Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Duck. Goose. Whatever.

Panel 1:Oh-ho-ho, it's all becoming clear now. Mullet Man here had no choice but to change companies. Ladies and germs, when you think coercion and waste hauling, what comes to mind? La Cosa Nostra! And what else does La Cosa Nostra do? They run gambling rackets. So, let me make a little prediction here: Joey the Mullet (his Mafia name) ran up a big gambling debt. He couldn't pay up. His local crime boss made him an offer he couldn't refuse (i.e., "Use my hauling services or I'll break your knees."). Joey the Mullet switched waste transporters. Voile!

I am excited, of course, because if I'm right, we might finally get to see some of that patented Mark Trail fistin...er...fist-fighting. The last couple of story arcs have been disappointing for their notable lack of pugilism. Maybe that's about to change.

Panel 2:[Cue ill-conceived AFLAC joke.]

Panel 3:"Ummm... because you would have said no and Vinnie of the Mountains would have broken my knees."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Number one, or number two? You decide.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Panel 1:Joey's hair is just so awesome. It's my professional opinion that in the pantheon of wicked bad hair (and I use that totally ironically), he has only one competitor for the number one slot.

Panel 2:In focusing on Joey's hair in the last panel, I neglected to mention that Ms. Williams is apparently a huge fan of blind leaps of illogic. According to her, since Joey said he did not know about the dumping at Lost Forest but did change their waste transporter, he must be lying. Huh? Call me crazy, but changing one's waste transporter is hardly irrefutable proof that a person is an illegal polluter. On the other hand, she could have said, "Joey, you told me that you didn't know about any dumping. And now I learn that you have a heavily-permed mullet." Had she said that, then I think she would have the irrefutable proof she's looking for.

Panel 3:Po, sad widdle Joey.

Friday, June 27, 2009

Panel 1:Check out the fucked up flipper on Ms. Williams. I'd make a tasteless Thalidomide joke, but this really evokes the post-apocalyptic evolution of Vonnegut's Galapagos rather than the more mundane mid-20th century industrial birth defect.

Panel 2:Blue back, spotted belly. What the fuck bird is that? Ace? Also, it's clear that our flipperized hostess here has no idea that she's dealing with a androgyne completely unsusceptible to emotional manipulation. He's either on (i.e., providing a beatdown) or off (i.e., affectlessly investigating environmental crimes). A dinner invite will NOT butter our hero up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

We need a better class of overlord.

June 26, 2009

Panel 1:Yeah, like that last one used to like, you know, follow the law.

Panel 2:Man, check out that factory. It's like a vision from 1875. Wooden water tower, grain silos, the works! You have to wonder why the Jackelrod Sphere, in all its omnipotence, can't draw a fucking non-dated picture. Cars from the 1970s, phones from the 1960s, decor from an entirely different dimension, and factories from the pre-Progressive Era. Just once, I'd like to see Mark Trail appear in a scene that my grandfather wouldn't find familiar.

Panel 3:And speaking of the fallibility of the Jackelrod Sphere, what kind of half-ass deity uses the same panel twice in three days?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's another word for gigantic marsupial?

June 25, 2009

Panel 1:"Yes, Joey. I have learned that his name, Joey, is another word for a baby kangaroo. I have thus concluded that your brother is a kangaroo, and I desperately want to see his pocket. Bring him to me."

Panel 2:Oooh, feigning innocence. The plot thickens.

Panel 3:Again with the desperate twelve-year old schtick. Totally unbecoming of a androgyne of his stature. Also, what's up with Ms. Williams upper lip?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wanna, like, hold hands and stuff?

June 24, 2009

Panel 1:In a failed effort to ensure that dialog balloons appear in chronological order(no doubt founded on the notion that its readership is pig-fucking-ignorant and unable to discern chronology from context), the Jackelrod Sphere has given us what appears to be a conversation between the door jamb and the door casing. As it turns out, even these bits of inanimate millwork use inappriate bolding in their speech. Real humans would probably put the emphasis on "he", not "what" in that second balloon.

