Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Unsinkable Mark Trail

Mark Trail's current artist/writer James Allen has not only made this vintage strip more exciting visually, he's vastly improved the quality of the story lines. And along the way, he's also having some fun with the character and the very nature of adventure strips.

Normally, adventure strips are pretty much self-contained. What happened in previous story arcs are seldom referred to in the current adventure (with the exception of a recurring villain cropping back up). Current comic strip creative teams, such as Mike Curtis/Joe Staton (Dick Tracy), and Tony DePaul/Mike Manley (The Phantom), seem more interested in world-building. Borrowing from comic books, the past shapes the present rather than having each episode take place in isolation.

Which leads us the beginning of Mark Trail's Hawaii adventure (see Mark Trail Heats Up for more about this fall 2016 storyline).

Mark Trail has been invited to check out an invasive species of ants on a small island. He checks in with his editor while going to rent a boat.

Of course, that's exactly who Mark Trail is -- a guy in a serial comic. But his editor does have a point. Trail's two previous adventures involved exploding boats.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, this. 

Fortunately, Cal found an abandoned rowboat on the beach. There was plenty of foreshadowing -- Allen shows it being by the yacht that originally landed on the island and inadvertently left the invasive fire ants back in the prolog to the story (see: Mark Trail: Suddenly in the Past).

Allen continued the subplot about Mark Trail's luck with transportation with these two sequences.

Great art, great storytelling, and a sense of fun -- that's why I keep reading Mark Trail. Plus, I want to see what he blows up next.

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