Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s

It might be interesting to see Mark focus his Sunday spotlight on Ralph the rat snake. At least then, Mark might pay more attention to him. Those two haven’t had a good chat for a very long time! (At least, since August 20, 2021) Earlier on in the strip, Mark periodically communicated with Ralph and a few other animals. I rather liked the Dr. Doolittle shtick, as it gave Mark an eccentric quirk where you weren’t sure if this was real or just a fantasy in his mind.

Once again, Rivera uses a white border, this time around Mark in panel 2, to emphasize that the background image is a visual recollection, not current action. As a reminder, on the right is an example from the Trail Family vacation in Oregon, on June 30, 2022.

All’s well that ends. Well….

Mark debriefs Bill Ellis, very likely entertaining him with exaggerated claims about the significance of his personal involvement and importance in this adventure. Meanwhile, for those who like to contrast Rivera with her predecessors, let’s pay attention to the abrupt jump from Texas to Lost Forest, completely omitting the aftermath of the Tiger Touch Center debacle. That’s spot-on Classic Mark Trail story closure for you!

Did Touch Center employees get their last checks? Did Tess outrun Gemma or wind up as toe jam under her feet? Did Rex go back to his regular job or become an alcoholic, singing to his dog? Did Diana Daggers kick Mark in the gonads for failing to get enough video for the show? And did Gemma find her way back home, without anybody once again able to capture her?

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

This past week saw the termination of several enterprises: The Tiger Touch Center; Tess Tigress’s hopes to keep Rex; Rex’s hopes to escape his meaningless life; Gemma’s revenge on Tess Tigress; Diana Dagger’s growing irrelevancy; and Mark Trail’s lack of purpose.

When looked at objectively, it isn’t as if Mark had much meaningful influence on this adventure. Rex was already scheduled to visit the Touch Center, and did so; he became enchanted by Tess, in spite of Mark’s warnings; Rex only disowned Tess after Gemma came storming into the Touch Center. Sure, Mark provided the necessary backstory for Rex, so we can give him a little credit. Gemma pretty much put “PAID” to Tess and her operation.  As I’ve said before, Mark is not suitable for relationship-type problem adventures. Anyway, it’s possible we will see this adventure closing down this coming week, just like the Touch Center, itself.

In spite of the fact that Rivera did not appear to embed a tribute to Charlie Brown on Saturday (she could have had Rex exclaim “Good Grief!” in Saturday’s panel 1), let’s see what she has to say today.

A nice sentiment, but I wonder if the impact is quite so significant. It seems more like a feel-good suggestion to help us believe we’re making some kind of positive contribution to the future of humanity, since our governments are reluctant to do anything. Could it be because of the stranglehold of corporate interests (i.e. contributions)? Naahhhh!

Well, who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? But making a pie directly from unprocessed pumpkin pulp is a lot more work than opening a few cans of Festal Golden Pie Pumpkin filling. Mark also brings up compositing, but that also produces methane. I’d go with Rusty’s recommendation.

Don’t forget the audio-video equipment!

As I wrote earlier, Diana Daggers has been getting shafted more and more in these stories. From a once-potentially deadly ass-kicker with a sharp tongue, she is now reduced to a compliant and innocuous chauffeur with little to do.

So, Diana—in her new, exciting chauffeur role—suddenly appears at the usual opportune time. At least she is not wearing livery. In the background, Gemma must have already dealt with Tess, since there are scavenger birds circling overhead. She is probably plodding back to her home. And nobody cares.

But why does Mark want to bring along two growing tigers, presumably still in a cage? They take up a lot of space, and Diana isn’t driving a Ford Explorer, you know. And what about all of those cubs, Mark? Are you leaving them behind for the coyotes? Maybe we’ll learn the answers to these, and other, questions next week.

AIEEEEEEEEEE!

I’m sure many of us have wanted to see some deserving politician or other chiseler literally run out of town. Maybe in small towns that is still possible, I hope. Still, Tess must have Olympic-level training behind her, as even with a full-length dress, she is outpacing Gemma. On the other hand, our desperate pachyderm has just crossed four States, so she might be a tad run down.

But how did that cage of tigers remain undisturbed after Gemma ran through the trailer? They certainly don’t look upset. As all tigers now originate in SouthEast Asia, they could be progeny of Buddhist tigers trained in meditation.

There will be a little more soul-searching and cleanup, but I think this story is all but concluded. In most cases, Mark would contact State conservation agents to rescue the abandoned animals. However, owing to the State they are in, Mark and Rex might be told to simply release the animals and let them fare on their own.

Most exciting Thanksgiving Day ever!

