Does everyone sleep in their clothes?

Just noticed something…

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Everyone still has their day-clothes on…  Not like you’d want to spend precious ounces packing your jammies, but that’s never stopped this group before… witness prior story lines where canvas wall tents and cots magically appeared out of nowhere…

Has James Allen returned?  IDK, things are only looking slightly better…  sort of like easing us back into the “normal.”  But then what’s normal these days?  Not much…

Emotional Distancing

Well, well.  I have to admit that this whole thing becomes a bit of a chore.  It’s not like I don’t have time, being sequestered and all… No not quarantined as that would imply that I was one of the unfortunate to have fallen to SARS COV-2 and wracked with the resulting COVID-19 disease.  My secret wish, probably shared, is that I might be one of the fortunate to actually have been exposed and experiencing no symptoms- but then I am still a carrier and have to stay with the protocol…  In this current strip, clearly there is no social or physical distance being maintained- perhaps only emotionally stunted behavior by Eric…

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Let’s suppose for a minute that Eric is also adopted.  One might then have a certain amount of sympathy for his insecurity and resulting awful behavior…  As Kevin (convincingly) professes his innocence…

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But before we judge Eric too harshly, we have no idea where he came from or where he is right now.  Let’s assume that his parents, who are big hearted enough to have joined this cause, would not have raised a monster.  Let’s rather assume that Eric is still a work in progress, looking to overcome years of poor or (worse) absent parenting…


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So as Kevin takes leave of Eric, and as Eric looks more than pleased with the outcome, Rusty happens to have heard this exchange?  Had to get up to take a leak? Ah Rusty… you have been maligned over the years, a kidnapping victim many times over, the butt end of many a joke, but it would seem that you are in a place to be a featured character in a tale loaded with lessons and morals.  We shall see…

Eric…

As the fire glows and hopes burgeon, Kevin puts on his “Am I not the Cutest Orphan in the Land” look…

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…but given the current artist’s inability to draw characters consistently, I had lost track of “Eric…”

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…he was introduced earlier…

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…although only as Frank’s son… not “our son” for some strange reason…

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Cut to talking tents…  where in the first frame Kevin is getting his last marshmallow in before bed… and then “Later that night?”  How much later?  This makes no sense…

Going In and Out of Focus…

As the artwork continues to disappoint, we see examples of where we might recognize the old Mark Trail, such as panel 3 below:

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Whatever has befallen James  Allen, I sincerely hope he makes it back someday…

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Pulling the Ol’ “Dave Thomas” (of Wendy’s fame) card, eh?  He was a famous orphan who grew up to support orphan related causes…

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Pick o’ the litter, huh?  My money’s on the sad lad who is getting picked on…

Bobber and a spoon?

As we rejoin the kids, AiT is still hard at it making “Homeless Kid” feel bad…  (Sorry I am too lazy to learn these names…)

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Goody McGoodson to the rescue…

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Braggart!  Liar!  No he doesn’t…  Your “dad” is hardly ever home, Rusty!

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Well, well… the fish are biting!  What do you know…  it’s a lip-set, though…  careful not to pull too hard…

 

 

Out comes the… clip art?

In this strange alternate universe, Mark is starting to come into focus, but the others aren’t…

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Ol’ Geoff doesn’t even look like himself… suddenly his upper torso is way out of proportion with his barely recognizable head…

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…while Mark looks just like his old self, owing to the rich library of headshots from which to pull… too bad there wasn’t a leaping bass to grab from the collection.  The one in the first panel looks like something one would find on a matchbook ad, “If you can draw this, you might have a career in art!”

Strip within a strip?

Brilliant!  By George, that’s a solid hypothesis!  A Hamlet-esque suggestion!

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Our patience has been tasked repeatedly over the Allen era… there are times even he seems at a loss for decent storylines and inflection points…  take the last one- “Oh hell, I’ll just bury the guy in an avalanche.  Fin.”

So here we are, giving a fig about this while we ponder the impact a tiny microorganism is having on our fragile state.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

But there aren’t that many kids…

The only thing I like less than this guy’s organizational skills…

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…is the look on his face in panel three.  Creepy!!

But seriously, there don’t appear to be enough campers to go around… and the way he is dividing them up, he is inviting cliques and tribes to form.  How long has he been doing this?  What’s the return rate from his sponsored expeditions?  Does anyone even care?

And is that Mark in panel two?  Other than his pink shirt and blue jeans, he’s barely discernable…

Hey look everyone, an AiT*

*Asshole in Training…

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Yup, they call him Ol’ Bucketmouth…  Listen up, kids!

Rusty, here’s a chance for you to be heard!  Step up, child.  You of all campers should know how this little waif feels!  And this looks like it might be Eric, son of Frank & Ellie… why is it that the chaperones’ son feels especially empowered to be a jerk?

The art (lately) definitely feels more cartoonish.  That’s the only word I have for it…