A Mark Trail Teaching Moment: How to handle an important phone call.

If Mark was so damned eager to take that phone call, why is he wasting time with this nonsense?

As I wrote before (or should have), a little irreverence, humor, and satire go a long way. I don’t think we need to return to the “always business formality” of the old Mark Trail. So, Ms Rivera, do inject humor and satirical insights when they make sense in the story line. But the last thing I want to see here is Mark Trail turned into a silly or gag-a-day comic strip. It has been—and should remain—an adventure strip focused on nature and conservation issues. That is what makes it unique and enjoyable to many people. Nothing against gag strips, but they already make up the majority of the comics pages.

Unfortunately, in response to Bill Ellis’s trying to get down to business, Mark takes a non-sequitur approach and starts riffing on his “replacement” conservation award. HahHahHah. Guess Mark thinks he’s ready for standup. Is this how Rivera is going to pad out these times in between adventures? I hoped we’d have more family situations, working out the trivial events of daily life, rather than the “contrived” setups of today and yesterday. I’d much prefer to see a real conversation between Rusty and Cherry on the way to the scout meeting. Or maybe seeing Doc’s reaction to Mark waving off his breakfast invitation so he can get back to Bill. For example, Doc could have coughed out a haughty “Harumph!“, pretending to be offended as he scrambled eggs. The humor in that scenario is low key, but natural and believable, because it fits into a believable situation.

As for the art today…well, Bill’s image in panel 3 is markedly jagged and unevenly constructed, as if the head was glued down in the wrong position. Frankly, he reminds me of old-fashioned wooden marionettes, like you can see on the English “Thunderbirds” TV series. As for Mark, I think we have to accept the fact that Mark’s unkempt hair is always going to be that way; a thumb in the eye to the prior Mark and what I describe as a pomaded side-slicked haircut and spit curl.  And I’m okay with that! As for the drawing of the award, it looks like it was designed to be in Pearls Before Swine. I reckon that it is supposed to be some kind of glass ball on a brass stand, but looks more like a balloon glued to the top of an old-fashioned inkwell.