Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ugly-ass Elf

March 28, 2009

Panels 1 & 2: The Elf brings the stupid in so many ways in these two panels that I have decided to go ahead and combine my comments on them. In Panel 1, we see the Elf stick to his guns and turn down the money, asserting once again, that he “can’t” sell the camera. I’m not certain of the source of that prohibition, but let’s assume the Elf is telling Stringy the truth and he really can’t sell the camera. In that case, Panel 2 makes no sense. What, exactly, is Mark going to tell him to do if he is, in fact, prohibited from selling the camera?

“Rusty, I think this is a good time to give you this .45 Desert Eagle. You go back to the Man in the Mustard Shirt and use this sweet little piece of steel to convince him to give you the $500. Whatever you do, though, don’t let him have the camera. We don’t want to incur the wrath of The All-Knowing Sphere.”

Panel 3: Damn. I see Stringy is still suffering from Tiny Fist Syndrome. The guy’s built like a fireplug, but he’s the got the fist of a 9-year old. Might explain his anger issues.

March 30, 2009

Panel 1: Could some please explain the physics of this particular scenario? Stringy grabs the camera (or is that a man-purse?) and yanks it towards himself. This, somehow, causes the Elf to jerk backwards as if punched? I just don’t see how that works.

Panel 2: But then, maybe Stringy doesn’t either. Judging from the look on his face, he’s pretty damn scared of whatever it was that knocked the Elf down. Of course, he ought to be paying off the Force, not the Elf.

Panel 3: I thought the Elf was adopted. How did he get Mark’s tiny, tiny feet?

March 31, 2009

Panel 1: "The baby hyena is trying to eat me!"

Panel 2: And thus Mark began the NAMBLA induction ceremony.

Panel 3: "Jen, you must retrieve the camera. The Shard is inside and the Skeksis are hunting it, too!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

As queer as a $200 bill.

March 27, 2009

Panel 1: This panel really captures some of the worst aspects of the Jackelrod Sphere's writing style: stilted dialog in which two characters more or less repeat the events of past strips by telling the other what that person did. Real humans don't converse this way. Can you imagine what life would be like if the Jackelrod Sphere were in control?

Me: Remember last night. You cooked dinner.
Wife: Yes, and you bitched about how bland it was.
Me: Yup, and you slapped me silly.
Wife: And you cried like a little girl.
Me: And you laughed at me.
Wife: Ahhhh, good times. Let's go burn a mudfish in the fireplace.
Me: Okay, but don't hit me.*

Panel 2: Can't? Or don't want to? Judging from the look on his face in Panel 3, someone needs to get the Elf an English tutor.

Panel 3: The Elf must be an easy mark, I count three bills in that stack. Unless the U.S. is printing $200 bills, then the sum of dollars in that stack is going to be less than the $500 offered.

* While the nonchalant domestic violence and burning mudfish in this imaginary (I swear!) dialog is pure Jackelrod Sphere, perceptive readers will surely note that the reversal of gender roles is decidely unjackelrodian. I blame it on those damn women-libbers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

One-armed Wonder Elf

March 26, 2009

Panel 1: Right arm? Check.

Panel 2: Right arm? Check.

Panel 3: Right arm? AUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't get kicked.

March 25, 2009

Panel 1: "If a horse were to kick you, you'd get uglier and stupider. And if you got any uglier, I couldn't stand looking at you and would have to leave you out for wolves. And if you got any stupider, we'd have to remind you to breath. So, please, be careful around the horses."

Panel 2: "And I like mayonnaise!" said Mr. Non Sequitur.

Panel 3: Here's an idea. Drive your school bus right up to the building and tell him it's time for school. If the Elf's facility for telling time is as highly developed as his facility for "composition," he'll buy it and you can just drive away with him and his camera.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Catch-up Time!

March 21, 2009

Panel 1: Yeah, the talking bouffant might draw attention to itself if it sounds anxious when asking about a camera. If a hair-do came up to me talking fast and sweating profusely, I might think something was odd, too.

Panel 2: "Um...wait...I mean, do you have any Grey Poupon?"

Panel 3: Boy, it's a shame the talking bouffant didn't ask this question, I bet it would get along handily with the talking eyebrow.

Panel 1: Mark drives a flying saucer and these dudes drive a school bus. Cool. While I appreciate the high variability in transportation modes in this strip, can I say that I find the attenuated hypothetical causal chain here to be slim justification for a crime. I mean, I know criminals are supposed to be stupid and all that, but c'mon! Some kid is going to go around boasting about the picture he took of his parents at a greasy spoon and his friends will recognize the people in the background? Hell no, they won't, they'll be too busy rolling on the ground laughing at the Elf.

