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Created by artist and naturalist Ed Dodd, Mark Trail was an environmentalist before it was fashionable to be one. His mission has always been that of preserving the American wilderness, water and wildlife for future generations. The strip was drawn by Jack Elrod from 1978 until his retirement in March 2014. He is succeeded by his assistant, James Allen. Mark Trail appears in 175 newspapers, reaching nearly 23 million readers worldwide.

Elrod was honored in 1988 by President Reagan for his efforts to develop more pride in America. In addition to Sunday pages in which Mark Trail urges everyone to reduce carelessness and abusive activity such as littering, vandalism and theft, and wildlife poaching, Elrod has also produced a variety of materials for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help teach schoolchildren respect for the environment. Mark Trail is now the official spokescharacter for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, making him the voice of the National Weather Service and NOAA Weather Radio.

In the years since his 1946 debut, Mark Trail has spent his time outdoors fishing, exploring the woods and being romanced by beautiful women. Not bad for a self-styled everyman and roving editor for Woods and Wildlife magazine.

James Allen

James Allen

James Allen was born in 1967 in Nue Holm, Germany. His father was in the military and stationed in Germany, where he met and married James’s mother. His father passed away when James was 5 years old and, honoring her husband’s wishes to be buried near his home in Gainesville, Ga., his mother moved them back to the United States.

Being a typical young boy, James was drawn to Saturday morning cartoons and comic books at an early age. As a little kid, he was a bit of an introvert and usually kept to himself. To pass the time he started drawing in an attempt to recreate the imagery he had seen in cartoons and comic books.

Living in Georgia, James became aware of the comic strip Mark Trail. Although not really aware of what the strip was about, he did know that it was being created by a couple of fellow Georgians.

At one point James decided to contact Ed Dodd, the strip’s creator. He  learned Ed had retired. Sometime in the mid-1980s, James got up the nerve to call Jack Elrod, Dodd’s assistant who had taken over the creative duties on both the daily and Sunday Mark Trail in 1978. Jack was very polite to the aspiring young artist, and told him if he was ever in his neighborhood to drop in. Twenty years later, James did just that.

After officially meeting Jack in 2004, James began a long tutoring process and, finally, Jack let James assist him on a daily strip in 2007.

It would be a couple of more years however before James began getting regular work through the Sunday pages. In early 2013, Jack felt comfortable enough with his pupil’s abilities to allow James to begin doing most of the work on both the daily and Sunday pages of the strip. Upon Jack's retirement in March, 2014, he recommended James for the job to King Features Syndicate.

Through James’ efforts, Mark Trail’s dedication to conservation issues lives on.

 

 

Mark Trail
Mark Trail

Forever 32, this handsome outdoorsman and photojournalist for Woods and Wildlife magazine spends his days hunting, fishing and pursuing simple pleasures. But all too often his woodland paradise is threatened, and that's when Mark Trail springs into action! When not plying his trade, Mark is preserving the nation's dwindling wetlands, fighting the crass commercialism that is creeping into even the most remote forests, protecting wildlife from poachers, and keeping America's greatest natural treasures free from the thugs, gangsters and goons who sometimes invade it. When Mark's not on the trail, he returns to his charming country house on the Lost Forest Game Preserve, where he relaxes with his wife, Cherry, and his beloved dog, Andy. Mark's single most important goal: to preserve the integrity of the American wilderness for future generations.

Cherry Davis Trail
Cherry Davis Trail

When Cherry and Mark finally married after years of courtship, she thought her troubles had come to an end. However, this lovely brunette is often right in the middle of some natural catastrophe or inadvertently up to her pretty neck in some criminal caper. Willful and headstrong, Cherry literally grew up in the Lost Forest National Park. Her love of the woods, waters and wildlife it contains is fully as strong as Mark Trail's.

Doc Davis
Doc Davis

Cherry's father and, like Mark Trail, a longtime resident of Lost Forest. Doc is an active outdoorsman himself, and for years Mark has been like a son to him.

Johnny
Johnny

Johnny Malotte, who lives in the north country, is Mark's friend, a fellow outdoorsman and adventurer.

Rusty
Rusty

Mark happily took young Rusty under his wing, never imagining that the boy would often be the source of so much trouble! A good kid with a heart of gold, Rusty has a special knack for getting into jams. When Mark and Cherry married, they formally adopted Rusty.

Andy
Andy

Andy is Mark's dog and favorite hunting companion and now he's Rusty's best friend, too. In true St. Bernard tradition, Andy has rescued Mark from danger on many occasions!

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