Panel 2:Mark appears to be attempting some witty repartee here. As one would expect, it fails and he comes across like a semi-literate 12-year old.

Panel 3:And here, he looks just a tad too eager to tell Ms. Williams what he found. I'm beginning to think that these are Mark's feeble attempts at leveraging his knowledge into a little kissy-kissy wiht Ms. Williams. While this runs contrary to everything we know about him and his androgynous life, how else can we explain Mark's child-like demeanor?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

She didn't not say that she wasn't involved.

June 23, 2009

Panel 1:As an attorney, I find Mark's choice of words here a bit odd. Ms. Williams "didn't admit knowing anything"? That's wrong. She actually "denied knowing anything" and that, my androgynous friend, is a significant distinction. Had Ms. Williams could have remained mute, talked about the weather, or recited the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and, in each case, she would have been not admitting that she knew anything. However, Ms. Williams did none of those things. Instead, she took the pro-active, affirmative step of explicitly saying that she knew nothing of the dumping. This can only mean one of two things. Either she really doesn't know about the dumping, or she does and she's actively engaged in hiding it. There is no middle ground, so I have to wonder why Mark is pussyfooting around that fact.

Panel 2:Steelhead?

Panel 3:Wow, that's some serious insecurity. It's also an inredibly long right arm. Or, perhaps Howdy-Doody decided to join in for a group hug. Either way, it's just not natural!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The JS needs to take a Mulligan.

June 22, 2009

Panel 1:"He did mumble something about private property...maybe that helps?"

Panel 2:I would like to point out that in Saturday's panel 2 and panel 3 and today's panel 1, Mr. Transporter Guy is sporting a natty blue shirt and striped tie. In this panel, he has donned a blue jacket over a white shirt. Continuity error, or should he and Mark be smoking cigarettes now?

Panel 3:I have nothing to say about this panel...really...nothing.

June 20, 2009

Panel 1:"My...um...Spidey Sense...is um...telling me to look there."

Panel 2:It's a miracle!

Panel 3:Mm. Let me guess. He thought the old man wasn't making as much money as he should have, and decided to find a way to boost their profits. Not quite the chip off the old block that Old Man Williams had wished for, I'm sure. Needless to say, I think my prediction about the equivalency of mullets and moustaches will be borne out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fuck this disposal shit, I need an 8-ball!

June 19, 2009

Panel 1: Sigh. No moustache. BUT! He's got a mullet! And hair that hangs below a man's collar is a sure sign that he's an atheist, a homosexual, a communist and a hippie. And given that his tie is commiting crimes against humanity as we sit here, I'd say that Mullet Man here is ripe for the punching!

Panel 2: "Well, sis, all I can say is I thought I was dumping that stuff on public property."

Panel 3:Wow, that's not just a party going on in back there; that's like a full-blown, red-carpet caligulaean bacchanale. I think I'm getting a contact high just looking at Mullet Man's hair.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bad or badder?

June 18, 2009

Panel 1:Hmmm... Ms. Williams seems a little subdued. A few minutes (i.e., days) ago, she was asking Mark to leave his resume and get out. Perhaps the prospect of jail time and massive fines are killing her urge to be sassy.

Panel 2:Fortunately for Ms. Williams, Mark Trail just broke the #1 rule of environmental enforcement, "NEVER announce an inspection." Actually, I suppose that's the #1 rule for any kind of enforcement. That shit's not rocket science, you know. If you want to find your kid's stash, do you tell him that you're going to search his drawer for drugs next Wednesday? Hell no, you barge up there and start looking right then. Why? Because any half-baked (or in my case, fully-baked) teenager knows to destroy or otherwise remove the evidence before the search starts. Corporate malfeasors aren't any different, they're just richer.

Panel 3:The acid test is coming folks. If Ms. Williams is on the side of sweetness and light, she'll grill her brother and then club him to death with her 50s era intercom; if Ms. Williams is aligned with the forces of darkness, she'll tell him to go clean the site up before the feds arrive. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Office finery.

June 17, 2009

Panel 1:Damn, those are some fine curtains Ms. Williams has hanging in her office. Fine curtains. I wish my office had such nice curtains. Heck, I wish my office had curtains at all. If it did, I could lower them and no one would be able to see me dozing off as I try to think of something witty to say about this utterly mundane panel.

Panel 2:Behold the wonders of nature, as Shemp the Farting SparrowWinthrop the Windy Woodpecker continues his interrogation of Ms. Williams.

Panel 3:I see Ms. Williams has been well-trained by her attorneys. When all else fails, deny, deny, deny.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bring in the BOLDS!

June 16, 2009

Panel 1:"Because I don't have the faintest clue what the law says, so it's just a whole lot easier for me to come here and shout a bunch about your drums."

Panel 2:"...and you know I'm telling the truth because only truth-tellers can have a gaze as piercing as the gaze I'm giving you now."

Panel 3:Awesome. Totally. Fucking. Awesome. In the annals of weird-ass bolding, today will loom large. Bolding, of course, denotes emphasis. So, when the Jackelrod Sphere gives one-letter bolds to Mark, it means Mark is, more or less, shouting the first syllable of each word. If you could hear him speak, this panel would sound like:

"Wuh-illiams Cuh-emical Cuh-ompany!"

I'm guess that Ms. Williams is looking so dismayed because she is wondering how anyone so fucking stupid could have found her toxic waste dump.

June 15, 2009

Panel 1:Awwww, look at how sad Mark appears. I guess this confrontation isn't going quite as he planned. No doubt, he expected the little lady to fess right up in light of his forceful accusation. He's going to have pull out the big guns in just a minute.

Panel 2:I'm guessing this is supposed to be an American Wood Duck or possibly, its nearly extinct cousin, the American Bat-Winged Wood Duck. As usual, the colorist has screwed the pooch.

Panel 3:Tsssssss! He's hot! Photographic evidence, the Desert Eagle of the environmental crimes world. Or so Mark believes. Of course, RCRA actually differentiates between generators, transporters, and treatment/disposal operators. That barrels have WCC markings on them is hardly proof that WCC knowingly broke the law.

June 13, 2009

Panel 1:Is it me, or does Mark look a tad too gleeful in this panel. Sure, he furrowed his brow a little bit to add a hint of grimness to his countenance, but from the bridge of his nose down, he's all Cheshire Cat. Weird.

Panel 2:Again with the private property! Look, Mark, the location of the land disposal has no impact on the likelihood or scope of penalties imposed by RCRA. If, as owner of Lost Forest, you plan on filing a civil suit, the location gives you a cause of action, but otherwise it means nothing. So please, STFU already.

Panel 3:I would find this much more amusing if Ms. Williams were to say, "Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about" and did so while making some sort of lewd thrusting pelvic motion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm telling Mom!

June 12, 2009

Panel 1:I see Mark's android syntax is catching. I know the Jackelrod Sphere was trying to write something biting and witty for Ms. Williams to say, but there's just too many syllables for that here. Assuming Ms. Williams would really refer to herself in the third person (an arguable proposition in itself), this would read much better as follows:

"You wanted to see the president of the company...here she is!"

Panel 2:On the other hand, I consider Ms. Williams' response in this panel possibly the best bit of writing the Jackelrod Sphere has ever managed to spit out. Finally, someone in this strip evinces the proper level of disdain for another one of Mark's pointless non sequiturs.

Panel 3:And it gets better! First, she denigrates Mark's home and now she's belittling his motives. Clearly, this woman has an invisible moustache, otherwise Mark would be punching her lights out instead of sputtering in his best vexed-5th-grader voice, "Oooooh, you're in trouble!"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cherry was a pace car driver.

Panel Zero: Having gone back and re-read the story of Mark's mid-winter excursion into the southern wetlands and his subsequent conversion of Sue Butler from rapacious developer into tree-hugging conservationist using nothing but his well-timed intervention with an alligator and a couple of platonic walks on the beach, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we're about to get more of the same. By which I mean, Mark's going to work his androgynous charm on this winsome, brunette executive; punch a couple of her mustachioed employees; and save Lost Forest from the scourge of irregular garbage. I base all of this on the conditional described by the hourglass-shaped Ms. Williams in Panel 3. If she were really evil, she would have had Mark tossed out on his ear immediately. Of course, if the Jackelrod Sphere gives us a closer view of her face and it turns out she's got a couple of downy upper lip hairs, I think we can safely reject my hypothesis and conclude that her apparent willingness to listen to our androgynous hero is nothing but a clever ruse designed to lure him into a state of complacency whereby she can pack him off in a metal drum to be deposited wiht other irregular garbage in a formerly pristine bit of wilderness.

NOTE: Today's title has nothing to do with anything, I just happened to be listening to some Primus while writing this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Office

June 10, 2009

Panel 1: I wonder if the Jackelrod Sphere has seen the inside of an office sometime in the last 20 to 30 years. Had it done so, it might have noticed that everyone, even lowly receptionists sitting on mattresses, have computers these days. Of course, I suppose it's possible that the Jackelrod Sphere has used its immense powers to see far into the future to a time where the computing power of the modern desktop computer has been incorporated into a wafer-thin mechanism that resembles a sheet of paper.

Panel 2: The Jackelrod Sphere may keep Mrs. Mark Trail locked in a patriarchal hell of indentured servitude and near isolation at Lost Forest, but all the those damn, unmarried feminist-types in the outside world seem to be running companies these days. Mark had better hope that Cherry doesn't find out.

Panel 3: A man of action does not abide by other people's schedules, especially if he has something important to say.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


June 9, 2009

Panel 1:"That means I can ride my horse there and punch someone!"

Panel 2:Mark, what's the rush? It took you three trips to the dumpsite and another to the photo shop to figure out that the drums had the letters WCC on them. Surely, you can wait for Cherry to serve up a delicious lunch of fricaseed chicken beaks or roasted mudfish before you go hunt down this corporate malfeasor.

Panel 3:Finally, someone adopts a realistic attitude when talking to Mark Trail, occasional contributor to and photographer for an un-named (and probably third-rate) outdoors magazine.

June 8, 2009

Panel 1:So which is it? Painted, scraped, painted and scraped?

Panel 2:Doc, don't encourage him. That wasn't good work. That was five days of struggling toward a discovery that could have been made on Day 1.

Panel 3:Ask "Teh Google!"

June 6, 2009

Panel 1:Boy, why would anyone EVER want to do that?

Panel 2:"...I can cast the protective spell that will keep the gigantic coy-wolf from supping on my tender flesh."

Panel 3:Holy Shit! It's the dreaded Women Chemists Committee!

Also, take note that Mark continues to require the use of intercessory technology to read the barrels. Maybe he's illiterate and his camera is actually a well-disguised, high-tech reading device?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hump that drum.

June 5, 2009

Panel 1:This has got to be one of the most half-assed and ineffecient investigations of a environmental crime ever undertaken. Let us review Mark's recent itinerary and activities:

May 30 - at the dump site to look at the drums
June 1 - at home to tell Howdy-Doody there are drums
June 2 - at the dumpsite to take pictures of the drums
June 4 - at home to look at pictures of the drums
June 5 - at the dumpsite to look at the drums

On an unrelated note, I'm not sure Mark's gaunt-cheeked thousand-mile stare is really appropriate for the circumstances. It looks like he just stumbled across a mass grave or something.

Panel 2:Third day in a row that the Jackelrod Sphere has obliged us with a picture of "nature." In this case, nature appears to be an invasive nutria gathering sea grass.

Panel 3:What? Strike gold? Find the lost nation of Atlantis? Break on through to the other side? Get some "poison" on your hand and turn into the Toxic Avenger?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The real story.

Hey y'all, if you get a moment check out this picture perfect riff on Monday's strip over at Dean's Comic Booth.

Two rules.

June 4, 2009

Panel Zero: I am, once again, forced to eschew the three panel format to comment on the total ludicrositinessitude of today's strip. Two days ago, Mark was at the fucking dump site taking pictures. He was, I repeat, at the dump site. Today, Mark is inspecting those pictures with a magnifying glass to....you got it...see whether the drums have anything written on them. This brings me to what must be the second unwritten rule of serial comic strip writing: Never accomplish in one panel what you can accomplish in six. While brevity may be the soul of wit, it is obviously the bane of the serial author. In this instance, Mark could have walked over and read the damn drum on Tuesday. Instead, it's already Thursday and he's busy playing Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass. Someone get that man a deerstalker!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

911 is a joke in your town.

June 3, 2009

Panel 1:"With any luck you tried to move them, were exposed to the chemical and will soon die, thus leaving me the patriarch of this compound. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!"

Panel 2:Yeah, unbelievable. I mean no one ever committed an environmental crime before, and certainly not to save money!

NOTE ON THE ART: I'm beginning to think that Lost Forest is actually located on the island of Doctor Moreau. First we had the hyenapig accompanying the Elf on his rounds, now we have some sort of chipmunkpig being chased by a dog-like creature in a black skirt.

Panel 3:Mark, Mark, Mark. Remember, you mete out the penalties. That fist can be as heavy as you want it to be.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Three days was the morning.

June 2, 2009

Panel 1:"But not so dangerous that I didn't contemplate moving them around yesterday in this panel. And certainly not so dangerous that I would put Andy on a leash."

Panel 2:This is possibly the most perfect statement of environmental vigilantism ever uttered on the comic pages of America's newspapers. Someone is knowingly violating federal law (specifically the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), which carries penalties of up to $50,000 per day per violation and 5 years in jail, and Mark wants pictures to show that person when he confronts them and beats them up. Nice. I think the Steven Segal comparison I made when this arc started is pretty damn apt.

Panel 3: Good Lord! Howdy-Doody speaks and, lo and behold, he is the voice of reason!

June 1, 2009

Panel 1:This is nonsensical. And no, I don't mean this strip. I mean this panel. I mean, why does Mark even say that? Was he really thinking about grabbing a couple of 55-gallon drums and moving them around? To what end? To see what's inside? To keep them from spilling? This is about as lame a fucking panel as I've seen yet.

Panel 2:You know, I'm beginning to think there's some sort of unwritten code of serial comics, possibly even a social compact of sorts between the authors of said comics and their regular readers. The unwritten code basically requires that the characters of serial comics be so mind-numblingly obtuse that every day they must be reminded of the story arc in which they are trapped. The purpose of this code, of course, is so that if non-regular readers stumble upon the strip in any particular day, they will have an inkling of what is going on. In the case of Mark Trail, however, he's not so much mind-numbingly obtuse as he is suffering from Asperger syndrome. Certainly, his non-stop monologues demonstrate the sort of "intense preoccupation with a narrow subject, one-sided verbosity and restricted prosody" that one finds in individuals with Asperger. It also happens to be a useful mechanism for the Jackelrod Sphere to abide by his author's code and clue the fortunate majority of humanity that doesn't read Mark Trail regularly into what the hell is going on.

The corrolary to this unwritten code is the social compact between the author and the regular reader. As far as I can tell, the terms of this compact require the regular reader to ignore the stupidity of the strip's characters and to pretend the narrative arcs aren't predictable and boring. In return, the authors grace us with the occasional moment of sublime lunacy. Well, boys and girls, this panel is not one of those moments.

Panel 3: Nor is this.

May 30, 2009

Panel 1:"That's garbage that has been neatly stuffed into big gray cans!"

Panel 2:Apparently, Mark, it's irregular garbage.

Panel 3:Or it could be the leaden dialogue in this strip...ba da bump!...Thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the veal!