(revised) On Sunday, I remarked on the unusual (to me, at least) choice of the Shiba inu (Japanese for “Brushwood dog”, I believe) for a size comparison with the coyote, while more people would have likely better understood a comparison with a more common dog, such as a retriever or poodle. But reader jalindrine (welcome!) made an interesting observation and noted that there was more involved than Rivera just making an esoteric comparison. Turns out the Shiba inu became a popular Internet meme almost ten years ago, when pictures of the dog appeared with mangled (mongrelized?) English phrases (e.g. “So scare”, “Much noble”, etc.). Jalindrine challenged me that I should be aware of this connection in order to understand the art. I may not be up to it, but…
I don’t see any broken English in the Sunday strip, so it is not an out-and-out meme, itself; but it is likely Rivera is at least trotting out the concept, in what I am calling a meme echo; that is, a reference to the actual meme. We already know that Rivera is a popular Internet artist and social media regular. From a more commercial point of view, this meme echo could be a way for Rivera to attract younger viewers to the comic strip. Otherwise, I cannot detect additional meme significance to that dog’s appearance. Please feel free to append or correct me!
Moving on to Monday and Mark’s storyline, Rivera has thoughtfully caught up the readers, as the plot now ventures into fantasy land (or Fantasy River), where it’s perfectly fine for somebody using only a snorkel to go swimming around the hull of a cargo ship under weigh. So how is a snorkel useful under water (aside from the face mask)?
I’m not going to rehash (you’re welcome) the recklessness of this decision, nor the suggestion that the zebra mussels are best found in ballast; nor the reason why they think that a specific shipping company is a more likely suspect than any other shipping company. I suppose the story will sink or swim, depending on how much we’re willing to ignore real world physics. That shouldn’t be too hard. We watch “Mission Impossible” without having conniptions, right?
One thing I am curious about is the slender gray object in the background of panel 3, between the ship’s hull and the comment box (“No big deal, right”). It appears to me that it’s an approaching ship. So, the danger will soon increase, as Mark must not only avoid getting turned into sausage from the propellers of this ship, but avoid getting sucked under the approaching vessel. Especially if he does not notice it in time! And I don’t believe ship hulls have handgrips under the water line, either.