I stayed up late waiting for this…!?

Uh-oh. The revived drawing style didn’t last long. We’re moving back to stick figures again, along with lame humor. I suppose with that setup line in panel 3, Mark’s phone will ring in tomorrow’s strip.

I also thought it was amazing that Mark could open the front door simply by pushing on it. Either he is really strong or that’s one crappy door frame! Then I looked more closely and noticed the door has no lockset.

Ralph the rat snake drops in

Mark is nice and chipper on his walk. And why not? He’s done with his assignment and it’s a nice day. But does Mark have “people”? Doesn’t he mean “family”? He didn’t get elected the mayor of Lost Forest, did he?

Anyway, today’s strip is a very nicely drawn sequence, similar to Rivera’s earliest submissions. There are none of the usual attenuated, “Etch-a-Sketch” figures that we too often see. Rivera is also once again providing interesting backgrounds. I think if Rivera would maintain this style, much of the disparagement against the strip would fade away.

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

America lost its bid to win the World Cup and Tess Tigress lost her bid to keep her questionable Tiger Touch Center. It fell apart, not so much from Mark’s investigations as from Rex Scorpius’ dismay and disgust and Gemma the Rampaging Elephant’s inopportune appearance, resulting in the destruction of the Center and Tess’s abandonment and flight to a foreign country.  

Mark spent this week filling Bill Ellis in on the aftermath of his assignment, though I assume Mark sent his article in to Amy Lee for publication (this is much more information that we normally never got from earlier Mark Trail stories). The tigers were all liberated by Mark, Rex, and Diana and seeded out to various legitimate zoos. “Broken-heartedRex resumed his Internet show and apparently now has the hots for a zookeeper in California (of all places). The abandoned employees were left to fend for themselves and likely wandered off into the desert. Mark is not a social worker. Gemma plodded off into history. But the whereabouts and whatabouts of Diana Daggers have been left to the imagination. So, you are now up to speed and can relax a bit with today’s nature talk!

The customized title panel makes a clever link to the just-completed Tiger Touch Center story. Otherwise, this comes across as something like a student’s PowerPoint presentation, “Our friend, the elephant”. On the other hand, the drawing is fairly good here. We could have dispensed with the faux Wild West reference panel and used it more wisely to impart more useful information.

For example, it seems that elephants like music, especially classical music. For some time now, Paul Barton has been playing classical piano alongside rescued elephants living at “Elephants World” in Thailand, for therapeutic support. Barton’s YouTube video of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played for Mongkal the elephant is enlightening and heartwarming.

Mark Trail: Vampire?

Rivera finishes out the week and, hopefully, finishes out this post-game coverage of the Tiger Touch Center/Save Rex Scorpius Adventure with a typical Trailism, “There’s no place like home…with my dog, Andy.” Rivera illustrates this homey scene using a below-horizon view in panel 3. By itself, a good idea, but some details merit attention.

Looking at Andy’s face, I get the impression he is a bit nervous and anxious to be somewhere else. He doesn’t look comfortable. Maybe Andy has reason for anxiety:  One look at Mark’s denticulate face gazing upon the back of Andy’s head gives the impression that crime is not the only thing Mark might want to take a bite out of!

Still no word on Diana Daggers

Still chatting with the self-proclaimed “world’s best editor”, Mark provides additional follow-up information. Also, this is a clear one-up on former Mark Trail artists/writers who were content to close out just-completed adventures within a few panels of Mark arriving home.

Would any of Mark’s updates have been put into his article, or did Mark discover this information only after his deadline? Deep thinking required!

Theoretically, this tiger adventure should come to a welcome close on Saturday. What do you suppose the finale will be?

Epilog Week continues!

Three tigers? There were only two in the cage of the secret trailer. There are only two in panel 3. So where is that third cub? Anyway, we see that ol’ Rex is sure quick on the rebound.

Regarding Rivera’s new technique of “recap balloons”, as I’m temporarily calling them, I notice that she uses the standard quotation format of only adding closed quotation marks to the last consecutive “paragraph” (panels 3 and 4), as seen in the panel 4 recap balloon. Noteworthy from a grammatical point of view, perhaps, but it looks awkward in a comic strip. Few readers would even get it or appreciate it. Putting close quotes in every recap balloon would look more consistent.

