No fair! I get to swoop in and wrap up the story line!!

Faithful (and I mean Über-faithful) contributor George has been following this story for weeks… and well, it looks like I arrive as it’s wrapping up before our very eyes… Violet is on a flapjack bender, soaking her sorrows and troubles in griddle-cakes and highly caffeinated beverages, while Cherry is about to come clean…

Nothing like a dose of conscience to ruin a take-down! And it’s super funny how quickly Cherry is associated, without even a moment’s thought or question, with feral hogs…

Can you just here the “ding” that goes along with Jeanette the waitress/proprietor’s wink? I love the reference to flapjacks and coffee, even as Violet, with her chapeau back on, is going to have the worst gluten hangover of her life!! And where are the rest of the customers? Does ‘Planet Pancake’ survive on only the drive-by patronage of the Trails and (with) whomever they happen to be quarreling (with)? Along with offering to help put the round-about back in order, is Cherry going to pick up the tab?

While Hogs run wild…

As we continue to unravel Cherry’s motivation to look up her Brother…

Give us a break, Cherry, you know exactly how to take a stand… You just playin’ with Dirk…

And wait a gosh-darn minute- is that Salvia in the foreground of the second panel? Would that be a tip-off to a more native species of perennial? Or am I getting ahead of our story line here? Looks like Dirk’s beard has been given a touch more relief in the last frame… we can even distinguish the mustache from the rest of it!

Between Bug Bro and the Bearded Lady…

I think I prefer the Bearded Lady… and the threat of Hogs running wild all over Violet’s Gardens!

The only question I have is Transportation! How do Feral Hogs get penned and toted? I am supposing that Dirk the Hog Whisperer has an answer for that one…

And apparently, Extradition! What do we suppose Dirk went IN for? UP the River, so to speak? Prepositions are funny things… One would be IN Jail, but (if IN a canoe) one is ON the river… But then why does one go UP River to go to jail? Does all the Crime-ing and prosecuting happen DOWN-RIVER?

I will say this much about Dirk- He’s a big fella! Check out the difference in stature in panel 3, while panel 4 reminds us once again of the most unnatural and unholy of all beards- looking like one of the beards worn by Ulysses Everett McGill in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

Is it me, or does Dirk look like a lady himself?

As we make the acquaintance of Cherry <Davis> Trail’s “Big Brother” Dirk, we all have to wonder what on earth did Doc do to create such a large family, only to drive them all (save for the good daughter Cherry) away? How many more of them are there? How is Rusty ever going to draw a family tree when there is a literal Diaspora of Davises?

But I call your attention to the third panel… Dirk really does look like a lady with a fake beard… Maybe that’s just me. Or Maybe what forced “Dirk” to live off the grid is that his only other option was to star in a circus sideshow?

Guessing we will see an exposé on Feral Hogs this Sunday (That is if we already haven’t covered that territory… have we?)

Thanks George for keeping the flame lit, and safe travels back to the hot (and finally steamy) North Country. I swear the only thing that recommends this region is the fact that it will remain arable and livable long after sea levels rise!

Another family reunion?

Mysterious cabin in the woods? Is this some kind of primordial Lost Forest cabin?! “Dirk Davis” sounds like the name of a typical Mark Trail villain (e.g. “Sting” Ray, “Dirty” Dyer, Black John, Rocky Rivers), but belongs to another one of Cherry’s throwback siblings. Not much action here, other than another family get-together. This time, instead of Cherry helping out her Mom and sisters, she’s getting Big Brother to help out with her own problem. Well, seems a bit early to me that Cherry would be out ammunition so early in her confrontation with Violet Cheshire, but maybe that’s looking at things too narrowly. Dirk is just another resource, another tool, for Cherry to pull out of her toolbox. But to what end?

Perhaps there is more than meets the stereotypic eye here. Sure, Dirk looks like a participant in a wilderness Reality TV show. What possible function can somebody like this perform that could help Cherry overcome the machinations of the elitist and nefarious Sunny Soleil Society? It doesn’t look like Dirk is even that big a fan of the Sun!

However, looks are not everything, as we learn. I suspect that Dirk has unexpected talents that belie his mountain man appearance. Perhaps he is some kind of former federal agent, unexplainably still equipped with a full computer suite he can use to investigate, probe, and snoop, as needed. That seems to be the kind of help she needs:  Somebody to dig up background dirt that Cherry can use to bury her antagonist.

On the artistic side, this is a great series of panels, with interesting angle changes. The first panel is an especially well-done composition in terms of viewpoint, color, and contrast; to say nothing of the luna moth in the foreground providing a light contrast. Note the subtle variations in light and color in the woods behind the cabin. There is something to like in each panel, such as the smudged shading in panel 4. It’s almost an abrupt change of style. It’s a shame that a lot of this will likely not be apparent in the black and white version that appears in most newspapers. And that’s where the strip can get hurt, as it depends on color for a lot of its depth and texture.

However, I’m not sure why Cherry’s mouth drops open in panel 3, as if she is shocked. Surely, she’s been here before? Or has it been so long since she saw Dirk that she doesn’t recognize him right away? But then, why does she go on to refer to Dirk with his full name, since it is already made clear in panel 3 that they are siblings? Just for the sake of alliteration?