Panel 2: The feds? Investigating a burglary? In the Lost Forest? Riiiiiight.

Panel 3: Is it me, or did Stringy Hair put on about 15 pounds of muscle between panel 2 and panel 3?

Panel 1: Isn't that sweet? Stringy Hair and Turtleneck have a cabin on the lake. No doubt stocked with back issues of Honcho and 100 Percent Beef. I'm beginning to think that their interest in the Elf's camera may be prurient.

Panel 2: That must be one of those rare Mexican otters. I can't think of any other explanation for why it would be doing the Macarena.

Panel 3: The barn? Really? The barn? Good lord. I know I have a dirty mind, and all, but fuckin-a, the JS makes it so damn easy with this strip. The barn....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Shorts

March 20, 2009

Panel 1: The only thing that’s strange about this situation is that Mark’s arm pit is doing all the talking.

Panel 2: Hideous. No more close-ups of the Elf please.

Panel 3: That’s quite the dainty little tea cup Turtleneck is wrapping his gnarly hand around. I guess he’s too transfixed by the floating Jackelrod Sphere to actually take a sip.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday morning catch-up.

March 18, 2009

Panel 1: It’s a shame Turtleneck didn’t overhear the conversation between Mark and the Elf. If he had, he would realize that the Elf doesn’t actually get his pictures printed, because he doesn’t know how to take them off his memory card. I guess I should be happy he didn’t hear the Elf because, like the butterfly flapping its wings, that little miss is going to result in a tornado of ass-kicking.

Panel 2: Shall we wager on this? Despite the lack of a moustache, Stringy Hair is obviously a very bad man. If the Elf were to sell him the camera, there would be no opportunity for the bad man to interact with Mark and, voile, the story line would spontaneously abort. While that would benefit the comic pages, this blog, and, literate people everywhere, it would require the Jackelrod Sphere to come up with some new plotting device. As a result, I’m thinking that the Elf won’t give up his camera.

Panel 3: Don’t be too aggressive? What’s Stringy going to do? Threaten to cram a napkin dispenser down the Elf’s throat unless he sells the camera? Oh, please let that be the case!

March 19, 2009

Panel 1: Great approach their Stringy! Let’s see how that might work in other contexts:

“Hey, kid, I saw you riding your bike…would you like to sell it to me?”
“Hey, kid, I saw you eating an ice cream cone…would you like to sell it to me?”
“Hey kid, I saw you walking your dog…would you like to sell it to me?”

Who, in Jackelrod’s name, would actually walk up to someone doing something they enjoy and, out of the blue, ask if they can buy the object of that person’s enjoyment? That’s fucking ridiculous.

Panel 2: “Think again, kid. If you don’t sell me this camera, I’m going to take this tiny, tiny left hand of mine, and….well…hmmm… not much, I suppose. Wait, I know! I’m going to give you a giant wedgie with those miniature mom jeans you’re wearing.”

Panel 3: Does that mean the Elf would give it away for free? That’s very charitable of him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Musical chairs, anyone?

March 17, 2009

Panel 1: Today is a travesty of comic strip continuity. Unless the Jackelrod Sphere believes that every character but Cherry is playing musical chairs, the various perspectives make no sense. In this panel, Mark’s back is to Turtleneck’s back. In Panel 2, Stringy Hair’s back is to the Retarded Elf’s back, but Turtleneck has clear line of vision. In 3, Stringy Hair and Retarded Elf are still back to back, but someone has moved so that Turtleneck can’t see Rusty. WTF? And if you compare this all to yesterday’s strip, there’s more of the same. How hard can it be to keep these things straight?

Panel 2: Wow, look at the Retarded Elf’s eyes. Someone must have beaten the shit out of him between Panel 1 and Panel 2. I warned him about wearing that outfit in public.

Panel 3: Um, give what a try?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Evil shaved its mustache, but we don't care.

March 14, 2009

Panel 1: What is Mark doing with his right hand? And if Rusty is his adopted son, what kind of fucked-up New-Age parenting does he engage in, such that the Retarded Elf refers to his putative parents by their first names?

Panel 2: I just love Mark’s flying saucer. The wrap-around windows make it so easy for us to see inside the vehicle. On the other hand, it must be really fucking hard for Mark to drive with the school bus steering wheel crushing his knees like that.

