Nothing like a whole week of lovey-dovey hiking and flirting, while Cherry and Mark wait for “the phone call” that puts Mark back on the plane for another paying assignment. Well, we also got to see Cherry’s roundabout restored (by Cherry); and Mark’s close encounter with the weird kind (handled by Amy Lee, who told Protein Boy to take a long hike off a short pier). But were there any legal complications for either party? Of course not! So, I’m not sure we have real closure on the California trip as of today. I have a feeling we have not seen the last of Diana Daggers. At least, I hope not.
Still, it might be funny to see some Sunday pages devoted to Mark giving nature talks to prison inmates as part of a community service agreement. It could even feature questions from a few inmates, just to keep Mark on his toes! How about it, Jules!?
So, algae as a pet!? That’s a new one on me, Bubba. In any event, we finally seem to be moving closer to habitat as subject matter in Mark’s Sunday nature chats, rather than just animals. But is the topic about “Marimo” or “Zebra Mussels”? Or maybe, both!? Marimo, by themselves, seem harmless, but the Zebra Mussels indeed are destructive, as any lake enthusiast can tell you.
Using everybody’s favorite source for facts (Wikipedia), I discovered that the word “Marimo” is a portmanteau, not a breed of Spanish sheep. It was coined by a Japanese botanist combining the Japanese words mari (a bouncing ball) and mo (referring to water plants). In a sense, they are like miniature versions of StarTrek Tribbles, but without the purring. Mark should have also mentioned the Marimo/Zebra Mussel webpage of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, which goes into more details about this problem and what to do about it.
As many people have noted (here and other places), the Sunday Mark Trail strip often presents a more traditional and acceptable version of Mark, in terms of appearance, form, and content. The larger format size of the Sunday strip has something to do with that, of course. It is also possible that Rivera draws a batch of Sunday strips at one time, so she can get into that groove. Then again, the Sunday panels are usually simpler to draw, with rather basic compositions; fewer people to draw; and a need to be more didactic than merely entertaining.
This Sunday strip has been criticized over on Comics Kingdom (e.g. Jakob Blau) on the fact that zebra mussels have been a problem here in the US long before 2021 and were almost certainly brought in on foreign cargo ships. I should have made that point as well, since I live in a state where zebra mussels have been a problem here for years (since the late 1980s). My own fault for letting it slip by me!
We could argue that Rivera’s intent was only to show how the Marimo helped bring in Zebra Mussels, as well. However, Rivera did not make that explicit point. When read literally, the strip implies that the Marimo was singly responsible. So I think Rivera gets a thumbs down for today’s nature chat, although the Marimo connection is a recently-discovered problem, as stated.