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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 02/24/2009

Mark Trail: One-Man Stimulus Plan

By Michael Cavna

Morning, Cartoon Nation...

Every so often, the planets align, the cosmic tumblers click into place and "Mark Trail"-- all all too commonly misunderstood as mere bizarro-perspective stilted-dialogue strip about a suspiciously chaste eco-photojournalist -- pauses to allow a rare, raw glimpse of its stealthily subversive agenda.

It's all innocent shenanigans amid the flora and fawns, you say? That Mark Trail would no sooner recognize satiric subversiveness than he would a sexual advance, you insist?

Oh, how wrong you are, Steroid-Lizard Breath.

You know how Dr. Seuss would always seem to be about cute pronoun-named creatures and tufted fur critters whose names rhymed with body parts like thorax? But then wily Ol' Teddy Geisel would lift the veil and the entire strewn-with-sneeches affair would suddenly become one grand analogy for World War II isolationism or the Cold War arms race or, on a slow day, simply the inalienable rights of man? Well if it please the court, I would submit that Mark Trail is about to embark upon such profound social commentary.

Other that or I'm just driven to find coherence in the intellectual wasteland that is Lost Forest. But for the sake of argument, if not the sake of bloggage, indulge me in this: The Mark Trail Manifesto: Sly Economic Commentary to Be Uncovered Near Cherry Trail. Let us map the obvious metaphors. To wit:

1. KEN, or Man on the Verge of an Economic Breakdown:

O Ken, misunderstood wounder of woodland creatures, how we pity you. Unable to have young critters of your own, yours -- in Trail-speak -- is the symbolic portfolio that cannot invest in the future. Even in trying to fend off threats, you prove (financially) impotent. (How long till you look us Americans square in the pocketbook and utter: "We have met the enemy and he is U.S."?)

2. PATTY, the Pining Investor

Trying to skirt emotional bankruptcy, Ken's wife seeks a pet venture. But has Tempermental Ken literally blown their shot? The "buck" stops here.

3. MARK, the one-man stimulus plan

The strip's ethos is clear: We must return to being fiscally (if not physically) chaste if we're to protect our nest egg. All hail "Deutsche" Mark, the Khaki King of Commerce. The man literally knows how to save a buck.

So see. not just your fancy "Non Sequitur's" and "Brewster Rockit's" offer stinging topical commentary on the economy. Mark Trail is a one-man rescue plan, EXCEPT when he abandons Patty as trouble looms. Because if there's one thing Mark "Paper" Trail knows how to do, it's bail out.

So does our tongue-in-cheek econ thesis read too much into "Mark Trail"? Good heavens, we hope so.


And then there's the danger of those comics that do NOT follow the headlines. As a result, we have the "Family Circus" kids engaging in random reckless acts of peanut butter usage. Either that or Bil Keane has finally decided that in these tough economic times, he really does want one less mouth to feed.

By Michael Cavna  | February 24, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Next: Morning Funnies: The Rapid Rundown


So, why do I find Shannon Wheeler's TMCM interesting? Today's installment titled "How to Be Happy, ugly island 9 of 8" just tickles me. I think I'm becoming a fan. Why? Why me?


Posted by: MSchafer | February 24, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Re: Family Circus
An alternative view is that Bil Keane is promoting the safety of store-brand peanut butter. I thought it was rather timely -- a rather surprising happening in an otherwise bland 'toon.

Posted by: SpringfieldBob | February 24, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Funny, I looked at Family Circus and started checking my windows for Bil. Sometimes a pile of peanut butter is just a pile of peanut butter.

Posted by: fibrowitch | February 25, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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