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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 03/13/2009

New Toons and Old Favorites

By Michael Cavna

Morning, Cartoon Nation...

Another day, another new strip to scrutinize.

Now we get news that the comics portal Uclick has added Creators Syndicate's "The Barn" to its lineup. The daily strip -- created by three-decade veteran of cartooning Ralph Hagen -- features "barnyard buddies" Stan the Bull and Rory the Sheep.

What's your early verdict, fellow Riffians? For more samples of these wisecracking livestock, you can go to


The table and wine! The Eiffel Tower! The central casting French guy! "Pearls Before Swine" really elevates today. But we award the Riffy to "Pearls" -- and Stephan Pastis -- this week because he has successfully got his pet term "un-died" into (So reports Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist.)


So much about "Mark Trail" is so, so potentially wrong. I'll leave it to 'Riffs readers to fully dissect this mentor/scout interplay, but let me begin by saying: I was briefly a Cub Scout. Even more briefly, I was a Boy Scout. And never -- ever -- do I recall seeing a POLKA-DOTTED kerchief. Perhaps only "Lost Forest" in 1962 had such kicky neckwear. But if this strip is ostensibly time-suspended in the '60s, the bigger question becomes: They had memory cards in '62??

I must stop. Head beginning to hurt...

By Michael Cavna  | March 13, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Gotta be the smallest scout troop ever.

While Mark may be quite the naturalist, and even a composition guru, he knows beans about digital photography. Isn't there a more knowledgeable parent who can teach young Rusty how to delete a friggin' image from a digital camera?

Or maybe Mark doesn't want anyone to see the contents of the memory card....

Posted by: JkR- | March 13, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I usually enjoy reading Mark Trail because it's such a train wreck, but I am so angry at the writer for the last story line that the comic has lost its fun for me. How dare Jack Elrod trivialize spouse abuse. The guy belittles his wife, shoots a pet deer, and strikes his wife, but gets a pass because he was allegedly stressed and Patty should have known better than to have a pet deer! What!?!?

Posted by: mat00 | March 13, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh - and now they're adopting a baby! This is what Jack Elrod needs to do to redeem himself: create a story line about a social worker uncovering the sordid family dynamics when she interviews them for an adoption, and Patty waking up to the fact that her husband is a dangerous jerk before she ends up in a women's shelter. Since Mark Trail likes to have little moral lessons in his strips, this would fit right in.

...I realize that this is just a comic strip I'm getting all worked up over, and I'm taking a deeeeep breath.

Posted by: mat00 | March 13, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, Mat00, if you worked in some non-sexual but completely over the top double-entendres into that story line, maybe Judge Parker will work in your story line proposal....

After we finish up slapping cheerleaders, or course....

Posted by: JkR- | March 13, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Dave Sim's 300-issue comic book character Cerebus the Aardvark appeared in today's Pooch Cafe. Pretty amusing.

Posted by: Mrhode | March 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Mark Trail might want to consider teaching Jack Elrod a thing or two about good composition while he's at it.

Posted by: staxowax | March 13, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Well I, for one, like "The Barn". It isn't laugh out loud funny every day, but it is enough of the time to make it worthwhile. The piloting storyline is a gem. Sheep is an absolute hoot. I think Sheep and Pig from "Pearls before Swine" would make a great duo.

It's hard to comment about the polka-dotted scarf without saying something totally inappropriate. So I won't.

Posted by: elyrest | March 14, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

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