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Friday February 12th, 2016 3:49PM

Mark Trail, alive and well and now 60

By By Jerry Gunn
GAINESVILLE - The comic strip outdoorsman Mark Trail is alive and well after 60 years and his birthday was celebrated by artists and children Sunday at the Northeast Georgia History Center.

Young artists were invited to draw comic strips of their own.

Seven-year-old Erin Benjamin Smith said he's already had some experience as he drew an episode from the 'Little Mermaid'.

"I drew when I was little," he said.

Mom Caren McCreary-Smith said Benjamin has enjoyed art since he was an infant and looks forward to art camp at the History Center this summer.

Artist James Allen hoped they drew inspiration from Ed Dodd, who created the Lost Forest and Mark Trail from the Northeast Georgia woodlands around Gainesville.

"If they're inspired to go home and create, sadly these days it's all about instant gratification, you plug in a video game and suddenly you're doing something," Allen said.

Allen said he works with Jack Elrod, who began drawing the comic strip in 1978 when Dodd retired and hopes to become the next Mark Trail strip artist.

Allen, from Gainesville, was on hand to conduct Sunday's 60th anniversary program and give the children some pointers on comic strip drawing.

Rosemary Dodd said her late husband's conservation minded character is alive and well and still has an important message.

"Ed always said Mark Trail was one of those characters that would live on regardless of what happened to the rest of us," she said. "He is still there and going strong."

"He (Mark Trail) was talking about conservation before it was a catch word and now with global warming and other things, we stand a real opportunity for Mark to be more of a spokesman than maybe he has been for the past ten or fifteen years."
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