Jack Elrod, Mark Trail cartoonist: 1925-2016
February 4th, 2016
By James Allen
Jack was born in a house on Green Street Circle here in Gainesville, Georgia. That street, in all honesty, is just a few blocks away from my home studio. Jack was a boy scout here, and that’s where he met Ed Dodd – Ed was his mentor in the boy scouts. As the 1940’s came around, the world grew uneasy eventually leading to war. Jack heard the call to serve his country and enlisted in the Navy. He saw some tough stuff – triumphing over the hell that is war, he returned home and before too long, bumped into his old boy scout buddy, Ed Dodd.
Ed had begun a syndicated comic strip entitled Mark Trail – Ed offered him a chance to assist on Mark Trail and the rest is history. Upon Ed’s retirement in 1978, Jack created Mark Trail alone for 4 decades – that’s a tremendous body of work for one man!!
I first met him in 2004 – just a hopeful young man, desirous of that impossible “dream job” that Jack had achieved. Jack was kind to me – he took me under his wing and was tremendously patient and tolerant. We met regularly and, over lunch, we would discuss my progress, other artists and strips. I value those times – strange in a way. At that point I viewed him as one might view their rock n’ roll idol – yet, strangely, there were times when Jack would prepare lunch for the two of us. It was humbling – my “teacher” preparing lunch for me.
Several years went by and he slowly began to give me work on Sunday pages, then the dailies. Upon his retirement in 2014, Jack literally handed me the keys to the kingdom and changed my life forever. This kind man helped make a childhood dream come true! I’ll never forget him! Rest in Peace, Jack!