Okay, everybody! Just settle down and let’s try to make some sense of this. Wait…none of this makes sense. First, I appreciate the topical pun in the initial message box. And an emerging Mark shouts “STOP!”, but it isn’t clear if he refers to the argument or the boats drifting around him. Marks looks to be swimming towards the other boat, which is named “Debait.” Of course, it’s a boating pun, not a pun for a collegiate discussion forum, one presumes.
Diana, far from being the in-your-face menace she has always been, now sounds more like the old Cherry, at least in panel 2. But she does get a little more testy by panel 3. And what’s with the argument over boat ownership? Diana says it’s Mark’s; the guy in the hat says they know it isn’t. But on Tuesday, these guys said it was Mark’s boat! Make up your minds! That man in the purple hat might be a marine police officer or an HVAC installer. I didn’t notice any police stickers or sirens on his boat. If it is really his boat, that is! As the two groups of people square off, they fail to notice that they are drifting into the wake of the passing cargo ship. Then again, the water looks as placid as a fishing lake at 5 AM. But the collision definitely puts a wrinkle into the story and may provide an excuse for moving Diana and Mark onto the cargo ship, if their boat falls apart and sinks. We know Mark’s history with boats, so it’s an odds-on favorite it will happen.
Now, to address some of the art; specifically, the issue of scale. It’s tough trying to make the case for small boats and big ships all in the same location, at the same time, when drawn in a set of small squared panels. You should try it. It isn’t easy. Nevertheless, in panel 1, Mark and Diana’s boat seems to be close in size and height to the pursuit boat. Yet in panel 2, it looks like the pursuit boat suddenly grew ten feet higher, as the man in the purple hat looks down at a smaller Diana. And in panel 3, they are both on the same plane once again. I’m getting dizzy!
Panel 4 is an interesting angle, showing us the passing cargo ship and the two smaller boats. We finally see two people on the upper deck of the vessel, looking down at the smaller boats. The observers seem pretty small compared with the people in the two boats. Since we are looking down, they should be larger to our eyes. Don’t you agree? In fact, the cargo ship (on its own) looks like it should be about twice the size it is drawn in. But I’m sure there are small cargo ships like this. Still, the variations in scale are jarring. It shows how difficult it is to consolidate objects of diverse size in one scene and make them look realistic. I don’t know if Jules Rivera uses an assistant or not. Many cartoonists do, as I’ve come to find out. Perhaps her assistant got to take up the pencil today, as compared to the strips from the prior three days.
Finally, Mark’s attempt to bluff their way out of this situation in panel 3 came to a crashing halt in panel 4. So we move into darker waters of suspense, ladies and gentlemen. What will happen? Who are the men in hats Are they professionally related to the ship or ship’s owners? Will Mark try to continue his bluff?