Home » Oregon Trails » Smokey says: “When surrounded by fire, climb into a wooden tower!”

Smokey says: “When surrounded by fire, climb into a wooden tower!”

Why would Happy Trail take shelter in a wooden tower when he could have just run up a hill? Even the dialog doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense; as in, what the hell is there to work out, Mark!? And the artwork looks incompetent with awkward lines, out-of-scale anatomy, and sketchy figures.

Of course, we’ve seen clumsy drawing from the prior Mark Trail artists, Allen included. Rivera is not unique in this regard. What makes these gaffs stand out is her style, which transitioned over time into something more expressionistic than merely representational. Inconsistencies, such as what we see in panel 4, hit you immediately and painfully.

But the troubling issue for me—as I have pointed out several times—is that Rivera is an accomplished artist. Why transform Mark Trail from her original, refined stylistic approach into this slapdash version?


3 thoughts on “Smokey says: “When surrounded by fire, climb into a wooden tower!”

  1. George, you are probably tired of my opinions on the revised Mark Trail strip. I don’t blame you! Here is the bottom line. The old Mark Trail was a feel good, authentic, strip that made you feel like you were in the woods or on a wonderful lake. It had a rural feel, a feeling that was honest. It showed a cartoonist who actually took time to draw the strip. Not a slap-dash strange hodge bodge of art work. I disagree with you that this gal is a good artist. She has shown nothing of that in this strip. There is no continuity, no story line that would interest anyone. I am sad for those who never grew up with a really authentic and cool Mark Trail. What you see now is a poor facsimile of a classic old cartoon. I have strongly encouraged the powers at be to get a talented, dedicated cartoonist to take over this strip. I have nothing against Rivera. However, taking on this particular strip has not been her forte. It appears she slashes her characters on a cocktail napkin. Mark changes daily. His neck is a foot long one day and different the next. Enough said. Anyone reading this blog is a Mark Trail fan. I ask that you all write the folks who publish the strip and ask that they hire a new cartoonist who actually understands what this classic strip is all about. Otherwise we are stuck with this half assed dribble and George has to figure out what to say each day with a poorly written and drawn strip! Thanks for letting me vent!

    • Hi, Mark! Thanks, your comments are ALWAYS welcome here. Hope you don’t mind my responses! First, I’m not saying you are completely wrong about Rivera. And yeah, the old strip was definitely nostalgic, with a simple feel-good aura to it that matched the white-bread-and-butter world of 1950s family TV shows. Well, most of the time.

      As for Rivera’s art, I DO say she can be good. I’ll just refer you to her earliest efforts over the first several months. Still, I agree that her art has moved in directions we don’t particularly get or care for. I still have no clear understanding for the changes: too-tough deadlines; a growing indifference to the strip; a lack of support from the syndicate; or personal/idealistic reasons? I dunno. Then again, I don’t know what people see in “Garfield”, either. Dreadful stuff. I would love to read a current interview or statement from Rivera, explaining what is going on. I can tell you that the current aesthetics and sensibilities do not coincide with what she originally expressed in her first interviews.

      • I agree George. Thanks for your thoughts. I surely don’t mean to be a Danny Downer. However, my go to each morning is the Vintage strip. I simply cannot understand Rivera’s story line nor artwork. Good news, Spring/Summer has arrived in Minnesota!

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