What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Why did that lizard rapper visit Rusty? January – March 2022


Part of the current story in Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail was a family reunion. The Trails, and the Rogers family, got together. Reptiliannaire, the eco-rapper Mark Trail visited two storylines ago, visited after the launch of his new album. Reptiliannaire’s one of Rusty’s favorite singers.

Mark Trail said something about his father hiring Reptiliannaire. This is plausible. His father, Mark “Happy” Trail, runs a granola concern big enough to be a local environmental hazard and bully, though not so big as to be bought out by a real bastard company like Nestle. But this means Reptiliannaire went from his album launch to working a private event. That’s a lot of work. But it could be that the reptile-themed rap star world is small enough that you have to do that much work. Nobody confirms that Happy Trail hired him, though. As Mark Trail had a successful heist with Reptiliannaire that time, it’s plausible Happy Trail invited him and he came to see a quasi-friend and a fan. Take the interpretation you find most credible.

So this should catch you up on Mark Trail for the end of March, 2022. If you’re reading this after about June 2022 a more up-to-date plot recap should be here. I’ll also post news about the comic strip at this link. Thanks for reading and now let’s explore what all is going on with environmental villains who need punching.

Mark Trail.

9 January – 26 March 2022.

Mark Trail, Diana Daggers, and the veterans on the De-Bait Team had a plan to fight Duck Duck Goose shipping. The plan: make a public spectacle of themselves. Our Heroes got as many small ships as they could together to blockade the Lost Forest-area waterway the zebra-mussel-contaminated ships used. It’s a popular protest, because we all want that thrill of that stuck boat again. Duck Duck Goose makes the concession of declaring they’re totally going to make things better. And have Mark Trail, Diana Daggers, and Cliff (who probably has a last name) arrested.

[ Mark and Cliff both post bail in the Lost Forest county jail, but Diana is left behind. ] Daggers, from behind bars; 'Go on, Mark! Tell my story! I will carry on, an envronmental rebel! And let my sacrifice show --- ' Sheriff: 'Okay, Miss Daggers. You're free to go.' As she takes the box of her things she asks, 'Eh? Who bailed me out? I burned all my bridges in California.' [ As Cliff called it, an old friend showed up when she least expected it. ] Her phone's getting a call; 'Aw, Bee Sharp?'
Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail for the 26th of January, 2022. Along with the protest Mark Trail posted his story, and Kelly Welly boosted it to their millions of followers.
Cherry posts bail for Mark, and someone’s able to post bail for Cliff. Diana Daggers is ready to sit it out in jail when Professor Bee Sharp bails her out. He’s apologetic for taking “Cricket Bro” Rob Bettancourt’s NFT money and glad to use it for something moral. She’s glad to help him patch his coat. And somehow the cops haven’t connected him to the boat explosion in Miami. You remember, from the story where Mark reconnected with his father, Mark “Happy” Trail. Hot Catch magazine editor Rafael Suave loves the story and the publicity the arrests generated. Mark Trail gets 55 new social media followers, only a few of him ask do he rp. It’s a happy resolution altogether.


A minor plot resolved: the Sunny Soleil society has some tiny aquariums with Marimo balls. These can also spread zebra mussels. They give the readers instructions on how to dispose of them safely (freeze them for a day or more and throw them in the trash). And explain to Violet Cheshire how to handle it: let Cherry Trail handle it, for free. (This is also a good way to handle the poison ivy or the knotweed growing in from your neighbor’s yard.)


The 7th of February starts the current batch of storylines. One is about Rusty Trail and his natural love of cryptids. He shares one about the Seaside Specter, a onetime human covered in seaweed and coral with eyes like a puffy-eyed fish. (Looking at him curses your eyeballs.) He would bond with Cherry Trail’s sister Olive at the family reunion, the big setting for the start of this story.

[ Rusty discovers his Aunt Olive knows a lot about cryptids. ] Olive: 'So you're going to the West Coast to get footage of the Seaside Specter?' Rusty: 'It's a lifetime opportunity! I may not get another chance!' Olive: 'Kiddo, I have hunted cryptids. It's dangerous out there. Take this.' Rusty: 'Is taht a face shield?' She holds one, offering face, nose, and mouth protection: 'Yeah. This will protect you from looking directly at the Seaside Specter.' Rusty: 'Cool! Thanks, Auntie Olive.' [ And that's how Rusty learned the importance of masking up! ]
Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail for the 4th of March, 2022. Really sweet of her. Not clear why she had that on hand, unless Mark or Cherry had told her about Rusty’s cryptid mania. I’m assuming the “it’s dangerous out there, take this” is a meme reference and I have no way to guess whether it’s something Olive would be expecting Rusty to get. Book recommendation: Joshua Blu Buhs’s Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend.
The reunion is a roller coaster of emotions for Rusty. He wanted to meet relatives as much as any kid that age does. But then it turned out Reptiliannaire, his favorite eco-rapper, was doing a concert nearby. There was no going to that, though. Happy Trail, though, is sensitive to his grandson’s feelings. That’s why Reptiliannaire visits, however the thing got arranged.

