Sean Kleefield does all a favor by rounding up the full slate of Earth Day Comics from our dying newspapers’ funny pages. Since we hadn’t looked at a newspaper comic strip page in…many a moon, it was a nice way to relax. Of course, we know there are only two you care about…

Mark Trail.20090422 Large
Mark Trail!

Mary Worth.20090422 Large

and Mary Worth!

Wait a minute…now we all know newspapers are dying, and comic strips are one of the few things that people care about in the papers any more, but maybe it was an off day or something, but are these two strips supposed to be about zombies? Because we’ve rarely seen such lifeless artwork. If it isn’t the inert way everyone is standing around in the last panel of Mark Trail, it’s creepy stoned-eyed Mary Worth! At least the ducks look okay. If this is what comic strips look like nowadays, no wonder people watch Superjail.

But you can’t take the comics away from the people, no sir. Look what happened when the Washington Post tried to quietly remove the Judge Parker comic strip and hush up the crime.

When the Washington Post killed its Sunday Book Review section, some readers complained. When the Post folded the Business section into the A section, there were a few murmurs. When the daily decapitated the Judge Parker comic strip, readers revolted. “We received hundreds of passionate e-mails,” a top Post editor told The Washingtonian. “The readership may not be that high, but what we underestimated was the intensity.”

Judge Parker-1

But take a look at Judge Parker by Woody Wilson and Eduardo Barretto. Damn, that is some dope shit! Pow! Sock! That top Post editor had no idea of the intensity whirlwind he was going to reap, given this combustible fuel! See, that’s what people like, not that “Hey Mary Worth! It’s 4:20!” stuff.


  1. well, to be fair, I wouldn’t say that Mark Trail OR Mary Worth are really known for their “lively” artwork.

    although, reading Mark Trail again makes me wish there was a comic strip about Chuck Norris.

  2. It’s harder for artists doing daily strips because of how small they are reproduced. Bold lines are a necessity. This isn’t a recent problem, just much worse now. 30 years ago Russ Manning was contantly complaining to the syndicate about the poor reproduction on his Star Wars strip and Russ Manning specialized in bold lines in his art.

  3. A few years back our paper tried to get rid of Judge Parker (or was it Rex Morgan). The backlash was considerable.

    When Cathy was killed, not so much.

  4. “If it isn’t the inert way everyone is standing around in the last panel of Mark Trail, it’s creepy stoned-eyed Mary Worth!”

    Given that’s Joe Giella at work on ol’ Apple Mary, it’s pretty impressive work for an octogenarian cranking out a daily strip on deadline.

    Plus, it’s Mary Worth; her strip regularly =defines= creepy. (Though it’s no ASM 592 on that front.)

  5. I assume that Mary Worth’s appeal has always been rather like that of comfy couch. I used to read the strip back when I read everything on the comics-page, and the only thing I recall from MW was Mary claiming she didn’t like men with beards because they looked like they had something to hide. As a beardie, I was highly offended.