Friday, February 27, 2009

Teh Awesome!

February 27, 2009

Panel 1: Shit yeah! I once saw a deer bite a man's head off out of sheer anger at the hapless Samaritan trying to help him. You'd better get your ass in gear Patty Frampton! Of course, these two deer are each about the size of a medium Labrador retriever, so I doubt they'll cause much harm. Heck, Mark's gigantic bow saw is longer than either Buck or his latest love interest.

Panel 2: But Mark, taking no chances, drops his bow saw and flees for the safety of the nearest log. Buck and his "buddy" celebrate their freedom by rehearsing their moves for Riverdance: Lost Forest Fandango. The Jackelrod Sphere hasn't shown us the whole thing, but don't worry. It will be broadcast on your local PBS affiliate every night for three straight months some time in late 2009.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Please, Ken, Grow a Moustache

February 26, 2009

Panel 1: Look at those crazy, googly eyes. You know Patty Frampton has gone totally batshit insane. Mark would be well-served by running away as fast as he can, as far as he can. No good will come of this. On a totally un-related note, I wonder who her cell provider is. She certainly seems to have good coverage.

Panel 2: How long has Patty Frampton been wandering in the woods? Time runs slower in the Trailiverse than it does here, but how much slower? On February 8-10, we saw Ken the Kung-Fu Master and Crack Marksman take a shot at Buck and then grab his valise and head out on a business trip for a few days. The intervening strips have led me to believe that about two Trail days have passed: Patty Frampton spent the night with the Trails (or at least with Cherry), Mark and Patty went searching on horseback, the Trails and Howdy-Doody spent an evening roasting mudfish on the fire, Mark visited Mr. HSD. Yet today, here's Ken back early from his meeting. WTF does that mean?

I suppose it doesn't matter. I think the Jackelrod Sphere is signaling that Ken expects Patty Frampton to be home doing something wifely (as defined by 1950s social norms, at least) and she's not. Given Ken's history of anger and violence, this does not bode well.

Panel 3: Hmmmm...Ken isn't frowning. I may have to revise my theory. I had envisioned an exciting denouement where Ken goes out searching for Patty, finds her and Mark wrestling the two ungulates out of their passionate horn-lock antler-lock, concludes this is some further execrable perversion on Patty's part, starts attacking our hero and the hapless Patty, and is treated to a couple rounds with the Right Fist O' Justice and Left Foot O' Retribution. As it is, the lack of a frown suggests a shift away from the role of the "bad man." This means that Ken is probably going to be worried about Patty, will call Mark for help in finding her, will work with Mark to set the two ungulates free, and will be treated in turn to a long lecture on the ills of spousal abuse and the keeping of wild animals as pets. If that is indeed what happens, this will subsequently become a Luann blog as suggested by Ace Buttockio a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fucking perverts (and I'm not talking about the people who find my site through Google)

February 25, 2009

Panel 1: So I was standing in the shower this morning thinking about Patty Frampton (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), when I suddenly realized that we haven't seen much of her this week. I quickly wrote it off as the Jackelrod Sphere's inability to show any emotion other than rage or soul-crushing apathy, and went back to "thinking" about Patty. Imagine my surprise, however, when I wandered downstairs to get the comics and found Patty Frampton staring at me from today's strip. Apparently, Patty hasn't been grieving for her lost love, she's been searching for him. Unfortunately, by internalizing her grief, she has driven herself insane and is now talking to herself while stumbling through the woods.

Panel 2: And now, we shall see Patty Frampton's grief suddenly turn to psychotic rage as she finds Buck enmeshed in the throes of homosexual ecstasy after finding another stag with whom to pursue his horn-locking antler-locking fetish. Of course, if Patty's as good a shot as Ken the Kung-Fu Master, Buck should be safe for the time being.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Will the exclamations ever end?

February 24, 2009

Panel 1: Mr. HSD continues his psychokinetic rearranging in today's comic. Just yesterday, the file cabinets with books and book ends were against the wall behind his desk. Now, he's either moved his desk or he's moved the cabinets. This guy is amazing. I mean look at him. The only sign that he's under any exertion at all is that the hair on the side of his head is growing into the shape of a penis.

