The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

Somehow, Cherry blew through six days of comic strip panels just getting the members of the Black Rose Garden Club to agree to help her save the bees from the Sunny Soleil Society’s more fatal plans. Somewhere along the line, the members’ preoccupation with pancakes melted away. Well, Cherry never did get around to stating what her plan was (if she had one), as we will almost certainly put Cherry’s story aside for two weeks while we return to Mark’s adventure. Nevertheless, some progress was made. At least they got out of their tool shed meeting room and started walking to the bee statue.

Now, I give Rivera a lot of credit for trying to give other Trail family members more time in front of the comic strip camera. Running two parallel story lines is not a simple thing, especially in a comic strip. And Rivera has sometimes found ways to link their stories together, even if indirectly. Do you like the fact that Rivera runs parallel storylines? Do you think Cherry and Mark should participate together in the same storyline once in awhile? While you ponder your responses, we’ll move on to the Sunday nature talk!

Well, it’s Hallowe’en, so I suppose bats are an obvious subject. But bats don’t go “bump” in the night, do they, Mark? After all, you told us about their echolocation capabilities, too! Anyway, for old Trailheads who might still be around, it would have been cool to see Professor Gabriel Chavira (the bat researcher from a few years ago) make a cameo appearance in the last panel.

Okay, Mark. It’s all very well to tell us to work together to save the bats. Exactly how do we do that, Mark? Blast more caves in hills? Gabriel would have had something practical to suggest, rather than stand around a smoke-free campfire and sing “Kumbaya”. At least there are no Dracula jokes.


They thought it was just a routine recon mission. Then came the bats.

Did Cherry just drop a big hint about the Sunday nature feature? In any event, I believe this group is what qualifies as your typical motley crew; and they seem to have unending endurance to march from their secret headquarters in the middle of nowhere, all the way over (however far that really is) to the SSS gardens to make plans. But is it a good idea to put the gal who can’t see at night at the back of the line?

So, Cherry, you think bats and your group are misunderstood? Perhaps if your group held public meetings or advertised its existence, more people might come to appreciate you and even hire you from time to time. Hard to be loved and appreciated when you work in the dark, Cherry, unless you are in a dark room with somebody, such as Mark, where it would suddenly become a lot easier and fun to be loved and appreciated. But, I digress.

As I feared, we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see what happens next. I do believe Rivera should have moved the story along faster, given the limited space Cherry’s stories get. However, if it wasn’t for me reminding you what took place, where would you be at the end of two weeks, when we return to Cherry’s storyline? I bet you’re not even clipping the strips from the paper, are you? And if you don’t have a subscription to Comics Kingdom, you’d have to have a great memory. Just sayin’. Hey, I think the artwork is getting increasingly better. Do you agree?

To bee or not to bee? That is the question.

(Edited) Sorry, I had to get that literary pun out of the way. Now, does Jules Rivera think Cherry and her club are in California? Helena states she has to teach a crystals class!? Maybe she’s about to present a lecture on Newton’s experiments with light. In any event, I hope all of this dithering around is just that, or it will make a travesty of my “cooperation” discussion from yesterday. And Rivera apparently uses a different clock than Cherry, though I think Cherry’s sense of time is more accurate. After all, it’s already night.

“Black Rose Garden Club” is a good name, but I think Rivera missed a golden opportunity for a better name, if I do say so, myself. This is an underground (i.e. secret” or literally, “under the ground”) garden club, right? Not to pass up a good pun, I would have modestly proposed The Sub Rosa Garden Club, if Jules had only asked me…!

This box of pancakes will self-destruct in five seconds…good luck, gals.

Somehow, reading this today reminds me of those modern cartoons you see on education tv, where teamwork is the sole purpose in the lives of the characters. And the only problems are ones that require two or more characters to perform complimentary actions to arrive at a happy ending.

I suppose that is fine for educational purposes, though they make for boring television. And they ruin the point (well, my point) of what cartoons are for. From my Old School point of view, cartoons are for broad laughs, jokes, pratfalls, and hijinks, even adventure. Give me Roadrunner and Coyote, Bugs Bunny, or Dragonball Z any day. But the dreck that passes for cartoons on public tv, as well as whatever you can find on other TV channels should be buried in a deep hole. Tom and Jerry isn’t going to make your kids join The Proud Boys.

Ok, I wandered far off point here, but the alternative, alas, is discussing this storyline. “You’re tall enough.”  Really!?  Last we saw, the statue was at least 15 feet tall. “You’re feisty enough.” Do they want somebody with a short fuse to be mucking around with hundreds of bees?

Nevertheless, Georgia’s point is valid: They need to work in close coordination if they are going to take this on. While Cherry dribbles out important information like a dripping faucet, their mission—should they choose to accept it—is to save the bees within 24 hours, before the ruling junta can destroy them.

I’m looking forward to watching them put their plan into action. In Real Life that means, can Rivera get the rescue executed before Sunday? If not, having to wait two more weeks for action may likely kill any momentum that is building. So, let’s get ‘er done!

Bees? Bees? We don’t need no stinkin’ bees!

So Cherry’s explanation continues into the third day, as the discussion turns into something of a rehash of earlier strips. If the bees are why this secret society exists, as she claims, then why is Cherry wasting time explaining the obvious to the members?

