Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Mark Trail grows even colder

Classic Mark Trail strip: Peripheral animals are monstrously large and also talk!
The storyline in this comic strip I most love to hate (or vice versa) has now gone on for more than four months. Four months!

How sad is it that I know such a thing?

If you're just joining us for the current episode, you are a well-adjusted individual, but if you really must know: Intrepid wildlife magazine writer Mark Trail way back in July came upon a wounded goose bearing a gold band around one leg. The band bore a biblical verse.

Thus began the slowest investigation I have ever put up with as a comics fan. Not thorough, just slow. It eventually led Mark, along with leeching freelance writer Kelly Welly (weally!), a Gilbert Roland-looking French Canadian named Johnny Malotte, and Mark's dog Andy, into an idyllic and apparently unknown Canadian valley where predator and prey live in harmony.

And subsist, I gather, on Soylent Green. Maybe Charlton Heston will show up in this storyline, warning the human characters what fate awaits them; it's not such a stretch, since all the characters in Mark Trail — man, woman, boy, girl — look like Heston in hairpieces.

Trail and his gang meet Mother McQueen, the fringed buckskin jacket wearing keeper of the valley and alleged progenitor of Mountie McQueen, the police officer linked to the gold band who fails to dissuade Trail from pursuing the mysterious gold band. Damn that McQueen! Coulda saved us so much precious time.

Mother McQueen goes through a long "nothing to see here" bit, including a lie about how many gold bands exist, which the Comics Curmudgeon hilariously points out.

Gold is all that Kelly Welly can think about, and that's where the strip is now. That's where the strip has been for the last two weeks, in fact, with Kelly going bump in the night through Mother McQueen's garage, and concluding somehow that Mother McQueen hides a gold mine and uses a trained grizzly bear to carry the mined ore. Of course, it all makes so much sense!

The other characters have all but disappeared as Kelly steals Mother McQueen's gear and bearnaps her pet grizzly to hunt for the gold mine.

I'm not sure why the gold mine is important. If I found a biblical inscription on a gold bird band, which led me to a strange valley, I'd figure the gold band was readily available and would have plenty of other questions before I got around to the idea of a gold mine. But none of the other characters is pursuing those questions, and I'm not Kelly Welly. I'll be poorer for it.

The story plods on. I'm putting all my faith in Charlton Heston.

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