Wrong and Wrong!

Well, here we go Campers, the last of an era, one that brings comfort and calm. One where everything always works out. One where hard truths are buried, like how Cherry banished Andy in a fit of pique

No! Blame it on Tabby! or Cherry! Andy was simply there being Andy, a useful tool in the play called life!

And Mark, remember you QUIT. But I guess this all doesn’t matter much as we head into the Jules Rivera Era!

Milk it, Mark!

Mr. Williams, you will have to forgive Mark Trail. He’s a little dense… a little slow on the uptake. Need to be obvious. He’s been hit in the head many times over his career as the namesake of this strip.

Magic Words? “We NEED you?” “Substantial RAISE?” Not sure what Mark’s needs are, but either one or a combination is probably fairly satisfying… I mean, who doesn’t need a little validation from time to time? Mark just got two doses, at least- a MAJOR (if not manufactured) award, and more money!

OK, it’s t-minus 1 day before Mark joins the 21st Century (for real) and I hope we are all strapped in!

A big, fat raise, huh?

…because that’s EXACTLY how things work in real life… Big boss realizes he’s “wrong,” and as a result feels overly generous… Of course his idea of a “big raise” is probably different than Mark’s…

But here’s a question… How do we go from the black-tie awards ceremony back to the office on Park Avenue? Unless the last strip (from yesterday) was actually “the next day” and Cherry and Rusty were still laying rose petals at Mark’s feet… Only to have Bill Ellis call Mark at Lost Forest from the office? I know, I over-think these things, but I hope that Jules Rivera spends a little more time ensuring continuity than history would demonstrate. Or then, maybe that’s part of the Trailverse I will end up missing most?

Are we surprised? Of course not!

As Mark and his “friends” watch the broadcast of the conservation awards (really?) Editor Bill Ellis of Woods and Wildlife magazine addresses the crowd…

Why not, you know? Why not change the rules, especially when the rules don’t favor the outcome that you prefer? I bet there are some pissed off finalists that are crying foul! Does Woods and Wildlife sponsor this awards dinner? was there ever any doubt that their boy, Mark, was going to be the winner?? I am not clear at all about how unbiased these awards are… I think I smell a rat… or a beaver…

No one is surprised- not even the Beaver Family… but Mark sure looks pleased…

Oh, Mark, please stop with the false modesty! And, Yes, I am pretty sure you still have a job…

Sorry for the delay these last few days, Campers, I was visiting the south shore of Gitche Gumee and was without internet for a few days…

From Port Wing to Bayfield and back… perfect weather and a lovely time!

What? Mark has Friends?

I know it’s an old bit… “Mark and his Friends are watching…” and the immediate reaction is, “What?! Mark has friends?” Sure he looks up or stumbles upon “Ol’ Friends” as the story arcs are set up, but we never really take that phrase literally. His reputation for Emotionally Unintelligent is legendary, and certainly Mark’s ability to have actual friends would be quite limited… Yet, here we are, looking in on “Mark and his friends,” who actually are just his family…

With the Awards Program on the Color TV, gloriously wrapped in furniture grade cherry wood, Bill Ellis is about to take the stage and explain to the (30 or so) people watching across this great land, that the “must be there to win” policy is just plain wrong… And if Mark isn’t the winner, why bring this up at all??

As a treat I thought I would include the Sunday recycle…

… partly because I am curious to see what happens to this is in the coming weeks- we’ll have one more on 10/11, but then what?? And also because I am fascinated by the word choice in the last panel, “Bruin.” The Great Bruin… I guess I never thought about it being an actual word, other than the name of the Boston Hockey team, but I guess it is!! Who knew?

Cherry, why you all hunched over like that?

Just so you can get a big ol’ lick from Andy! That’s why!

Andy’s thinking, “Stay away from me, you little cur…” Sort of like the talking dogs on Tik-Tok… “I was fine until my hoomans bought me this little thing.. I haven’t know a day of peace since…)

TV? You mean we have that in Lost Forest?! And there is enough interest in Nature Magazines to build an entire awards program out of it? And it would be airing in the Northern Georgia market? We have been asked to believe some really far-fetched things over the years, but this takes to cake!

I guess they don’t mind a little eau de skunk…

In a predictable “Happy Ending,” Andy the Great St. Bernard is released into Mark’s Care and Custody… to be reunited with the family at Lost Forest…

Not sure if that’s Rusty or Cherry getting mauled, given the red highlights and boy-like body shape… But what’s interesting about this second panel is the emergence of “Sassie,” Rusty’s little Dalmatian runt. Long before Tabby ever showed up, it was Sassie that caused no end of trouble and heartache for Rusty and the entire clan…

It is nice to see that animals are able to smile, as witnessed by today’s installment…

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!!