2014-03-06 / Lifestyles

Jest For Fun

Lois A. Corcoran Lois A. Corcoran My macho husband, Dan, is hopelessly hooked on a soap opera. Not one of those steamy affairs on TV each afternoon. This one appears newspapers and has for over half a century.

The local paper places Mark Trail on its “Fun Page,” but I routinely skip over it in favor of Blondie and Born Loser.

“You don’t know what you’re missing,” Dan told me awhile back.

“Sure, I do,” I replied. “Comic strips are supposed to be funny.”

Recently I discovered that mom, too is a trailhead. She and my better half like to compare notes about the latest adventure and voice their predictions. In truth, it’s not hard to guess. With Mark Trail, good always wins out over evil.

Like its TV counterparts, this soap moves at a snail’s pace, with some adventures taking months to resolve. If necessary, however, weeks may pass in a single episode, so readers should stay tuned each day, lest they miss something big.

The brainchild of Ed Dodd, Mark Trail centers on an outdoor magazine writer who finds adventure in his search for stories. The comic (and I use the term loosely) strip debuted April 15, 1946. If you do the math, that makes Mark Trail 68 this year. Instead he remains the same handsome 34-year-old.

He talks kind of funny though. Mr. Trail is not a fan of contractions and ends most sentences with an exclamation point. He never cusses either. His trademark phrase, “What th’?!” never even includes “heck,” let alone the F-word.

He’s also undergone a few changes, like marrying Cherry, his sweetheart of 49 years. Talk about long engagements.

He still reigns over thugs though. You can always spot one by his facial hair. Sideburns and/or mustaches are dead give aways, but heavy-set bald guys are usually up to no good, too.

Illustrator Tom Hill often added a bent nose to these hoodlums for good measure. After Tom died in 1978, Jack Elrod took over the strip.

Without fail, Mr. Elrod includes his name in a circle somewhere in the last scene. Comparatively speaking, these credits are big enough to be a basketball for one of the characters.

Now that I’m aware of it, I find myself scanning the strip just to see where the silly sphere will show up. I guess that makes “me” hooked on the un-comical comic strip, too.

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