Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wake Up Patty, Nobody's Trying to Bed the Deer But You -- Recap Time


Mark's adventures take him to all sorts of naturey places and involve many different types of characters, but they all seem to follow a similar game plan. What we find ourselves mired in right now is a phase of that game not unlike a butterfly's struggle to emerge from the cocoon. Lots of new limbs and floundering, with few signs of progress. Initially, this phase may be interesting and new, but after 3 or 4 weeks, it gets boring, frustrating, makes you want to rip your teeth out, etc. Hopefully, we are nearing the end of this awkward introduction to the Saga of Patty. In that spirit, let's take a quick look back at what's happened so far.

No, Patty's not all right, Cherry. And it's got little to do with that sleeve's love affair with the booby part of her coat. A more devious problem lurks behind those blonde tresses. Something more unnatural and nefarious.

She totally wants to get stag-blasted by that baby man-deer, and her 'little friend' seems intrigued by the prospect. A third player has thrown his heart into the game, however. His name is


Scowly lumberman Ken is betrothed to Patty and easily the angriest man in Lost Forest. Patty's little deer friend appears to be the frontrunner for the blonde bombshell's affections, but Ken has advantages of his own. For starters, he doesn't shy away from honest discourse about his impotency...

What's more, his hands move quickly enough to disable an opponent without physical contact, offering him plausible deniability for numerous airslap assaults against his wife.

How can he be jealous? Stupid question, Patty. The man is the surliest ventriloquist in the Western Hemisphere...

...he's probably been jealous about matters less triffling than young bucks courting his wife.

So where does Mark fit into this love triangle? Find out in the next installment of "Recap: The beginning of the introduction to the Saga of Patty."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Rule of Deer Adultery Club -- ALWAYS Hide the Water Dish


Cherry and Mark don't waste any time laying into Patty's frownie husband, dropping the "isn't very friendly" bomb well before they even step out of her featureless home. With space at a premium in today's rare four-panel installment, we can't get a firm grip on Mark's reaction to Ken's stern unfriendliness. If recent history is any indication, Mark's probably enjoying himself off-screen in Panel Two. He gets quite a kick out of not knowing much about his neighbors...

Meanwhile, the deer is out of the bag at the unknown neighbors' house. This may come as a shock, but irresponsibly angry husband Ken is not a big fan of his wife's pet buck. Will violence come of this? Preliminary swelling in Patty's head region says yes. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Elrod Continues to Imply Beastiality


This isn't looking any better as days go by. Unexpected husbands, shooing a reluctant deer named "Bucky" out the backdoor in the nick of time, frowning....Elrod's doing his best to make this look worse than it probably is. I'm sick of making fun of it.
Mark can tell right away by his monosylabic answer that Ken is a horrible human being. Frowny Freddies with a touch of the ginger and a penchant for blue clothing don't sit well with our hero. Cherry is too turned on by Bucky's gaze to say much of anything.

That Guy an Accurate Reflection of How We Feel After Reading Mark Trail


Don't waste your breath, Mark. Everyone in Lost Forest knows Patty should've picked up a "pervin' all over a feral woodland creature" permit the day she ran into that fawn. Now she's in too deep, and full disclosure to the proper authorities may jeopardize the massive amount of company she's grown accustomed to over the past few months. Company as large as the children she never had. Cherry is obviously intrigued by the prospect of so much company; Mark's reaction is more curious and angular, littered with strange creases on the nose and brow.

Speaking of creased brows, holy crap that guy in the second panel is angrier than anyone I've ever seen. His forehead contains so much rage, the pressure has carved an impossible line into his temple. He frowns horizontally. That's pretty fucking irritated.

So who is this angry ambler? It could be one of those "wildlife people" Patty's worried about. It could also be her lumber-ing husband. Either way, someone's about to get punched.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Trails Confront Patty the Only Way They Know How: On Horseback


Mark cuts an impressive figure on that white stallion, doesn't he? Clean jacket n' khaki combination, relentless posture. No wonder Patty, once skiddish and overly apologetic, now feels completely at ease and overly apologetic in his presence, even after he rides a horse into her backyard escorted by the electric-blue Cherry, arm fused to her hip like some kind of irritating, bubble-headed teapot.

Patty's intentions may not be as perverse as Elrod originally suggested. The jury's still out, though. She looks remarkably creepy with that shadowy buck by her side. Even Mark's horse is itching to bounce by panel two.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Patty's Robbing the Cradle! So Scandalous.