Panel 2: Mark continues to represent those good ol' fashioned family values of the 1950s. "What's that? Ken lost a bunch of money because of some poorly timed investments? Well no wonder he's upset! I can totally understand why he's beating his wife and shooting at deer!"

Panel 3: "I will indeed. I was going to pound the tar out of him, but now that I know he's got a good reason to beat his wife, I might just help out a little bit."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meta-post: February Google Searches

I use StatCounter to track hits on this blog. It's an ego thing...I'm trying to compensate for my numerous inadequacies by amassing huge numbers of page hits. So far, my inadequacies have the lead. In any case, one thing StatCounter does is tell me where folks are coming from. Most of them come from the same couple of blogs (all of which are linked to the right), but a few are the product of apparently random Google searches. For your viewing pleasure, I present the most interesting February searches and their country of origin:

men with tiny feet (Canada)
androgynous hairstyles (UK)
androgyne haircut (Canada)
naturalist roundup (US)
comics androgyne (France)
1950s erotica (Spain)
goth androgynes (Russia)
someone, an animal (Turkey)

UPDATE: Just this morning someone in Latvia hit this site after Googling "androgynous hairstyle."

A tornado of exclamation points.

February 21, 2009

Panel 1: Okay, so I've spent a lot of time snarking on the art, the action, the dialogue and pretty much every other aspect of "Mark Trail" recently. Today, I'd like to forgo snarking and talk about my total confusion about where this particular adventure is headed. So far, the Jackelrod Sphere has spent it's time convincing us that Ken the Kung-Fu Master is a bad man. Ken scowls, Ken throws stuff, Ken hits (or tries to hit) his wife, Ken shoots at deer out of season. Heck, Mark even had to use some of his patented adrogynitsu on him. I mean, what is the message here, except, "Ken is bad."

Today, though, the message has suddenly changed. Mark wants to "help" Ken. His friend in the Forest Service (who could, incidentally, serve as my hairline stunt double when I film dangerous hair care sequences) says that Ken is a "nice fellow." What the fuck is going on here? Are we hunting Ken or are we helping Ken? Is Ken a raging psychopath, or just a little down on his luck? I'm confused.

Panel 2: Mark tries really, really, really hard to come up with something empathetic to say about Ken's employees. I don't think "That's tough!" really fits the bill, though.

February 23, 2009

Panel 1: Mr. Hairline Stunt Double (HSD for short) apparently has the remarkable ability to re-arrange his office without so much as batting an eyelash (or moving one of his few, sparse hairs out of place). On Friday he had a lovely commemorative plaque (probably from the Elk's) and a framed document (probably his degree from Lost Forest Institute of Forestology) hanging behind his desk. Today? They're gone. That's some scary shit, Mr. HSD.

Panel 2: Much like Circuit City did 6 months ago. Keeping the disloyal ones around didn't do much for Circuit City and, apparently, it's not doing much for Ken either.

Panel 3: Mr. HSD aged twenty-five years just by standing up. Why did he stand up? To come around the desk and check and see if that tiny, tiny hand laying on the desk is really Mark's, or if Mark is just jerking him around and playing tricks with a plastic Barbie hand.

A Note About The Title of This Post: Over the course of two days, the Jackelrod Sphere did not use a single period. It's either question marks or exclamation points and nothing in between.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Meddling is my middle name.

February 20, 2009

Panel 1: Nice to see that gender roles in the Trail household are temporally consonant with the decor. It's also interesting to note that the Jackelrod Sphere appears to be losing some of its substance. Today, at least, it is partially transparent. The most interesting thing about this panel, however, is the way in which the Jackelrod Sphere seems to write off Bucky. On Wednesday, it had Mark search for "several hours" for the missing deer. On Thursday, it had Mark try to figure out what might have happened at the time of the shooting. Today, it's all about Ken the Kung-Fu Master. I guess the Jackelrod Sphere figured he'd milked the wounded-deer aspect of the story for all it's worth and now he's having Howdy-Doody and the baby blue curtains try to convince Mark to go after Ken instead. The dialog balloon intruding from Panel 2 suggests they're successful. Mark's motivation, however, seems more Mary Worth-ian than Mark Trail-ian.

