She said A-ward, not RE-ward…

Now I remember what took so long… it wasn’t Andy in the Deer Trap , it was Andy at the Vet’s Office…

Still, this doesn’t hold a candle to the Space-time Continuum we were forced to endure in the Allen Era… 6 months in a cave? I don’t think I could do that again…

Well, Campers, 12 more days… Do we think there are 12 more days in this story? Well, 9 days, actually if we take Sundays off… Which makes me wonder what the Sunday panels will look like in the Rivera Era- HA! That rhymes!!

I know there are a lot of (not so) mixed feelings about this change. For what it’s worth, I think it’s exciting. While it’s been fun poking Mark in the ribs for all his foibles, predictability, and lack of continuity over the years <snark, I think we’d call it> this is a medium that is increasingly living on-line, even if it’s still being carried by Newspapers. It will also be interesting to see how many of the old characters make a return- Kelly Welly, Johnny Malot, Dirty Dyer, a supporting cast of federal agents, etc. and how many new characters are created to add a bit of depth to the story lines. I mean, how exciting can it be if it’s just a more woke and vulnerable version of Mark, a stronger and more self-determined version of Cherry and an angst-filled and perpetually coming of age Rusty to play with? Oh, wait, that pretty much describes Rusty today, except that soon he will get to wear hip sneakers, low-ride skinny jeans and sport a more contemporary hair-cut…

Oh, Thank Goodness!

As Mark awakens from a brief slumber, Cherry is there with the strong, black coffee! Meanwhile, Squirrel, meet Baldy!

Fast forward to Mark spinning tails of Andy-past… I wonder if they go back to the war?

“Come through the crisis?” How about “Out of the Woods?” This is Mark Trail, after all…

Wait a gol-darned second! Is that Mark shedding a tear? Funny how no one has mentioned that Andy has a particular smell about him, a smell that would implicate Cherry in his banishment…

And what about that no-good Tabby? If Andy has learned anything, he knows now that he should let that little thing fend for itself!

Now it’s off to the Awards show… As if we had doubts.

Thanks to Mark, again, for this sneak peek at the coming age:

I don’t know, Cherry… I feel like I learned something…

Major News!

First, to the story at hand… With the help of the operator, Cherry reaches Bill Ellis, who milquetoasts his way out of any responsibility…

Um, remember, Mark was the one who quit, right? He wasn’t fired…

But onto Breaking news!

Attention!! New Cartoonist in town!

Thanks to Faithful Reader Mark who pointed out in yesterday’s comments a sea-change in the offing – Mark Trail will be under a new pen come October!

I have to admit, to quote an MSNBC Anchor in 2008, “I’ve got a thrill going up my leg…

Mark is eye-candy for the Ladies!!

Oh, this is going to be fun!! Such a departure from what came before. It’s interesting that in the NY Times write-up references appear to be limited to the Allen era (Caves, blowing shit up, etc…) so I wonder (hope) whether Ms. Rivera will dig a little deeper into the history and canon of Mark Trail…

Look! Andy in the Background! Mark has whiskers!! And takes selfies!

Meet the new Scribe:

My name is Jules Rivera and I’m an illustrator, storyboard artist and graphic novelist, specializing in adventure and science fiction work. I am currently working my webcomic series, Love, Joolz, about hard truths, weaponized femininity, and screaming at the sky. I also do work in storyboarding and sci-fi design. On my off time, I go surfing and skating.

Hang on Campers!!

Operator?

We have established that this story first published in 1981, but what year are we in really? Operator? When was the last time you could dial -0- and get an operator? I just tried it on my Vonage (VoIP) phone and got nothing. I will have to ask my mom, who still has a land-line… Great… Now I will have that Jim Croce song stuck in my head for the next week…

But really? Was there ever a time a person could pick up a phone and ask to be connected to a specific person, high up in a skyscraper in New York City? I am picturing a giant switchboard with an endless row of operators (standing by…) physically plugging cords into different jacks… “Bill Ellis? a-one a-moment, plee-uz…” And the lady (Lily Tomlin for sure) makes a connection that is almost out of reach… Amazing how many Operator references there are still… fading into history mostly, but what an invention, the telephone!