Ah, Rex turns out to be another quick-to-judgement moralist. How unfortunate for Tess. But Gemma has returned to Center Stage by crashing through Tess’s secret trailer, the one that everybody already knew about and could actually see. Not really a secret. Of course, we know that Rivera really meant “the trailer that holds a secret”.

I think Rivera wastes valuable drawing space with a redundant textbox. How much more functional it would have been, had Rivera instead used the space as a teaser for the next day: “Mark saves Rex, but who will save Tess?

When I see whole figures drawn in Mark Trail, sometimes it seems that Rivera uses old-fashioned action figure dolls as reference models. You know, the kind that swivel at the hips and whose arms tended to rotate like the blades of a windmill. There’s a definite sameness you can see.

Anyway, is the end for Tess Tigress? Will Emma finally be fed up and put her foot down?

Truth and consequences

Shouldn’t the real question be: “That’s terrible, Tess! How could your parents (or the zoo management) put you in that no-win situation!?” It doesn’t sound like Tess volunteered to put down Mama Elephant. But it also looks like lover boy Rex has some kind of absolutist morality which doesn’t discount age or maturity. Oh, poor Rex, moaning and condemning, like some upper-class snob discovering that his date does not a family pedigree equal to his own. Go ahead, Rex. Start casting stones.

I am curious to see how Rivera develops this scenario: Will she put forward the notion that this pachyderm put-down formed the basis for Tess’s current alleged animal mistreatment? Will Rivera try and show that Tess is a victim of circumstances out of her control?  Or will Mark suddenly pop up as a voice of wisdom, and come to Tess’s aid, rebuking Rex for his unrealistic moralizing? Or do we go down the usual path where Rex disavows Tess and walks off into the night, a disillusioned and broken shell of a man?

A Tuesday Twofer

The syndicate’s servers crashed yesterday, as many (figuratively speaking) of you know, so time to catch up. And we’re back to the Mark Trail Whining Zoo adventure. Seems Emma the Elephant really did have a hard-on for Tess and somehow was able to zero in on her location, even crossing through four presumably unknown States. That’s pretty incredible orienteering.

So what is Tess busy with? Looks like the elephant is actually prancing away from the humans.  This would have made quite the illustrated report, had Mark remembered to bring a video camera and leave it on. But Mark has a habit of rarely taking photos on assignment, as far as I’ve been able to determine. Doesn’t seem like Rex is concerned about the business operation as much as the one-way relationship. Perhaps Rivera is winding this story down, as well, though there are more threads to account for.

On a side note, there is a new time-travel adventure strip from KFS: Mara Llave: Keeper Of Time. If you like classic illustration-style drawing (and who doesn’t?) and don’t mind a bit of sci-fi, check out this strip on Comics Kingdom. Perhaps the adventure strip format is not yet completely dead!

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

This week either brought about either the beginning of the end of Cherry’s Rash Decisions adventure or a significant turning point. Honest Ernest’s wife, Caroline, confronted Cherry about hubby’s apparent interest in another female, based on her finding a florist shop receipt stupidly left at home by Ernest. Cherry was able to convince Caroline that she had no interest whatsoever in Ernest, but under pressure, let slip that he was making time with Violet Cheshire. Cherry suggested that Caroline take all of Ernest’s Lawn Libation and dispose of it (safely), as partial payment for Ernie’s indiscretions. This should also, at least, cut back on the possibility of additional injuries to pets and wild animals, which is Cherry’s main goal. What is unknown here is exactly how Caroline wound up driving Ernest’s work truck with all of his chemicals inside. Where is he, anyway?

What better way to celebrate the coming of Winter than with a PSA designed for summer smimmers? Okay, so they are wearing wet suits, but I don’t think swimming is at the top of most people’s minds at this time of the year. Unless you live in San Diego.

In a break from her tradition, this is a Sunday topic that has nothing specifically to do with the country of Mark’s current assignment (Texas).  

Am I the only person wondering what that shape is in the next-to-last panel, the one in the mustard-colored semi-circle?

Cherry deflects a collision…of knuckles!

Who would have thought Caroline would give a tinker’s cuss about pets? Still, a new friend is worth losing a client, right? Frankly, with all of Cherry’s interference in the past, it’s darned surprising she is still a contractor for the Sunny Soleil Society.

Honest Ernest must have a hell of a customer base, from the quantity of lawn chemicals in his van. The lawns around Lost Forest might constitute one of the largest collections of hazardous waste sites in the country.

So, is there any more to this particular adventure, other than expected blowback from Violet and Ernie? Well, it is interesting to note, other than what I’ve previously written, that a dog is featured in both Cherry’s story and Mark’s. But in Mark’s adventure, dogs are really props to motivate a relationship. Here, the dogs are the direct object of the story, so to speak.

At least I’m glad to see Rivera once again drawing scenery, rather than just putting talking heads against a flat, undefined backdrop.