Panel 3: Rusty’s “need” for a new memory card is just as annoying on Saturday as it was on Friday. Presumably, the camera store is going to play some role in the hi-jinks that are about to ensue, otherwise, this whole build up doesn’t make a lick of sense.

March 16, 2009

Panel 1: I bet the Retarded Elf’s scrapbook is a real doozy. Old memory cards taped to individual pages, each labeled in scrawling crayon with Rusty’
s descriptions of the card’s contents: “Mark sum trees Chery,” “Rocks hors an a ded skunk,” and, my personal favorite, “Paty dere ruber thingy.”

Panel 2: I see Mark’s lessons are really paying off. Not only is Rusty looking through the little window, he has managed to click the button, too.

Panel 3: Finally! Some no-goodniks we can believe in. Look at those sneers! Listen to their obviously guilty concerns about being documented in an 8-year old’s scrapbook! Check out the thuggish turtle neck and sideburns! Revel in the maliciously stringy baldness and pudgy jowls. My friends, we finally are done with the morally ambiguous adventures of Ken and Patty. Gone are the half-hearted smackdowns and the economic meltdown. Here are two men who, while it may be 2 months off, are going to cause some serious trouble and get some serious Justice, Mark Trail style!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I wonder if he buys a new garbage can every time the current one is full of trash?

March 13, 2009

Panel 1: On Wednesday, we had the penultimate strip ending the Patty Frampton saga with a couple of lames panels with Mark yakking about Patty and Ken. Yesterday, we got a couple of lame panels with Rusty yakking about Mark teaching him how to use his trusty camera. I was feeling hopeful that the sudden appearance of Rusty was going to be a short-lived phenomenon and would merely transition us into a new plot. Yet, today, here we are faced with three full panels of Rusty the Retarded Elf. Much to my dismay, I have concluded that the new plot is going to actually involve Rusty in some way. Ugh. Maybe he’ll end up taking a picture of a mustachioed man, who Mark will promptly pummel senseless because, as we all know, mustachioed men are bad and deserve to be beaten.

Panel 2: Having resigned myself to having to read about Rusty the Retarded Elf for the next three months, I might as well get down to it. I’ll start with this panel by pointing out that this is the perfect example of what happens when legacy comic strip writers attempt to “stay current.” The Jackelrod Sphere has heard about these new-fangled digital cameras and has even done enough research to know that they rely on “memory cards” (whatever those are) for storing pictures, but beyond that he doesn’t have a clue as to how digital cameras work. The JS is trapped in the film camera paradigm and believes that “memory cards” are some sort of linear storage device which hold a pre-established number of pictures. And so we’re treated to the Retarded Elf complaining that his digital camera has “run out of pictures” rather than “run out of memory.”

Panel 3: And of course, if you fill up your memory card, it’s filled forever. Time to buy a new one at the camera shop! I wonder if Ritz Camera is paying the Jackelrod Sphere to write this stuff?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

OT Post: Congratulations Are In Order

I'd like to congratulate Ace Buttockio (and the lovely Cherry Merkin) for finding their own Lost Forest redoubt. Ace, I assume you are busily fencing off the property to keep that bastard Buck at bay. Also, now that you've acquired real property, please don't go around adopting retarded elf-children, I'm not sure the world needs a Rusty Buttockio.

From Frying Pan to Fire..

March 12, 2009

Panel 1: New readers of Mark Trail may be unfamiliar with the lobotomized elf-child introduced today. He would be Rusty Trail. Rusty, like the rest of the characters from Lost Forest, is a proto-typical 1950s adolescent with an Alfred E. Newman haircut and a vocabulary to match. While this may have been endearing in 1958, now it’s just sad and, ultimately, deeply annoying. So, if the Jackelrod Sphere is going to treat us to three months of Rusty’s shenanigans, go out now and buy a couple of bottles of cheap liquor. It’s what I’m doing. It’ll dull your senses, stupefy your intellect, and prepare you for the slumgullion of stupidity to which we’re about to be subjected.

And incidentally, Rusty, a picture of Cherry Trail getting tongued by a giant dog and attacked by a baby hyena will not ever, in any context, make a good picture.

Panel 2: Oh yes, I’m sure Mark was very helpful. What with him telling you to “look through this little window” and “push this button,” there’s no doubt, you’ll be the next Ansel Fucking Adams.

