Friday, May 29, 2009

His good side?

May 29, 2009

Panel 1:Like I said yesterday, Sherlock Holmes.

Panel 2:Again, why not just show us the problem? Oh wait, I know why. Because it's just easier to photoshop Mark's face in with a bit o' dialogue:

Panel 3:Wow, if this panel doesn't capture the child-like naivete of Mark Trail, I don't know what does. His bafflement at why someone might engage in illegal dumping (and on private property!) is laughable. Has he never heard of disposal fees? How about profit margins? Even for those of us unschooled in economics and unfamiliar with the term "externality," it's possilbe to conceive of scenarios in which firms seeking to maximize their profits might seek to minimize their operating costs by engaging in illegal behavior. Of course, most (all?) of us are not androgynous naturalists and men of action and, thus, most of us have the 2-3 spare minutes required to contemplate such things. Mark, on the other hand, is both the androgynous naturalist and a man of action and is waaaaaaay too busy kicking ass, taking names, and avoiding the sexual advances of the frustrated Cherry to waste his time thinking.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Real life.

May 28, 2009

Panel 1: He's a regular Sherlock Fucking Holmes, that Mark Trail. No doubt, he's made an extensive study of tread patterns and correlated them to the track depth created by a wide variety of vehicle body types and weight. This, of course, explains how he knows a van made those prints and not a heavily-laden Oscar Mayer Weinermobile parked for the evening.

Panel 2: Now, I'm no artist, but is all this exposition really necessary? Couldn't the JS have adopted the novel (for it) bird's eye persepective and shown us the tracks backing up to the cliff with Mark saying something ludicrous (but brief!), such as: "Hm. The van backed up to this cliff. Why?"

Panel 3: Having adopted my artistic and textual suggestions for panel 2, the JS would be well-advised to use the following panel for panel 3:

I think you'll agree that this is a much more appropriate response to finding a gigantic toxic dump in the middle of the woods than whatever Mark is going to say tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's bad, but it's not Rusty.

May 27, 2009

Panel 1:"Look Andy, I can make it flap it's wings. Fly away, little birdie, fly away, the ReAnimator has freed you from the bonds of death!"

Panel 2:I don't quite get Mark's logic as I'm unaware of squirrels having any special susceptability to toxic substances. Nonetheless, I'll over look that, given the total awesomeness of the dead squirrel in question. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the Jackelrod Sphere took a pre-existing picture of a running squirrel and lay it on its side on the ground...

Panel 3:Okay, so using facial expressions to determine where a particular event lies on the scale of things that sends Mark into a tizzy, I think we can identify the following two-step hierarchy:

The Elf getting kidnapped
is worse than squirrels dying.

If I have the time, it might be worth reviewing the archives to refine this a bit. I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Toxic schlock.

May 26, 2009

Panel 1: "I know this because the giant, spiny phallus tells me so."

Panel 2: Mark, we went over this already. It was the the study with a revolver.

Panel 3: Really fucking smart Mark. Animals are dropping like flies due to lead poisoning and you let Andy off-leash to find the source? What's wrong, tired of his shaggy ass always hanging around? Looking for an easy way to get rid of him?

May 25, 2009

Panel Zero: I'm eschewing the three-panel format for my comments today to point out what a fucking mess this strip was on Monday. I mean, the art is adequate as always, the dialoge in each panel is more or less sensible, but taken as a whole the strip is nonsensical. Consider: In panel 1, Mark is going to try and find out why animals are dying. There's an admirable lack of certitude there, not to mention the recognition that stuff is dying. Jump over to panel 2. Suddenly, Howdy-Doody is wondering whether death is serious and Mark's camera is brimming with confidence that Mark and it WILL find out what's going on. Get to panel 3 and Mark has caught whatever it is that Howdy-Doody has and is now wondering whether something that can kill you is dangerous. Moreover, throughout the strip, it's pretty clear that everyone has forgotten that extreme lead toxicity has already been identified as the culprit in the animal deaths. The only thing Mark needs to find out is the source of the lead.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

This is my "lab"

May 23, 2009

Panel 1:Wait! Doc, don't answer that. Let me guess. Ummmmm.... On the ground?

