I think Rusty just grew a foot…

…no, not that kind… not literally.  Just look how tall he is next to Mark!

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As Geoff falls out of focus and Mark returns to (more) familiar form, I am reminded of the very beginning of the cave adventure when Mark was free-climbing, all to set up the final scenes in the cave, in order that we couldn’t say, “Hey, where did Mark suddenly get those mad climbing skills?!”  It wasn’t clear, to me at least, that it was Mark doing the climbing.  In fact it might have been the first time Mark was ever presented without a shirt on, unless you  count the time that we was treed by a bear after separating his shoulder

And In case you all are wondering when the switch-over occurred, from Elrod to Allen, here is the last daily signed by Elrod and the first daily signed by Allen.  Notice how in the latter  the style seems to change panel to panel…  a reminder that Allen has been at this (along with you scribe) for over 6 years…  he’s probably looking for an out…

Catching up… and Testing Boundaries

And we are back. Sorry Campers, took a little time off in the Desert Southwest, where, oddly enough, it was chillier than my current home state of MN! What an upside-down world we live in, huh?

Well, the sniping continues, much to Genie’s dismay:

Below we find Mama Bear giving lessons to her cub: Stay the hell away from those upright walking beasts, that is unless yo want a face full of mace…

… a Selfie! HA HAW! That’s a pretty good one, Mark! Note the last line, though, we haven’t seen Mark pull out his camera once!! There has been no attempt by Mark to catalogue any experiences thus far!

… as the trap is baited and set…

Sprung! Mark has really figured out how to get under Camel’s hump, hasn’t he?

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OK, now for something completely different. I recent switched up papers in my daily routine and discovered this gem: Zippy the Pinhead. Or just “Zippy” for short. I am guessing that the “Pinhead” reference had to go in the day and age in which we live…

I love the references that are made regarding the struggles of maintaining a daily strip, so-called “Sequential Art.”

“Lumbago Masterfile!” HA HAW!

Faintly reminiscent of…

As Mark Springs into action, complete with a full load weighing him down…

…all he can bring to this party is his oversized walking stick… Whack Ka-Whack? Who the hell are we channeling? Fozzie Bear??

Unlike the African adventure when we met “Dirty” Dyer, and Mark saved the porter using a flaming branch… Who knew that Hippos respond to English commands? I guess if it works for T-Rex, then it would work for a Hippo…

But seriously folks, check out the artwork from 2016 compared to now. There is no comparison. It’s like we have been saying… James Allen has grown tired and is mailing it in…

Two things…

  1.  Why does Dirty have the same hair color as Mara?
  2. Why is Dirty such an idiot?

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Sure!  Why not?  Create witnesses to your intentions wherever you go!  Maybe he considers this a suicide mission- his last act.  He has no need to hide his intentions… I mean, isn’t ALL THE WORLD out to even a score with MARK TRAIL?   Won’t he be greeted with love an affection in jail, as he meets up with all the bad guys that Mark has put away over the years?

And certainly I underestimate the reach of Woods and Wildlife magazine…  why, its readership extends across the globe, including Protectorates of the United Kingdom…  And the reaction is priceless- going from Easter Island monolith to Huh?!  What??!! at the mere mention of THE TRAIL!

Oh, your mother is going to be so disappointed!

There has to come a time in every felon’s life when he or she realizes they strayed from the path that had been hoped for them… even families steeped in crime must have expectations of not getting caught and going to jail…

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Oh Juanito…  ¡Lo siento mucho!  ¡La plantilla está arriba! Vas a ir a la carcel… 

But there is more to unravel here… What about Becky?  Is Professor Carter in on this or has he been duped?  What other authorities need to get involved?  Or do we just get to wrap this turkey up and go home?

The gag is growing thin…

Even as the Rhino breaks the fourth wall in the middle panel, looking back at us in classic Ferris Bueller style seeming to ask the question we are all asking (where the hell does this go and how does it connect to Dirty Dyer?)

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At any rate, it’s all putting Frank off his feed, so to speak, to the point that he plans to make a miraculous recovery from a feigned illness and actually go to work!

Yea… a BIG one…

Sick?  Yea- sick of work!  As Frank the Fisherman takes his twin-screws out for a day on the water (leaving his friends at the mill to wonder where he is…) he is excited by the prospect of landing “The Big One…”

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…only to become the third human to see the Rhino…

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Are we to assume that the Leathery Behemoth shook off the Canvas Cloak and swam across the lake, only to emerge on the other shore?  I guess so.  At least all the people witnessing this strange sight had grown up with enough Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom to know what they are looking at…

Thanks for the Play-by-Play…

…and the color commentary…

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“He’s burst through the line, and into the second level!”

                                “Yes, Jim, that was a tremendous hole opened up by superior blocking on the part of the center and left guard!”

“He’s Still going, only one player to beat!  Touchdown!”

Happy Superbowl everyone!  I am guessing that 80% of the population in the Twin Cities will be happy when this circus has moved on…  and for those who may have missed it, or aren’t one with “The Cities,” a local brewing company has done yeoman’s work in describing the zeitgeist

Actually, no…

While this is a finely drawn Rhinoceros, it would have to pivot hard to port if the tent was going to get it…  But that would require that the Rhino be drawn in reverse 3/4 profile, as opposed to full profile, which we see in this single, large panel…  I don’t know if Rhinos are built to make NFL running back style jump-cuts or not… they seem more like Downhill Runners

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And while Shannon and Kathy appear to be spared for now, we have to wonder if we got to know their names only for the purpose of demonstrating yet another unlikely encounter with a non-indigenous beast?  That’s a lot of Purple ink to spill for not much of a career in the Trailverse.