Could Cherry really forget something she has been reminding Rusty of all week? Are Mark’s tough-guy charms really that disarming? Well, if there is a Scout meeting to go to this early, why isn’t Rusty suited up in his Scout uniform? Oh, I see…the days of formal Scout uniforms are long gone. No more official matching shirt and pants; no more military-style cap; no more kerchief; no more unit patches and sash. Instead, we see a non-identifiable green shirt, jeans, and a…rucksack? I don’t recall bringing packs to my scout meetings. In any event, Rusty now has the parent-child advantage and it remains to see how this steely-eyed kid is going to exact his pound of flesh. Clearly, Rusty is definitely a child of the current age, not like his namesake in the former version of Mark Trail, where it was always 1958 for him.
Unfortunately, some lame sitcom humor unfolds in the punch-line panel. I was okay with how today’s strip was unfolding until that point. Puns can be fine if they are based on an actual situation or remark just made; but not based on a contrived dux ex machina frog stuck in the middle of the last panel, however well it is drawn. “Jules, it ain’t as if I hadn’t toad you before…!”
Nevertheless, there is positivity here. In a way, we are getting something fresh and interesting that was rarely seen before: That Mark and Cherry have an actual home life together and have to deal with regular family issues, though forgetting your son’s scout meeting is not exactly cutting-edge drama. It’s just normal life, and that’s the point. Sure, in the old days we used to see the Trails around the dinner table between adventures, eating pancakes and talking about fishing trips or more recently, social media. But we’ve gotten more insight into family affairs over these past eight months or so. I know this is supposed to be a nature/adventure comic strip, but it’s nice to round off the edges a bit and add some depth to the characters. As many have noted, the danger lies in going too far with this rounding.
Finally, I think the artwork today is pretty good, overall; especially Rusty in the second panel. His image is nice and sharp, focused, and effectively highlights his mood by his expression and the isolated figure. The foreshortened view of Cherry seen from below in panel 3 is also drawn quite well. However, Rusty’s flat profile clashes with Cherry’s image and nearly ruinsthe panel. Wonder where Rusty’s big chin suddenly came from? I’m also not going to go into detail about Mark’s absurd face in panel 4, except to say that a person trying to crack wise should not be laughing outrageously. It’s unbecoming.