Hi, my name is George Atkins. Because of his time commitments, Dennis asked if I would pinch hit for him now and then and provide commentaries. So you might notice a slightly different style. But first, an apology: I should have published these initial commentaries earlier, but I misunderstood some instructions, much to my dismay. Second, please feel free to continue or start offering your own comments about the strip or even my contributions.
So, moving on…
The Sunday nature panels continue to align most closely with the traditional Mark Trail canon, a welcome continuity for long-time followers. The topic du jour is the beaver. According to its Wikipedia entry, the ultimate origin of the name “beaver” derives from an Indo-European word root meaning “brown.” So, aptly named! Beavers were almost hunted to extinction, mostly for their fur. Obviously, Rivera can only hit the high points in a comic strip. We must skip over a few details, such as the beaver’s capacity to take down a lot of trees when building habitats. However, forestry experts say the beaver’s positives outweigh the negatives. Good news! I think Rivera plays things pretty straight on Sunday and injects some pleasing, casual humor. I suggest the comic syndicate (North America Syndicate) start pushing the Sunday panels in the newspapers that dropped them because they were often boring. Not any longer!
As is typical in the Trailverse, when Mark has to travel, we immediately move from Lost Forest to a scene of a plane landing at some airport. Curiously, it looks like the plane is actually taking off. I think we must also forgive Rivera for concatenating the time element by having the pilot alert the passengers they are making their final descent when they are already just a few hundred feet above the airport! There is only so much space to get the story moving. Note also the totemic owl in the first panel. Here is our first candidate for next Sunday. I’m no ornithologist, but it looks like a Burrowing Owl. More educated readers may wish to correct me here.
Is Mark actually taken with those exotic scents for sale? Is he just being sarcastic? For old Mark Trail: No way. For new Mark Trail: Very likely. Maybe that’s why he apparently walked right by Reptiliannaire, who we see in the background holding a “Mark Trail” attention sign. Maybe Lizard-man was late getting there. Still, he had no trouble recognizing the large, flannel-shirted dude from the back!
Is this really “star treatment” as Rivera keeps bringing up? Where are the reporters and photographers? TMZ? Mark’s fans? Sure, the star rapper himself came to pick up Mark. And that is certainly some kind of recognition. But shouldn’t Reptiliannaire be accompanied by a coterie of vloggers and other media hacks? Perhaps Rivera is making a critique on the hollowness of “the star life.” Okay, I’m no deconstructionist.
Perhaps the last panel holds a clue: The eco-rapper asks Mark to provide comfort and aid to his pet iguana. Now Mark! Why are you perturbed by lizard-sitting duty? Or is it having to sit in the back? The back is where the star sits, Mark! Being chauffeured is part of the star treatment, so get with the program and put on your shades! Maybe you and Sherman will have a nice chat about the LA Scene.