Did somebody say “obvious”!?

Maybe Cherry is taking over Mark’s role of “Mister Obvious”, which would now make her “Miss Obvious” or something more à propos.

But if Cherry is being so obvious, why did Rivera pass up the opportunity to employ the standard Bees-nis pun in panel 4? Perhaps there are some lines even Jules will not cross. Still, looks like it will be Saturday before this group settles on a plan of action.

Maybe we have some good ol’ fashioned Mark Trail story padding as a treat for the long-time Trailheads.

Okay, who ate the pancakes?

Frankly, it is difficult to view today’s strip. Most of what I could write, I wrote yesterday. However, I do like the design of panel 3, with the two garden club gals symmetrically framing Cherry. It’s a neat way to show club members guessing what the serious problem might be.

However, I am surprised that Georgia seems to have so quickly forgotten that Cherry already told her about the bees on the way to the meeting! Of course, that was two weeks ago in Real Time. But I reckon it was long enough for her to forget.

Also interesting to see Cherry being efficient enough to answer the roll call for all of the members, herself. And she also has time to recite this secret society’s pledge! But moving at this rate, they’ll run out of newspaper space before they can get their act together. After all, the “Cherry” segment is normally only one week to Mark’s two weeks. As Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle liked to exclaim, “MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT!

Somewhere in a garden shed, far, far away…

Cartoonists often use assistants to help with inking, lettering, and even drawing. Ed Dodd did, for example. I wonder if Rivera is using one, because the drawing today looks awkward, even out of proportion in some places. Take Cherry’s “Popeye” right arm, or the gals in panel 3, who seem to be a bit out of proportion here and there. We’ve seen a lot better from Rivera. At least Cherry’s hammer makes a whacking sound, rather than something like “Hit!” or “Pound!”, as we’ve seen before.

In any event, the members of the Black Rose Garden Club (yet another group!) apparently eat their pancakes cold and rolled like burritos, given the lack of plates, cutlery, butter, and syrup. Now, I will not make the expected joke of linking this group to the bat in panel 1… Ooops! I just did, anyway. But I was just making a point that I would not, you see…uh, er…oh, never mind. But Rivera drew the bat there, not me!

In any event, there are only 6 publishing days to make their plan and put it into action. Eat up, ladies!

The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

I think we can all agree that conducting an undercover operation using your own personal boat is not the brightest idea; but then again, Mark is not a trained covert agent. It is from oversights such as this, that the best-made plans fail; or even the worst-made plans. While Mark was chatting up the De-Bait Team crowd and convincing himself that his zebra mussel assignment was practically completed, a different discussion took place at the headquarters of the Duck Duck Goose shipping company.

Somehow, the crew of the cargo ship Mark and Diana investigated recorded the registration of Mark’s boat and passed it on to the head office. The boss, one Mr. Chedderson, didn’t appear to know anything about zebra mussels or Mark Trail, but was clearly upset about Mark’s snooping. Chedderson’s scheming assistant offered one of her assets to help ensure Mark’s report would not get published.

What her plans are will have to wait another week, after we follow up on Cherry’s own covert operation to save some bees from extermination. But now, it’s time for the Sunday Nature chat!

Yes, we see helping the ranger plant trees, Rusty! Now, get back to work and dig more holes!

A very clever title panel today. Bravo, Rivera! Trees must certainly be on everybody’s mind in California. But planting more trees is something we should all be able to get behind, both for their place in the world’s ecosystems and for their valuable material contribution to all of our lives. It would be great to see trees planted on large, unused swaths of land, not only for climate reasons, but to provide more resources for wild life that have been negatively affected by dwindling forests.

As for the ending joke, I think we’d be better off planting politicians in potholes, removing two problems at the same time.

Leaping Lizards!

Hah! I think I’ve got it. This part of the story is an homage to Little Orphan Annie, right? We have the big capitalist, DaddyWarbucks, played by Chedderson; we have his assistant (i.e. ward), a gal who wears glasses that makes it look like she has no pupils. But we’re missing a dog. As in the old Annie strip, these two are complaining about reporters (ie “socialists”) who want to take “Daddy Warbucks” Chedderson down because he is a capitalist exploiter of resources and people.

Well, that’s one interpretation. Another is that we have a shipping owner who can only think about moving his ships and finds anything else a distraction or an obstruction. His assistant realizes he is easy to manipulate, though we do not know her motives at this time. But she does have Cherry’s knack for finding help in weird geezers who live in out-of-the-way places and probably thought Deliverance was a documentary. What will you do, Boffo? Run Mark over with your Combine? Throw him in the baler? Force him to plow the “back 40” manually?

There’s no “I” in “Team”, nor in “Th s”!

Printing or lettering error aside, I wonder how this Chedderson fellow puts up with an assistant who seems content to spoon out information on a “need to know” or “need to ask” basis. And whose online comments, one muses, did she find, since she just reported that Mark has virtually no online presence. Who would be publicizing what was supposed to be an undercover operation? Could it be Diana Daggers, trying to keep her public image relevant?

Well, there is clearly a “show and tell” aesthetic going on in this story, as everybody who has something to say also has to hold up pictures when they’re describing something. And this gal seems to have an unending supply of displays!