Panel 3: Whatever you do, though, don’t leave the Lost Forest compound. If any of your peers were to see you walking around in your green t-shirt and natty blue-polka dot scarf they would beat you to a bloody pulp. It might not be justified, but what self-respecting country boy dresses like that? If you're going to wear that, you need to move to New York City.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jumping off our mortal coil.

March 11, 2009

Panel 1: While Mark blathers on about the remarkable transformation of Ken and Patty from violently dysfunctional spouses to affectionate potential adopters, Howdy-Doody – who clearly represents the reading public in this comic strip: silent, possibly incredulous, but definitely bored into stupefaction – wonders about Buck. Of course, if Howdy-Doody were truly representative of the reading public, he’d be asking when the fuck this narrative arc is going to crash back to earth and silently praying that it takes us all with it.

Panel 2: Hellooooo. Mark. Non-fucking-sequitur there. We’re wondering about Buck, not about Patty Frampton’s state of mind or your lame-ass magazine story. Where is that poly-amorous, bi-sexual cross-species philandering ungulate and who (or what) is he shacking up with now? Oh, and by the way, your cast-iron butt plug should be nicely warmed up by now; you might use that poker and pull it out of the fire.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In which I write dialog that amuses me.

March 10, 2009

Panel 1: I think that nurse is hiding under the bed, trying to cop another feel of Mark’s crotch. What else explains the tiny, feminine hand reaching out towards Mark nether regions?

Panel 2: “You know, Ken, in my experience, men can’t be counted on to control themselves. I think having a lot on your mind perfectly justifies beating your wife, shooting at deer out of season, throwing stuff at people, and pretty much any other anti-social behavior one needs to explain. I mean, c’mon! We manly men just aren’t that highly developed and really can’t be expected to comply with these so-called ‘social norms’ that the pussified males of modern liberalism typically hew to.”

Panel 3: “I’m not going to, though. I practice an ancient and obscure form of ritual self-denial known as Animosticism, in which I eschew any action that suggests I care about the feelings of others.”

Monday, March 9, 2009

From the annals of poor coloring...

March 7, 2009

Panel 1: Blah, blah, blah. Apologies, contrition, forgiveness, hideously colored outfits…what is this, Mary Worth?

Panel 2: Now this is more like the Mark Trail I know and love: a gigantic two-tone pigeon terrorizing a small city constructed entirely of black and pink cinder blocks!

Panel 3: Look at Ken. As soon as Patty Frampton opens her mouth, his eyes glaze over and he’s gazing wistfully off into the distance. I wonder what he’s thinking?

March 9, 2009

Panel 1: Yup, because there’s no better cure for an ailing economy than getting gored by a deer. I foresee a sudden upswing in Ken’s lumber business, resulting in instant domestic tranquility and the miraculous return of healthy sperm to Ken’s shriveled testes.

Panel 2: I like Ken’s affectionate use of the term “addition to our family” to refer to a child. I think it holds out real promise for his future role as a father. I mean, anyone who can discuss the prospect of parenting with that sort of deep, emotional attachment is bound to be just stellar at it.

Panel 3: Ignore the tired drama of Ken and Patty, check out the hot nurse action! Yeaaah, she’s got some tests to do alright…with her arm elbow-deep in Mark’s pants! Imagine her shock when she discovers there’s nothing there but his bald, plastic pudenda. Poor lass.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Time enough for fart jokes.

March 6, 2009

Panel 1: Oh man, the parallelogramitization of Ken's face is even worse than I initially thought! It appears that the force of Buck's hit not only pushed the left side of his face up relative to the right, it actually compressed his head into a single two-dimensional plane. Poor guy. Mark's right. That's tough.

Panel 2: "Oh Ken, I know you only beat me, deny me human contact and shoot at my pet deer because I'm a silly, stupid, weak, female of lesser intelligence with a predilection for hysteria, the vapors, and philandering. Can you ever forgive me for giving you so many reasons to abuse me? I promise, I'll be better. I'll start right now, by squeezing your head back to it's normal shape!"

Panel 3: "Patty, pull my finger."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jackelrod Sphere in the Valley of the Sheep Bleats

What is your problem?
Doesn’t involve me!
Get off
Nothing but trouble
Can’t shoot a pet! Watch me!
Get back!
Bucky, No!
Bucky! Bucky! Where is he?
Gone…Still alive!
Bucky! Bucky! Where are you?
Oh, no! That’s Bucky!
Where are you? Patty! Patty!

This has been another edition of Absurdist Bolds: The Collected Poems of the Jackelrod Sphere.

