<Sigh!> A second week devoted to this cookout!? Can there be any importance in this extended interval before we get to any hoped-for action and intrigue? Well, I don’t see any storm clouds approaching or alligators crossing the lawn, so ho-hum. In fact, today’s panels look “mailed in”, as the saying goes, without much thought or design. A shame, as Rivera can clearly do a lot better. Sometimes I wonder if she is already getting tired of this gig. Well, I hope not.
And I hope Rivera remembers that this is an adventure comic strip that focuses on nature and the environment, and not simply a comic strip that focuses on nature and the environment. Mark Trail is one of the few surviving adventure comic strips still produced, so it’s time for adventure!
George, you kind of hit on it. This is another reason Rivera’s Mark Trail strip is UN-readable for me. Artwork and story line is geared towards 12 year olds. Beyond awful. I still check vintage everyday and the story line and artwork is spot on. Campfires, pipes and a real story! I always check your blog a few times a week and take my hat off to you for trying to comment on this dribble. I still think you might consider a double critique. Current & vintage. That would be kind of neat but time consuming I’m sure! Keep on Truckin.
Ah, yes. You did have that idea. I will give it some thought. As you say, it would definitely “double” my time. I just hope Rivera reads this blog once in a while. I’d like to convince her to go back to her earlier style, which was frankly, more expressive, original, and interesting, if a bit more naturalistic. Multiple viewpoints, changing perspectives, creative imagery, and I’m talking about Mark’s first adventure: His dad. For some reason, she has not or could not sustain that level of creativity, so the panels look more and more like traditional, static stages. And scenes are, I’m afraid, getting sketchier. Now, maybe some people didn’t like or even understand what was going on earlier, but it was impactful and original.
But Rivera has made many valuable contributions, too: Multiple storylines; expanded personalities; adding more “humanity” to Mark (okay, sometimes too much); recognizing the value of absurdity, chaos and humor; changing up how we “see” a strip; changing up how panels can be realized; and allowing characters and plotlines to “bleed” from one story into the next, rather than be clinically chopped off and forgotten.
However, I cannot award the blue ribbon to vintage Mark Trail, either. I understand your feelings for it (and I read it, too); but the art is sentimentalist, stereotypical, and cliché. Sometimes it looks as amateurishly drawn as anything we see now, just in different ways. The stories are average (catch dognapers, stop seal killer, stop illegal canned hunting, etc.) but always treated in a serious way. No satire, irony, or bald humor. And Mark is an archetypical hero, with unshakable morals, living in a largely white world of hokey, folksy villains and wholesome women drawn to Mark’s grim determination. Or something. It’s like watching ’50s TV westerns (which I like to do). So, I’m glad they are being reprinted. I wish they would publish entire runs of Mark Trail in BOOK format, as has been done for lots of “vintage” comic strips.
As you might guess, I truly want Rivera to succeed. I just think she is not getting very good guidance from King Features. Yeah, she needs to get back to her more original art, and really beef up her storylines. Maybe take on an assistant or partner, as many cartoonists have done. Even Mark Trail was handled by several staffers at any one time. And don’t get me started on Garfield.
Thanks for hanging in there, Mark!