka Gaijin
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:55 pm [Reply]

    Rose is Rose: The two cats eating garbage in the trash can don’t Gobble Smack Glorp as much as one Elly FOOB. Draw your own conclusion.

  41. BeeF
    October 5th, 2009 at 4:56 pm [Reply]

    “Rusty has already been complaining about my cooking… You’re a beautiful young lady, Cindy! My, those are bright blue curtains, Mary! Gee, that’s a nice lamp there on the table! Say, what’s that you’re holding behind your back, Mary?”

    Mark my words, this plot line will give a whole new meaning to the phrase “Trail Mix.”

  42. Calico
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:05 pm [Reply]

    Don’t worry about the cat, Josh – it just had a cat massage.
    More info…You Tube…Internets…blah blah blah

  43. Jym
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:10 pm [Reply]

    =v= DtM: I’m sure it could be explained away as stylistic brushwork, but Henry’s looking a little grey up top, isn’t he? I’m just impressed that he and Alice maintain their early modernist interior decorating chops despite the shift to brutalist late modernism and, of late, Pluggerist/Wal*Mart post-modernism.

  44. Squid Vicious
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:13 pm [Reply]

    Big Ted: Even Cindy is virtually indistinguishable from past characters (see e.g., Pamela and her dog-loving raccoon Sneaky).

    My only quibble with Josh’s analysis of today’s MT is that just yesterday Sassy was riding in the boat with Mark & Rusty. Given that fact, it would appear that Sassy has not been eaten (Damn!) and I’m afraid we’re going to have to go with Josh’s more disturbing hypothesis: Mark is looking for a suitable mate for his stomach-churningly ugly off-spring and has resorted to an arranged marriage with a backwoods couple whom, he hopes, won’t know any better.

  45. TruthOfAngels
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:15 pm [Reply]

    “How did you want that to go? Carrier pigeon, hot air balloon, or biplane!?”

    “How about crammed up your worthless feathery ass, you fat sack of shit?”

    “Air mail it is. Please don’t hurt me.”

  46. teenchy
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:17 pm [Reply]

    Henry goes about his day wearing black pants and a white shirt and a bow tie most of the time, which marks him out as a Stereotypical ’50s Dad

    That, or one of Minister Farrakhan’s bodyguards.

  47. Jeff Soesbe (yeff)
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:28 pm [Reply]

    Given that the TV show Henry is watching features button-up shirts, bowties, black horn-rimmed glasses, and cocktail dresses, and involves a healthy amount of drinking, there’s only one possible answer: Henry’s watching “Mad Men”.

    Which makes sense, because it would certainly appeal to his fond nostalgia for a time when you could drink and smoke all you want, gallavant about with the lovely office ladies, and spank the living bejeezus out of your kids whenever they misbehaved.

    “Ah, Mad Man,” Henry muses. “You guys had it made.”

    - yeff (Jeff Soesbe)

  48. caley
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:28 pm [Reply]

    Heny must be relaxing his strict dress code, because it looks like he has a giant hole in one of the knees of his spiffy black trousers.

  49. Daveh
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:32 pm [Reply]

    Since Dennis hasn’t changed his clothes in 60 years and Henry still dresses in that fashion, Ketcham’s will must have had the proviso that they must continually dress that way or the current artist loses all liscencing rights.

    Either that, or the current writer is a hack.

  50. The Great Ka-Floopa Gush
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:42 pm [Reply]

    The first post is already the first result of a Google search for ‘clinkertons’.

  51. Trilobite
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:43 pm [Reply]

    I think Dr. P finds Bobbie Merrill so intriguing because she’s clearly an amalgam of the 3G ladies he’s been hanging around all of these long, lonely years. She’s got Lu Ann’s blonde hair and tenuous grasp on consciousness, Margo’s addictions and pleasant telephone manners, and Tommie’s….er….well, I guess having a name like “Bobbie” is probably the only similarity she could have to Tommie that wouldn’t be a total turnoff.

