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Posted at 1:05 PM ET, 08/17/2009

Should 'Mark Trail' Take a Hike? Time to Defend That 'Toon

By Michael Cavna

Pell-mell arrives the "other woman," Kelly Welly. (NAS) Enlarge Comic

This week's victim: "Mark Trail"

It's the comic pages' version of a large nuclear cockroach, which is rather fitting given how many ginormous foregrounded creatures populate Mark Trail's Lost Forest. "Mark Trail," like some postapocalyptic insect, is historically The Thing That Cannot Be Killed. (Much like the bullet-dodging titular hero himself.) Oh, people have tried to kill it -- perhaps most notably The Washington Post's Ben Bradlee, who canceled the strip in the early '90s (as recounted by Bradlee himself in this blog's introduction), only to have neighboring "Trail" fans win a successful reinstatement campaign thanks to especially prominent signage. That's right -- the man who helped bring down Richard Nixon could not topple the mighty Mark Trail.

Yet it's high time again to ask the question: "Does Mark Trail still belong in The Post's funnies?" If you were editor: Would you tell "Mark Trail" to take a hike?

If you're not a fan, feel free to Impugn-That-Toon. Otherwise it's time to Defend...That...'Toon!

By Michael Cavna  | August 17, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
Categories:  Defend That 'Toon  
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Next: Your Pick: What 'Doctor' Strip Would You Add to The Post's Pages?


Mark Trail is, hands-down, one of the funniest strips in the comics today. Keep it.

Posted by: ltwd | August 17, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Keep it or at least keep the Sunday version. The sunday clip on animals is one of the sunday comics I always read and share with the kids...the weekly edition, eh...

Posted by: hoo93 | August 17, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I agree; Mark Trail is one of the (unintentionally) funny strips out there. The WaPo tried to get rid of it once before and was forced to backtrack.

Posted by: patrick24 | August 17, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I can think of 10 I would drop before the bizarre world of Mark Trail....

Posted by: JkR- | August 17, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Keep Trail until the mystery is finally solved!

Of course, I mean ~ WHO'S THE VENTRILOQUIST?

The strip has talking animals, trees, houses, and people who don't move their mouths. Who the %*¢# is doing all the talking?

Posted by: filfeit | August 17, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Don;t read the Sunday animal cartoon at all. I have Mark in a favorites list...but only because....well, I'm not sure. So, Drop Mark...there are a couple of brand new cartoon out there that really need the spot.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | August 17, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The Post has taken almost all of the serial type comics out because they think young people won't read them. Young people ( under 45) don't read the paper period. Therefore your audience are those of us who still read the serial comics. Stop messing with the comics. Leave us something.

Posted by: wmika | August 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Besides the Phantom it is the only other old-style serial that I read.

Posted by: mraymond10 | August 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm continually surprised by how many people enjoy this strip. I find it terribly boring and generally skip it unless you point it out on the blog.

-a young person who still subscribes to the paper (two of them, even)

Posted by: oceanchild | August 17, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

One of these days, MT is going to give in to one of the hundreds of adoring non-spousal women (or maybe he'll give in to a man). Either way, WP would be kicking itself it it has dropped MT before that happens.

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | August 17, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I never appreciated the serials until I started reading the Comics Curmudgeon blog.

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | August 17, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

When I argued for Judge Parker's return, I threw Mark Trail under the bus.

Still think the same way.

But, since the Judge is back, I would say Mr. Trail deserves a spot on the page. Just not at JP's expense.

Posted by: brainiac1077 | August 17, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Keep Mark Trail. I have enjoyed reading the comics since I was a child. You have taken away other favorite serials, Mary Worth and Rex Morgan, which I now read on-line. I get my daily giggle from the Piranha Club by Bud Grace. It's especially funny to me because my husband is from Bayonne, N J, where Grace locates his club.
The "younger" people don't read the comics or subscribe to a print version anyway, so please keep us seniors happy with what little is left of the comics, and don't make the print any smaller, please!

Posted by: gramma1 | August 17, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

We are senior citizens who live in a rural area. Unfortunately, the newspaper that we took decided to cancel our route. Since the Washington Post provides access to those comics that we love, Mark Trail being one of them, we have survived! Of course, living in a rural area, we frequently see many of the animals that are depicted in that strip. Please don't take it away - please?

Posted by: damoho01 | August 17, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the basic concept of serial comics that they help keep people reading the newspaper on a daily basis, to see "what happens next"? OK, in the case of Mark Trail, it's more nearly a case of "Can this incredible storyline possibly get even **more** stupid?", but still.

Posted by: seismic-2 | August 17, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Keep Mark Trail, especially the Sunday "educational" version. I enjoy it--and not just because Mark Trail reminds me of my late father. :-) It's an outdoor-oriented serial, fun for me and apparently others, too. I have others that I would axe before Trail.

Posted by: zerodefect01 | August 17, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Might I also suggest bringing back Gasoline Alley and Lulu?

Posted by: dornocher | August 18, 2009 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Any imaginary being who can interview a government official (the head of NOAA Fisheries, during the week no less!) is important enough to stay on the funny pages.