Panel 2:"It wasn't too close, either. It was just right."

Panel 3:Ahhh...the joys of the rustic science lab. The antiquated three-lens, single eye-piece microscope. The lonely Erlenmeyer Flask. The empty ephedrine boxes and rusty tins of paint thinner. The know, I wonder if Doc is feeling kind of itchy and irritable right about now?

Friday, May 22, 2009

A little whine with your superfluous adverbs?

May 22, 2009

Panel 1:The Jackelrod Sphere has taken an interesting approach to today's panel. It has, more or less, cut and pasted yesterday's panel 3 into today's panel 1. However, it has also taken the time to erase the talking skunk, replace it with a jogging rabbit, and then, perhaps to add an air of authenticity to the entire enterprise, drawn in some stem and grass details in the foreground. In the process, the truck hasn't perceptibly moved and, yet, our silhouetted malfeasor continues to "direct" the truck. All in all, this panel leaves me feeling a bit unsettled this morning. I mean, why all the effort if the the end result is essentially unchanged?

Panel 2:Our midnight bandits are unloading 55 gallon drums of toxic waste by pushing them by hand. A gallon of water weighs roughly 8 pounds and the materials in those drums isn't going to weigh much less than that. As a result, a 55 gallon drum of liquid, toxic or otherwise, is going to weigh upwards of 440 pounds. These, fair readers, are some super macho criminals we're dealing with here. Mark Trail is going to have his hands full trying to beat them into submission.

Panel 3:When you go to a bagel shop do you say, "I'll have a sesame bagel, and also some cream cheese." When your spouse asks you to go to the grocery store does she say, "Please get some chips and also some salsa." When you describe your vacation in Florida, do you say, "I went to Disney World, and also the Epcot Center." No, no and no. Normal english speakers do not use "also" when describing two related ideas, notions, desires, etc. We just use "and." It gets the point across, it's grammatically correct, and one doesn't end up sounding like an android when they talk. I know I regularly complain abou the Jackelrod Sphere's abuse of the english language, but today's example is particularly annoying.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Squid is vindicated.

May 21, 2009

Panel 1:"Very, very serious! But not as serious as the lung cancer that killed him. Turns out, this deer smoked three packs a day!"

Panel 2:"Those goddam cigarette companies! Advertising their filthy cancer sticks to innocent children, small animals, and other defenseless creatures."

Panel 3:Okay, fine, maybe this strip isn't going to be about the dangers of smoking. Judging from this panel, I feel safe saying that it's going to be about the dangers of illegal dumping of toxic substances (or maybe that's a truck full of prions!). As a civil enforcement* attorney for the EPA (really!), I hold the faint hope that this could turn into an interesting story arc. On the other hand, it's been done Steven Segal...and it sucked. And while Steven Segal can at least bring the camp, I'm not sure what the Jackelrod Sphere is going to add here. The faint hope I just mentioned mostly revolves around the thought that anybody who drives a 70s-era semi is likely to have an accordingly archaic moustache which, as we all know, is to Mark Trail as a red flag is to a bull. If our heretofore invisible truck driver does have a moustache, perhaps we'll have fewer precious moments and more peach-colored fist bombs.

And, incidentally, that is one talented fucking skunk.

*The violation we're witnessing here would fall in the criminal realm, which is dealt with by a different office in the Agency from mine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The prodigal deer returns!

May 20, 2009

Panel 1:In my internal version of Mark Trail (the one from which all the faux-dialogue arises), Howdy-Doody is sitting there thinking to himself, "You fucking dumbass, I already told you, the old Willy-wonka isn't working quite right and there appear to be some potholes in the Hershey Highway. If you make me repeat it, I'm going to leap across this table and smack that curly-Q right off your forehead." Unfortunately, since I don't write Mark Trail, Howdy-Doody is sitting there mutely, not thinking anything, and Mark is busy leaping to the conclusion that if Howdy-Doody wants him to check something out there must be a problem, and if there's a problem that means he gets to leave again and won't be forced to spend any "alone time" with Cherry, red-breasted nuthatches, throat warblers, or any other suck icky thing.

