Rivera diverted from the main storyline (Remember, it is the search for Zebra Mussel smugglers!) this week. She expanded on Diana Dagger’s earlier confession to Mark and Cliff that her friends back home had diverted her income into trendy and controversial NFTs. This week’s strips feature (I think) a mini-parody of the world of NFT Development, as seen through the machinations of Cricket Bro; his financial backer and co-conspirator, Professor Bee Sharp; and one very hungry caterpillar, er, goat (okay, the goat isn’t exactly eating the lab coat, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make the Eric Carle reference).
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the week was something that confused and angered numerous readers. This was the Thursday strip, wherein Professor Bee Sharp appears in the foreground viewing photos, while in the background stand silhouettes of the Professor and Diana. She is arguing against having her salary automatically invested into NFTs. Some readers thought the panel was confusing (or that Rivera had lost her mind, in general), presenting Diana as if she was suddenly in California, instead of Lost Forest. Clearly, the image is deliberately ambiguous and permits of several interpretations: Is this a scene playing in Sharp’s head while he reviews the photos? Is it just a flashback to an earlier conversation Rivera stuffed into that panel, mainly for its artistic effect? Is this distinction at all significant? Why portray this shadowy scene as if they were physically in the same space at the time, when we clearly know that was not the case? Ruminate on that as we move on to a ruminant in today’s Nature Talk!
Another interesting title panel for a non-surprising subject. It would have been clearer for Mark to point out that the cliché of goats eating anything is not accurate. So forget feeding them your empty cans; they are just herbivores. I’m not sure I can go with Mark’s attempt at acronymic humor in the last panel, though they may be the greatest buttinskies of all animals . On the other hand, the image of a goat “testing” Mark’s shirt in the central panel is both relevant to the discussion and humorous. I think we have to recognize Rivera’s bias (as it were) to focus on goats, themselves, rather than on their additional existence as resources for human consumption (fabric, cheese, meat, etc). It’s a reasonable approach, as Rivera only stated she was delivering a few “fun facts.” There’s only so much you can cram into a Sunday strip.
George, I really, really have tried. I simply cannot stand Jules strip. The convoluted story line along with the God-Awful artwork makes this completely unreadable for me. I must take my hat off to you for writing copious notes each day. God only knows how you manage to write so much on so little to work with. With a multitude of talented cartoonist out there, Jules has got to be close or near to the bottom. I take a peek each day and continue to be amazed on the lameness of the strip now. How you can write 3 to 4 paragraphs each morning is mind-boggling! Again, my hat’s off to you. I will continue to read the Vintage strip. No disrespect to anyone who now follows this comic……..
I appreciate your comments, Mark, really, and I am sorry the strip has not worked out for you. I do think her style and her ideas are geared towards a much younger age group and sensibility than I suspect you (as well as I!) belong to. I also get what you are upset with. I am, too, from time to time. After 70 years, the syndicate obviously thinks it’s time for a new approach to attract readers younger than 50. So it’s “go big or go home” time for Mark Trail.
I try to remind myself that French Impressionist painters (Monet, Degas, Morisot, etc.) were once derided by their Académie peers and much of the public for their perceived lack of artistic talent (and that’s using nice words). Of course, nowadays many of us consider French Impressionism to be a nice, mainstream, old-fashioned painting style. So, I try to look at Rivera’s art based on what I perceive her rules are, rather than applying the 19th century aesthetics that Mark Trail has traditionally been based on.
And change is hard. I didn’t appreciate Harold Gray changing the style and look of Little Orphan Annie starting in the 1940s. And I certainly didn’t appreciate when the Thomas the Tank Engine videos stopped using working model trains and switched to computer-graphic animation. Ugh!
And Dennis says I write way too much! But I’m working on it.