Let’s not take a cynic’s view but simply take some time to enjoy two people in love with each other, enjoying an early walk among the trees, surrounded by a “Hallmark Card” heart-shaped opening, flanked by two Monarch butterflies (they do not have the tell-tale horizontal line crossing the rear wing of Viceroys. We should assume Rivera knows that). Okay, that’s enough time! Is that a double-entendre in the middle panel or just a corny pun? But why does Cherry need convincing to take a morning walk? Is she sacrificing her morning fix at Planet Pancake? Something is bound to happen pretty soon…!
But looky-there! We have yet another case of the ambiguous text balloon, this time in panel 3, where Mark is apparently sighing over himself. Clearly this was supposed to be Cherry’s response. I think I just talked about these misdirected balloons yesterday, didn’t I? Is this really a flub that got by Rivera and the syndicate editors, or is Rivera still indulging in satirizing the older strips of her predecessors? A little bit goes a long way, Jules!
I do hope that Rivera does not continue the old Mark Trail tradition of ending story lines without filling in useful details. For example: Did Cherry (who was fretting over her company’s bankruptcy) pay for the new roundabout installation? And what went into it? Did the Sunny Soleil Society officially get off her back and allow her to replant the native palmettos they hauled away?
But it’s nice to see Rivera’s return to a higher standard in her art. She is quite good. I took a look back and was amazed at how her style has already evolved since she took over last October (I believe it was then). Here is one of her early strips from late October:
It shows a definitely lighter touch in the drawing, shading, and color (assuming Rivera has control over the coloring of the dailies, that is). The overlapping tree lines create a simple but effective sense of space in the small-sized panels Rivera has to work with. The middle panel here is a subtle example of Rivera’s early interest in more unusual points of view and compositions, something that has not always been a strong feature in her more recent work. Again, I’m guessing time constraints and deadlines are forcing shortcuts, which is too bad. But that’s how it’s always been for cartoonists, even back in the early decades. But I’d sure like to see more.