Panel 2:Well damn, that certainly is a problem. We all know that deer are like werewolves: impervious to pain, unnaturally strong, and susceptible to only one thing...bullets (silver or otherwise). If you find a dead deer that hasn't been shot, then you can be certain that powerful, supernatural forces have been unleashed upon the earth and that the Apocalypse is nigh. In that case, who do you call?, call Mark Trail.

Panel 3:"Well, it had a severe case of the clap, heavy doses of Viagra in its blood, a rucksack full of deer-on-blonde porno mags, a couple of crumpled pesos and a souvenir shotglass from Niagara Falls. Other than that, I didn't find anything."

Update: Over at The Comics Curmudgeon a number of commenters have suggested that the dead deer (obviously Buck) has succumbed to chronic wasting disease. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that they're wrong. Here's why: you can't punch a disease. The Jackelrod Sphere does not write strips in which there is no identifiable villain and, in the case of a disease like CWD, for which there is no obvious cause and no known cure, there is definitely no identifiable villain.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You can call me "Doctor"

May 19, 2009

Panel 1:"Yep. Lucky, lucky, lucky. If those criminals had been any less incompetent, Andy and I would be lying dead on some abandoned logging road and Rusty would be giving $3 blowjobs in Tijuana."

Panel 2: Where's our resident naturalist, Ace? WTF kind of bird is that? Sparrow/whippoorwill hybrid? Something else altogether?

Panel 3:"I've been having difficulty urinating and I've been experiencing some general discomfort in my, shall we say, poopchute. I'd like for you to poke around a little back there and see if you can find anything unusual."

BREAKING NEWS!: Our Resident Naturalist, Ace Buttockio, has confirmed that the Jackelrod Sphere has given us an accurate and recognizable picture of a species of bird that actually exists in nature and could, conceivably, be a member of the natural fauna of Lost Forest. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the Red-Breasted Nuthatch, a bird who's very name makes Mark Trail quiver with revulsion.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sci-fi Catsup

May 18, 200

Panel 1:A scene from "The Lametrix"

The Elf: "That's what happened..."

"....oh shit..."

Mark:"Rusty! What's wrong?"

The Elf: "A deja vu!"*

Cherry: "Huh? So what?"

The Elf: "It's a glitch in the Lametrix. It means they've changed something....Oh fuck! The bowl of shapeless mush! It's white, not orange anymore!"

Mark: "Goddamit! I want turnips, not potatoes! They know how much I hate potatoes. Those heartless, evil machines..."

Panel 2:[whispering to Cherry]"The first $50 at least. I figure he won't be able to count any higher than that anyway."

Panel 3:Actually, that would be prudent. And prudence, my dear Cherry, has virtually nothing to do with intelligence....which is why it is even conceivable that the Elf thought of it in the first place.

*In this case, a flashback to April 6th.

May 16, 2009

Panel 1: While Stringy reclines against a rock sucking his thumb, the Elf relates the genesis of his misadventure to the world's biggest dog.

Panel 2:"Otherwise, I would have had to spend the rest of my life pimping out my tushy-licking hyenapig in whatever wretched hive of scum and villainy Stringy and Tom Wopat took me Branson or somewhere."

Panel 3:She did? If I recall correctly, she did a little barking while you hid in the shrubs and then spent the better part of three panels hanging around by her scruff. If she's a hero, then I'm Brad Fucking Pitt and I'm about to pop out for a quick snogg with my girlfriend...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mauled by a hyenapig.

May 15, 2009

Panel 1: It appears that the JS is out to foil my attempts at predicting the future. While I expected to see Mark furiously whalloping Stringy and Tom Wopat, the JS has opted instead to grace us with a picture of an airborne St. Bernard. Truly, it is an awesome sight. Perhaps the most astounding thing about this picture is Andy's angle of attack. While most dogs leap up to attack a human, the motion lines make it clear that Andy is flying across. Fantastic!

