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Will Mark Trail's new cartoonist take 'Mark Trail' in new directions?

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Viva la revolution! After decades of abuse at the hands of writer Jack Elrod, Mark Trail finally has a new master. Will he give this namby-pamby woodsman a much-needed shot of testosterone?

On Friday, the funnies page offered readers their first dose of "Mark Trail" under the aegis of James Allen. Trail now has a softer face, and, much to our surprise, a sudden yen to spend more time with his wife, Cherry (under Elrod's supervision, the mere thought of intimacy with his wife made Trail break out in hives - or a really stupid idea for a story he might pursue for the hunting magazine that employs him).

As detailed by The Gainesville Times, Elrod is now 90. But let's be honest folks, "Mark Trail" has grown old with him. The smartphones look like giant slabs of plastic. Women are seen as strange creatures to be feared. And far too many panels of the strip feature massive ducks and deer that often block out the action going on in the panel.

Can Allen, who has long toiled as Elrod's assistant, lend the strip new life?

We'd like to see Trail use a gun and a knife more often. We think Rusty should look less like a wolf-boy hyrbrid and serve as more of a sidekick. Doc Davis, Cherry's father, is old enough to be Methuselah., so maybe kill him off so Mark and Cherry can have more, um, "alone time" together. And for Pete's sake, give the guy a new job. No hunting magazine on the planet could make it in today's market....Give Trail a website to work for and a following on Twitter.

Maybe James Allen can make Mark Trail into a real man. We'll be scanning panels in the days ahead to see if "Mark Trail" is full of new ideas, or just old panels recycled for new story lines.