The happiness screeches to a halt when Happy Trail and Jolly Roger mention they’re doing new TV commercials. The young Mark Trail was traumatized by being the semi-willing child star of those ages ago. (Other kids, such as Rob Bettancourt, teased him for his natural on-camera squareness.) Now he’s traumatized because the new spokescreature is a monkey. That part’s survivable, but Monk Trail is also being turned into an NFT. Happy Trail’s startled to learn there’s anything about NFTs to concern an environmentalist, or a non-fool. His surprise that his new business partner didn’t bring up this big problem invites the question of how Happy Trail has built a successful business. You’d expect he would have been phished into sending the company to an e-mail claiming to be the county IRS inspector. Perhaps his really good Chief Operating Officer retired two weeks ago.

His NFT partner, in Portland, is Jadsen Sterling. Happy Trail asserts that Sterling and his brother are friends of Mark Trail’s. Turns out Sterling’s (step)brother is Rob “Cricket Bro” Bettancourt. Mark Trail spends the flight to Oregon (where they’d been planning to go for reasons that escape me; maybe it was a vacation?) trying to work out Sterling’s deal. He runs a tech firm committed to NFT scams, but makes his real money logging.

[ Mark discussees his concerns with Cherry on the way to Portland. ] Mark Trail: 'I know my dad means wel, but sometimes his choices really BUG me!' (The word 'Bug' is highlighted; the panel shows a close-up on a pandora pinemoth while Mark's plane is in the background sky.) 'The dad I remember would've never done business with other companies that hurt the environment like NFTs do.' Cherry: 'Mark, your dad isn't the man you remember anymore. He's older and he's looking to connect. Try to be kind.'
Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail for the 16th of March, 2022. This is another moment of Rivera making clear the decision to treat the “traditional” Mark Trail as father to the one she’s writing about. And it’s another good reminder of our need to be as compassionate as we can even to the people who’ve hurt us.
And yet Sterling has the spare time to catch the Trails at the airport and offer them a ride. He introduces himself as “Crypto Bro” and hey, his brother Cricket Bro is there too. They share a story that’s brief but nice — how they bonded as stepbrothers over surfing — and then how they had befriended Happy Trail on the beach. They’d been cut off by their father, and Mark Trail wasn’t speaking to his at the time. This is a small story moment I find quite humanizing and effective. It’s a deft reminder that these people, villains as they are to us, have lives they’re basically happy with and have reason to be basically happy with.

That’s how the Bros and Happy Trail turned into a big business-family partnership mess.  And also explains why Happy Trail might not have asked them questions about the downsides of NFTs.  And that’s where we stand at the end of March. Also going on: a bunch of first panels with animals in the foreground looking at the camera. That’s a welcome feature to return to the strip.

Sunday Animals Watch

What parts of nature got attention in Sunday strips the past three months? And how badly off are they? Let’s review.

  • Zebra mussels, 9 January 2022. Still a problem despite the plan to ignore the problem, somehow.
  • Bobcats, 16 January 2022. Robertcats, if you haven’t been introduced, thank you.
  • White-tailed deer, 23 January 2022. The population was in danger until we tried “have people not just shoot them”. Weird.
  • American kestrels, 30 January 2022. They only weigh like six ounces which, even considering birds don’t weigh much, doesn’t seem like much.
  • Horseshoe Crabs, 6 February 2022. Which have survived 455 million years, and then humans screwed things up.
  • Alligators, 13 February 2022. My father’s living in South Carolina and constantly sending pictures of alligators that get near the apartment complex while my mother rolls her eyes all the way into North Carolina.
  • Wildlife Crossings, 20 February 2022. Not an ideal solution to the problem of highways but at least some remediation.
  • Vultures, 27 February 2022. Apparently they don’t circle dying animals? Huh. This is going to mess up the late, lamented comic strip Little Dog Lost.
  • Spotted Owls, 6 March 2022. Threatened by invasive barred owls.
  • Pandora Pinemoths, 13 March 2022. They don’t eat, as adults, because nature is weird and creepy.
  • Western Gray Squirrels, 20 March 2022. You know how bad humanity is doing that we’re screwing up squirrels? Seriously.
  • The Northwest Rainforest, 27 March 2022. Both of the remaining trees.

Next Week!

Wilbur Weston is not dead. I’ll go into the unhappy story of why not when I recap Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth. That’s my plan for what to do next week.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

3 thoughts on “What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Why did that lizard rapper visit Rusty? January – March 2022”

    1. I’ve heard! It would have been easy and lazy to black up the Kiel or the Panama canals or the Turkish Straits so I guess points for originality. It’s an interesting choice to go lower-key with the sequel like this, but I suppose that lets it avoid being the same story all over again. Might let the experience be more of a character story than the original.

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