Mark sure seems to TAKE more punches these days…

I mean, has James Allen allowed Mark to deliver ONE haymaker??  Nope.  And this isn’t the first time Mark has been sucker-punched, either in this latest incarnation of the strip…  Very disappointing.  What happened to Mark’s fight?  Pony Tail leads with a left and follows up with a huge right that sends Mark over the railing and into the water…  I hope the shock revives him, or he is surely toast!!


Isn’t it great how the word “Splash” sounds like it really does…  What’s that device?  Onomatopoeia?  Helpful in the telling of a story where there isn’t sound available.  Although we have seen, in the Trailverse, the use of the worm “Wham” to describe a rifle shot… not entirely accurate, if you ask me…

And with a certain angry, ugly aura emanating from Cherry (Again she must be wondering, “Who are you…” who gets punched and can’t defend himself? Certainly not the man I married…) we must wait another day to see how this continues to play out…  Is it possible, we all wonder, for TROUBLE to NOT follow TRAIL in the dictionary??




I’m with you, Mark!  I mean, Really?  And good for you, Mitchum- make your motive crystal clear so that when it comes time to put you away, there will be no doubt about why you took the path you did…  But Mr. Pony Tail will have none of such talk!  A left cross for you, Mr. Trail!!


Or Mitchum could be thinking, “Well… now that you put it that way, this does seem a bit rash… my Mentor warned me of my deadly combination of Signature Strengths®… Competition with Maximizer can lead to these kinds of situations…”

Nice Pony Tail!

Bad Guy #2 (with Pony Tail) has the same color shirt as Mitchum!  What is it they say?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery??  Maybe Mr. Pony Tail found it under the tree, since he wasn’t wearing that shirt on 12/23…  Or if we look at 12/12, it’s clear that Mr. Pony Tail has two of the same shirt and has let Mitchum wear one of his…  Holy crap, that’s creepy…  Creepier still is the fact that Mr. Pony Tail is a dead ringer for former Pro Wrestler, Governor and Navy Seal, turned Conspiracy Theorist Jesse “the Body” Ventura!


And with Justin now showing us a startled look on his other bad side (similar in its simian form)  the “plan” now seems to be taking shape??  Maybe?  With everyone on deck and the Aurora Borealis (coming pretty far south if you ask me…) lighting up the scene, Mitchum has forsaken his South paw in favor of his North and is waving his hostages forward at gun point.  Kidnap them and then blow up the boat?  Then what?  So confusing…

oh, that’s right… I’m left-handed…

Kudos to faithful reader J. Wilk who picked up on the fact that Mitchum keeps changing hands…  Yesterday he was threatening with his right, and today he’s back to his left…  This is still just silly.  Imagine a situation (I know, difficult as it would be…) where you disagreed with your boss at work.  Your first move would be to hire two thugs (whose role remains unclear at this time) and threaten his life with a gun?  With a total of four witnesses now??  And I can’t decide whether Mitchum’s name reminds me more of tough guy actor Robert, or the underarm deodorant that only had to be applied weekly (good Lord, what did they put in that stuff??)


That’s right, Mark.  Confuse the lad while he has you at gunpoint… “Our plans?  My plan?  Oh, eat lead , Nature Boy, I’ll just start with you…”  But as we are reminded constantly, the strip is named after him, and while there was effective succession planning regarding the creative mind behind all this, there is only one, and will only ever be one, Mark Trail…  Ageless, Timeless, without peer… Mitchum, your plan has as much structure as a boneless chicken, and it has now met its end, barely before it began… I hope you haven’t already spent your year-end bonus… looks like it won’t be coming after all…

Yes, What ARE you doing??

And, again, what exactly are you THINKING??  And that line, “Don’t try anything funny!” Where’d you hear that?  The movies?  What if we tried something serious, like attempt to disarm you and overcome you with force?  Do you really have the nerve to use that thing??


Cherry might just have the line of the year, as we head into the last few days of 2014…  Could easily have applied to almost any situation regarding Mark Trail since James Allen took over command of the strip… With every expression of feeling and profession of love coming out of Mark’s mouth, Cherry could very easily have uttered the words “WHO are YOU?”  “and WHAT have you done with my husband?!”

Well, Merry Christmas to you, too!