A few days ago, NLR read the fairly obvious tea leaves and concluded that Patty's issues centered around a love affair with some woodland creature. Today's installment confirms the speculation -- Patty is embroiled in a March-December inter-specie sex festival with a captivating young buck.

Elrod opened a door but closed several windows, and now we're left with more questions than ever. Why doesn't Patty talk about her husband? What manner of trouble is on her mind? And what's up with Cherry's imploding waist? Dita Von Teese got nothing on Mizz Trail. Except sex appeal. Intelligence and personality too, I imagine.

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks. The storyline is still opaque, but today's revelation is a step in the right direction. Your patience will be rewarded in due time--things are going to be okay. Just look at the relentless optimism emanating from our hero's face in panel one. Only Mark could take so much pleasure in not knowing something very well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meaningless Dialogue Almost too Expansive for the Meaningless Images that Surround It


What I hate most about Jack Elrod's style is the progression of time within the context of his medium. Let's face it, everyone's actions over the last week are justified. Patty should have left after Mark returned, and Cherry and Mark should seek out Patty after finishing up breakfast. Nobody's being impolite, overbearing, or unreasonable. All I'm wondering is why we have to be present for all of these fucking scraps of minutae. Three small panels at a time.

We didn't need to watch the Trails saddle up the horses for their woodsy ride. Do we need to see Doc holding up plate after plate of breakfast items? Do we need the constant references to Cherry's revolting haircut? We get it -- Mark's hair would look identical if he grew it out. Get a fucking story going here, dammit. I'm running out of things to make fun of.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009



Of the many horrible questions that come to mind, Elrod, one stands above the rest: did you honestly think transitioning from the senseless destruction of a week-long storyline to DOC'S HEAPING PLATE OF DELECTABLE FLAPJACKS would assuage our frustration? If there's one shard of hope to be found among the ruins, it's that the plot couldn't possibly be stretched any further. You can't water down water.

Those half-assed skin-toned highlights may not be real, but Cherry's concern for a friend's secret animal problem is. With any luck, she'll press Patty for answers after breakfast. Those griddlecakes aren't going to last forever. Even if this saga will. God dammit.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Relentless Blathering Is Not Acceptable


Quit being such a sleepy-eyed drama queen and spill the beans, Patty. You've already wasted a week of our lives framing your dilemma; now it's time to share. No more tears. No more uninteresting backstory. Do it.

Look at all that fire in the hearth. Do you remember the fire?

Of course you don't. It wasn't there before. That is an unsolicited conflagration, Patty. Even fireplaces are anxious to hear your tale of pathetic woe. So speak your piece and let the khaki avenger figure out the rest. He won't stop punching rednecks until the problem is solved.

Sunday Critterz: American Crocodile

Sunday is the only day of the week that Mark Trail makes any sense. NLR extends our appreciation for this moment of relative clarity by offering the Sunday edition of Mark Trail without any snarky, off-color commentary.

January 11's strip examines the American Crocodile's renaissance.

Patty Craves Forgiveness in Any Form; Mark and Cherry Meld Faces


As anticipated, Mark's early return has thrown a wrench in Patty's confession plans, and now all she can do is wait for Mark and Cherry to reclaim their respective jawlines and exchange pleasantries with the rest of the family. Mark's face in panel two suggests that he may have walked away with a little more chin than he brought to the hug; it's a problem that will take presidence over all non-face-related issues this morning.

Patty is one mea cupla over the standard apology limit for this situation -- whatever she's done is seriously eating away at her conscience. In no way does that excuse her grating pleas for atonement. I'm just saying, it's bad.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mark's Unexpected Arrival a Firm Reminder that We Were Never Meant to Understand Patty's Problem


GOD DAMMIT Mark, we were so close to figuring out Patty's deal. You and your creepy Pubelick had to barge in at the break of day and put the latest storyline on ice for the weekend. It's enough to make someone eat their tissue.
So to hell with small talk -- the time for unreasonable speculation has arrived. Patty mentioned yesterday that she turned to the Trails for help because of their love of animals. The inconsequential nature of her predicament belies an attachment worrisome enough to warrant a pre-dawn trip to the cabin made of poop. If I had to guess, Patty's been casually dating some kind of forest creature and she let her heart get involved. Or she's contracted bear herpes. Prove me wrong, Elrod. For everyone's sake.

