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!

Another reason to be popular on BikBok

Well, will we ever hear the end of “…who has won many conservation awards” every time somebody introduces Mark’s name? At first, it seemed like this “Mr. Chedderson” actually knew of Mark Trail, the way he loudly exclaimed his name in panel 1. It is cleverly written in the former official “Mark Trail” font (which I don’t have). But by panel 2 Chedderson doesn’t know Mark. It must be some kind of visceral reaction in people when they hear Mark’s name. It causes them to repeat it back in a loud voice, like the announcer on “Let’s Make a Deal” who exhorts contestants to “COME ON DOWWWWN!

This is starting to be fun comic strip melodrama. It certainly seems like those two people are weighing the pros and cons of how to get rid of Mr. Nuisance and his spy boat; and Mark’s lack of online presence appears to be a major criterion. All for zebra mussels?!

Or is the Duck Duck Goose Company actually oblivious (there is that word again!) to them and more concerned that Mark might find out something about their company’s illicit (pick one: human trafficking/fentanyl/rare animal/counterfeit Pokémon cards) smuggling operation?

Cue the dramatic organ music

Say, wasn’t the prior job of that woman in panel 4 the researcher on “Criminal Minds”?

Well, it looks like Cliff’s warning is not so far off the mark, after all. Poor Mark:  He has moved on from being “Mr. Obvious” (thank goodness) to “Mr. Oblivious” (uh-oh!)

Not only did Mark not appear to identify zebra mussels correctly on the cargo ship, he seems to have failed to identify Cliff’s boat as “the rescue boat”. Mark even failed to ask how Cliff just happened to be passing by. Now, he failed to grasp the fact that his own boat’s registration can identify him, a concept understood by the apparently nefarious Duck Duck Goose company, in their San Francisco-style Victorian.

Still, Cliff did not identify his boat to Mark as “the rescue boat”. Why is he keeping Mark in the dark? Finally, why did “Criminal Minds Gal” identify only Mark’s boat? Mystery abounds!

Doesn’t take much to satisfy Mark!

Hard part over? Let’s see now:  Mark swam underwater for a few minutes to take pictures of a hull covered in barnacles (so it appeared). I didn’t see anybody take pictures of the cargo ship, itself; so how will he prove what ship it is? Can he even prove where the photos were taken?

So you call that an investigation, Mark!? No interviews, no follow-up, no verification of the ship’s route or manifest? Maybe a fishing magazine just doesn’t have to meet the higher criteria of a more serious investigative organization…such as QAnon. Now, would a company really send out thugs to beat up Mark, as Cliff warns? Sure, they do it in movies and books all the time: “Nice cabin you got there, Mr. Trail. Be a shame if something were to happen to it.” On the other hand, I suppose the shipping company could try to hurt Mark professionally. They could finance an exposé of Mark’s most recent adventures, for example.