Wrapping up 2020!

Sorry to have been absent, Campers… Holidays, and all… So let’s start with the latest Sunday installment, featuring the Bobcat, or Lynx… Which by the way was teased any number of times leading up to this:

Cats in general are adaptable… Even the domestic variety. In my experience they retain many of their “Wild” tendencies, even if they become accustomed to finding fresh kibble in their bowl on a regular basis. I must say, however, that last panel is supposed to be a shark? I’m not seeing it.

OK, lots to take in here! From the dailies, we jump from Cherry and the Trailer Park (putting the FUN back into dysFUNctional) to Mark at the shore. But what’s with the flying banner? I didn’t think we were near Miami, but oh well, maybe just trying to lure people down there? And but for the installment below, we really don’t know who this “Niecy” is… But apparently she and Mark go way back and she is an attorney?

Yes, Niecy is Jolly’s daughter who (for the first time) hints at Mark’s reputation for punching first and asking questions later… But there he is! Mark Trail’s farther.

Marky, indeed! Boy Happy is a smooth talker, isn’t he? And apparently has made NO effort to keep up with his son and what’s he’s up to… Or Mark has estranged himself, offering up nothing… And a mere mention of the Farm turns Happy Trail into a zombie? Complete with a goon-squad?

Methinks Happy doth protest too much… He is basically admitting to everything in his denials. This assumes (or not) that Mark has laid out the case and he is responding to it, or Happy is immediately anticipating the complaint and laying down the flack… And Mark, C’mon… Why does anyone own a speedboat?? Guessing that your pop might feel the need for speed!

In the words of the Alan Parsons Project…

…Where do we go from here?

Let’s take stock, again, I suppose: Poppy and Cherry got the hell out of Christmas, Florida when “Mama’s” mental illness became too much.

No we have the truth coming out that has left Rusty’s “Poppy” ashamed all these years… And not a little conflicted, it would seem…

Fast forward, “Mama” had two more girls, Olive and Peach, by whom? Who knows?? Certainly not by Poppy… Stepsisters, then.

And, Scene… Olive seems to take after Mama, and Peach is the peacekeeper/caretaker. Probably not the first time we have seen mental illness and co-dependency in the funny papers, but certainly the first time we’ve seen it called out in MARK TRAIL! But come to think of it, we’d only have to scratch a little on the veneer of the old to see where there was a certain unhealthy dynamic…

Let’s get back to it…

…live and in technicolor…

As you recall, Mark was wrapping up his taped interview with Jolly over how Trail, Sr. chiseled Jolly’s land out from under him… Well, that didn’t take long… Mark now has enough information for at least 3 column inches in Teen Sparkle… but fear not, we are about to learn from the master, all about Climate Change’s impact on the prevalence of toxic algae… Da da da duuuuuuuummmmm…..

I think that it’s well established that farm runoff has created a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the accumulated result of all the runoff in the Mississippi River system… Which has been measured since 1985, back when I believe we worried about Global Cooling…

But let’s go back to the Trailer park… Where Rusty is witnessing ugliness on a grand scale:

But Mother always knows best. Nothing a bucket of still, Mosquito-Larva-laden water won’t bring to a screeching halt… Yes, Cherry, it’s MAMA

“You pick a fight with my babies…” Is Cherry not one of “your babies” as well, or is it her first-born status that relieves her of that consideration? Cherry looks just like MAMA, for what it’s worth…

Trail Name Besmirched!

How interesting that Mark would be sent on this assignment, Bill Ellis and Amy Lee must surely know that Happy is Mark’s father…

Assuming that the protesters above are gathering to support Jolly, one has to wonder from whence the “Backlash of hate” emanated… Did the Senior Trail unleash a goon squad to consolidate and ensure his ongoing position of power?

Well, we can’t say that we aren’t going deep in this re-boot. Replacing the simple and expected with the complex and involved. I know that this change has been a tough pill to swallow, and who knows what kind of following this strip will engender, but here it is. The depth of the character development and the sharing of backstories is much more (graphic) novel-esque, consistent with the current author/artist. I, for one, am in.

