Parting Shot: Mark Trail vs. the Marijuana Growers
Ah, Mark Trail. My old nemesis. The 66-year-old newspaper comic about a wildlife photographer and his informative and outdoorsy adventures Mark Trail first came to my attention during a completely insane storyline where a woman who lived near Mark Trail made friends with a deer, a relationship that made her physically abusive husband so jealous that he shot it. He was ultimately gored by the deer, which prompted his abused wife to declare that it was all her fault and promise to have a baby with her husband — a development that was considered a happy ending. It’s not a terribly progressive comic, is what I’m getting at.
So when I found out that the latest Mark Trail storyline involving the nature adventurer fighting the scourge of marijuana, I was pretty excited.Our story begins as aerial photography reveals that someone is growing marijuana on government land, a development that shocks dutiful ranger Tom Martin, who is apparently a terrible naturalist and can barely remember what the plant is called (“it’s on the tip of my tongue!”). When Tom goes to clear out the marijuana, he is confronted by two men who are clothed head to toe in khaki. Maybe that’s some weird stereotype that I’m not aware of, but it mostly makes them look like UPS deliverymen.
They tie Tom to a a tree in accordance with their moustache-twisting bad guy handbook, which causes him to miss dinner with Mark Trail, and because Tom is usually such a super-punctual guy, that means that Mark Trail is on the case with his giant freaking dog. Then we get to watch Mark repeat the exact same sequence of events — even reciting aloud what he imagines Tom said aloud — which is definitely not boring or tedious in a comic that only advances three panels each day:
Unrelated (maybe): I have no idea what this picture of a fish lunging at a squirrel is supposed to signify. I guess danger?
Mark finally arrives at the area where Tom is being held captive by the marijuana growers — or as Mark Trail likes to call them, “drug guys.” Mark helpfully narrates his entire rescue plan aloud to his dog, because he is a weirdo:
Mark sneaks up behind Tom and tells him to lure his captors over with, you know, some sort of casual-sounding conversation. This is what Tom says:
And then Mark attacks them with his giant dog (see above). That brings you pretty much up to date, and while I can’t say it’s quite as absurd as the deer storyline, it’s an odd combination of boring and hilarious that I can only term “borlarious,” full of ridiculous caricatures and out-of-date dialogue that rivals the high school slang of Tom Batiuk for their authenticity. If you’d like to follow along, the strip is available online, and the best commentary can be found at Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon.