It all started when someone wrote to The Black Mountain News of North Carolina to point out a shocking misstatement in a recent Mark Trail comic strip:
There was a very misleading cartoon in the Jan. 12 Citizen-Times. Mark Trail supposedly gives worthwhile advice about spending time in the great outdoors. This particular cartoon implied that Americans can contract river blindness from black flies in our part of the world. However, this serious disease and its vector only exist in sub-Saharan Africa and a few other tropical locales. The North American species of black flies is found in the northern tier of states and in Canada. They spread no diseases. Mark Trail should have made this clear.
As you can see from the above, that is indeed what Jack Elrod, the 90-year-old cartoonist behind the long running Mark Trail comic strip, seemed to say.
The scandal grew when we wrote this blog post. Actually there is no scandal. It is just fun to remember that Mark Trail is still being published and Jack Elrod still has his name on it and apparently still draws it. And we should all be quite thankful that we can’t actually catch river blindness in the US because it sounds awful.
Because there is still some ironic humor from the fact that Mark Trail still exists, I was surprised to find that on at least one newspaper website where it is published, the Seattle Post Intelligence, there seems to be a community that exists only to make bizarre comments on Mark Trail strips. As pastimes go, this is somewhere above watching flies buzz around a window screen and below making those rubber band bracelets all the kids are into.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.