Panel 2: Hey, I found the lost fucking forest. Mark cut it all down to build a gigantic compound, replete with rustic sign denominating the former site of the forest. The last surviving quail ptarmigan from this once fecund habitat is hightailing it for greener climes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crazy fucking art.

February 19, 2009

Panel 1: Okay, so I was reading this morning's strip when the thought occurs to me that this scene looks familiar. I went back three whole days to the 16th and, shonuff, Panel 1 shows Mark and Cherry talking to Patty Frampton:

And here's today's Panel 1, just for comparison:

Now, is it me, or have the Trails re-decorated in the intervening three days (or 12 hours in the Trailoverse)? Buffet replaced with snowshoes? Check. Loveseat replaced with armchair? Check. Bestiality-loving blond replaced with silent Howdy-doody? Check. Stank-ass dog on stained yellow rug? Darn. Still there. Anyway, I see three options here. This is either a nice little continuity error, the Trail cabin is muy fucking grande, or the Trails are really good at quick-change redecoration.

Panel 2: Good lord, Howdy-doody has got one giant weiner! Or maybe he's just throwing another mudfish on the fire. Also, can someone please explain to me the geometry of this particular perspective? If Mark was sitting to the right of the fireplace in Panel 1, I'm hard-pressed to explain we can see him in front of it in Panel 2. Perhaps more of that quick-change redecoration?

Panel 3: Yeah, Mark. Real upset. Isn't this a good time for you to launch into an extended soliloquy on the perils of keeping wild animals as pets (not to mention lovers)?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ongoing transmogrification

February 18, 2009

Panel 1: I see Mark's transformation is continuing apace. His back is definitely more hunched and now his jaw is becoming hideously elongated and swollen. Nice.

Panel 2: Well shit, that didn't last long. I guess Lost Forest Community Playhouse canceled The Hunchback and has now decided to stage "Max Headroom, The Musical."

Panel 3: I am going to studiously avoid mentioning the sheer inanity of the dialog in Panels 2 and 3. Unfortunately, that means I have nothing else to say, but I invite my more imaginative readers to snark in the comments.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Victor Hugo or Ed Wood?

February 17, 2009

Panel 1: What's up with Mark, today? Kind of looks like he's practicing for the role of Quasimodo in the Lost Forest Community Playhouse version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Panel 2: This panel certainly doesn't dispel my sense that something is wrong with Mark's back. It does, however, make me wonder what kind of lighting the Jackelrod Sphere is envisioning for his art. Mark and the horse are shadowed as if lit by the sun (i.e. high and to the rear [kind of like Buck's preferred approach to Patty Frampton]). The squirrel, however, has the sort of lit-from-below effect one usually associates with middle school camping trips and cheesy haunted houses. What's his light source?

Panel 3: Y'know Mark, if a bullet "grazed" me, I'd pretty much consider myself wounded. I don't think Buck is going to appreciate your glibness.

Monday, February 16, 2009

GI Joe arms.

February 14, 2009

Panel 1: Cherry silently eyes Patty Frampton, wondering whether the platinum blond in her hair is real and scheming how to find out.

Panel 2: Cherry makes her move. Having undone her top button (that brazen hussy!), she invites Patty Frampton to spend the night. Her hand, slowly slides down Patty Frampton's pea coat-clad back.

Panel 3: Cherry vows to herself that she WILL help Patty Frampton forget about Bucky. A stoic titmouse gazes on.

February 16, 2009

Panel 1: I'm sorry. Why, exactly, does Patty Frampton want to talk about adopting with Ken the Kung-Fu Master? He hits her (or tries, at least), he throws glassware, he shoots at pets and, it turns out, his wigglies don't really wiggle. Basically, he's a piss poor husband. Why does Patty Frampton think that he'll be any better at being a father?

Panel 2: Forget about buggery and murder, take a look at what Mark is doing with his left arm. That's some crazy angles there.

