Mark Trail, a comic about a photojournalist who is always running into people trying to destroy the environment and generally deals with them by punching them really hard, has been around since 1936. Apparently, the earlier incarnation of the strip was kind of neat, characterised by good writing, innovative art, and well-developed characters.
This is not the earlier incarnation of the strip.
Mark Trail is now known (and often celebrated) for its stilted and anachronistic art, warped perspectives, misdirected speech bubbles (I really wish I'd noticed yesterday's comic in time; it had an alligator screaming, "HELP!"), colourless characters, and utterly ridiculous writing. The villains can be identified via their often copious facial hair. The heroes have square jaws and rugged good looks. The women are all helpless damsels in distress. And the comic drags on...and on...and on...
The current plot involves evil people attempting to drain the wetlands (portrayed by the colouring monkeys in bright, lush greens, even though they are apparently already so dry that animals are dropping dead right and left). Today, one of these evil people, Sue Butler, is being menaced by a huge alligator that has popped up out of nowhere for no particular reason. Can help be far away? Will our dangerous damsel, who seems to believe that a tight pink skirt and matching pumps are appropriate swamp-wear, be saved?
This is Mark Trail, so yes: no alligator-chow for you, Bessie. Boring. Boring. Boring. However, if we remove Mark Trail to the Middle Ages, where it so obviously belongs, the scenario becomes a little less stultifying.
This storyline is an example of a medieval romance: not, O Non-Medievalists, an idiotic bit of pulp involving smooching and bursting bodices, but a juicy knight's tale characterised by quests, bloody battles, mangled limbs, monsters, and the occasional largely irrelevant damsel in distress. Here we have a classic knight/dragon combination, with Mark in a very special position as a Wild-Man Knight. Note that he uses a huge tree branch rather than a sword. He is still in the early stages of his career: an untutored man of the wilderness who wields an unchivalric weapon but will, like Perceval, gradually become wise in the ways of the heavily armed brute whose idea of "courtesy" consists largely of his ownership of a horse and his agreement to make use of only civilised weapons while he is hacking his fellow knights into bloody lumps. When Sue thanks Heaven for Mark's intervention, she is acknowledging the link between the knight and God and thus the essentially Christian properties of weapon-waving medieval lunacy.
It could even be that this romance will eventually segue into a saint's legend. Mark's confrontation with the alligator/dragon will come to symbolise Christ's confrontation with the devil. Mark will end up martyred for his beloved wetlands but will, in his last moments, initiate a miracle whereby all the evil bearded developers in the world* are devoured by ferocious alligators, deer, squirrels, and raccoons, all of which will, in the process, be pictured by the Mark Trail artist as speaking mysteriously incongruous words.
Yes. Okay. I could live with that.
*Plus Sue, who seems to have no facial hair...no facial hair at all.