    This must be the latest development to roll out of the 3G clone banks. I’m not so sure that it’s a step up from the Alan/Eric/Everyman series, but at least it’s something sort of new.

  52. Nekrotzar
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:52 pm [Reply]

    What confuses me about DtM is that the alleged cartoon in the inner (TV) frame looks more realistic than the cartoon portrayal of reality in the outer frame. If not for the caption I would have thought that they had just purchased a 1080p HDTV.

  53. Victoria Dunn
    October 5th, 2009 at 5:53 pm [Reply]

    Wait – does Pluggers mean to say they don’t have Air Mail in the United States?

    Because we’ve certainly got it here in Canada!

    (What do Americans call Air Mail, anyway?)

  54. loungehound
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:07 pm [Reply]

    MT: I think Cindy is the first character with actual human proportions to appear in the strip. “Mary”, however, has shrunk almost to her size by the third panel. Rusty’s head in panel one is now swollen to the mass of Mark’s entire body, which is exactly what I’ve been expecting to occur for months now.

  55. Joe Blevins
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:09 pm [Reply]

    A3G: Dr. P should be glad he’s an Apartment 3-G character and thus has the luxury of thought-ballooning. If he were in Mark Trail, he’d have to say all that stuff out loud, most likely with exclamation points. “Bobbie sounds UPSET and ANGRY!” “I sound what now?” “Uh, nothing. Go on with your phone call… Damn, what a sweet ass she has!” “WHAT?!?” “Nothing! Nothing!”

  56. Baka Gaijin
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:10 pm [Reply]

    #53 Victoria Dunn: Check out the link in post #8.

  57. Gold-Digging Nanny
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:11 pm [Reply]

    Since it was near the end of yesterthread, and I really want to see it, I’m going to repost my special request:

    I have a special request for someone with video editing skills. On Friday, I was watching a bunch of the Downfall parody videos on YouTube (you know, where Hitler finds out the truth about Santa, Hitler rants about Kanye West, etc.). This morning, I was catching up on the comics and reading Marmaduke and thought, “What we need is a Downfall parody where Hitler is informed that his dog Marmaduke has eaten a neighborhood child. Or possibly sodomized the mailman.” I looked on YouTube for Hitler and Marmaduke, and I don’t think it’s been done. Can someone put that together? I would love you forever!

  58. Baka Gaijin
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:20 pm [Reply]

    Gawd, I hope Josh posts soon. I drifted over to the “People of Walmart” website and found out what a “gunt” is. I feel dirty yet entertained.

  59. mr 12 oz can
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:21 pm [Reply]

    does every woman in lost forest wear a red shirt ??? imagine if elrod was senile enough to have mark tell cindy she had a lovely pussy. as for dr p in 3g i know he wants to stick it to the old grinder but he forgot his cialis

  60. Joshua
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:43 pm [Reply]

    #53 Victoria: In the U.S., we don’t have “air mail” as a separate class of mail that one pays extra to have transported by air anymore.

    In 1975, the U.S. Postal Service abolished the separate class of air mail for domestic postage because they were sending most long-distance domestic mail by air anyway. Similarly, in 1995, they stopped offering separate rates for surface rate and air rate for international mail.

    Now, most of our long-distance mail is sent by air, but we don’t have a separate service offered based on the concept of having the mail sent in an airplane. (We do have services like Priority Mail and Express Mail which are paid for to get the mail delivered faster, but they aren’t based on specifying air mail service.)

  61. fluffy
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:45 pm [Reply]

    Dennis, cartoons were pretty much ALWAYS for grownups. Do you actually think that Betty Boop’s trollop tendencies were intended for impressionable young lads such as yourself?

  62. Patrick
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:46 pm [Reply]

    “I remember when cartoons were for KIDS! Thank goodness they haven’t tried to do something like make them in COLOR!”

  63. AeroSquid
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:08 pm [Reply]

  64. Don, the Rebel without a Blog
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:22 pm [Reply]

    DtM: I also point at the television set whenever I am amused by something which occurs on the screen. This seldom happens.

  65. gleeb
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:26 pm [Reply]

    Gas: Dondi in drag!