Friday, February 13, 2009


February 13, 2009

Panel 1: Patty Frampton seems to believe that just because Mark wears a khaki unitard and writes for a "nature" magazine he knows about animals. Sure, Mark can give us our Sunday exegesis on the dining habits of planaria or the calcium content of antlers, but what does that mean in the real world? Does it mean that Mark knows how to track a philandering ungulate to his hide-out along the Mexican border? I doubt it. If Buck isn't in Mexico as I predict and is, in fact, wandering through the Lost Forest dazed and confused by the grazing blow he got from a chicken beak, how is Mark's "book learnin'" going to help? I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Interstitial Time Cue: This one is pointless. Really pointless. If we assume that the characters' experience of time is linear (and nothing suggests otherwise), then any scenario in which Patty Frampton goes to Mark's house one panel after deciding that Mark can help is, by definition, later.

Panel 2 I bet those mammary-like pillows Cherry put on the couch make Mark really, really uncomfortable. No doubt, they remind him of those icky things that Cherry makes him do behind closed doors.

Panel 3: "Patty, you ignorant slut! Of course Buck isn't alive. The only logical explanation for the disappearance of his body is that giant invisible spiders carried him away while you weren't looking. Now, forget about the deer."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Absurdist Bolds: A Poem by the Jackelrod Sphere

Not great
Patty! Patty?
Kill it!
What’s this?
Hurry Honey!
Please don’t want
Patty and Trail?

This special edition of the Androgynous Naturalist has been brought to you by the Jackelrod Sphere. It is composed of all the bolded text which appeared in the January strips. I think it does a nice job of capturing the insanity of the Patty Frampton saga so far. In fact, I like it so much I'm going to make it a regular addition to this blog. Come back in early March and get a taste of February!

Unexciting commentary at best.

Panel 1: The Great Omniscient Porcupine Narrator reveals that Buck was not a total failure in his quixotic attempt to catch Ken the Kung-Fu Master's Chikn-Shock bullet. But, as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and Buck is, as I predicted, on the lam.

Panel 2: Wow, appropriate bolding. I'm almost speechless.

Panel 3: You'll likely never find him in the light either, Patty Frampton. He's gone, I say, gone! Maybe he's not in Juarez, maybe he's not in Mexico at all, but if that ungulate has an ounce of sense in that drab brown body of his, he's gone from Lost Forest and he's never going to come back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

18 hours late...

Panel 1: Actually, Patty Frampton, this is where you saw Buck try to catch a flying chicken beak in his antlers. This is NOT where you saw him fall. If you'll go back and review the slo-mo from February 7, you'll see Buck cavorting and between him and the enraged Kung-Fu Master is a log much like the one you're currently looking at. However, if you jump ahead to the freeze-frame from February 9 you'll see no log. Instead, Buck appears to have tripped and fallen in patch of ferns. So, Patty Frampton, you'd better keep on moving if you're going to find your lover.

Panel 2: We now have further evidence that the Jackelrod Sphere is transmitting its comic from the 1950s. Note the belabored avoidance of the split infinitive. "He may be still alive." Are you fucking kidding me. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, born since 1960 has EVER not split an infinitive in day-to-day speech. If we didn't split infinitives, we'd all sound like robots...or worse, like Barbie dolls in mom jeans.

Panel 3: Blegh. Is it me or does Patty Frampton look like she's going cross-eyed and blind at the same time? Also, what's with all the extraneous dialog? "Where is he?" would have gotten the point across just effectively, especially since the "I saw him fall" is basically a recitation of panel 1. All in all, this panel sucks.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Apparently, it was merely a flesh wound.

February 10, 2009

Panel 1: Wow, this is an awesome panel! Yesterday we saw Ken tell Patty Frampton that he had to leave for a couple of days. I assumed he meant the following day, or maybe even in a couple of hours. Nope. Apparently, our Kung-Fu Master had his bags packed and merely took a few minutes out of his day to get pwned by Mark Trail, abuse his wife, and take a couple of pot-shots at a philandering deer. With that accomplished, he's grabbing his tiny, gray valise and heading for the door. Note that he's not so rushed as to miss the opportunity to shout a random word.