Still wondering about Diana Daggers!

Shouldn’t all this have been in Mark’s article?

Okay, so this must be “Epilog Week”, as Mark and Bill Ellis flesh out the aftermath of this tawdry episode. Bill seems fixated on the elephant, in spite of the fact that Mark was actually there to investigate Tess’s tiger zoo operation. And where is Amy Lee, Mark’s assignment editor for this adventure? As for the losers who Tess recruited, I predict many will just find another charismatic charlatan to follow.

One possibly new development in comic strip anatomy (as far as I know) is the text balloon acting like a text box (panels 3 and 4), but with quotation marks. This is another method of distinguishing the present time while referring to the past, like the outlined Mark in panel 2. However, as a meme, its function is not so obvious. Perhaps italicizing the font (or changing the font) would help distinguish it from normal text balloons.

Still waiting to hear about Diana Daggers and/or Rex Scorpius!

Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s

It might be interesting to see Mark focus his Sunday spotlight on Ralph the rat snake. At least then, Mark might pay more attention to him. Those two haven’t had a good chat for a very long time! (At least, since August 20, 2021) Earlier on in the strip, Mark periodically communicated with Ralph and a few other animals. I rather liked the Dr. Doolittle shtick, as it gave Mark an eccentric quirk where you weren’t sure if this was real or just a fantasy in his mind.

Once again, Rivera uses a white border, this time around Mark in panel 2, to emphasize that the background image is a visual recollection, not current action. As a reminder, on the right is an example from the Trail Family vacation in Oregon, on June 30, 2022.

All’s well that ends. Well….

Mark debriefs Bill Ellis, very likely entertaining him with exaggerated claims about the significance of his personal involvement and importance in this adventure. Meanwhile, for those who like to contrast Rivera with her predecessors, let’s pay attention to the abrupt jump from Texas to Lost Forest, completely omitting the aftermath of the Tiger Touch Center debacle. That’s spot-on Classic Mark Trail story closure for you!

Did Touch Center employees get their last checks? Did Tess outrun Gemma or wind up as toe jam under her feet? Did Rex go back to his regular job or become an alcoholic, singing to his dog? Did Diana Daggers kick Mark in the gonads for failing to get enough video for the show? And did Gemma find her way back home, without anybody once again able to capture her?

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

This past week saw the termination of several enterprises: The Tiger Touch Center; Tess Tigress’s hopes to keep Rex; Rex’s hopes to escape his meaningless life; Gemma’s revenge on Tess Tigress; Diana Dagger’s growing irrelevancy; and Mark Trail’s lack of purpose.

When looked at objectively, it isn’t as if Mark had much meaningful influence on this adventure. Rex was already scheduled to visit the Touch Center, and did so; he became enchanted by Tess, in spite of Mark’s warnings; Rex only disowned Tess after Gemma came storming into the Touch Center. Sure, Mark provided the necessary backstory for Rex, so we can give him a little credit. Gemma pretty much put “PAID” to Tess and her operation.  As I’ve said before, Mark is not suitable for relationship-type problem adventures. Anyway, it’s possible we will see this adventure closing down this coming week, just like the Touch Center, itself.

In spite of the fact that Rivera did not appear to embed a tribute to Charlie Brown on Saturday (she could have had Rex exclaim “Good Grief!” in Saturday’s panel 1), let’s see what she has to say today.

A nice sentiment, but I wonder if the impact is quite so significant. It seems more like a feel-good suggestion to help us believe we’re making some kind of positive contribution to the future of humanity, since our governments are reluctant to do anything. Could it be because of the stranglehold of corporate interests (i.e. contributions)? Naahhhh!

Well, who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? But making a pie directly from unprocessed pumpkin pulp is a lot more work than opening a few cans of Festal Golden Pie Pumpkin filling. Mark also brings up compositing, but that also produces methane. I’d go with Rusty’s recommendation.