Comic strip Mark Trail just announced a big shakeup today: Jules Rivera will take over the strip starting next on October 12, bringing her STEM background to a character that has been championing environmentalism for more than 50 years.
Still syndicated to more than 150 newspaper, Mark Trail will get an update to the 21st century with contemporary storylines and a larger emphasis on Mark’s little seen wife and son, Cherry and Rusty.
But Rivera has some shoes to fill: Although the strip was created by Edward Benton Dodd, cartoonist Jack Elrod took over after Dodd’s death in 1978 and made Mark Trail something of a campy cult favorite for its sometimes bizarrely on-the-nose storylines and weird nature callouts.
Elrod drew the strip until his death at age 91 in 2016. Cartoonist James Allen took over afterwards, but of late it had gone into reprints while a new cartoonist was sought.
And they have found it in Rivera. Best known for her Love Joolz webcomic — which we literally just spotlighted yesterday in A Year of Free Comics — she’s now the sole daily syndicated female Latinx cartoonist. A former electrical engineer who loves surfing and gardening, Rivera plans to return to Mark Trail‘s roots as a champion for environmentalism.
“I am excited to take up the Mark Trail mantle to reimagine Mark for a new generation and honored to join a pantheon of such talented artists. Dare to witness humor, action, environmental justice, women with strong personalities, mystical talking animals, gardening tips, and Mark like you’ve never seen him before. The new Mark Trail promises to be a real trailblazer,” said Rivera, in a statement.
“When we began our search for the next Mark Trail cartoonist, we knew that we needed someone who could authentically bring the Trail family to new audiences,” said Tea Fougner, editorial director for comics at King Features Syndicate. “Jules’ work speaks for itself and her passion for both conservation and comics makes her an ideal fit to reimagine Mark Trail. Her thoughtful yet humorous approach makes environmental issues accessible, educational and fun while also honoring Mark Trail’s roots as a classic adventure comic.”
The return to the strip’s environmentalist roots couldn’t come at a better time, but the focus on the environment has long been part of its legacy: Over the years it has won more than 30 conservation awards from private organizations and government agencies, including the American Waterfowl and Wetland Association, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, the National Forest Recreation Association, the National Wildlife Federation, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
You can read Mark Trail on line at https://www.comicskingdom.com/mark-trail. And while you’re waiting for Rivera’s run to begin, check out some of that old-timey Elrod stuff because it’s WILD.