Spit it Out, Patty. SPIT. IT. OUT.


It merited attention before, but now I feel compelled to point out that Mark n' Cherry's Lost Forest abode is preposterously brown. It looks like a giant chocolate monster pooped it out for them. Monochromatic logs can be expected, but matching oven mitts, frying pans, mirrors, model ships, and deer carcai?

Mark and Cherry -- huge fans of the brown.

Cherry's speaking for all of us in the first panel. Patty needs to get a grip and explain the predicament, not the rationale behind her visit to Big Dump Cabin. The line between suspense and poor timing isn't that thin -- a three-part sequence would've been appropriate, but day three of "what the fuck is your problem, Patty" has come and gone and we're still in the dark. Shitty installment all around.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to Bed, Doc.


Looks like it wasn't Mark at the door after all. But who, pray tell, is Patty? I have no idea. She appears timid, apologetic, and helmety. A closer look is in order; let's break it down panel by panel:

Panel 1


Panel 2

Patty takes off her coat. She apologizes to Cherry for the interuption, but something is on her mind and she needs to dish.

Panel 3

Patty takes off her coat. She apologizes to Doc for the interuption, but something is on her mind and she needs to dish.

Phew! There's nothing about Mark Trail that can't be deciphered by a good ol' panel-by-panel breakdown. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Recurring Theme at Casa de Trail -- Wood


You know what the worst part about today's strip is? It probably is Mark pounding on the front door furiously in the wee hours of the morning.

Tomorrow, Cherry will throw the door open and Mark will be standing at the threshold in all of his khaki glory, shit-eating grin etched across his angular mandible. He'll say something like, "Hi Cherry, I'm Mark Trail! I've missed you and love your looks! The water's back in the swamp... that's quite a haircut you've got there!" Cherry will smile and primp in that possessed, I-have-no-eyes manner she's so fond of.

And she'll take her man back to bed, never to gnash her teeth alone again. There's no way it couldn't be Mark. Or couldn't it? No way. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 5, 2009

This Is Some Fucked-Up Shit Right Here


Primal heat boils over as Cherry puts her new coif on display for the benefit of a sophisticated elder. Outside, owl and rodent lay down the innuendo naturally. The way the old man cradles his pipe in panel three says it all -- Cherry's hairdo is for sure 15% less helmety than it was before. Again. Take a peek for your sexy self:

Mark has women fawning over him constantly and spends a great deal of time on the road; who cares if Cherry indulges in a little action on the side? Fuck, at least his ass isn't on the wrong end of his body.

Oh gosh, hold on now, I remember the problem:

That old dude is Cherry's dad. No wonder Cherry had her eyes sewn shut. The shame must be overwhelming. Worst adaptation of Oedipus Rex ever, Elrod.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Holiday Recap Part 2: The Suggestive Aftermath


Looks like Mr. Elrod decided to buck the trend and wrap up this adventure by the end of the week. Guess he thought all of the smarmy bloggers would be too preoccupied with New Year's festivities to remember their obligation to smarm. Tough chutney, Jack-o. It's in the spirit of meritless vegeance that I present the second (and final) holiday recap of this flawed tale.

The unsteady pace of the narrative has thrown the aging process completely off-course, and it's taking a toll on Mark's face. Rounded, cherubic features wizen into an angular, pensive mess in but a panel's time. Plus, we learn that rural policemen wear blue cowboy hats.

Our woodsy journalist has got to be happy with the overall outcome of his kidnapping. Not only did he successfully escape his would-be deporters, but Mark even managed to conjure up some completely unfounded drug-smuggling accusations in the process. I looked back through my archives to find any hint of drug-related activity since the Ruffled Crotch Crew worked their way into the storyline. You know what I found?

Mark seems to be the only one lending any credence to his theory, without any hard evidence to back it up. In fact, December 31st is the first time drugs are ever mentioned. Not quite sure why Elrod thinks he can slip that by a devoted reader. There aren't exactly a lot of loose ends to tie up at the end of a Mark Trail adventure.

You know what else I discovered? Sue looks weird when she's patronizing people....

Sue is also a big perv....

Pop masks the shame that comes with be a procrastinating, buggy-mistaking jerkfuck by surrounding himself with rabid animals and soon-to-be-rabid children...

and that's about it.