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? Ghostbus...no, wait...you 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.