Panel 2: These guys are total pushovers. A single tackle (whether from man or dog) and they're on the ground? That's it? No fighting, no struggle? That is so lame. I guess, though, that perhaps they are realists. Mark has one of their guns and, even if it looks like he's about to deal a coup de grace to Andy, he could just as easily direct it their way. Whatever the case, I predict we'll be treated to a couple more days of bland exposition, a visit from the Sheriff, and some passing references to wildlife photography, at which point this arc will end. I won't hazard a guess as to the theme of Mark's next "adventure," but I feel safe predicting that the Elf won't have anything to do with it...and for that we can all be thankful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's his party.*

May 14, 2009

Panel 1: Holy shit, look at the fangs on Andy! He almost looks fierce in this panel. Of course, teeth don't often bear up well against firearms. Lucky for him, our hapless criminals seem to have put their gats down while picking up the tree that "fell down from being rotten."

Panel 2: JS does a pretty good job with the surprised looks here. Though I have to wonder where that gap in Stringy's teeth came from. The Elf looks kind of happy there in the background.

Panel 3: Ahhhh....The sweet release of watching Mark signal his intent to do great bodily harm to a bad guy by leaping at him and yelling "Surprise!" in large, bold letters. The impact, however, may be somewhat mitigated by the fact that just prior to yelling "Surprise" in big, bold letters, Mark had just yelled "Now, Andy!" in even bigger, even bolder letters. Nonetheless, we've seen Mark employ this modus operandi before (and even before that), and we all know that the only logical conclusion for such an attack is a good ol' fashioned beat down. Whoo-hoo!

*Please note that today's title is totally derivative of and, in fact, inspired by DeanBooth's take on today's strip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Big Easy

May 13, 2009

Panel 1: “We don’t want anything impeding the progress of my fist. I just wish these guys had proper moustaches, so I could be totally certain I’m not hitting innocent men.”

Panel 2: Silly Tom Wopat. Just because it looks safe doesn’t mean our androgynous hero with his tiny feet, furious fists and giant St. Bernard isn’t lurking behind some rock just waiting to knock those antiquated single-action revolvers from your hand and pound you senseless.

Panel 3: “And when I do, you big hunk of man, you can have your way with me.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wait! Is that Nutty the Nutsack Squirrel?

May 12, 2009

Panel 1: The JS really outdoes itself with this panel. I count three contractions in Stringy’s exposition and, boy howdy, he almost comes off as human that way! Of course, the JS only used them in order to save space so it could show us just how very not big the dead tree actually is.

Panel 2: And sure enough, Stringy resumes his torture of the English language with this gem: “The tree just fell from being rotten.” Wow. You almost have to wonder if Stringy speaks English as a second language. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice to say “just”, “from”, and “being rotten” really don’t deserve to be used in this sentence. There are much simpler ways to get across the idea that the tree fell because it was rotten. For example, one could say “The tree fell because it was rotten.”

Panel 3: Stringy and Tom Wopat’s partner in crime finally reveals himself. It is…a squirrel. Clearly, he’s the brains of the bunch, giving orders from high up in a tree where the Right Fist O’ Justice will never be able to reach him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The royal flush: a week's worth of vomitus

May 11, 2009

Panel 1: I’ll fess up, I kind of like today’s art in this panel. I mean, it looks like Mark is petting an American hog-nosed skunk, but otherwise the perspective is pretty cool and it actually looks like Mark is hiding.

Panel 2: You know, Mark, maybe you shouldn’t move the log at all. That way, they can’t hop back in the car and drive away once you take the white glove off your Right Fist O’ Justice.

Panel 3: I’m not a big fan of Stringy’s recent adoption of android diction. Combine that with his apparent belief that Tom Wopat is blind and you’ve got the perfect set-up for leaden dialogue: “The dead tree that has fallen across the road is impeding our progress. I will exit the vehicle to remove this obstacle.”

May 9, 2009

Panel 1: Well, Mark, I’m not sure, but I think we can conclude that daintily waving a white-gloved hand and saying “Hey, Wait” is not going to work.

Panel 2: Is that car coming or going? Anybody?

Panel 3: The Elf looks a little shocked upon hearing that he is the cause of this ruckus. No doubt he’s quickly (or at least as quickly as his peabrain will allow him) running through all the possible reasons he could be at fault:

“Did I rob that bank? Did I steal this little dog? Did I rent a summer lake house as a hideout for my recent crime spree? Why did I make that violent bastard Mark Trail chase us down?”

