Let nature take its course?

So, Mark wants a little sunshine, does he? The two squirrels in panel 1 are an obvious lead-in to the meaning of Mark’s coded phrase in panel 4 and its expected outcome. Maybe now we’ll learn what’s in Mark’s and Cherry’s backpacks. Warning: Parents may need to screen tomorrow’s strip before the kids see it.


A summary for readers who don’t get the Sunday Mark Trail strip.

Do I know that there are “millions” of lobster cages (a bit of an exaggeration) lost in the ocean trapping animals?” Yeah! You told us last Sunday, Mark! Don’t you remember? Okay, not every newspaper carries the Sunday strip. Our papers do not.

By the way, that’s a nicely drawn panel 1, in detail and in composition. By “happy fish”, we can accept that fish prefer swimming to getting eaten. Even though fish don’t smile, their actions and behavior have been linked by scientists through experiments to positive and negative feelings. Maybe Mark is indulging in a bit of projecting here, but he also converses with a talking snake. So, I reckon he’s entitled.

Is there anything wrong with having a Mark Trail that openly reflects on his personal beliefs (and doubts)? It certainly exhibits a degree of vulnerability usually lacking in prior Mark Trail presentations.

Enjoying some west and wewaxation. Heh Heh Heh Heh Heh.

Okay, so Rivera combines the nature walk with the post-assignment debriefing. It’s the combo that counts. Anyway, I just hope they don’t trip over those deer decoys. Still, it’s too bad Mark ditched the hip shirt from Sunday for his wear-forever red plaid.

I also see that Mark and Cherry are sporting backpacks. What could they possibly need to carry with them on a simple nature walk, hmmm?

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

If you were busy this past week, let me catch you up. Mark’s water bear resort adventure (category “bear necessities”) ended in the typical Mark Trail style:  Suddenly. On the previous Saturday Mark and Jeb the Journalist celebrated their rescue from “Millie” the bear, due to Andy’s just-in-time appearance. But by Monday, we found him relaxing at home, chatting online with Bill Ellis. Long-time blog follower, Daniel P. commented yesterday that Rivera did not end the story with the traditional Trail flapjack dinner at home. Indeed, Rivera has not done that for most of her stories. There seems to be two new post-adventure memes: One is Mark and Cherry returning from a nice intimate walk through Lost Forest. Perhaps their cabin isn’t soundproofed.

The second ending Rivera uses is what we had this week:  Mark doling out “the rest of the story”, as he summarized the post-adventure status of various dramatis personae involved in his assignment. Perhaps Rivera could merge the old pancake tradition and the newer tell-all tradition:  The Trails can have dinner at Planet Pancake as Mark delivers post-adventure anecdotes to his family. Afterwards, Mark and Cherry can take their walk as Doc Davis and Rusty sit around the cabin, waiting for their next opportunity.

Another good title panel, and the other panels are pretty well-drawn, as well. Were you surprised by Mark’s new sporty attire? It would be great to see him wear something like this or just different clothes from time to time in his daily adventures.

Do lobstermen read the comics? I have never heard of “ghost fishing”, so I did the usual online “high-school paper” research. While all of what Rivers wrote here plays out, it’s too bad she didn’t have room to note some initiatives to clean up this mess:  There is the NOAA Marine Debris Program to provide locations and means for professional fishermen to safely dispose of old, obsolete gear. There are also several NGOs involved in providing technologies for safe retrieval of ghost gear in our seas and oceans. All of that deals with the larger issue of ghost gear involved in general, large-scale fishing, such as the loss or abandonment of fishing nets. And the global quantity is unknown.

Rivera brings the adventure to a close, but I’m confused.

The composition of panel 3 is well-designed, but since when did the Trails use venetian blinds!? Ugh.

Anyway, I have to turn to you, dear reader. I’m pretty sure Rivera deliberately makes Bill Ellis look and sound like a clueless corporate suit most of the time. But what the hell is Ellis (who looks like a marionette half the time) talking about when he mentions “those campers”? Can’t be the group of slackers and grifters at the Retreat, some of whom actually wanted to kill Mark.