Panel 2: Hey Jackelrod Sphere, here's a little tip for you: Women built like Barbie dolls do NOT wear mom jeans; women shaped like Barbie dolls are typically made of PVC and wear nothing but a merkin and some gaudy lipstick.

Panel 3: Patty, Patty, Patty... Once your husband starts shooting at your lover, you can pretty much write that adulterous relationship off. Unless your ungulate friend there is even stupider than we think he is, he's packed his rucksack and caught the Greyhound for El Paso. In a couple of days, he'll be hiding out in the bush outside of Juarez trying to put the mack on your Mexican counterpart.

Monday, February 9, 2009

That's how he rolls.

February 9, 2009

Panel 1: It's pretty obvious in Saturday's panel 2 that Ken the Kung-Fu Master is as good a marksman as he is a kung-fu master. The line denoting his Chikn-Shock bullet's path goes straight from his barrel, through Buck's antlers and off into the gloaming. So, when we see Buck lying on his side in the grass, we're forced to wonder, "What happened?" I'm not sure, but I have a couple of hypotheses.

First, it's possible that Buck is a narcoleptic and merely fell asleep after the excitement of trying to catch some flying chicken beaks. Second, Buck may be an amateur entomologist and he thinks he just saw an errant Oligomyrmex and he's getting a closer look. The discovery of this species of ant in the western United States would, of course, revolutionize modern entomology, and Buck has always wanted his 15 minutes of fame. Finally, and perhaps most reasonably, it's possible that Buck has tripped and the Jackelrod Sphere is merely using his moment of ignominy as a foreground for the Kung-Fu Master's bit of dialog (which would be vastly improved if it said, "Sayonara motherfucker" and left it at that).

Panel 2: Damn dude, that's harsh. Shoot your wife's lover and then split. That Ken is a hard ass.

Panel 3: Wow, look at Patty Frampton's face. Can anyone say "Burning Bed"? Good thing the mothership is lingering in the background, ready to whisk Ken away for a couple of days while Patty cools down.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eyes, what eyes?

February 7, 2009

Panel 1: Apparently, Ken the Kung-Fu Master has loaded his high-powered rifle with a relatively unknown ammunition that consists entirely of chicken beaks. Unfortunately, chicken beaks aren't terribly aerodynamic and seem to be discharging in every direction but forward.

Panel 2: Buck, here's a tip. When someone is shooting at you (even if they're using Chikn-Shock loads), you probably shouldn't try to jump up and catch the bullet with your head. On a slightly different note, we finally have evidence of what Patty Frampton sees in Buck or, more accurately, what Patty Frampton sees on buck. Check out the unit on that guy.

Panel 3: Holy Fuck, it's Doctor Manhattan! That could explain the "Push" phenomenon Ace Buttockio pointed out on Friday.

Friday, February 6, 2009


February 6, 2009

Panel 1: Again, I'm forced to wonder what the fuck Ken the Kung-Fu Master was thinking when he chose the gun to "take care of" Buck. Here he is, 20 feet from a tame deer and he's going to take him out with a high-powered rifle? He runs a serious risk of shooting right through the damn deer. A shotgun is so much better for this type of shooting. I suppose he could be out of buckshot or slugs, but I doubt it. I think he's just an idiot.

Panel 2: He's also slower than molasses on a cold day. In the time it takes Patty Frampton to run 50 feet, the Kung-Fu Master manages to raise the rifle approximately 6 inches. Of course, part of the problem may be that he's trying to hear what Patty Frampton is saying. It's kind of difficult to make things out when somewhat is alternating between whispering and shouting like that. And, as further proof that fractal math underlies much of the natural word, we see that the hardwood silhouetted by the Kung-Fu Master's hip is using the same basic axiom as Patty Frampton's hairdresser.

Panel 3: I'm stunned. Ken the Kung-Fu Master has landed a blow! Buck should take this opportunity to flee. I'm quite certain the Kung-Fu Master will now engage in his bitter, graceless version of the adolescent end-zone dance one typically sees performed by NFL halfbacks in their moment of victory.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gun control is gagging your damn mouthy shotguns.