  66. Chip Whittle
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:31 pm [Reply]

    The important thing that today’s Pluggers establishes is that, once again, Pluggers are ancient and forgetful of developments fewer than six presidential administrations old. Also they like to believe that they ever send “special” letters. If Martha Box could think of a way to include their crippling poverty and morbid obesity this would create the Platonic Plugger, who lives in a cave and does not like what they’re doing with shadows these days.

  67. It's time to pay the price
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:38 pm [Reply]

    Rusty has already been complaining about my cooking…say you look like a tasty ER AH I MEAN beautiful young lady, Cindy.

  68. Anonymous
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:46 pm [Reply]

    MT!: Mark’s comment to Cindy is almost as squicky as old lady’s comment about the stewardess in Airplane! “You’re a beautiful young lady, Cindy! Supple, pouting breasts. Firm thighs!”

  69. Lolsworth
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:48 pm [Reply]

    Since they live in a comic panel, isn’t every programme a cartoon? Even, like, The McLaughlin Group and stuff? And if they have “cartoons” then how can they even tell the difference? Are cartoons in comic-panel-land actually live action? I ask you, Morton Kondracke!

  70. Red Greenback
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:51 pm [Reply]

    #68 was me. I cleaned my cookies… for a cure!

  71. Nekrotzar
    October 5th, 2009 at 7:55 pm [Reply]

    #68 –
    Surely you’re not comparing Jack Elrod to Zucker Zucker & Abrahams…

  72. Alan's Addiction
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:03 pm [Reply]

    What’s truly amazing about all these wilderness shanties that Mark and his friends/colleagues/acquaintances all live in is that they’re quite tastefully decorated. Nice curtains, pictures, furniture, etc. No sign of human-skin lamp shades anywhere, which means I’m either wrong in some of my assumptions about modern people who’d choose to live in the ass end of nowhere without any modern comforts or conveniences, or they all know to hide them whenever they have company. I’m guessing the latter.
    Dennis is so cool. He was into cartoons before they got famous and sold out.
    Who thought that an “Apartment 3G” storyline not centered on one of the main characters was a good idea? Why do I care about these second-rate ancillary characters who happen to live in the same zip code as Margo (the real star of A3G), Luann (the cute one), and Tommie (the boring one/Margo’s side-kick)? The pay-off to this story better be huge, like Margo bursting in and killing Ms. Merrill’s drug dealer.
    Today’s “Pluggers” is obviously a bogus imposter; we all know that real Pluggers are illiterate.

  73. Lou Shumaker
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:05 pm [Reply]

    71: He is, and stop calling him Shirley!

  74. Trogdor
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:07 pm [Reply]

    9: AeroSquid: Don’t I wish! We’re stuck with boring old Cesna’s. But I would so love to do search and rescue flying in an autogyro!

  75. R. Riis
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:14 pm [Reply]

    MT: If a total stranger I met in the woods came into my house, put his hand on my pre-teen daughter, and told her what a beautiful lady she was, he’d be out cold and back in the alligator-infested swamp again before he knew what was happening. And that goes for Rusty and Sassy, too.

  76. Écureuil Écumant
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:34 pm [Reply]

    MT: Rusty, though not the shiniest penny in the piggybank, certainly has reason to complain about the cooking. First, we haven’t seen them catch (or clean) a thing. Second, we’ve seen Mark roast one stick for dinner and BBQ another for breakfast, yum yum. And third, we saw him heating up a couple of saucepans but never saw anything go into or come out of them.

    Probably Bob and Mary have ramen on the menu, but of course kitty won’t touch anything but Fancy Feast. So Rusty might not want to wait for dinner.

    Pluggers: I’m pretty sure you can still specify “parcel post” for packages. This really implies “Anything but Air” and will take weeks. It’s truly a Pluggeresque system that lets you voluntarily select a grossly inferior option and then cringe in embarrassment when the clerk pipes up “Are you positive you don’t want to send it Priority? It’s only forty cents more.”