On the day that we Celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior, or the advent of more daylight ahead, or whatever this time of year represents…  we have Mitchum brandishing a weapon…

But let’s take stock of the story so far- Editor Bill Ellis sees a news story on CNN about protesters in the Great dismal Swamp, figures this might be right up Mark Trail’s trail (so to speak,) and rents him an 80’ yacht.  Mark takes Cherry on a vacation aboard the yacht, we are introduced to Justin Holland and his “Partner” Mitchum. Holland finds himself invited to spend some time on the yacht, Mitchum grows immediately wary of the possibility that Mark Trail will convince Holland to pull the plug on the mine project, so Mitchum hires a couple of goons to what- drive him to the SWAN, to what- pull a Clutter Family Experience on board the SWAN and motor off?  And blame it on the placard waving zealots protecting the swamp? But Mitchum, dude, now you have two witnesses to your crime, and how are you going to handle that??  Couldn’t you just have found your own way out there???  Oh, never mind.


Well, on that cheery note, Merry Christmas everyone.  Find some time and some peace in the season.  Count your blessings.  Laugh, smile, seek understanding.  We are all in this together…

I think James Allen just likes to draw boats…

It’s BRUCE vs SWAN in a semi-celebrity smack-down!  My money’s on The BRUCE…  The SWAN is full of eco-sissies that think the world is a just and vibrant place…


Dare I repeat myself, but unless the BRUCE has cut its engines and they are drifting up to the SWAN, you can exhort all you want about being “real quiet,” but it just ain’t gonna happen…  And are Mark and Cherry all snug in their stateroom, with visions of sugarplums and ruffed grouse dancing in their heads?  It’s not like Mark Trail tracks with the actual holidays the way other strips do, so I doubt it highly…  the sugarplums part, anyway.

Now that’s what I call stealth!

This is like an early Christmas Present!!  Bad Guys “Sneaking up” on our hero in their twin-screw, diesel powered shark boat, which I am sure can be heard from across the lake, let alone right “beside” the Swan…  And it appears that the guy with hair is in charge…  oh wait, that’s Mitchum!  What the hell?  What is he thinking?  Does he want to be immediately implicated in whatever dastardly deed is about to unfold??  No Arms-Length relationship between him and the bad actors??


I can’t even imagine what is about to go down…  Trash-talking?  Threats?  I thought Mitchum wanted Holland dead…  out of the way?  I was expecting that there would be SCUBA suits and C-4 involved.  Maybe I have seen too many movies…

My Powers… they are working!!

Well, Mark, you haven’t lost your touch, have you??  Just get them talking, and they will confess to everything and ultimately see the error of their ways…  You even have Justin using the word ‘could’ve…’  Which by the way, dear readers, is a contraction- a subtle but meaningful difference between the Elrod/Dodd Era and the James Allen Era… which is not even a year out of the blocks but has brought change the likes of which is nothing less than shattering…  OK, maybe not shattering, but I have to go for something here in the midst of all this flat and stultifying dialogue.


From what beginning?  Did you adopt him and raise him as your ward?  Hire him out of some fancy East Coast MBA program?  Whose money did he use to buy the property?  C’mon, Holland, pull yourself together.  You are still in charge here, aren’t you??

That’s right , Mark… lay on the ol’ “Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda…”

…because that’s helpful…  easy for you to start suggesting to Holland that he consider the whole project to be a sunk cost…  a bad decision…  Don’t keep throwing money at it, cut your losses and move on!  Except that it may not BE a BAD DECISION…


And Mark, maybe you should just butt the hell out of this situation, since you have no standing here…  unless of course you consider all the earth your cause and you are free to go and meddle wherever you want…  Of course that’s the case…  This all reminds me of the movie “Mr. Deeds.”  One of the only Adam Sandler Vehicles I found worth watching…  Where he tries to thwart the takeover of the company rightfully his (only to have it not turn out that way) but to change the hearts of all the greedy robber barons at the shareholder meeting…  We never get to see how the company turns out- whether or not it continues to prosper, thrive and create positive shareholder returns.  It’s enough that we turned stone hearts back into a living, feeling, pumping organs…

So as the Fiddler Crabs do their little courtship mambo, and with the moon risen full, Mark will continue to wear down the industrialist…  how many more days can Justin take until he cracks- his conversion complete- and turns to the good side?  And where are the dudes in the shark boat with their what- explosives?  We’ll have to wait and see…