What is justice?

March 5, 2009

Panel 1: "Well, Ken, it's hard to explain, but you were attacked by a hysterical deer, the force of which attack caused you to fall down. The impact of hitting the ground combined with your backwards movement caused the deformation of your normally square head into the shape of a parallelogram. Boy, that's tough."

Panel 2: That squirrel saw everything! I wonder, though, how he knows Patty's name and her relationship with Buck?

Panel 3: And so we come to about a clear a statement of the theory of Jackelrodian Justice as we'll ever see in Mark Trail: bad people (or people who do bad things) deserve to be hurt. Generally, of course, characters in Mark Trail aren't quite as reflective as Ken the Kung-Fu Master, so we don't often hear them admitting that they deserved their punishment. In most instances, Mark delivers justice in the form of a right fist and a stilted one-liner. I don't think this degree of introspection is becoming of an action comic like Mark Trail, and I can only hope that Mark hunts down the global economic downturn that is hurting Ken's business and wallops it into submission. If I were Mark, I'd catch a plane to Mongolia and start scouring the steppes. Last I heard, the global economic downturn was seen galloping off towards Kazahkstan on a sturdy pony.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blame no one but the Jackelrod Sphere for this farce.

March 4, 2009

Panel 1: So I was looking at this panel trying to think of what I wanted to say (e.g., “Wow, that’s a big bold word.” “I thought Buck was in the wilderness already.”), when it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure whether we’d ever seen Patty Frampton wearing anything but her red shirt and blue denim coat. Well, we have. On January 23, 2009, she had on a sassy lavender turtleneck and lavender pants. Yow!

Panel 2: Is Mark’s head shrinking? His shoulders are now easily three times as wide as his head. That’s kind of weird looking. Also, I’d be interested to know how massaging Ken’s ulna with his own tiny little hands has revealed anything to Mark about the current state of Ken’s corporeal existence.

Panel 3: Well, I can’t argue with Patty Frampton about this one. If she and Buck hadn’t made Ken a cuckold [note the interesting use of antlers as a sign of cuckoldry in the link I've provided], he might merely be beating her because of his shitty timber business. Now, however, he’s been beating her for multiple reasons. As for the fact that Ken is lying there on the ground with some sort of organ damage and internal bleeding as the result of being attacked by a hysterical, bi-sexual deer, I think we can only blame that on the lousy fucking plotting of this comic strip.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More gore please.

March 3, 2009

Panel 1: This panel makes no more sense than it did when it was positioned as Panel 2 yesterday. Feh.

Panel 2: Buck brings the heat. I like it.

Panel 3: Um, where's the blood? Shouldn't we see a little red on those antler tips?

Monday, March 2, 2009


February 28, 2009

Panel 1: Hmmm....Buck can be dangerous when he's scared, Ken can be dangerous when he's bankrupt. I think Patty Frampton needs to hang out with a better class of man (or woman).

Panel 2: The Jackelrod Sphere is many things (e.g., trapped in the 1950s, semi-transparent, a pervert), but subtle is not one of them. Mark tells Patty F. it's best to stay out of his way and then the JS tells us that Buck is headed in Ken's direction. I believe this is what they call foreshadowing. Ham-handed, yes, but still foreshadowing.

Panel 3: I wonder if that lump growing out of Buck's chest is malignant? Or maybe it's a tick. That'd be an easy way to end this serial. Buck impales Ken, Buck dies of blood-loss from the giant tick sucking blood straight from his heart, Patty Frampton runs off to Ottawa with Cherry Trail, Mark settles in to a life of quiet androgynous ass-kicking with his silent Howdy-Doody partner. I like it.

March 2, 2009

Panel 1: This is a plausible scene.

Panel 2: This is not a plausible scene. I mean, the picture is plausible, but the narration not so much. Given Buck's poly-amorous nature, it's perfectly reasonable for Ken to look horrified when Buck starts running at him with a glint in his eye. But the narration box? Puh-lease. You know when deer attack people? When that person has JUST shot one and approaches the purportedly dead deer without checking for actual mortality and given a coup de grace if it's required. In those situations, deer have been known to rise up and attack the hunter. You know when deer DON'T attack people? When they're running away from them at full bore. Here Ken is in the big, wide forest and Buck decides that Ken is "blocking his escape." Riiiiiight. But see, "Local lobbyist repeatedly stabbed by wild buck."

Panel 3: My griping aside, this is a great image.