  77. gnome de blog
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:34 pm [Reply]

    Margaret Shuloch must have thought Alan-the-druggie was such a hit she decided to do it again. It might be fun if Bobbie Merrill commits suicide with the sleeping pills Dr. P thoughtlessly provided, and Margo has to get him out of jail – on the condition he become her slave for life.

    However, the thought of Aristotle dressed as a French maid is not a happy one.

  78. Écureuil Écumant
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:43 pm [Reply]

    The thought of Aristotle dressed as a maid AND wildly brandishing a taser does have possibilities, though.

  79. Alison
    October 5th, 2009 at 8:59 pm [Reply]

    Re: “Dennis the Menace”- little Joey’s got a Hitler mustache. Is he secretly the child of the couple who owns Marmaduke? If so, I would really, really like it if Joey would bring Marmaduke over to the Mitchell house and let him eat Dennis.

  80. Charterstone
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:02 pm [Reply]

    MT – Looks like another uncomfortable evening is about to unfold in Lost Forest. Sigh. Okay, bring on the flesh flapjacks and let’s get this over with.

  81. Hogenmogen
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:09 pm [Reply]

    I don’t care how goddamned old you are. Nobody ever sent air mail on a balloon.

  82. Muffaroo
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:24 pm [Reply]

    Wow. My comments must have been up there for twenty fun-filled minutes before the new post. Cheer up, little comments. I still think you were funny!

    Dennis – I was trying to figure out what cutting-edge cartoon that the artist has sort of heard of was being represented by the figures in the screen. Harry and Bert Piel (Bert’s the one in drag) was a good guess. Looking at their inexpressive faces, poorly staged poses, and air of dead-end inanity, I’ll guess that if it isn’t Family Guy, it should be. Henry’s laughing because the cartoon was superimposed on the screen in post production, and he’s really looking at a geometric grid in a big circle with an Indian chief inside. He loves that Indian chief!

    Nekrotzar @71 – It’s a big building with doctors, but that’s not important now.

  83. Crankenstank
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:25 pm [Reply]

    Clearly, the caption for Dennis the Menace today was meant for an as yet unpublished Pluggers. Now let’s see if we can think up the illustration for the panel in Dennis the Menace where Dennis says to Joey, “How did you want that to go? Carrier Pigeon, Hot-Air Balloon, or Biplane?”

  84. Farley's Revenge
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:33 pm [Reply]

    MT: I’ll admit that I don’t follow this strip unless I see it here so I’m confused by Mark’s ability to constantly stumble over strangers who live in the Lost Forest. He’s lived in LF since…what? The dinosaur eras? Yet he has no clue that there are other people living in the forest, too. How big is this place?

    Given all the people wandering at any given time through the woods of what appears to be a national forest, the population of Lost Forest is only slightly less than Houston’s. How could Mark miss all these people? How could he miss all the trails and trash they leave behind? Is he so busy cataloguing all the giant critters that he’s oblivious to the rest of the world?

  85. Citric
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:38 pm [Reply]

    Dr. P looks almost exactly like my uncle. It’s especially weird to see someone who looks like my uncle attempt to get into the pants of a nubile young druggie.

  86. buckyswife
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:41 pm [Reply]

    84 Farley’s Revenge: Mark ventures out periodically to other establishments in the “Lost” network: the Lost Airport, the Lost Puppy Who Was Given to the Neurotic Little Girl, the Lost Deer/Paramour, and now the Lost Swamp, home of Lost Jobs and Lost Opportunities.

  87. BananaSam
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:53 pm [Reply]

    Dennis the Menace’s art remains timelocked while the world moves on around it. I give it a decade at most before culture recontextualizes Henry and Alice Mitchell as NPR loving hipsters making their first forays into parenthood.