Posted by: rlcjr | August 18, 2009 5:26 AM | Report abuse

Of course Mark Trail is lame. Mark Trail has been lame forever. Mark Trail was lame when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.

But no man who has survived 637 unarmed encounters with armed criminals should ever be done in by some bleeping comics editor. Get rid of one of those cookie cutter tired pun strips instead, beginning with the genuinely dreadful Mother Goose and Grimm. It's no accident that Father Goose wants nothing to do with that feeble old buzzard.

Posted by: andym108 | August 18, 2009 6:28 AM | Report abuse

Please get rid of Mark Trail. It stopped being a good strip a long, long time ago. I would rather see a funny local strip grace the pages then the tired old exploits of Trail. I have now issues with serial strips, but they need to be GOOD serial strips.

Posted by: buckeye96 | August 18, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Mark Trail is more out-there than Zippy the Pinhead. It's a sick time warp where characters from the 50s must have been perserved at the moment of their deaths and injected into world with massive, mutated animals that often have word balloons come from their mouths. I find it horrifying, disturbing, and hysterically funny, and without my life would be as soulless and empty as one of Mark Trail's villians. .

Posted by: johnpage1 | August 18, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

I would like to post my one vote to keep Mark Trail. But I do understand the push to remove him due to the fact that any one with morals, ethics and old fashioned american values is no longer stylish. It is a sad transition.

Posted by: dlp2 | August 18, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

I do read MT and enjoy it mainly because he is SO DUMB when it comes to tracking down criminals. He only calls upon the law when he has already "nailed" the perp. Kind of a vigilante without good sense. Keep it.

Posted by: pjohn2 | August 18, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Have you Guys seen Rip Haywire yet on ?
It's a NEW adventure strip.

Posted by: coffeeandpaper | August 18, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Every day, I keep telling myself that I don't need to read Mark Trail -- but I do anyway. Its my (until now) secret passion (that and reading Spider-man).

Posted by: baruchgershom | August 18, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

From an objective standpoint, Mark Trail is awful. Story lines are hackneyed. The bad guys invariably look sinister, and usually have lots of facial hair to boot. Mark is flawless and apparently has not changed his wardrobe since 1958. As Mr. Cavna delights in emphasizing, drawing perspective is off and word balloons are misplaced.
Despite this, I would not want the Post to eliminate the daily Mark Trail (the Sunday feature elicits ambivalence). Ever since the Post callously dropped "Mary Worth," Mark Trail is alone in the "so bad it's good" serial category. The predictable flaws and unconsciously retro nature of the strip provide constant amusement, even if we are laughing at the cartoonist instead of with him.

Posted by: OTBerbur | August 18, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

MT certainly isn't the worst strip WaPo carries so leave it alone.

Posted by: kcghost | August 18, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

MT is the source of so much inadvertent weirdness, I'd miss it if it were gone.
Of course, my favorite MT moment came from the old "Liberty Meadows", when they caught him (or, a thinly disguised facsimile) cross-dressing.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | August 18, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

1. Go to a place which buys advertisements in your paper.
2. Ask the people who shop there what comics they like.
3. Do what they say.

This will probably screw up my comics. So be it.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 18, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm still mourning the loss of Zippy. Please don't take away the last shred of metaphysical absurdity left in the comic section!

Posted by: CafeBeouf | August 18, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I genuinely like Mark Trail, even though it's a pretty silly strip. Mark is a man with ethics and principles.

If something has to take a hike, please make it Barney Google or Dennis the Menace. I inadvertently click on them occasionally and they both trigger my gag reflex.

Posted by: jhershelredpuppy1 | August 18, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Mark Trail's a keeper. What other strip can you miss for 2 weeks on holiday, and return to find nothing's changed!?And the Sunday science news is the best thing since Mr Wizard graced the airwaves...

Posted by: arnaudo | August 18, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Mark Trail's a must. What other strip can you miss for 2 weeks while on holiday and return to find nothing's changed! And the Sunday Science panels are the best thing on weekends since Mr. Wizard graced the airwaves.

Posted by: arnaudo | August 18, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Mark Trail's a must. What other strip can you miss for 2 weeks while on holiday and return to find nothing's changed! And the Sunday Science column is the best thing on weekends since Mr. Wizard graced the airwaves.

Posted by: arnaudo | August 18, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Mark Trail must continue! I must read it before Josh Fruhlinger takes his crack at it.

And I read the paper before I go online!

Posted by: Vaughn51975 | August 18, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey that comic strip is really funny. afer coming back from my office in patong beach hotel phuket when i am very tired i love reading this comic strip. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: anwesham | August 19, 2009 4:01 AM | Report abuse

I vote to keep Mark Trail. It is so wonderfully predictable! My husband and I play this breakfast game of plotting the next event. In a time when so many of the comics are not entertaining, Mark provides entertainment - intentional or not.

Posted by: mhasegawa | August 19, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

I suggest you cut Mark Trail to reinstate Mary Worth. Mary Worth is way more funny than Mark Trail.

Posted by: wanders1 | August 19, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

At least MT runs new (using the word loosely) strips. Ditch the Peanuts reruns before losing ANY current strip, even one as lame as Mark Trail.

Posted by: drewdane | August 19, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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