Do I want to rehash this past week? I’ll try to do it quickly: Mark and Friends, having been discovered with their hands in Cricket Bro’s cookie jar (i.e laptop), escaped from the corporate HQ in their hybrid, only to be chased, once again, by Professor Bee Sharp and his hired muscle, Diana Daggers. Daggers has an unexplained, psychotic reaction to Mark, whereas we are left still trying to determine exactly what this whole storyline is about, except for the actual theft of private property by Mark and Company. Racing (if you can call it that) in their Prius along the highway at night, the intrepid band of naïve justice warriors figured out how to get away by simply turning off their car lights and making a left turn…in the dark. Though chasing directly behind the hybrid, Sharp and Daggers somehow lost them. Blogger Joseph Nebus offered a possible scenario on how this could have occurred if the roads were arranged in a certain way; only that Rivera did not have the room or a way to show this, thus making it look downright silly. And Sharp and Daggers looked plain stupid. I’m still open to having this entire story turn out to be a drawn-out bad dream Mark is having. But, moving on….
One thing these Sunday strips do show is how decent an illustrator Rivera can be. She continues to be inventive with her title panels, today’s being composed of bear prints. Sunday panels have a larger format than dailies, so it is easier for Rivera to add detail and colors. As most Sunday strips are printed in color, readers get to see how Rivera uses color, rather than ink, to suggest volume and light. In fact, her Sunday panels are more “painterly” than many other Sunday strips, though there are others, such as Prince Valiant. People who only see the dailies in newspaper black and white may be more disappointed in the art, given that there is visually little evidence of shading, save for black areas.
Otherwise, an interesting subject today: An “extinct” sub-specie of brown bear. Well, good for raising the public awareness, anyway. Attempts to “re-introduce” this bear into California appear to be centered on so-called back-breeding, cloning, and genetic engineering. After all, if the sub-species is extinct, you can’t simply just drop in any brown (grizzy) bear and call it good. Or Californian.
Still, I’m not sure what the link is between the California Grizzly and, presumably, climate change; or what kind of hope and change Mark refers to. But I’m just a dumb guy from Viginia and open to the suggestions!
I have to say, this is one of the better Sunday panels. Actually well written with good information. I am still flummoxed about her weekly strips. A mish mash of no sense artwork and story line. George, I have to have hand it to you, writing 3 to 4 paragraphs on a silly 3 panel strip amazes me. It’s like analyzing fly on the windowsill each day! I’m not sure if 10 or 1,000 people read this blog, but we enjoy your coming up with these commentaries on this inane strip! Keep in mind, I’ve been a Trail Head since I was about 9 years old. I maintain that Jules has come close to ruining the history of Mark Trail. I also hold hope that the powers that be replace her before folks like me leave the strip for good. Folks, if you disagree I understand. Maybe I’m missing the brilliance of her artwork and plots. Just my opinion. After all, it’s a comic strip!
Thanks, Mark. I do appreciate the compliment as well as your commentary. I get that you are a long-time fan of the strip and so, are upset with the dramatic changes. For me, it’s been an on-again, off-again thing, though now on-again for the past 5+years.
I also get your reaction to the dramatic changes in style and content. I am not completely void of that feeling, myself. As a fan of comic strips in general, I’ve had similar reactions when strips were given over to other cartoonists who made significant changes in one or more elements of a favorite strip. I’m possibly not as fully invested a Trailhead as you and Dennis are, having grown up in an area where “Mark Trail” was not published. So I look at this sea change as an interesting experiment in which I get to take a small part.
The sudden and unexpected change in cartoon authorship was surprise enough for fans. But to take KFS’s side, the strip’s heydays were in the past and its readership dwindling. I think they decided to take a chance on a brash, social media-savvy cartoonist that might bring in a younger and longer-term readership and give the strip new life. And they knew that keeping “Mark Trail” looking and sounding the same would not do it, brash cartoonist or not.
Maybe keeping existing Trailheads was not at the top of their concerns, but I think Rivera was willing to keep them, as long as they didn’t mind some ribbing along the way. Unless, of course, her jokes and satire are meant to drive away the hard core fans. From some of her Twitter comments and responses on the KFS web site, I think she is happy to stick pins in the more conservative, “Make it look like Dodd” fans.
Sorry for going on so long; as you see, I can be very loquacious and boring! However, I’m not about sticking pins in readers, so even if you find the new “Mark Trail” appalling, I greatly appreciate you sticking around for my daily commentaries.