Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Trail or Twain?

John BoltonKarlRoveblahblahguncontrolPatriotActyaddaJohn RobertsMarriageAmendmenthibbidaglobalwarmingracismpeasand carrotsurbansprawlrichandpoorhmmmm.

It can git jes plain tejus bein a littrut blogger, keeping up on the latest nuance of the Plame Affair and scanning the global home typing pool for the next outrage du jour.

What the blogosphere needs is a good comics section.

Sure, there are satirical sites like Wittenburg Door and The White House, but those are more layered political cartoons. I mean comics you don't have to read the rest of the newspaper to understand.

Thankfully, we have Mark Trail, the least reflective writer in the universe, and his daily episodes are available online at the WaPo. If he didn't love the outdoors as seen from a canoe so much, Mark could be the patron saint of kickass males everywhere. Instead, he's the idol of freelance writers for his ability to pick up the phone and get work whenever he wants to do a story, spend all his time procrastinating in the woods, and meet his deadlines with nary a panel devoted to him at the typewriter. (You don't hink Mark would use a computer, do you?)

Mark lives in a world with three types of men and two types of women. The men divide into amiable editors and game wardens clueless about human behavior, totally corrupt businessmen and poachers with long sideburns, and hapless weaklings manipulated by predatory women. The few non-predators are perpetually passive home ec majors (see Cherry).

Violence, deceit, gender politics and furry animals. It's all there, rendered in a plodding storyline with Boy Scout Manual illustration. Jack Elrod, Mark's creator, may be a gifted ironist or 100-percent sincere. Either way, the strip works for me, without requiring any mental effort.

One great thing about the Web is that whenever an idea crops up, but you're too lazy to write about it, with just a little digging, you can find someone who already has done the work for you, and someone else who specialized in his obsession, but then seems to have run out of steam.

Some say this easy accessibility to the work of others encourages plagiarism. Me, I think it teaches humility.


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