This is all getting very creepy. Mark says he is not spying on Rex, but then pretty much shows that he has been spying with his stupid suggestion of a four-way pet call. Is Rivera being sarcastic in panel 4 about making friends, I wonder? I sure hope so. If I was Rex, I’d send Mark packing back to Hicksville. If I read Joseph Nebus correctly in his “Another Blog Meanwhile“, he suggests that Rivera is attempting to emulate a Jack Elrod style of writing through her use of certain words—especially interjections—and putting greater emphasis on exaggerated poses. She is doing that.
Nebus’s hypothesis is that this look-back might be a deliberate appeal to old school Trailheads and might help them appreciate the strip again if they look at it with this idea in mind. It’s a tempting idea.`
I think most Trailheads would agree to the general assessment of the pre-Rivera version of Mark Trail as a person and world caught in a time freeze of the 1950s with often hokey stories, simple morals, and TV-style action. As Nebus rightly says, a lot of readers enjoyed the strip specifically for reasons like these. Certainly, online commenters enjoyed poking fun at the old Mark Trail. As I wrote many months ago, this could be a major reason they dislike Rivera’s version: Because it could appear to be a deliberate parody, a continuous snarking, of Mark Trail (the comic strip), thus usurping their fun. Just a thought. Yet, I do think Rivera’s vision is larger than simply poking fun at a legacy strip and its long-time readers.
I still think Mark is acting very creepy in this story.
George, you know my thoughts about the new Mark Trail. There is a reason it has been successful since 1946. That is the hokey story lines. The outdoor illustrations (which were actually very good). Even the 60’s 70’s and 80’s people like myself loved the basic hearkening back to simple old fashioned story lines. As I have said, this comic is now unreadable to me. The story lines are all over the place and the artwork looks like a 10 year old doodling. She throws in an occasional animal which is usually poorly drawn. I don’t need a parody of Mark Trail. The reason so many of us have read it for so many years is exactly due to the old fashioned hokey look. That look carried it for 75 years with all subsequent artist staying true to the spirit and look of the comic created by Ed Dodd.
Sure, Mark! I don’t disagree with your rationale for why the original Mark Trail strip was appreciated over the decades, in spite of its dwindling readership. And sometimes (not all of the time!) Rivera’s art certainly does resemble the work of an adolescent. However, in my ongoing survey of non-mainstream comics, I’ve found that there is a sector of comic art deliberately drawn to look unstylish, unsophisticated, or even “bad.” I’d equate that to various movements in rock music (e.g., punk) that deliberately stayed away from sophisticated arrangements, trained singing, and virtuosity. That is, I don’t believe for a minute that Rivera is incapable of executing what we would call “good” or “realistic” art. This is seen not only in her first Mark Trail strips, but even in drawings on her own web site. So, we are left with the fact that she has deliberately chosen a style (or styles) that seems abrasive and unacceptable to people who prefer the “legacy” Mark Trail. I’m pretty sure you realize that, as well, Mark. Anyway, I’m a bit surprised but elated that you are still dropping into this blog. So, thanks, Mark.