  88. Kibo
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:59 pm [Reply]

    I think the way Dennis’s dad is frantically pointing at the TV image suggests he’s enjoying freaking out over the newfangledness of pictures that move. That’s why it’s all in black and white with no shading — he’s watching a Fleischer cartoon from the silent era. Sure, _other_ families may have had TV with sound and color and stuff for decades, but Mr. Mitchell’s strict religious upbringing forbade him all forms of entertainment until his cult leader authorized him catching up on all media in the order in which they were originally produced, so he has to start with those “Betty Boop” and “Felix The Cat” cartoons before he gets to the modern stuff like “The Jazz Singer” and Neil Diamond’s “The Jazz Singer”.

  89. Farley's Revenge
    October 5th, 2009 at 10:00 pm [Reply]

    #86buckyswife: Not to mention Lost Minds, if those vacant smiles the denizens wear are any indication.

  90. tymime
    October 5th, 2009 at 10:30 pm [Reply]

    Wowee, this video certainly shows how sinister raccoons can be!


  91. druidbros
    October 5th, 2009 at 10:37 pm [Reply]

    Mary the Worthless, Queen of Meddlesome Swamp – OH no. Mary and Dr Jeff find out about Scott being shot while they are on the Bun Boat having dinner. Hope they can swim. Dont forget to wait 30 mins after eating before you get into the water.

  92. Poteet
    October 5th, 2009 at 11:33 pm [Reply]

    MT — I have a nice old orange cat who happily submitted to being carried around like that MT cat. But in my case, the carrier was ChattyGene’s four-year-old daughter, and the cat was young and had recently been a half-starved stray. Back then, he was grateful for everything.

    Perhaps the MT cat has seen the dead alligators hanging in the garage and figures that he had better do whatever the scary humans ask.

  93. Muffaroo
    October 5th, 2009 at 11:44 pm [Reply]

    Poteet, my cat is remarkably patient about my seven-year-old daughter. She lugs the animal around from time to time. The cat’s just over a year old, or just under a year and a half, depending on how you like to round. Good mouser too. The cat, I mean.

  94. buckyswife
    October 5th, 2009 at 11:48 pm [Reply]

    93 Muffaroo: Love the unclear pronoun reference! I just got a picture in my mind of the cat lugging your daughter around, Mark-Trail-style! hee.

  95. Lesser Whark
    October 6th, 2009 at 12:05 am [Reply]

    #81 Hogenmogen: Air mail was indeed delivered by balloon (and carrier pigeon) during the Siege of Paris from 1870 to 1871. Desperate Parisians ate dogs during the siege. Plugger dogs probably have strong and traumatic memories of this. Plugger birds probably do too, since the Prussians tried to shoot down the carrier pigeons. Maybe the postal bird isn’t being sarcastic at all – he’s just having a flashback to his glory days as a French courier pigeon.

  96. BlueNight
    October 6th, 2009 at 1:29 am [Reply]

    I found it oddly unsettling to think of Mr. Mitchell laughing at the antics of Peter Griffin or Eric Cartman. Then I realized Dennis The Menace is set in a fictional version of the real world. Annoying their elderly neighbors, tracking mud into the house, and playing with slingshots are the kind of behaviors real kids actually get grounded for, even to this day.

    The irony of escalation is that Bart Simpson was initially an updating of Dennis for the late 80′s and the 90′s. Then followed South Park, Family Guy, The Boondocks, and all their brethren.

  97. Kibo
    October 6th, 2009 at 1:45 am [Reply]

    BlueNight: I prefer to think of “Family Guy” as a revival of “Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home” (Hanna-Barbera, 1970s) except that “Family Guy” doesn’t REALLY mean it when the writers devote an entire episode to telling you that women are stupid. It’s quite possible that Mr. Mitchell is watching that on the Cartoon Network while thinking “This is so much better than ‘Family Guy’ because it’s designed to reinforce traditional conservative values!” In other words, it was a cartoon rip-off of “All In The Family” except the Archie Bunker character was always right. And he looked like Peter Griffin but with a necktie, so I suggest that’s what Dennis’s dad is watching.

    Dennis, on the other hand, likes “Faces of Death”, because he’s too young to know it’s fake.

