Jules Rivera’s approach bothers many followers, used to the strait-laced, straight-up approach favored by the previous Mark Trail artists. It’s understandable. Many of us grew up reading this strip and got used to its folksy manner, mundane art, stilted dialog, and corny plots.
In this instance, readers have criticized both the absurdness of a big ship in a local waterway as well as its improbability of being stopped by fishing boats. I agree! But let’s face it: Rivera has been criticized for just about everything! Yet, as I’ve indicated here before, I think Rivera uses goofy plots, oddball characters, and satire in her stories on purpose, as literary authors sometimes do (I go back to Carl Hiassen, but there are many more). Why? Well, humor and satire are long-established formats for delivering serious messages, as I think most of you know.
Rivera is no Jonathan Swift and this is no Gulliver’s Travels; but Rivera also works in a more restrictive format. I’m sure she believes her approach can make it easier for people to learn a bit more about nature and the environment while having a laugh or drawing a big sigh. So today, Rivera begins to answer her critics, showing that she is in on the gag, since she set it up!