The new cartoonist on the venerable nature comic strip Mark Trail debuted today. Jules Rivera delivered a short lesson on how to recognize a poisonous snake, a seemingly helpful hint.
However commenters are having none of it. In a ruckus reminiscent of the commotion over the debut of Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy strip, some readers are having a conniption fit over the fact that a new, modern cartoonist has taken over Mark Trail’s adventures. I won’t bother quoting them, they are about what you would expect, with added rage over the fact that Rivera is a Latinx woman.
Of course there are defenders as well.
Oh my. Oh me oh my the Mark Trail comments are full of dudes bemoaning the fact that the strip sucks now and fearful that Rusty will no longer look like half-congealed Ted Cruz.
It's … sniff … it's so BEAUTIFUL.
— Gary Tyrrell
(@fleenguy) October 12, 2020
— Cameron Hatheway (@CamComicCorner) October 12, 2020
First new strip of rebooted 'Mark Trail' makes the case that the last 70 years of comic have been some sort of fever dream. 'What is this, the 1940s? Who talks like that?' asks Trail's now suddenly punked up spouse, Cherry….https://t.co/q2tJU1iXyj
— Brian Steinberg (@bristei) October 12, 2020
LRT: Mark Trail is daddy now. I don't make the rules. pic.twitter.com/0qKsBMwLjN
— That Girl From Osaka (@weaponxtra) October 12, 2020
Man, some boomers are just not ready for a world where Mark Trail fucks.
— (((Jay Edidin))) (@NotLasers) October 12, 2020
In an interview at the Star Tribune, Rivera assures readers its not a complete reboot:
That being said, she’s also assuring the strip’s loyal readers that she’s not jettisoning everything that has made “Mark Trail” part of their daily routines since 1946.
“I want to respect the legacy,” she said of the long-running strip. “I want to keep what made ‘Mark Trail’ great. I appreciate what the fans appreciate,” including the title character’s love for nature and dedication to protecting the environment.
Now, for sure, Mark Trail was part of a great tradition. I will give the other side recognition with this tweet from author Jenny Boylan:
I’m really sad about Mark Trail.
I feel as if something precious and stupid has been taken from me.
— Jennifer Finney Boylan
(@JennyBoylan) October 12, 2020
It is true that the old Mark Trail was both precious AND stupid:
— Pumpkinto M. (@Kinto_M) March 31, 2018
It was drawn by Jack Elrod for a couple of thousand years, until he was nearly 90 years old, with the variable yet sturdy line work one might expect, as well as regular forays into the weird.
Mark Trail’s Sunday nature lessons, such as this one about the monkey-eating eagle of the Philippines, were particularly beloved.
Sensitive to reader’s tastes, Elrod did not show the money-eating eagle eating a monkey because that would have been…well, nature is cruel, let’s leave it at that. Crueler than message board commenters even.
Anyway, if Rivera does away with the Sunday animal spotlights I will be a little sad, but I think she’s got this. The old Mark Trail was fun and comfy like your beloved grandpa. Like your beloved grandpa, he will live on in memory, but let’s see what the new world has to bring.
If you really miss granddaddy Trail, you can still access the archives for a mere $20 a year for a Comics Kingdom subscription. In fact I just paid $20 to get just such a sub and support the carotonists. So new Mark Trail is already making money!