Looks like good ol’ Bill Ellis is still getting some comic strip time, after all. And he talks with the exclamatory tones favored in the original Mark Trail strips! Some traditions just don’t fade easily!
Not surprisingly, the romantic Big Clinch Moment (BCM) comes for Mark and Cherry while out on their nature walk, while standing behind a wooden statue of a squirrel. According to the rules laid down in Chapter 3 of the Standards and Practices for Comic Strips(23rd edition), the BCM must be interrupted just before the moment of physical excitation. In a family comic strip, that means just before they share a kiss.
The BCM Interruption is a commonly-accepted cliché in the entertainment industry, though not always appreciated. One of the great scandals of comic strip history was when The Phantom and his fiancé Diana Palmer were found to have progressed past the traditional BCM while in the Skull Cave, without so much as a loud chimpanzee yell to interrupt them. The International Committee of Comic Strip Ethics (supposedly founded by Johnny Hart), was prepared to excommunicate artist Lee Falk and demote The Phantom to a servant in the Mandrake the Magician comic strip. At the last moment, Falk agreed to have The Phantom and Diana marry, saving his career and providing his strip with more story options.
The only prior scandal of this magnitude was caused by a misplaced grammatical period in Elsie Segar’s Thimble Theater comic strip, soon after Popeye made his initial appearance in 1929. Olive Oyl was talking with Popeye when he apparently said “Well blow me. Down!” Fortunately, investigators discovered that the period between “me” and “Down” was actually just a dead gnat that Segar swatted off his forehead while inking the strip, and he never noticed that it had fallen into the text balloon. The potential Problem Period was caught in time by the comic strip syndicate, just before the strip was shipped out to the newspapers. However, Segar had his salary docked to pay for preparing the corrected strip for publication.
Not much else to note here, except to wonder: Which magazine will it be this time? I truly hope we meet a new editor and magazine. There are supposedly at least 17 magazines that make up the “F.E. and Cook” publishing empire (see the 10/19/20 strip), so I hope it will be something closer to Mark’s world, such as “Flyfisher King” or “Trapped in a Cave Digest”.