Jun 12, 2014

Mark Trail: A Substandard Tarzan

This is not a parody beefcake cover; it's the real thing. Mark Trail Magazine, the Magazine of Adventure for Boys, gave Boys' Life some strong competition during the 1960s, with articles about rough-and-tumble activities like camping, horseback riding, shooting, skiing, and fishing.

And, apparently, building rafts in your underwear.

It was based on Jack Elrod's comic strip Mark Trail, started in 1946 and still syndicated in 175 newspapers.

Mark Trail was a sort of North American Tarzan, an adventurer more at home among redwood trees and grizzly bears than in the city.  He lived in Lost Forest National Forest, where he shot pictures for Woods and Wildlife Magazine (a take on Field and Stream).  His assignments got him into jams involving rampaging grizzly bears or (more often) villainous poachers, gun-runners, and...well, um poachers.

His comic strip was very popular during the 1950s and 1960s.  There was a radio series, a tv pilot starring Todd Armstrong (Jason and the Argonauts), and even a series of books, from Mark Trail's Book of Animals to Mark Trail's Cooking Tips.  

But Mark Trail was no Tarzan.
1. Darkest Africa offered much more interesting animals than the United States.  Lions, jaguars, 20-foot pythons, crocodiles vs. grizzly bears and...um...squirrels.

2. Darkest Africa had cannibals, leopard cults, and lost civilizations.  The United States had....um, poachers.

3. Outside of the MGM movies, Tarzan worked alone, or with a teenage sidekick.  Mark Trail had a girlfriend, Cherry Davis, and a series of flirtatious female photographers, damsels in distress, and villainesses to contend with.

4. Tarzan was loincloth clad and muscular.  For that matter, real naturalists tend to be quite muscular, like Stan Brock of Wild Kingdom.

But Mark Trail almost never took his shirt off, and when he did, he displayed a scrawny, unimpressive physique.

Artists have the choice of drawing muscular physiques or not.  Why wouldn't they?

See also: Top 10 Nature Show Hunks.

Jun 10, 2014

MyMusic: A Webseries with Nudity and Deliberate Gay Subtexts

Back when I was a kid, and great herds of dinosaurs thundered across the prairie, every night you turned a knob on a small box in the living room called a "TV."  After it warmed up, you could watch a weekly episode of a "program," a dramatized story with ongoing premises and characters.

All programs began in September and ended in May.

There were programs playing on three different channels, so you had to choose one.  

After the episode ended, it was gone forever, so you could never see it again.  If you happened to be away from the TV while the episode was playing, you missed it forever.

Today there are over 100 channels.
Programs begin and end randomly through the year.
You can tape the episodes you miss to watch later.
Or you can go online and watch them whenever you want, on your tv, computer, ipad, or smart phone.
Plus there are web tv series that have never been anywhere near a tv set.

Deciding what to watch, when to watch it, and what platform to watch it on is all rather exhausting.

So my head is still reeling from MyMusic, a youtube series which starts out as a mockumentary, pretending to follow the daily activities of an indy music studio.  The employees are named after their jobs or the style of music they represent:

1. Indie, the CEO (Adam Busch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
2. Metal, the Production Manager (Jarrett Sleeper)
3. Idol, the Social Media Expert (Grace Helbig)
4. Scene, the Scene Girl (Lainey Lipson)
5. Flowchart, the Gay Intern (Jack Douglas)
6. HipHop, the HipHop Fan (Mychal Thompson)

In the second season, they added Toby Turner (top photo) as Satan, Paul Butcher of Zoey 101 as Boomer Pookie (left), and several others.

The characters all have a strong social media presence, with accounts on facebook, twitter, linkedin, yelp, tumblr, instagram, and so on.

But that's not all: the 8-minute episodes are compiled into a 24-minute "Sitcom Version" and broadcast (um, I mean uploaded) separately.

And the cast comments on the Sitcom Versions on another webseries, Sitcommentary.

Plus they have a podcast, a tumblr series, and an audience-interactive series called The Mosh.

Fictional characters merge with real people, fictional situations merge into commentaries on real pop culture events, mockumentary becomes reality.

Personally, it gives me a headache.  But I'm willing to put up with it for the constant male nudity and deliberate gay subtexts.

TV series aimed at the younger generation tend to be vigorously homophobic, like Family Guy and everything on Adult Swim.

This one, not so much.

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