May 8, 2009

Panel 1: Stringy might be sorry, but we won’t. The long-awaited (recall that Mark never really got to sock it to Ken the Kung-Fu Master) encounter with the Right Fist O’ Justice and the Left Foot O’ Retribution seems to hinge on this particular contingency.

Panel 2: “Unfortunately for Mark [and the readers of this blog], he, his pony, and Andy raced into the open jaws of the world’s largest brown bear.”

March 7, 2009

Panel 1: Hey, Wait? Are you fucking kidding me? Also, nice glove. Are you going to check and see whether they dusted before they vacated the cabin?

Panel 2: Or, possibly, they offered him another $500 to come along and bring Sassy the Rim-jobbing Hyenapig. The Elf, it seems, isn’t above a little pimping.

Panel 3: The JS appears to have chosen a carousel horse as the model for Mark’s pony at full gallop. Reference to a picture of an actual horse at full gallop identifies the problem with this approach: horses always have a leading leg. And this concludes today’s lesson in equine gaits.

March 6, 2009


The Jackelrod Sphere has clearly decided to pour every bit of its insanity into today’s Panel 3. Mark’s wide-eyed expression of…of…of…well, I’m not sure. But it sure is awesome.

March 5, 2009

Panel 1: Why are you surprised, Mark? Because you think the Elf is a whiny little shit and can’t really be expected to carry himself this far on his tender little feet? You’re probably correct, but I won’t hesitate to point out that you had to ride a pony to make it this far…

Panel 2: To find what? Ducks? Or pictures of ducks?

Panel 3: Today’s koan: If Mark Trail is not present to see someone use an old fishing cabin, has the fishing cabin actually been used?

May 4, 2009

Panel 1: “Yeah, next time we might threaten to roast and eat your little dog in order to lure you from your sylvan hideout.”

Panel 2: Useful. Right. About as useful as tits on a boar-hog. You’d be better off leaving him right there with a couple of spare memory cards. He’d spend the next three weeks trying to figure out how to get the pictures out of them and you guys would be safely ensconced in a hacienda in Mexico before anyone could get a word out of him.

Panel 3: “Or, possibly, he fell into an abandoned well. Let’s hope for the latter, Andy. Let’s hope for the latter….”

May 2, 2009

This morning, I was sitting at the breakfast table eating my oatmeal and watching my three year-old’s Puffins get soggy in her bowl. The TYO was sitting on the couch in the next room. My wife said, “You need to come eat your breakfast.” The TYO responded, “I can’t eat breakfast, I’m on a trip.” The Puffins continued to quietly absorb their milk. I said to my wife, “It’s a shame [the TYO] is on a trip, I guess I’ll have to eat her Puffins. They sure are good!” At this point, the TYO ran into the room shouting, “Wait Daddy! That’s my cereal!” I relate this story to you for the sole purpose of pointing out that while Tom Wopat and Stringy may be an inept set of criminals, they are at least smart enough to realize that the Elf (officially known as the Retarded Elf in this corner of the blogosphere) has the mental capacity of a three year-old.

Also, today’s Panel 2 and yesterday’s Panel 2 appear to recycle the same picture of the hyenapig being suspended by the nape of his neck. Interestingly, the arm holding the hyenapig is not recycled and appears to have been re-drawn.

May 1, 2009

Panel 1: “Whenever, too! Me and my pal Moe [a.k.a. Stringy], here, we’ve got skillz, time travel skillz. So even if you get your little dog back, we still have it. So suck it! Come out now, and we’ll only let her not stay alive once.”

Panel 2: Despite Tom Wopat’s assertions as to this creature’s provenance, this pictures still leads me to believe it is a young hyenapig as initially identified by Ace Buttockio.

Panel 3: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the picture definition of bathos.

Monday, May 4, 2009

On Hiatus Until Friday, May 8

Sorry for the lack of posts y'all. I'm on travel this week and haven't had the time to post. I'll catch up on Friday with a Mega-post.