I know “The Great Escape” and this is no Great Escape!

Thanks again to Dennis for stepping back onto the Mark Trail Soapbox to wrap up the presumed ending of Cherry Trail’s latest storyline. I was away for the weekend attending (not participating in) a wedding. It was so hot and humid that the responsible people decided to hold the ceremony inside.  Unfortunately, my wife and I got accidentally stuck sitting at a table in front of the giant air conditioning units. No criticism of the families; it’s just how things worked out. But, it was a pretty nice wedding, all the same. Glad we could make it, too.

Speaking of working things out, what do we have here? Ladies and Gentlemen—and those claiming no allegiance to those categories—are we looking at the further emasculation of Mark Trail?  Once again, we have a typical Mark Trail Segque, jumping from hiding out in an all-night farmers’ market to standing in a lineup, er, cluster of weirdos at the Herp Hacienda (BTW, we never did learn why these people are dressed as if they just got back from some costume party or Cosplay convention). Aparna notes this is a couple days after the theft, meaning we have no idea what took place in the interim, or why they are only having their celebration now. Furthermore, where are the ersatz villains? They know where the Herp Hacienda is, after all.

Aparna continues her tunneled focus on how popular her uploaded app is. Mark looks sheepish over his narrow escape from the possibilities of: a) having to fight Diana Daggers; b) getting arrested for theft and fraud; and c) having to face Cricket Bro and admit that he has no #(@)! idea why he took part in this ridiculous invasion, much less fly to California to appear in some still unknown and possibly bogus video shoot. And to really build up his fan base, Mark confesses that the online forums of “Woods and Wildlife” magazine make him have to sit down and fan himself to avoid getting the vapors. “Steady on, Mark! You were the perfect patsy. Now you have even more people who hate you!” And what is he going to tell Rusty when he returns with no autograph of Professor Bee? Should make for an interesting homecoming.

Hey, at least Jules Rivera is catching on to the standard trick for ending Mark Trail stories:  Ignore details and just cut to the reunion (or home) shot. After this, we’ll likely see Mark back home, with a soon-to-be-disappointed Rusty.

On another topic, I, too, have noticed a simplification in the daily strips over time. The extreme flatness and lack of volume in figures and surroundings stands out to me. So do the somewhat clumsy compositions in a few panels, above, especially compared with many of Rivera’s earlier panels. Not that all is lost: The second panel is actually nicely composed. Still, the overall figures look cramped; and that right arm of Mark in panel 1 is painful to look at! I know some critics on other sites have mused whether Rivera is using a ghost-artist now and then to help explain these artistic variations. It seems early in the game for Rivera to do that, and I don’t believe she has any history of using such people.

Still, this can’t be the end of the story, can it!? It’s just Monday! Perhaps this just a red herring Jules is throwing at us. We have five more days of the week to fill. Maybe Rivera will just teleport Mark back to Lost Forest for the rest of the week, where everybody can trade anecdotes of their adventures. Except for Rusty, who still doesn’t have much of a comic strip life. He needs his own version of the Mexican vacation!