And please tell me, dear reader, what Rivera is alluding to when she refers to Andy as Mark’s “Best Boy”, which we all know is an electrical or lighting assistant on film sets. I don’t get it.

You think this is something? Wait for the big Saturday Close!

Well, I have to give Rivera some credit for at least depicting Mark with signs of recent violence and damage. As I recall, the former version of Mark Trail usually got by with just a bit of mussed hair in most of his physical encounters (there were a few exceptions). Too bad Mark didn’t get his trampy beard scraped off in all of that excitement.

Okay, we’ve heard about several of the participants in Mark’s latest folly, but nothing much of Sid Stump, Holly Folly, or the Psycho Bros, perhaps the two who really should be locked up.

In closing, a request to Jules Rivera: No more third-rate puns, please! Can you at least paws them for a while?

Rivera continues to wrap up the loose ends

Okay. I stand corrected, again. Rivera actually is going against tradition and trying to shine a light on the story’s aftermath.  Good for her! In this case, I hope it is not a hint about Mark’s next adventure, for reasons I have explained previously.

Now are we to believe that Sharp and Chedderson allowed Mark to hang around the hospital room so he could listen in while they put together an unethical and possibly illegal deal? Sorry, I’m not buying it. Mark would have had to be snooping to get this information. But Mark isn’t that kind of guy, is he? Well, he is a reporter, after all, so of course he would snoop!

In the end, it was just about another techno fruitcake

Once again, Bill Ellis seems to have not even read Mark’s report, unless Mark omitted the shenanigans that took place on this adventure. And Mark is being very modest with Ellis. Why?

Mark must have a short—or selective—memory. Sid Stump’s knock-down temper tantrum when Mark asked about emergency care following the cliff collapse seems to have dropped by the wayside, as did Jeb Jeder’s own testimony on Stump. For that matter, it was never explained just why all of Mark’s previous “villains” happened to show up at this resort. That includes the Shipping Magnate and his assistant, both of whom made an appearance and quickly disappeared from the story.

As far as Mark’s warnings about AI are concerned, frankly, the evidence is not there. Sure, Jeb went on and on, but in the end, he wound up doubting his own research. And Mark is hardly a technology expert.

The debriefing continues!

“Honey? This ad in True Tech magazine sounds like an interesting vacation idea: ‘Plan a stay at Sid Stump’s Bet Your Life Resort!’”

“But Dear, that sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? It must be a joke. Right?”

“Aw, Pat, don’t be such a downer. Just listen to this description!”

‘– Enjoy morning runs (whether you want to or not) as you try to avoid wild bears scrounging the resort grounds looking for food scraps and people slower than you!
— Experience excitement and romance hiking on the Cliffs of Broken Hearts and Legs!
— Have a chance to take lunch or get into an impromptu fight with our founder and resident sociopath, Sid Stump.
— Explore the potential of Man-versus-Nature as you try to make your way through our King-of-The-Forest obstacle course without getting crushed by boulders toppled by our good-natured staff or eaten by bears hoping you trip on the root traps scattered around the forest floor.
–It’s a once-in-a-lifetime and possibly last-in-a-lifetime vacation you won’t forget!’”

“Well, okay, I guess. Do they have child care?”

I call ‘em as I see ‘em

He shoots, he scores! (feel free to add your own sports meme) Just as I thought:  a typical ending for a Mark Trail Adventure. Will we learn what happened to Jeb, Sid, and the supporting cast of bums?

Otherwise, I like the composition and concept behind panel 1, with the Bill Ellis call-out. Unfortunately, the unnecessary narration box ruins the scene, since Bill Ellis’ discussion could have been placed there, and the mallard and side yard would not be obscured. Several of you readers (well, at least one or two) have often complained of Rivera’s overuse of narration boxes. Apparently, she is not reading or listening.