The Weekly Recap and the Sunday Nature Talk

Prof Bee Sharp and Diana Daggers continue their incompetent chase-down in their Mustang, somehow always allowing Mark and “his friends” in their Prius a means for escaping. It might be different if their near-catches were actually deliberate and designed to mislead Mark into making a big enough mistake to ensure they were trapped and properly captured on video for an eventual police arrest.

However, it is hard to believe that Bee and Daggers are really “law and order” types, only doing their civic duty to bring the alleged criminals to justice. Diana’s irrational hatred for Mark and Bee’s juvenile fixation on bettering Mark seem more aligned to personal satisfaction than community safety. And what about the supposed master mind, Cricket Bro? I have already pondered his role in this and whether he is the king or the pawn in this off-the-board chess game. Common consensus seems to be that this story makes little sense, that it does little to highlight Mark’s morality, his job, or his self-appointed purpose.  The story is disjointed and does not seem to follow any logical development. The obvious response to this is “That’s how Life is!” Unlike a TV drama or adventure story, our lives do not run in convenient time intervals that have a visible structure. Most of us are reactive to what goes on around us. Life may be habitual, but we have unexpected delays, diversions, short-cuts, and dead-ends throughout our lives.

But that is not what makes a good adventure story or adventure comic strip. As most of us know, so-called “Reality TV” is anything but real, with its manufactured crises, contrived events, and shockingly over-the-top participants. Yet, these shows are popular, though maybe not as popular as they have been. Still, people watch. Perhaps that is what we have here: Mark naively getting involved in a kind of “reality show” filled with odd characters, outrageous scenarios, and melodramatic acting. Perhaps a take on “The Truman Show”, the movie where Jim Carrey’s character ultimately learns that his life is really just part of some big hoax, a world-wide reality show in which he is an unwitting and unwilling participant.

Or not. It could just be Rivera is trying out a storyline with Mark to see how the character can work in an environment for which he is totally unprepared. And the answer would be “Not very well!” So, on with Sunday!

What a surprise: The Roadrunner. I’m a bit surprised that there are no “coyote” jokes here. But Rivera still manages a bit of humor and inventiveness in the title panel, with “Mark Trail” composed of snakes that the roadrunners are preparing to eat. I also noticed that the “sun” shape with the concentric circles in panel 3 are repeated behind Mark in the penultimate panel. Is this just some compositional inventiveness going on? I don’t think there is any symbolism of Mark being some kind of target.

It’s too bad Rivera could not find room to discuss some of the spiritual significance of roadrunners for indigenous tribes in the Southwest and Mexico, or even to mention how their “X” shaped footprints confuse predators (such as the faster coyote) and also provide a sacred symbol to ward off evil spirits. But, there is only so much space here.

So, while Rivera can be accused of stretching Mark’s daily strips into new geometric shapes, she can and does respect the traditional format and purpose of the Sunday panels.