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Mark Trail, 1/5/09

With yet another Mark-spurns-a-pretty-non-wife-lady plotline behind us, it looks as if Mark Trail is finally going to touch the third rail of Mark Trail storytelling, by tackling the pretty wife-lady whose advances Mark also routinely spurns. Cherry is so worked up that she’s dispensed with her usual polo shirt and put on a sexy pink robe that’s allowing us to see her collarbone. “I hope he notices that I’ve changed my hair again!” she says, as she gingerly touches the vaguely rearranged curls perched upon her unnaturally large skull and stares at nothing in particular with her horrifying pink eyes. All the while, she’s thinking about her plans to fall on Mark and ravish him the moment he walks in the door, like an owl grabbing a mouse in its razor-sharp talons and tearing it to bits with its beak, only hotter, and with Mark maybe not being killed at the end.

Meanwhile, Doc is thinking “I hope he notices that I’ve paired up this baby blue cardigan with my orange shirt! I think the color combo really does wonders for me!” But he’s too shy to say this aloud, so he just stands there smoking his pipe, and waiting.

Beetle Bailey, 1/5/09

As you may or may not know, for the first six months of its 58-year existence, Beetle Bailey was actually a college strip, following the antics of Beetle and his fraternity brothers; then, one day in March of 1951, Beetle spotted the two girls he was dating both heading towards him simultaneously, ducked into an Army recruiting office to escape, and has been in the military ever since as the subject of some kind of terrifying black-ops time-freezing experiment. The draft has ended and he completed his term of service decades ago, so technically he can leave whenever he wants; however, as his totally neat and keen outfit today suggests, the still twenty-year-old Beetle is completely unequipped to deal with modern collegiate life, with its Facebooks and casual sex and kids wearing flip-flops in the dead of winter for some reason. He will no doubt go crawling back to his captors at the Defense Department’s Chrono-Retardation Corps soon enough.

Crock, 1/5/09

Today’s Crock is actually a philosophical masterpiece of metanarration. Poor Figowitz’s whole purpose for existence in the world of the strip is to be an unlovable sad sack; by deciding to abandon his deepest essence and force his features into a grin, he unravels the very fabric of his universe and brings everything in it — that is, the strip Crock — to an end, plunging his world into inky nothingness. This is intriguing from a metaphysical standpoint, and heartening in that it implies that Crock will cease to exist and we won’t have to read it anymore. If we’re really lucky, the universe-collapse will also occur along the time axis, eliminating the past of the strip and our memories of ever having read it.