Mark’s Dark Past

First Another Sunday Segment:

For those of you, like me, who have limits to the size of type we can read, the upper right panel subtext reads, “Peacock, Peachick, and Peahen.” So we dive into the gender non-specific reference of “Peafowl.” Emus must be part of that family as well, as evidenced by the Liberty Mutual Insurance ad campaign…

Onto the drama! And the past that Mark has successfully avoided for some time…

A knowing grimace, a random frog, and off we go…

“Say what?!” the Squirrel seems to be saying… Don’t take the deal! You are getting played!

Well, let’s call it for what it is. The Racial over- and under-tones of this story cannot be ignored or denied. Happy Trail could have just as easily hoodwinked a trusting white guy, but he didn’t. Jolly is a black man, Happy is a white man. Funny that they both have first names cloaked in mirth… but that’s not important, I suppose… What I m reminded of is a recent PBS show, An American Experience episode that featured the story of the Florida Everglades, in which it chronicled human efforts to drain the swamp and people of color trying to escape the bonds of sharecropping and Jim Crow. No doubt Jolly came from that lineage and had built up a going concern…

Who knew?!

Who knew that it would be Cherry who throws the first haymaker? Yikes! Nothing like family to set a person off, huh?

Nice Ostrich! AWK! indeed…

Truck door handle… right. Sometimes one can’t see the forest for the trees. Poor Rusty. He came from dysfunction only to land right back into a different brand of it.

The Pitt Sisters?!

Thanks George, for linking this together and the reference to Popeye characters. While I am an inch wide and a mile deep on the Trails, your knowledge extends across multiple canon…

Apparently Olive and Peach don’t talk much! Or look at the same Social Media sites. Or accesses Social Media at all… Considering how focused Mark and Cherry are on growing their Social Media Brand, one would think that they aren’t terribly difficult to find… “Cave Man??” Will the bring-downs ever end? Of course it’s not challenging to surmise that the younger Pitt Sisters have a dim view of the Male of the Species.

I love it! Rusty utters the classic “What Th–?” But it’s really unclear what he is grabbing at, which of course creates its own tension. Meanwhile, over stage left, the reunion is going swimmingly!!

We were promised that Cherry and Rusty would be more than mere bookends. Looks like that promise is being kept.

Home is where the trailer is…

Well, here we are. Home Sweet Home.

Family, as in plural? ‘Live’ as compared to ‘lives?’ And they are all named after tree fruit?

Edgy! Real! What is “Peach” holding up in the center panel? I like how we are mixing spots and stripes! Can’t wait to meet “Mom!” Looks like Cherry’s parents had a nasty split. Mom got the trailer, the two younger daughters, and Dad got the cabin and land. Cherry appears to not have let the door hit her on the ass as she left…

Christmas, Florida?

OK, I’ll bite. Where in the H- E- Double-Toothpicks is “Christmas, Florida?”

Well, there’s Post Office…
And a Big Ol’ Gator…

Oh Rusty, welcome to your adopted family! You think times were interesting with your abusive, alcoholic father? Welcome to Middle-of-Nowhere Florida! Where Corn, Cattle and Gators co-exist!

Cherry is clearly in her own space at this point, girding herself to meet up with members of her own family… conveniently and wantonly forgotten…

A long walk…

…and today we land the plane…

Enough with the non-sequiturs and vague references… One would have had to be following very closely to keep up with the back and forth going on ever since Mark left Lost Forest for a walk, ran into Kelly Welly, conferred with Ralph the Rat Snake, was interrogated by Cherry and hopped into his car…And now we find ourselves in the humble abode of Roger, Jolly (‘Jolly’ apparently his first name, ‘Roger’ the surname…) in order to have this all spelled out for us. Mark’s dad was (is?) the evilest of evil- a profit motivated Robber Baron who stole land for… his own use in a commercial enterprise <Trademark> Happy Trails.