February 5, 2009

Panel 1: "Except, you know, ride me like Evel Knievel on his rocket-bike."

Panel 2: I like how the two shotguns are having a conversation about taking caring of Buck. Of course, the shotgun on the left is hopelessly optimistic about his chances of shooting the deer, because it turns out our Kung-Fu Master prefers to use high-powered rifles at close-quarters target practice. Tsk-tsk. Note, too, the Jackelrod Sphere's ongoing use of pointless bolding. Or, I suppose in this case, some pointless non-bolding. Why is the shotgun on the right whispering "you" and shouting the rest of the sentence?

Panel 3: I think we finally have a clue about why Patty Frampton is so "attached" to Buck. Judging from the three-digit claw she's displaying in this panel, Patty is actually some sort of swamp creature who is trying to lure Buck back to her charnel lair. Why she doesn't just take Ken is beyond me. Possibly, he's just to bland and bitter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

1950s erotica!

February 4, 2009

Panel 1: Christ, this guy is dense. Patty Frampton obviously has no interest in men, per se, and is clearly far more dedicated to maintaining fraternal relationships with other species, if not genera. Also, I think it's interesting that he includes the modifier "when I'm not home" in reference to her putative "fooling around with Trail." The implication, at least for this lawyer, is that our Kung-Fu Master may be alright with Patty Frampton fooling around with Trail when he is home. This comic just gets nastier.

Panel 2:"Uh-huh," thought Ken, "a story. In what? Stag Magazine?

Panel 3: Mmmmm...venison. Ken better watch his ass, though. If he can get pwned by a plastic half-man, then even some limpid-eyed buck with a penchant for white tails can probably evade his clumsy attempts at kung-fu.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

9/8th scale chin

February 3, 2009

Panel 1: "Nor does it involve my horse-shaped tumor!"

Panel 2: Actually Ken, Mark is welcome here, but only by 50% of the people who live in this loathsome den of iniquity. Unless you reside in a common property state (which is possible, I suppose, given the western nature of the landscape), Patty Frampton has the legal right to invite Mark onto your jointly-held land. And since Mark has ably shown that he can whup your kung-fu ass, I'm thinking that your "order" doesn't carry much weight.

Panel 3: Good Lord! What happened to the lower half of Mark's face? Seriously. From the eyes up, he looks normal. Below the eyes, it looks like Mark's chin is slowly being sucked into a black hole or something. Ugh. It's kind of freaking me out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Paternity leave catch-up

A brief note to all four people who read this blog: I'm going to be on paternity leave for the month of February. While I plan on posting every day, if my son doesn't nap as regularly as I hope, there may be the occasional delay. If that happens, I'll do a catch-up post like this one.

January 31, 2009

Panel 1: Mark is so busy having a conversation with his shoulder about how to use his camera, he's unaware that Ken the Kung-fu Master is walking up behind him preparing to open a can of his patented whoop-ass on our androgynous heroine. That is, of course, because Mark has nothing to be afraid of and his conscience is clear. Note, on the other hand, how nervous Buck has become.

Panel 2: Buck, you fucking coward, stop hiding behind Mark and Patty Frampton. Be a deer! Step up and defend your woman!

Panel 3: What's up with Patty Frampton's eyes? And why is Ken the Kung-Fu Master suddenly adopting the Stephen Colbert approach to silent editorializing?

February 2, 2009

Panel 1: Man, Ken the Kung-Fu Master couldn't land a punch if his life depended on it. Perhaps he should stop trying to carry on conversations and focus on hitting people. Also, if you're a regular reader of Mark Trail (which I obviously am), this panel my seem familiar. I did a little checking and we last saw it in slightly smaller format on November 14, 2008.

Nice job Jackelrod Sphere!

Panel 2: Which fist is exploding?

Panel 3: This panel would have been vastly improved if Mark Trail had said, "Simmer down, now!" On the other hand, it does pretty neatly cap three panels of coherent action. I know the JS recycled the first panel, but I like how he has Mark grab the Kung-Fu Master's wrist and jerk it behind his back. You can almost see sequence. I'll give the Jackelrod Sphere a non-snarky nice job for this one.