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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…


3 thoughts on “Mark’s Dark Past

  1. Okay, I like the irreverence and humor in the “educational” Sunday strip, where even the title panel is linked to the story. Good job.

    As for the dailies, it will be interesting to see how (and if) she develops the social awareness angle in the strip. Unlike the previous incarnation(s), this reboot seems determined to emphasize more than just nature-based depredation.

    What I also appreciate here is emphasizing Mark’s journalistic role, not simply focusing on Mark Trail, Man of Action. The prior lack of any visual indication that Mark is a nature photographer and journalist is something we have made fun of for quite some time. In a way, that was part of the Mark Trail Mystique that was perversely appealing: How did he get photos of all of those adventures when we never saw him take pictures?

    Remember the Spiderman comics from the ’60s and ’70s, when Peter Parker was a newspaper reporter who made his bones reporting on his super hero alter ego? How did he report on himself and get photos of the action? Peter’s solution was to use his webbing to stick a camera in a corner, set it (somehow) to take shots automatically, then fight the bad guy. Voila! Action photos! Well, Mark has his smart phone, so I’m looking forward to how Jules will work in some Mark Trail action photography.

  2. Maybe George I am being to harsh. It’s just like looking at a re-do of a movie that has nothing to do with the original. It simply is not Mark Trail anymore. It is an entirely new comic which might be interesting to my Grand Daughters who are very young. There is no wildlife artwork. Tree frogs & snakes appears to be Jules go to. We did get a couple woodpeckers however. This strip is really bordering on unreadable for me. All that being said, I appreciate Dennis’s blog very much. As well as the comments of you regulars! My opinion is they change the the name. Teen Sparkles.

  3. Nah! I can’t dispute your opinion, Mark, as it makes sense to me! It IS a different animal, so to speak. And this dramatic turn in the art, characterizations, and storylines is something of a slap in the face ( or kick in the butt?) of long-time fans. Can’t deny that. I sure felt it.

    As for the beloved wildlife imagery, perhaps Jules is learning on the job; she probably has not had to draw them very often in her other work. So snakes are rather easy to draw (compared to, say, deer). But she’s coming along: Her Sunday peacocks look okay to me. And what about that heads-on dead fish?! Sure looks dead to ME! 🙂

    But good luck trying to explain this new Mark Trail to your grandkids! I think they’d more easily get the old version. Maybe teens will get it. Like you, I sure hope that Trail doesn’t get tied to “Teen Sparkle” for every story/adventure. It would be more interesting if Trail was sent out on different assignments by different magazines in this so-called magazine empire, especially if there was some kind of connection in each adventure that related to the focus, or editor, of each magazine. For example, WHY is the editor of Teen Sparkle really interested in an old land-steal involving Happy Trails? Is it just to be environmentally aware? Or is it something more subtle, such as a familial relationship between Amy and Jolly?

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