Now give him what-for, Cherry!!

Ruh Roh…

No, Mark, technically, I think you just quit…

But that’s the way to show some backbone! Priorities in order!! Tell those suits how we do things in the woods!! That’s fine! You probably have options you don’t know about… And what? Are they going to NOT give you the award just because you aren’t there? Your market price is going up, Mark Trail! There’s a great article in what you are going through right now! Fear not, Nature Writer, these pricks will see the light!

Well, there goes that theory…

…the one that I offered up a few days ago- about how Bill Ellis knew to call Mark at the Animal Hospital, about how he must have called Lost Forest and Cherry directed him, which also assumes that Mark sent Cherry home so he could await Andy’s fate in private… But apparently not…

Oh, J.R. Williams, you insensitive brute! Why, you could easily be one of the villains that Mark goes up against in another tale of Corporate Greed… But wait, you are sort of playing the Villain right now… The only thing that’s missing is a cigar in one hand (or maybe a glass of whiskey) and you’d be a dead ringer for “Big Mike” of arranged big game trophy hunting fame…

So, as Mark is about to tell J.R. to take this job and shove it, we see Mark’s jaw start to set as he steels himself for the conflict!

Just how many “Conservation Writers” are there?

I mean, who is Mark’s competition, after all?

Apparently Bill hasn’t been listening… I guess enthusiasm can blind a person. And compare the “hospital” in these two strips… the first looks like a farm with a water tower and red barn, and the second (complete with a fallen tree in the foreground) looks more like a city skyline. What is going on here??

Oh, Bill, haven’t you ever seen an awards program? “Accepting for Mark Trail is his Editor, William Ellis…” Then you could go on an on about what a standup guy Mark is and how the world is a better place with him in it, blah, blah, blah… You could even read a prepared statement from Mark, explaining that he is bedside with a loved one struggling for life…

At least Andy is back in the present tense!

In a departure from more typical Mark Trail obliviousness, Mark inquires about the cat that has really brought nothing but despair, cost and potential tragedy to Lost Forest…

Yes, he is, Mark! One of a kind. Not that anyone else seems to understand that…

Uh, Bill…? Did you even hear a word Mark said?? “Andy’s still in serious condition!” “Mark, get on that damned plane, and get to the awards ceremony!”

I assume that Bill called Lost Forest first and Cherry told him to call the Animal Hospital… So many leaps of faith in this story line!

In life’s waiting room…

Sometimes things happen that bring everything else to a halt. It’s usually when a loved one is lost or in peril…

In this case it’s Mark oldest friend, Andy the St. Bernard, who saved his life when they served together in WWII… We really have to apply time bending to this, though… We established that it’s 1981 and WWII was in the mid ’40’s so that makes Andy close to 50 (350-400 in dog years) and Mark in his 60’s… I guess we get to live forever in the funnies…

As Mark ponders how hollow the award would be without his Dearest Friend to share it with, Cherry has to wonder where she fits in the pecking order- Would Mark be nearly as conflicted and paralyzed if it was her fighting for life?

Canine Pneumonia?

What’s with the ‘P’ in P-neumonia? Like, what’s with the ‘h’ in diphtheria? As we name diseases, we need extra, confusing letters that add nothing to the phonetic pronunciation? While we are at it, then, why don’t we ‘pronunce’ as opposed to ‘pronounce?’

I thought for sure that Dr. Tom Davis, Cherry’s father, was a Vet! Maybe he just does large animal as opposed to house-pets… But isn’t Andy a large breed dog? Doesn’t that count for something?

I might help, Doctor, if you ran an IV or something…