Archive: Mark Trail

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Mark Trail, 10/10/17

Say what you will about Mark Trail’s methods, but he will never, ever stop laying down the nature facts. It doesn’t matter how desperate the situation is, who’s sticking a gun in his face, whatever. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, probably a third of the soliloquies we get in the Sunday strips happen while he’s under extreme duress of one kind or another. If someone has a misapprehension about tornados or whatever, Mark will nip that false line of reasoning in the bud. If “A tornado is the vortex of wind, not the condensation cloud!” is the last sentence to pass his lips before he takes a bullet to the gut, it will have been an honorable death.

Hi and Lois, 10/10/17

I actually kind of love that, having seen this little one-bedroom bungalow with a pool, a fireplace, a deck for grilling, and satellite TV, our bachelor has flipped out his collar, ’70s-style. His emotional world was shattered and he was living in a depressing rented hovel but now thanks to Lois’s real-estate savvy he’s back, baby! These are the days when the job is really worthwhile to her, when she makes a difference in someone’s life. The difference is he’s gonna be having a lot more sex, and she’s earned that commission.

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Prediction is a mug’s game — so let’s get started!

Judge Parker, 9/23/17

Long ago, marital friction between widower Alan and his young wife Katherine was a Judge Parker staple. It was usually Alan’s fault: some clever con artist or sleazy Lothario would drop comments or plant “evidence” that would gnaw at his insecurities. He would of course be too proud/embarrassed/stupid to talk to Katherine about it, and off we went. In these stories Katherine remained blameless atop her pedestal, stepping down only for a chaste hug at the end.

But since Alan’s retirement Katherine has become more hostile — tension from sharing her days with someone after years of having them to herself, no doubt. And, to be fair, Alan has been up to some shady stuff lately.

But I predict that Judge Parker will end its dalliance with adventure and return to its soapy, soapy roots. Katherine will join Abby Spencer and April Bower/Abbott-Parker to go all Housewives of New Jersey on Alan, Sam, and Randy in a galactic six-way divorce, custody, and inheritance war. It will end with a silhouette of Sophie sunning herself alone on her yacht off Corfu.

Sally Forth, 9/23/17

I live in a town where tourists stay when they want to visit San Francisco without paying city rates for hotels and parking. So we have a lot of little shops just like “Small Wonders” where Sally’s sister Jackie works. As a small-c curmudgeon, I pass by all the local antiques emporia, cruisewear boutiques, holistic spas, and tea shoppes and think “these places cannot possibly make enough money to stay open.” Barter plays a part in the local economy, but you can’t make much of a living trading decorative plates for Capri pants and massages. So we’ve evolved into a community of grifters and small-scale drug, mob, and government-fraud money-launderers. Hey, it’s a living. You thought that whole Comics Curmudgeon Fall 2017 Fundraiser thing was on the level? Please.

Anyway, this idea of Jackie’s boss Tasha running a front has potential, and I hope Sally Forth sticks with it. Extra points if she’s a phony defense contractor pretending to sell hybrid electric robot monkeys or solar flying cars, and her collaborator is strategic sourcing expert Ted Forth.

Mark Trail, 9/23/17

Mark Trail has tipped its hand — after this story wraps up in 2019, the strip is going straight into advertising: “Take it from Sheriff Don Stober, Johnny — that’s not just any candy bar, it’s a GNUTZ bar! When you’ve got a BEAR of an appetite, gnaw on a GNUTZ!”

Pluggers, 9/23/17

“Say, why not try a GNUTZ bar? It’s got that chocolatey, salty flavor with the savor you crave! Take it from Sheriff Don Stober, Ms. um … Lady Dog — Even a runt will grunt for GNUTZ!


Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the Fall Fundraiser, which despite the vicious rumors is totally on the up-and-up — you guys are the best.

— Uncle Lumpy

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 9/20/17

Times may be tough for newspapers elsewhere, but in largely illiterate Hootin’ Holler the editor of the Gazette is settin’ purdy. Not only did the recent subscription drive vastly expand the paper’s distribution area, but judging from the contents of Jughaid’s satchel, it also raised circulation a solid 50%. Far away in the flatland of Tysons Corner Virginia, a Gannett regional manager selects Bowtie McPencil for the quarterly sales award and a shot at the President’s Club cruise to Barbados.

Judge Parker, 9/20/17

Oh look, it’s chesty newsminx Toni Bowen from the factory-collapse story, and she’s going to save her national-desk job with an exclusive scoop of April’s video!

But hey waitaminute it was Sam holding April’s SD card — how and when did Toni meet him? He wasn’t at the factory collapse, so it must have been later, during his paranoid yarn-on-the-bulletin-board period? Or when he sent her all those nasty emails? She certainly doesn’t know April, even to look at. So Toni is staking her career, and making an enemy of the CIA, based on an unverifiable video sent by a guy she knows only as a belligerent raving lunatic. Cynical, streetwise career move, or first step on the way back to covering mall openings and/or extraordinary rendition?

Haha Randy’s lampshade looks like a Disney elephant huddle.

Mark Trail, 9/20/17

And now we arrive, as ever we must in Mark Trail stories, at the Bear in the Cave. But in truth, faithful readers, the Bear sleeps within us all. In our deepest Cave, far beneath our civilized façade, out of sight or even waking awareness — but angry when roused, and eager to strike. Consider then what great Bear must slumber within Mark Trail: a mountain of an animal, primitive, grizzly, and possessed of Biblical strength.

Asleep through countless months of slights, insults, and indignities by Baldy and his accomplice, through the endless ride across the great prairie, through fistfights, thunderstorms, and tornadoes, Mark’s Bear now stirs — beware his mighty paw! He will not be stayed by the facile trick-riding of Johnny Lone Elk, nor beguiled by the candy and Barry White CDs in Sheriff Don Stober’s saddlebags. No weapon can wound him. He plods upward, consumed with rage and thirsty for blood. O Baldy! You have wronged a Man of Nature; now tremble at Nature’s wrath!

I’m fully prepared to accept that Lone Elk, Stober, and Samson embody the ego, superego, and id, and that we’re entering a new, metaphysical phase of the Mark Trail mythos — one in which the mere idea of Mark Trail conquers evildoers. But I’m gonna miss the fistfights.


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— Uncle Lumpy