Fictional nature writer and adventurer Mark Trail has been a staple of the funny pages since 1946, when he was first created by Ed Dodd. These days, although his circulation has dwindled and some of his remaining fans are reading his strip ironically, Mark endures into the 21st century thanks to current writer-artist James Allen. Through the decades, Mark Trail has been built around a few basics: lovingly drawn wildlife, stiffly drawn humans, obscure nature facts, an abiding respect for Mother Nature, and a healthy dose of mayhem, including plenty of explosions and fistfights. Corny as it is, the strip obviously made a big impression on writer Jeff Moravec, who has teamed up with artist Kevin Cannon to create a terrific tribute called “Mark Trail And Me” that starts as a comic strip before morphing into text. (It’s hard to read below, but this should give you some idea of how it looks, and then you can go read it at the link, above.)
Moravec became a fan of the strip when he was a child, and he remains a “Trailhead” to this day, even though the title character has become more “vulnerable” in recent years and even got married back in the 1990s. And never mind the fact that Trail supposedly works for a magazine but is never shown writing anything down. The campiness of Mark Trail is not lost on Moravec, and he points out that the straight-laced strip has been a target for parody since the 1950s, when it was sent up in MAD. But the consistency and predictability of the strip are a great comfort to Moravec, even now. “Mark is as Mark has always been.” The strip’s loyal fans remain staunch in their support. Even powerful Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee had to bend to their will, quickly restoring the strip to his paper after briefly dropping it. The man who helped bring down Richard Nixon was unable to bring down Mark Trail.