  98. un_malpaso
    October 6th, 2009 at 1:56 am [Reply]

    re >b>Mark Trail:
    Oh, he ain’t gonna wait until Cindy is 13. And I wouldn’t assume that he intends her for Rusty, either. In Lost Forest, Mark is the patriarch of a great many child brides.
    Of course, he has to obtain them from other cabin-dwellers, who simply comply from fear of Mark’s fist-driven rule of terror.

  99. un_malpaso
    October 6th, 2009 at 1:58 am [Reply]

    Curse me! Markup error! *hangs head in shame, stalks to the misspeller’s and newbie’s jail*

  100. Charlene
    October 6th, 2009 at 2:01 am [Reply]

    Today’s New York Times has a story about the Archie comic books – oh, excuse me, graphic novels. One random quote:

    “The polls that I’ve seen ran about 80/20, Betty over Veronica, with Jughead continually coming in a strong third”.

    Read it at:

  101. margo
    October 6th, 2009 at 3:20 am [Reply]

    funky was an inspiration on 10-4. broken heart tattoo here i come.

  102. JustAGuyGuy
    October 6th, 2009 at 10:43 am [Reply]

    So, wait, does the cartoon Dennis’ dad is watching make quirky pop culture references to the 1920′s?

  103. jackie sanders
    October 6th, 2009 at 11:55 am [Reply]

    put me in a french maid costume!! and i;ll show you…

  104. Scrog
    October 6th, 2009 at 1:52 pm [Reply]

    This kind of authorial intrusion is so atypical of Dennis the Menace, that I suspect perhaps Tinsley has taken over the strip. From now on I expect to see the same panel with various similar crank pronouncements, mini-paeans to the utopian Golden Age of America, like “I remember when men wore hats,” “I remember when the comedians were all fat guys or Jews,” “I remember when coloreds used their own water fountains,” that sort of thing.

    Which, on the general subject of cartoons, I was looking up a specific Bible translation and noticed, thanks to the wikipedia, that there is a manga Bible in the works. I can’t wait until they get to the part where Daniel gets thrown into the tentacle den.

    And as several people have pointed already, I regularly send air mail from Canada to the US. I posit that this means Canada IS Plugger Country. Minus the health care and gay marriage, that is.

  105. A. Nonymous
    October 7th, 2009 at 10:28 am [Reply]

    DtM:Denis’ friend appears to have traveled through time from the 80s.

  106. A. Nonymous
    October 7th, 2009 at 10:29 am [Reply]

    Oops, I meant Dennis.

  107. Anonymous
    October 7th, 2009 at 2:18 pm [Reply]

    I’m confused by today’s Pluggers. Is this implying that there isn’t airmail in the United States? Or is it suggesting that Pluggers should send e-mail instead of old-timey mail? Or is it that Pluggers are only sending special letter by airmail through habit, when really, if they were to accept the gray and brutal reality of their wasted lives the truth is that for Pluggers nothing is special and there is no-one to send that letter to, since all their loved ones are gone now. Just … just keep plugging.

  108. Aviatrix
    October 7th, 2009 at 7:11 pm [Reply]

    This shows how creepy raccoons are. Right up there with cephalopods.

  109. Joshua
    October 8th, 2009 at 7:26 pm [Reply]

    #107 Anonymous: See #60 above. “Air mail” in the United States is no longer a separate, special service that one pays extra for. Since the 1970s (domestically) and 1990s (internationally), mail has been sent by airplane as a matter of course.

    The Pluggers panel is saying that Pluggers are so old and out of touch with the modern world that they still think that they need to pay for a special service called “air mail” to get their letters sent by airplane instead of by land transportation.

  110. newday
    July 29th, 2010 at 12:53 am [Reply]

    @Aviatrix (#108):

    My thoughts exactly. If cephalopods can also open jars, as I’ve heard they can, than there’s nothing that raccoons and cephalopods can’t accomplish together. The only remaining question is whether or not we have wiped out our own species before their rise to power. It’s amusing to think of raccoons and octopuses reverse engineering our technology.

    I was originally going to comment on DTM. Dennis is not upset that cartoons contain adult material, but that any entity besides Dennis himself (adults in this case) is being given attention and interest.

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