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.

Why bother? He’ll just make more!

It’s too easy to poke fun at this illogical stream of thought here; though I’m fairly certain that Rivera enjoys making Caroline a hypocrite. I think that Rivera means to provide some contextual drama to surround the basic plot of the story. In other words, it is not just a simple adventure. In the midst of a search to track down a dangerous chemical before it can affect additional animals (or humans), mundane events of life still occur and affect (positively or negatively) the mission.

It’s like police shows on TV and movies. In the early days of TV, cop shows were just cops solving crime. Nowadays, every cop or detective has a roomful of personal baggage and conflicts that have to be managed in between investigating crimes and cuffing the criminals. The old Mark Trail was just a guy solving problems and coming home to a superficial environment for a day before going out on a new quest. So, the new Mark Trail is a messier world with interruptions and detours.

Caroline for the Prosecution

Both Mark and Cherry get dragged into affairs not of their making or concern. At least, Cherry seems more reluctant to interfere, even if she gets the third degree which causes her to blurt out a confession. But it isn’t clear why Caroline would think Cherry had inside information about Ernest’s buying habits or his delivery choices. I mean, where is she during the day, anyway? Does she just luxuriate at the SSS HQ?

The drawing today—for the most part—is really pretty good; especially panels 3 and 4. Cherry’s pose and foreshortened arm in panel 3 is just great. And the differences in the pose and attitude of Caroline in panels 1 and 4 are so self-explanatory that they almost need no dialog to work.

But Rivera sometimes get carried away with textboxes; the one in panel 4 is unnecessary and crowds the scene. I suppose you can make a case about panel 1, which seems to have been inserted so Rivera could indulge in some arbitrary alliteration.

By the way, Joseph Nebus has a new “catching up” column on Mark Trail: https://nebushumor.wordpress.com/2022/11/17/whats-going-on-in-mark-trail-whats-with-comics-kingdoms-ads-august-november-2022/

Why use a butter knife when a trowel will do?

Aside from disclaiming any romantic entanglement with Honest Ernest, Cherry is not exactly holding back on her feelings about the creator of Lawn Liberator. She’s laying it on pretty thick. Cherry discovers that it was not Violet slandering her, but the result of a stupid gaff by Ernest. If you are going to have an affair, storing receipts at home is about as witless as charging gifts on your credit card instead of paying cash.

So, what’s Cherry’s best move here? Tell Caroline to ask Ernest and see how “honest” he really is! Keep your guilty conscious to yourself. It’s not your affair, so to speak.

The gloves come off!

Blame the victim, once again: “My husband is a predator, so I blame you for catching his eye!” But Cherry’s ideal image of Mark—the hunky, self-assured, man-about-forest—seems to conflict with what we’ve been witnessing down in Texas. And I reckon there’s a point to be made there.

Cherry’s day takes a turn for the worse!

We’ve seen Mark continue to get involved in Rex’s personal affairs (at the instigation of Diana Daggers, we know), with predictably bad results. As for Cherry, she unintentionally got exposed to the private relationship of Violet and Ernest. But she can’t escape the consequences of that event, even though she has remained quiet.

Why Caroline calls her husband “Honest Ernest” is beyond me, but she somehow got the wrong idea about Ernie’s affair. How did she learn about it in the first place? I’m thinking that Violet Cheshire is behind this campaign of deception.

How long will it take for the truth to come out, and will it matter?  If it actually turns that Violet misinformed Caroline, Cherry may soon be looking for a new long-term client, if such can be found in the neighborhood of Lost Forest.

How green is my folly?

Ah, another moral dilemma. And as with Mark, it appears that love is involved. Of course, this affair is none of Cherry’s business, but as I’ve pointed out before, she does not need to publicize it; but she should be able to capitalize on it, in the obvious way I also mentioned. I’d like to think that Ernest and Violet will be grateful enough to agree to the deal. But I still think Cherry needs to find new clients, at least for a few new stories!

Again, the art is looking spotty. Is Rivera behind in her deadlines again? I’m guessing so, since her work is usually more accomplished than this (well, it is!). Yet there are periods when it really looks sketchy and subpar.

Okay, boys and girls, any guesses on the Sunday topic?

Rule #3:  Don’t get involved with the hired help.

Honestly, I try to approach this strip with an open mind and some optimistic support along the way. But sometimes something like today’s strip comes along and leaves me dumbfounded. Not only is the art subpar today, but the plot development (I know that’s a stretch) reminds me of a bad movie parody or maybe just a parody of itself.

I had originally planned to discuss Violet’s possessiveness over the fruit basket gift, in spite of her row with Cherry. That all got left back at the station with today’s strip. Well, if Caroline has not yet left Ernest, I have a feeling that her departure will occur pretty soon. Who knows, maybe she’ll be the next person to show up at Violet’s house. Probably not a big loss, as her character has been superficial and unimportant, unlike Honest Ernest.

At the very least, Jules Rivera shows no fear in adding twists (or insanity) to an otherwise linear storyline. And Cherry must feel like a batter in the big leagues, getting thrown one curve ball after another.

Violet drops the other shoe, on her own foot

I reckon the chipmunk is saying “Hey! How about me!?” In any event, seems like this volatile tête-à-tête has accidentally caused Violet to reveal her heretofore private relationship, after all. For a business owner who depends on good customer service and references, Cherry does seem to go out of her way to offend them. Then again, we have not really seen more than two or three customers over the past two years, with most of her business hired out to the Violet Cheshire’s Sunny Soleil Society. Clearly, they have a strange relationship.

Perhaps with Violet’s non-confession confession of her affair, Cherry will pull herself together long enough to use it as a lever against Violet. Wait, we went over this yesterday.  There are three more days to go to hash this out, so it will be interesting to see if something gets done. After that, it’s back to Mark’s story. And after Cherry’s story gets resolved, let’s hope she breaks free of Violet and her Society and finds some new customers and opponents. Why not cook up another story with the Black Rose Garden Club? I think there is enough personality there for at least another adventure or two.

Cherry demonstrates how to throw her peace offering under the bus

Peace offering!? More like a diversion, I think, so that Cherry can verbally sucker-punch Violet Cheshire when she’s not looking. Violet may be thinking of a different kind of relationship with Ernest, but Cherry is laser-focused on condemnation and retribution. Had she just listened to Violet more closely, Cherry might have figured out how to blackmail Violet by threatening to divulge whatever information Violet fears would become public. That would have solved Cherry’s problem of how to rid Lost Forest of Honest Ernest’s noxious lawn care supplement. Blackmail would call into question Cherry’s own values, but as we have seen in the past, Mark and Cherry don’t mind crossing lines when they think it is for the common good.

For all that, Cherry doesn’t seem at all concerned about wildlife and their vulnerability to the poisonous lawn spray. I think Mark would be very disappointed at this selfish oversight; that is, if he wasn’t somewhere in Texas, having conniptions about Rex, Tess, and a panicky pachyderm.