Mark Trail: Peeping Tom

Mark’s overly suspicious mind turns him into a peeping tom, invading Rex’s privacy. Mark is making a lot of assumptions on virtually no evidence, while ignoring the actual evidence given him (that is, Rex’s desire to retire early to get enough sleep for an early morning gym visit).

For example, why does Mark seem to think that Rex snuck off to do something secretive, when Rex exited in full view of the crew, while also snubbing Mark’s overtures? And what business is it of Mark’s, anyway?

Wait. How can Rex call his dog on the phone? Is there a human taking care of Buzz who can answer the phone? Or is Buzz a modern-day Lassie, capable of understanding humans and performing human actions?


“Hey Rex, a scorpion!” I say, that’s a pun.

What part of Rex’s exit statement (“I gotta get to bed early”) did Mark not understand? And did Mark really miss the cues about how uninterested Rex was in spending time with him right now? Yet, Mark seems impervious to the feelings of other people. He doesn’t know Rex, but still claims to know enough that Rex needs a friend.

I’m not sure why Rivera is manipulating Mark’s personality to make him seem like a clueless, arrogant oaf (so he seems to me). In a way, he is presented as an altered manifestation of Honest Ernest, right down to the know-it-all pose in panel 4. As for Diana Daggers, what the hell happened to her? She used to be a tough gal, ready to pound anybody’s head who threatened her charge. But now, every new appearance by her seems to show less and less action and more and more passivity. I think there is enough room in this strip for two strong people (on the same side, I presume). Diana and Mark had more chemistry when they were rivals. Why dilute one of the more interesting rivalries in the strip?

Let’s skip the encore, okay?

Ahh, I think a second week of Cherry and Doc would go over a lot better. I must be missing something here, because I just don’t get this part of Mark’s story.  What’s the point of spending more time in this scenario? Why is Jimmy Songbird singing a song “for Mark and his friends”? First, most of the people here likely have no idea who Mark is. And more importantly, Mark had absolutely nothing to do with corralling the geese! If I was the crew, I’d be pissed off.

And Mark says he hasn’t seen Rex since he left the set. How could he have seen Rex, since Rex left the set! Sheesh! Mark really needs to get his shit together and quit wasting time ogling music stars. Perhaps he should take a page from Rex’s playbook and get a good night’s sleep. I could use one.

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

In case you somehow missed this week’s strips or <sniff!> my postings, you could scroll down and enjoy my barely coherent analyses and grade-school humor. Or you can simply read the following summary and get on with your life.

This is a Cherry Week, so we return to the mysterious animal rash spreading throughout the Lost Forest community. Cherry showed up at Doc’s veterinary office with his prescribed healthy lunch and a bottle of lawn treatment she got from Honest Ernest. Suspicious that it might be the cause of the rash, Doc and Cherry spent the rest of the week evaluating the chemical. Apparently, this lawn treatment has some “corrosive” quality to it, as it quickly cleaned a penny faster than a bottle of soda pop could. Is Honest Ernest’s home brew the cause of the shared rash? It might be difficult to establish a solid link unless Honest Ernest’s lawn business is very popular, or these pets roam free and hang out together.

Now, will we get a second week for Cherry or will we return to Mark and the Tiger Cult? Ponder that mystery as you view the Sunday nature lesson, below.

Close readers of the Sunday strip should notice that Rivera tends to discuss animals and natural events that are related to the area where Mark’s current story is happening. I think that is a really good idea, as it also provides the opportunity to explore more aspects of that area’s ecology. This is an informative topic, though I don’t think the artwork is up to Rivera’s usual “Sunday” standard. For example, she could have drawn the scorpion and its meal options larger, with more detail (panel 4). They look too sketchy to me.

That the only dangerous scorpion exists in Arizona makes me feel queasy. Years ago, I spent a few weeks in Arizona visiting relatives. One morning, as I got dressed, I got STUNG (not bit!) by a scorpion that had gotten into one of my hiking shoes. This happened inside a house, mind you. Happily, it was not the dangerous species. But I was pretty nervous and depressed for a few days. I would add to Mark’s advice to not simply wear proper shoes or boots, but to shake them out each time you prepare to put them on!

Shocking Development:  Lawn Libation is more reactive than soda pop.

We may as well assume that the two pennies were equally dirty in the same way. Perhaps the pennies came from Doc’s cache of penny jars hidden in a closet. In any event, I reckon it is pointless to get picky. I’m no scientist.  Sure, it is proper to determine the potency of the lawn chemical, but if you don’t have a proper lab (what vet would?), then this basic “Mr. Wizard” experiment will have to do for a start.

