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In abrupt reversal, Mark Trail longs for his wife

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Has backwoods eunuch Mark Trail suddenly been taking boosters for his low testosterone?

For years, Trail has ignored the many romantic come-ons of his long suffering spouse, Cherry. When she puts forward the notion of consummating their marriage (have they ever?), he flees for the welcoming embrace of the many forests he can roam without having to - ick! - kiss a girl.

Suddenly, that all seems about to change.

"Mark Trail" (the comic and the character) is under new management. Cartoonist James Allen now rules these woods, and, based on last Thursday's episode of this repressed strip, may have new ideas in mind when it comes to marriage.

Under previous writer Jack Elrod, marriage was something to have but not to hold, as it were. Trail long eschewed any sexy antics, in favor of keeping his mind on lost cats, sick bears and belligerent poachers. Now, under Allen, it's time to get it on! "Cherry...I sure would like to see your smiling face right now!" Trail says, while marooned up a lonely tree when a rogue bear attempts to maul him (in another reversal, animals and Trail no longer get along).

The distaste for in-panel romance is understandable. Most of these characters came of age in a time when one simply didn't show such stuff. Why even Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had separate beds in their bedroom. To hold true to those aged norms, however, likely means narrowing one's appeal to modern readers. And with newspaper circulation on the decline, the days of writing characters who acted as if they hailed from TV's Mayberry is fast coming to an end.

If Mark Trail is willing to get back in the sack, what new attitudes might we see expressed by fellow shy-guy Dr. Rex Morgan MD? Keep it rated PG, fellas.

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