Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goddes Bones...A Twist!

There are some days on which I search frantically through the comics, trying to find just one with the right medieval atmosphere. On other days, way too many brilliantly idiotic strips seem to fall into my lap. Today is one of those other days. I have been hard put to it to decide on a comic. Should I, I asked myself not long ago, choose Blondie, in which Blondie and Dagwood wander so far through their neighbourhood that they actually enter the Other World? Or should I go for Crock, whose misogyny is so acute that the comic is a good candidate to be put on trial for hate crimes? What about For Better or For Worse, which features a screamy, screamy Elly who reacts to a quite ordinary situation in an utterly unreasonable way? Or Garfield, in which we see some of the monstrous races: a cat-headed man and a man-headed cat?* What to do? How to choose? Why can't this happen to me every day?

In the end, however, I gravitated towards Mark Trail. It hurt me to give up Blondie, Crock, Garfield, and Foob,** but Crock's Grossie will certainly be mocked again, Elly screams for no reason quite frequently, Garfield is Garfield, and I suspect Blondie and Dagwood will be having Hallowe'en adventures all week. Mark's encounter with Satan, however, has to be dealt with now.

The last time we checked up on Our Hero, he was rescuing a damsel from a dragon, as would any verray, parfit gentil knyght (or, in fact, saint). Now that very damsel, who is carrying a bit of a torch for her rescuer, has discovered that Mark is opposed to her dastardly plan to drain the wetlands so that she can build--as she puts it in Saturday's comic--"new homes and shopping centres." Mark has not yet realised that Sue is the person against whom he is fighting the good fight, but the revelation cannot be too far off.

Today, Sue takes Mark for a long walk on the beach so that she can recruit him to her side. In fact, she tempts him; she dangles power in front of his nose, luring him to her with the promise that if he works for her, he will be able to have his cake and eat it too.

Good Lord. Is the fair Sue, our very own damsel in distress, actually the devil? The scene is ominously reminiscent of the bit in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13) in which the Tempter encounters Christ in the wilderness and promises him all sorts of booty if Jesus will only worship him. "Susan," after all, differs from "Satan" by only two letters. Sue appeared to need rescuing from the alligator/dragon/devil, but in fact, she must have set up the encounter in order to gain Mark/Christ's trust. Now she probably thinks she has him believing she's the allegorical representation of Truth or some such thing, whereas she's actually the Father of Lies. Be wary, Mark! Do not fall for the blandishments of this seeming maiden! Keep protecting the wetlands and preaching the gospel of Environmentalism! If she tries to convince you that you would look good in a beard, stand firm!***

Will Mark fall, or will he resist temptation and go on to become a true Type of Christ? Read Mark Trail tomorrow, plus probably every day for the next three years, in order to find out.

*All these links should remain functional forever. Unlike Nancy, these four comics are hosted by the Houston Chronicle, which has a wonderful comics page offering archives that go back to something like 1998 (for some strips, at least).
**It would take an awfully long time to explain why many people call For Better or For Worse Foob. Just take it from me that it richly deserves it.
***Most of the villains of Mark Trail have facial hair. Sue doesn't. I am still deeply suspicious of her. I think she may be sprouting a little blonde moustache.


CrackerLilo said...

I never read the early FOOB comic strips when they came out. (They hadn't hit Central Florida yet, I don't think, and I was a kid anyway.) I don't think I missed very much. I can imagine a real mother--at least one who had no major issues, as Elly is supposed to be--saying in a conversational tone, "Don't come back with one of those puppies." The screamy face is awful, though. Maybe this reveals something about Lynn Johnston.

Mark Trail was a great choice, though. You did what I thought was impossible. You actually made it interesting! I fancy myself an environmentalist, and I think Mark Trail sets back the cause.

I have this blog bookmarked, and I check it almost every day. Thank you!

Michael said...

Much of Elly/Lynn's whining and shrieking in FOOB is due to her divorce. Apparently it was quite messy and her ex-husband, who had been running the business end of her cartoon empire, had been ripping her off.

I've seen one of the FOOB reruns. I was quite repelled and have no intention of seeing any more.

BTW, like crackerlilo, I have this blog bookmarked. I also thank you for it.

Angry Kem said...

Thanks and you're welcome, guys.

More Foob news: it seems that today's strip is actually a genuine rerun and not one of the terrible fake retro-strips that have been running alongside the old strips. I do own a couple of the old Foob collections (I was at a book sale...they cost a buck each...I just wanted to buy sue me), but I'm missing the one in which this particular strip appears, and I wasn't sure whether it was old or new. It turns out the screamy-faced Elly is actually not a product of Lynn Johnston's divorce but an original screamy-faced Elly, drawn back when Ms. Johnston was a humble housewife with a really, really popular comic strip.

However, there have been a lot of "Gosh, isn't John an insensitive, sexist pig from hell?" strips lately. Some of them have been old; some of them have been new. All of them together have most of us cringing. The shift to Farley is actually a bit of a relief.

I need to stop thinking about this damn comic strip. Oh well.

Simon said...

Actually, seen in the light you show, this Mark Trail plotline is rather reminiscent of Spenser's Faerie Queene, don't you think?

Angry Kem said...

Simon: Which bit? Are you seeing Sue as Duessa? Or Lucifera? Or are you thinking of a later book? Mark does have a Redcrosse-y kind of feel to him.

Simon said...

I was thinking of Duessa, yeah; I've only read the first book of The Faerie Queene, admittedly. But you have to admit, the similarity is certainly there.

Angry Kem said...

Simon: That's true. Unlike Duessa, however, Sue hasn't mastered the art of subtlety. Today, she actually says, "How about dinner tomorrow, Mark? You can tell me about Lost Forest and your wife Cherry!" The guy has made it clear he's not in the least bit interested, and she tries this transparent little manoeuvre. She is a disgrace to wily temptresses everywhere.