Cue the “Duelling Banjos” music

Well, I’m going to be driving through the mountains myself in a few days! And I can relate to Cherry’s consternation over missing road signs, too. I once got lost in a section of southwestern Wisconsin, with its identical rolling hills and valleys and meandering roads without street signs. Every hill seemed to have either a farm or a church with a shade tree. It was night, it was starting to snow, and I was on a honeymoon trip with my wife, looking for our B&B. We wound up driving 5 mph behind an Amish wagon for a mile or so, until it pulled into a farm. But I digress. . . .

Anyway, a pun-filled adventure for Cherry continues as she climbs further into “feral” territory in search for…what? Or whom? What secret weapon would be available up here for Cherry to employ against the Sunny Soleil Society?

Traveling into backwoods country, let’s hope that Cherry does not run into any hostile mountain men, like the Atlanta “city boys” in Deliverance; or a county mounty who could pull her over for holding her smartphone while driving! Put that phone in a caddy, Cherry! Anyway, as she is using a smartphone, who cares if there are road signs, when you can just turn where and when your mapping program tells you to. Unless the phone is suddenly out of range.

Well, Cherry has apparently dropped her phone as she panic-stopped in front of that wild boar. Will she discover that the phone has broken when it was dropped, leaving her really lost without it or any road signs?

Clearing the deck for action!

We are finally back to the Cherry v Violet Grudge Match.  Not sure that a school night sleepover is such a great idea for Rusty, based on his grammar. I suppose that’s elitist thinking on my part? But Cherry must have a reason for wanting to dump Rusty off some place, especially given the fact that her Dad is still presumably at home and capable enough of watching over the kid. Unless, he is part of the plan Cherry has in mind, that is.

Business in the mountains? What—or who— is up there? Perhaps some “backwoods” person she knows or is related to, who will assist in her mission of vengeance? Or maybe she has a hidden stash of drugs in a cabin that she will secrete in the Sunny Soleil Society’s office before making an anonymous call to the police.

I suppose the “stick figures” in the background of panel 4 are meant to suggest the effect of distance on objects. And in the size comic strip are published, it is probably a necessity to avoid problems when newspapers downsize the original comic strip to fit its limited, allotted space. Nevertheless, Rivera can still fit in a remarkable amount of imagery, when necessary (e.g. panel 1). Well, I am intrigued by Cherry’s closing remarks. This should be a very interesting week!

“Slimy, Backstabbing City Slicker!” Okay, Cherry, you’re upset.

It is a stereotype of tv and movie villains that they often speak in a cultured, polite tone, in order to make their patronizing dismissal of the protagonist all the more humiliating. I don’t suppose Cherry is going to call her lawyer at this point. Do you? But will she also risk arrest, like her husband, and jump that fence? There’s no turning back from that, Cherry, in spite of your threatening fists o’ justice.

But really, Violet sits contritely and alone under a backyard tree, having a cup of tea!? It’s as if she expected Cherry’s visit! I would not be surprised if her husband/partner were upstairs filming this entire episode as part of an anticipated criminal complaint against Cherry. Still, what’s their motivation here, other than some kind of perverse pleasure in using obscure rules to harass and oppress other people?

What? You mean, that often is enough of a motivation for some people? Wise up, Cherry! You’ll need more than your fists to overturn these two slimeballs!

By the way, I got the pun in panel 4. Did you? And do you have a different opinion to share? Feel free to leave it in the comments!

Threads Coming Together!

Hah! So, these two incidents are, indeed, linked! Cherry’s good deed rose garden has been sabotaged by the evil machinations of Violet Cheshire, the public half of the suspicious Sunny Soleil Society. And let’s give credit to Rivera for having Cherry throw out a really good descriptive insult of Violet, to boot. Wish I had thought of it! Good ol’ Cherry is also keeping it clean for the family readers, too. Impressive!

But how did Violet learn of Cherry’s volunteer project, much less what it was composed of? Is this “roundabout” (referring to the garden’s location) garden next door to Palm Tree house? Did Jeannette, the “Laura Dern” waitress, somehow leak info to Violet? The more we learn about this Cheshire person, the more I’m going to cut Cherry slack in how she resolves her issues.

Cherry’s story continues to move along but has just two more days to arrive at a meaningful break point, unless Rivera allows for a second week of Cherry’s Revenge Salad: Retribution Never Tasted So Good. Well, I’m fine sticking with Cherry a second week.

Of course, with conspiracies in the air these days, I wonder if the Sunny Soleil Society is somehow linked up with our good friend and villain, Cricket Bro? A bit too much to expect, I fear, even for a comic strip.

Okay, so Rivera like puns.

Captions aid and abet today’s harvest of puns, the kind you normally find in local newspaper headlines. I’ll reiterate my earlier observation:  Cherry seems to have two major setbacks going on simultaneously, unless this “roundabout” project blossomed under the dark clouds of Sunny Soleil.

I hate to admit it, but it looks like Cherry is being taken for a sap as her business is about to get planted six feet under. It just might be too mulch for her! So why is Rivera dragging this sequence out? Will we discover the villainous source by tomorrow?

By the way, there really is such a plant as butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). I know, as I looked it up online, the way we all learn these days. Let’s hope that we also soon learn what’s going on here.