Archive: Mark Trail

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Mary Worth, 10/7/22

Ladies! You want to know what it takes to get a man to “put a ring [not pictured] on it”? Well, apparently you just have to cook the same simple meal that his teenage babysitter made for him years ago when he was a sad neglected child. It’s a real monkey’s paw situation, in that you get what you want but also get a very clear picture of what role exactly you play in your man’s emotional life. Anyway, I’m guessing Iris is going to put off this proposal until she can track down Nancy the babysitter and defeat her in single combat.

Gil Thorp, 10/7/22

There have been plenty of Gil Thorpian shakeups this year, but we haven’t had a chance yet to assess how they’ve affected Gil’s coaching, which is, despite appearances, what he’s actually paid to do. Well, it appears that Gil strolled into the locker room on day one of football practice and announced “If I were on offense, I would simply advance the ball more than 10 yards per set of downs, and ultimately either carry or pass it into the end zone.” And thus “the Thorp Special” was born! Looks like Goshen hasn’t figured out how to stop it yet!

Mark Trail, 10/7/22

I haven’t been super engaged in the current Mark Trail plot about a roadsider tiger “sanctuary”/cult, and, frankly, it looks like Mark hasn’t been either, and now he’s got a better offer. Wouldn’t it be great if comics characters could just peace out of stories and jump into new ones at a whim? Why not! It’s the ’20s, we’re all Zoomers with ADHD now, let’s just go with the flow, baby!

The Lockhorns, 10/7/22

“What did you serve this on … a man bun? A bun made out of man? Did you get that To Serve Man alien cookbook from that Twilight Zone episode, and use its recipes for ‘man bun’ as a guide for baking buns out of human flesh? Did you kill a bunch of men in order to cook them and feed them to me? Is our kitchen a crime scene? Are there more victims than I could possibly imagine?”

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Blondie, 9/25/22

This is another great example how the top row of “throwaway” panels can actually really alter the meaning of a strip. Without them, it’s the simple story of a plumber (with a gambling problem?) who comes over the Bumstead house only to be distracted by a big platter of cold cuts (that has just been left out on the kitchen counter?). With them, we see Blondie’s warning to not let the man “get away,” so it becomes the story of a plumber (with a gambling problem?) whom the Bumsteads plan to capture and do something unspeakable to, and they’ve left out a big platter of cold cuts out on the kitchen counter, as bait.

Crankshaft, 9/25/22

It’s fun to remember that Mason Jarre, when first introduced into the Funkyverse, was a dumb Hollywood himbo who signed on to play Les in the original, “bad” (i.e., potentially enjoyable to watch) movie version of Lisa’s Story, but now that he’s become part of our beloved gang, his an insufferable snob about physical film and classic movies or whatever. I suppose it’s possible that we’re meant to understand that he’s matured as a person over the years, but it’s more likely that the Funkyverse simply cannot accommodate a sympathetic character who isn’t obsessed with classic film stuff. Still, the interpretation I’d really prefer is that in fact he’s supposed to be as big a dipshit as ever; it’s just that this is what he’s a dipshit about now.

Mark Trail, 9/25/22

God damn it, Mark Trail, this strip very much begins with a promise of horny toads learning to work together as a team, and by rights ought to end with Monsanto’s hired security goons being forced back into corporate HQ by geysers of eye-blood from a whole horny toad army, and I am very disappointed that it does not.

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Mark Trail, 9/8/22

New Mark Trail introduces new characters and subplots at such a pace it’s easy for readers to get lost. The entire “Jimmy Songbird geese stopover” seems to have been engineered solely to slip the ridiculous word “keytar” into the strip as often as possible. Collegial hint to fellow author: “Keytar! Keytar! Keytar!” You’re welcome.

Still, it’s a little unsettling when the characters themselves lose their places and start going off at cross-purposes. So here’s a helpful guide:

Character Should be doing Is doing
Diana Daggers–Producer/Director Organizing an interview that entertains and makes Rex look good Pissing off the interviewee, risking cancellation of the entire project
Tess Tigress–Spa Owner/Interviewee Upgrading the “Tiger Touch” brand from “Roadside Attraction” to “Spa.” Throwing out the Producer/Director at risk to the interview and brand
Rex Scorpius–Celebrity Interviewer Conducting an entertaining interview with his subject Putting his personal therapeutic needs before his audience
Mark Trail–Wildlife Reporter Reporting the interview for readers of Teen Sparkle Going all fanboy on Rex Scorpius, making Cherry jealous

Get on track, you guys! Don’t make me come back there!

Judge Parker, 9/8/22

I hurt my brain trying to figure out what Abbey is mad about here: “Sam, I threw you out of the house because you didn’t tell me about (then-) Deputy Mayor Stewart’s false accusations and fabricated evidence that I committed arson.” [OK: poor communications on Sam’s part and condescension that Abbey couldn’t handle the news, but this is a marriage-breaker? Nobody who has ever been married would think so.] “Now, [I believe that] you have released news of Deputy Mayor Stewart’s perfidy to the press, proving to one and all that I have not committed arson; therefore I am angry at you because ….” [AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUGH!]

All of the drama in Judge Parker—every last bit— is now Who Said What to Whom and How Dare They. It’s like watching two fourteen-year-old girls slash each other up in text messages. Panel-two Abbey really embraces the role. Though in fairness, Sam is a skank, Marie never did like him anyway, and how dare he call Abbey “unhinged”!

Crankshaft, 9/8/22

One thing a cartoonist—or a second-string comics curmudgeon—learns early is this: if you’re on deadline and can’t deliver an actual joke, string together a series of evocative phrases even if on closer inspection they make no actual sense: maybe nobody will notice! See yesterday’s Luann post for a recent example. Pretty lame stuff!

So Mason, if people already don’t know who you are, why do you need to buy a failed theater to enjoy the experience? Unless “talking to Ed Crankshaft” is your idea of “fun in the dark,” in which case Cindy would like a word.

Phew—made deadline again! I’m on a roll!

–Uncle Lumpy