The real point is that the story is moving along with Doc and Cherry performing an analysis to discover if the lawn chemical might be the cause of the rash. Cleaning a penny quickly is not exactly proof of causation, but it’s a start. A gold star to Cherry for making the initial connection.

I wonder if Rivera is going to give Cherry a second week or jump us back to the more problematic Texas Tiger Zoo and Spa adventure with Mark “Call me Slim” Trail, Rex Scorpius, and Diana Daggers.

Science is neat!

We finally move on to serious analysis. Hoo-boy! But first, it’s hard to get past that oddly designed first panel with the angled desktop, with Doc’s somewhat flattened figure. Drawing an axonometric view can be difficult, as we see. Unfortunately, Doc’s pose and angle does not follow the same angle as the desk, making it all look really awkward.

Okay, moving on to the analysis. I’m certainly no scientist, but one test bed is called the control, but Doc/Rivera calls the other test bed an experiment. Aren’t both test beds part of the experiment? Well, at least Doc appears to follow standard testing procedures.

Second, is the speed of cleaning a penny a determinant of anything? I presume Doc means a quicker clean may be a dirtier cleaner (i.e., worse for animals?). But is the reaction of a metal coin a valid predictor for the reaction of skin and fur? I reckon I should have paid more attention in biology class!

How about reading the label?

This is what passes for scientific research, huh? “If it smells bad for humans, how can animals stand it?” Well, cat food smells bad to humans. How can cats like that stuff?

Testing? Testing is good. Doc says that the first test is for corrosion. Hmmm, Cherry, how is a penny like the skin or fur of an animal? Don’t know? Well, I mean…! Wait, neither do I.

Oh, I get it:  If it corrodes a penny (certainly, tougher than an animal’s skin), then it could certainly be capable of harming a pet’s skin. So, you could say it is possible, but that doesn’t prove the lawn care product is directly responsible. Or could you?

Maybe Doc could try reading the label on the bottle to see if the ingredients are listed, though I doubt Honest Ernest took the trouble to go through the EPA first. In any event, I’m interested to see the results.

“Shocking”? I don’t think that means what you think it means.

Wait, those animals were not hurt at the clinic, Cherry. I’m sure you meant to say, “I found a clue to what hurt the animals that were brought to your clinic last week.” You see the difference, Cherry? I don’t think you want to paint your dad as an animal abuser, right? What’s that? The text won’t fit the space?! Get rid of the unnecessary text box!

Still, there must be something to that potion, as Cherry’s body in panel 3 seems to be getting more ripped than she looks in panel 2.  Of course, it just might be the light. Even though Doc doesn’t seem to know the safer method for detecting odors, let’s hope he still has the ability to analyze the chemicals.

You don’t bring me biscuits, any more

I have what some people might call an unnatural love for milk. Maybe it’s dairy in general, because I also love cheese, ice cream, and chocolate malts; the latter being a combination of milk, ice cream, and heaps of malt powder well-blended into a concoction so enticingly satisfying that I believe it should be classified as a new food group. If you are going to get all huffy about that idea, we can always pump in a few nutrients, as long as they don’t affect the taste. And it’s not as if I’m downing malts and cones every week, either. But what does any of this have to do with Mark Trail, you ask? Not much, but it keeps me from asking impertinent questions about it, such as:

  • Does Doc eat lunch if Cherry does not show up?
  • Why does Cherry have such poor posture, as in panel 1?
  • Why is Cherry wearing a “Crazy Cherry” mask in panel 4? I mean, that can’t be her actual face, of course.  See how that jaw line runs up the whole side of the face and past the ear, rather than stopping just under the ear? And the expression frankly looks homicidal. Not a cheery Cherry face!

At least, Cherry seems to be getting to Honest Ernest’s home brewed poison! Let’s hope Doc has the wherewithal and lab equipment to test this stuff. Perhaps Cherry laced Doc’s lunch with that stuff to see if he breaks out.

Doc Davis Slings Slang

Will Cherry get just one week this time, or two? It would be nice to see some progress here. At least, Rivera’s pacing is a bit faster than Allen’s. On the other hand, nice to see some of the standard “Mark Trail” wildlife dropping by, this time without staring stupidly at us for a change.

But now that the pleasantries are over with, it’s time for some drama and action. As I recall, Cherry (or Doc) was going to analyze Honest Ernest’s “Lawn Libation” lawn treatment to see if it might be contributing to the animal rash going around.