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First and (for now) Last – Mark Trail

Mark Trail dailies went rerun earlier this year, Sundays go rerun with August 23, 2020.
No word has been forthcoming from King Features Syndicate, so for the nonce Mark Trail has ended.

Mark Trail, created by cartoonist and outdoorsman Ed Dodd, debuted on April 15, 1946
along with Andy and the signature ball:

A few days later Mark’s future sweetheart makes her surprise appearance on April 18, 1946:

Turns out the bear is Cherry’s pet and they were just running to the old swimming hole. Cherry’s father, zoologist Tom Davis, is introduced in the second week.

Introduce a couple bad guys, with the requisite facial hair, and the Mark Trail adventure comic strip is on its way to a nearly 75 year run.

A year and a half after the daily strip began the four-color Sunday edition first saw print on October 19, 1947; accompanied by the Trail Ways ‘topper’ strip running below.

It is said that right from the beginning Tom Hill was the artist for the Sunday pages, though he didn’t get his name in the signature ball until July 16, 1967:

Tom Hill would continue drawing (and writing?) the Sunday strip until October 29, 1978; and for a few months during that 1978 year he would also work on the daily strip. Tom Hill would pass away in 1978.

Meanwhile … Jack Elrod had become an assistant/ghost on the Mark Trail daily strip around 1950, finally getting his name in The Ball on June 4, 1979 and on the Sunday Ball the following Sunday of June 10, 1979.

In the middle of a story Ed Dodd would retire his name from the strip, the last bearing his signature was August 24, 1991. The following Monday Jack Elrod received solo credit in the signature ball, though he had been writing and drawing the strip for some time before that. (Jack got the Sunday ball by himself eight days earlier on August 18, 1991.)

Three years later, at age 70, Jack Elrod would retire his other strip The Ryatts and concentrate on Mark Trail. Around age 80 Jack took on James Allen as an assistant and trained him to take over the strip when the time came. That time was 2014.

On April 11, 2014, a Friday, The Ball was passed to James Allen.

James would take over the Sundays on May 25 that same year.

For six years James, and his writing partner Brice Vorderbrug, would produce Mark Trail. That came to a screeching halt on July 25, 2020 when new Mark Trail strips ended in the middle of a story:

The following Monday, July 27, 2020 saw an old Jack Elrod rerun.
The last new Mark Trail Sunday would run on August 16, 2020:

Mark Trail
by Ed Dodd, Tom Hill, Jack Elrod, James Allen
dailies: April 15, 1946 – July 25, 2020
Sundays: October 19, 1947 – August 16, 2020
syndicates: Post/Post Hall/Hall/Publishers-Hall/Field/News America/North America(KFS)
[reruns begin July 27, 2020 (daily); August 23, 2020 (Sunday)]

 

The strip has it share of fans. Over the years newspapers have attempted to drop the strip and then be flooded with objections from loyal readers, forcing the papers to bring the strip back to allay the madding crowd. Among those fans were (are) Jeff Moravec and Kevin Cannon who, in 2016, paid tribute to the strip in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Hat tip to Allan Holtz for most of the dates and to newspapers.com for most of the images.

Community Comments

#1 Mike Corrado
August/16/2020
@ 8:03 pm

Thanks for this!

#2 Karen Martin
August/22/2020
@ 9:19 pm

If “old Andy” is still around after saving Mark’s life during World War II, what happened to Cherry’s pet bear? Don’t all mammals live forever in Lost Forest — without growing older?

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