Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mark Trail

Mark Trail was an American newspaper strip, one of a number that were reprinted in British comics in the 1950s. Although enjoyable, the reprints never seemed to quite work -- pasted up they looked like a normal British comics page (which had a rather regimented look at that time) but the pacing of a daily strip was slightly off, something you adjust to if you're reading a reprint that admits to its newspaper origins; I've been reading the latest volumes of James Bond reprints from Titan over the past few evenings and haven't noticed a problem.

Mark Trail appeared featured in three adventures published in Knockout in 1951, the opening storyline seeming to concentrate on Andy rather than Trail's job as a forest patrolman. This doggy theme was continued with the second story, 'Billy's Dog Wagger'...

... although the third storyline was concerned with grizzly bears rather than grizzly children. The character in the original storylines wasn't a forest patrolman, per se, but a photographer and writer (for Woods and Wildlife magazine) who has to deliver a dog (Andy) to 'Doc' Davis and his daughter, Cherry, who live at a wildlife sanctuary called the Lost Forest.

The Mark Trail strip was syndicated by the New York Post and was created by Ed Dodd, first appearing in April 1946 and initially appearing in 45 newspapers. According to Dodd's entry on Wikipedia, the strip was scripted by Dodd and drawn by Tom Hill, enjoying its greatest success in the 1960s when it was syndicated to around 500 newspapers. This brief description is expanded upon by Steve Gurr (in the New Georgia Encyclopedia), which reveals that "Dodd's syndication success created the need for assistants. He hired Jack Davis (who later became famous for his Mad magazine art), Tom Hill, Rhett Carmichael, and Jack Elrod. Dodd turned chiefly to writing the narratives while his assistants did the artwork." Elsewhere (here, in fact, at a gallery exhibition of Mark Trail artwork), we learn that "Tom Hill joined Dodd on the Mark Trail adventure strip in 1948 as an illustrator. In 1950 Jack Elrod joined the team."

It would be interesting to know if anyone recognises the period from which the above strips date (1946-51... that much I can guess myself!) and whether these are indeed drawn by Ed Dodd or by one or other of his assistants.


  1. It'd be interesting to read a feature about foreign strips being reprinted in British comics, ie, Tintin in Eagle, or Lucky Luke and Blueberry in Lion(?). Was Asterix in Boys World? I remember seeing a Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller in a Sparky annual. Interestingly DCT left his name on the strip.

  2. Ah, just noticed: Nancy appeared in the Topper.

  3. Could be an interesting article. Maybe best left for someone else to write because at the rate I'm going (I've probably mentioned half a dozen strips in fifteen months) it could be some time before I get around to all of them.

    Blueberry was in Valiant and Asterix was in Ranger and Look and Learn. The A.P. also reprinted Superman in the late 1930s and we stumble across other oddities as we work our way through various papers. I'm likely to be posting some examples of Dan Spiegle's Hopalong Cassidy at some point, to take a for instance, and I'm still trying to locate info. on Tim Holt if anyone has indexed any issues of the Magazine Enterprises comics which were reprinted in Australia and the UK.



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