James Allen

James Allen


Growing up in Gainesville, Ga., James Allen was a fan of Saturday morning cartoons and comics. An introvert, James started drawing in an attempt to recreate the imagery that he had seen in his favorite cartoons and comic books.

He became aware, at an early age, of this big important comic strip known as “Mark Trail.” Although not fully aware of what the strip was about, he did know, however, that it was created by a couple of guys who lived in Gainesville.

Having a myriad of jobs through the years, any time an employer learned James could draw, they would inevitably say, “That’s what you need to be doing!” But, he really had no idea where to go to employ his artistic ability. At one point, James decided to contact Ed Dodd, the creator of “Mark Trail.” He then learned that Ed had retired. Soon after, sometime in the mid-1980s, James got up the nerve to call Jack Elrod, Mr. Dodd’s successor on the strip. Jack was very polite to this aspiring young artist, and told him if he was ever in his neighborhood to drop in. Twenty years later, James did just that.

Officially meeting Jack in 2004, he 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 abilities, and James began doing most of the work on both the daily and Sunday pages of the strip.

When Jack decided to retire, he recommended James for the job to King Features Syndicate. After a brief interview with Brendan Burford, King Features Editor, James got the job.

James is honored to be a part of the strip’s ongoing effort to educate people in conservation through the character of Mark Trail.