Mark Trail: Vampire?

Rivera finishes out the week and, hopefully, finishes out this post-game coverage of the Tiger Touch Center/Save Rex Scorpius Adventure with a typical Trailism, “There’s no place like home…with my dog, Andy.” Rivera illustrates this homey scene using a below-horizon view in panel 3. By itself, a good idea, but some details merit attention.

Looking at Andy’s face, I get the impression he is a bit nervous and anxious to be somewhere else. He doesn’t look comfortable. Maybe Andy has reason for anxiety:  One look at Mark’s denticulate face gazing upon the back of Andy’s head gives the impression that crime is not the only thing Mark might want to take a bite out of!

Still no word on Diana Daggers

Still chatting with the self-proclaimed “world’s best editor”, Mark provides additional follow-up information. Also, this is a clear one-up on former Mark Trail artists/writers who were content to close out just-completed adventures within a few panels of Mark arriving home.

Would any of Mark’s updates have been put into his article, or did Mark discover this information only after his deadline? Deep thinking required!

Theoretically, this tiger adventure should come to a welcome close on Saturday. What do you suppose the finale will be?

Epilog Week continues!

Three tigers? There were only two in the cage of the secret trailer. There are only two in panel 3. So where is that third cub? Anyway, we see that ol’ Rex is sure quick on the rebound.

Regarding Rivera’s new technique of “recap balloons”, as I’m temporarily calling them, I notice that she uses the standard quotation format of only adding closed quotation marks to the last consecutive “paragraph” (panels 3 and 4), as seen in the panel 4 recap balloon. Noteworthy from a grammatical point of view, perhaps, but it looks awkward in a comic strip. Few readers would even get it or appreciate it. Putting close quotes in every recap balloon would look more consistent.

Still wondering about Diana Daggers!

Shouldn’t all this have been in Mark’s article?

Okay, so this must be “Epilog Week”, as Mark and Bill Ellis flesh out the aftermath of this tawdry episode. Bill seems fixated on the elephant, in spite of the fact that Mark was actually there to investigate Tess’s tiger zoo operation. And where is Amy Lee, Mark’s assignment editor for this adventure? As for the losers who Tess recruited, I predict many will just find another charismatic charlatan to follow.

One possibly new development in comic strip anatomy (as far as I know) is the text balloon acting like a text box (panels 3 and 4), but with quotation marks. This is another method of distinguishing the present time while referring to the past, like the outlined Mark in panel 2. However, as a meme, its function is not so obvious. Perhaps italicizing the font (or changing the font) would help distinguish it from normal text balloons.

Still waiting to hear about Diana Daggers and/or Rex Scorpius!

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?

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?