Nice try, Cherry!

Cherry’s adventures are—by design—shorter and simpler than Mark’s, since the strip is called Mark Trail and not Cherry Trail (or is it Cherry Davis?). Doesn’t mean they have no substance to them, but a fair bit of detail and storyline has to be abbreviated or merely hinted at, as we are seeing here. Still, I think it is worth giving credit to Jules Rivera for the innovation of maintaining two parallel, but different, storylines. I cannot recall any other strips trying to do this, at least this clearly.

As for today, it seems that Cherry’s subterfuge has just been kicked by Violet. It’s interesting that Cherry referred to the backyard as a garden. It certainly looks like a field of grass to me. On the other hand, people overseas usually refer to their back yards as gardens, even if they do not have a traditional flower or vegetable garden. One Italian word for backyard is il giardino.


The case of the Lost Forest Rash continues

As this is an adventure comic strip, the focus must be on action, so we have apparently been relieved of watching Doc Davis conduct additional tests and validations, and we can just move on to the conclusion: Sassy got her rash in this specific yard. I wonder if that is the case for all of the other pets in the area who got a rash. Did they all hang out at Violet’s poi pond?

And in spite of their history, Cherry actually thinks that Violet will overlook her sneaky fact-finding methodology and accept her conclusion? And is Cherry really certain? Panel 2 suggests otherwise. Okay, let’s see how this turns out.

A little deception goes a long way.

Once again, Cherry is put into a moral quandary:  Ethics v. Income. If she comes down too hard on Violet, her apparent sole source of income could dry up. But she has stood up to Violet in the past, confessing to her own actions against Violet and the Sunny Soleil Society. Still, Cherry still has no actual proof. So, caution is the watchword for now.

I bet Cherry didn’t get any grass clippings, either. That might require another midnight raid by the Black Rose Garden Club.

On the other hand, Cherry can avoid the moral quandary, or at least put it on hold, by simply reporting her finding to Doc, who can properly administer the necessary balm to the pets, then carefully school the owners into being more careful where their pets play. Then anonymously report Honest Ernest to the EPA!

Rusty’s earnest effort gains some attention

Cherry, you are starting to sound as didactic and heavy-handed as Mark. All you needed to say was “Don’t cross the fence, Rusty!” By the time you got to the main point, he was already over and gone. Still, I suppose it was necessary to further the story.

I wonder if Rivera is deliberately spoofing one of the old-time foibles of this strip in panel 3, where Rusty’s thought balloon is “ambiguously” pointing either to him or the chipmunk. So, what is Rusty thinking of: “Spotted the sign by that Ernest guy!” I’m not sure what sign Ernest was “by”, but Rusty is onto something, all right. That diamond shape on the lawn signs appears on the bottles of Honest Ernest’s lawn treatment. Clearly, this property belongs to Ernest and must double as his testing lab.

Maybe that’s also why the chipmunk is stuck on that tree stump. It’s too afraid to cut across the lawn.

“Cogito ergo verum!”

I think, therefore it’s true” seems to be Cherry’s mantra. Unlike humans, animals normally shy away from that which hurts or attacks them. But not Sassy, who seems to have a fascination for self-destruction—like humans who smoke, eat too many processed foods, or watch Reality TV shows. Isn’t it amazing that Cherry did not already know about this property, apparently situated a short distance away in Lost Forest?! 

Cherry said that this is a perfect lawn. Hmmm, I wonder if this will turn out to be a hitherto unrevealed Lost Forest Golf Course run by yet another obnoxious organization or person? Well, there are some decorative trees lining the background and there is a landscaped lake (hazard). Perhaps tomorrow we’ll hear a shout of “FORE!” and observe a golf ball slicing across the fence, narrowly missing our protagonists.

Why would Sassy want to go back?

[edited for clarity] Either Cherry’s own storyline is now moving along concurrently with Mark’s (as in, things are happening that we did not observe), or Cherry is just making a rash assumption before the results are in. When we left off, Doc Davis had only proved that Honest Ernest’s lawn treatment chemical cleans dirty coins faster than a carbonated drink could. That doesn’t exactly prove it is the source of the pet rash.

Still, if Cherry wants to find the possibly offending lawn, it seems to me it would be more productive to walk through neighborhoods with lawns.

Shocking Development:  Lawn Libation is more reactive than soda pop.

We may as well assume that the two pennies were equally dirty in the same way. Perhaps the pennies came from Doc’s cache of penny jars hidden in a closet. In any event, I reckon it is pointless to get picky. I’m no scientist.  Sure, it is proper to determine the potency of the lawn chemical, but if you don’t have a proper lab (what vet would?), then this basic “Mr. Wizard” experiment will have to do for a start.

The real point is that the story is moving along with Doc and Cherry performing an analysis to discover if the lawn chemical might be the cause of the rash. Cleaning a penny quickly is not exactly proof of causation, but it’s a start. A gold star to Cherry for making the initial connection.

I wonder if Rivera is going to give Cherry a second week or jump us back to the more problematic Texas Tiger Zoo and Spa adventure with Mark “Call me Slim” Trail, Rex Scorpius, and Diana Daggers.

Science is neat!

We finally move on to serious analysis. Hoo-boy! But first, it’s hard to get past that oddly designed first panel with the angled desktop, with Doc’s somewhat flattened figure. Drawing an axonometric view can be difficult, as we see. Unfortunately, Doc’s pose and angle does not follow the same angle as the desk, making it all look really awkward.

Okay, moving on to the analysis. I’m certainly no scientist, but one test bed is called the control, but Doc/Rivera calls the other test bed an experiment. Aren’t both test beds part of the experiment? Well, at least Doc appears to follow standard testing procedures.

Second, is the speed of cleaning a penny a determinant of anything? I presume Doc means a quicker clean may be a dirtier cleaner (i.e., worse for animals?). But is the reaction of a metal coin a valid predictor for the reaction of skin and fur? I reckon I should have paid more attention in biology class!

How about reading the label?

This is what passes for scientific research, huh? “If it smells bad for humans, how can animals stand it?” Well, cat food smells bad to humans. How can cats like that stuff?

Testing? Testing is good. Doc says that the first test is for corrosion. Hmmm, Cherry, how is a penny like the skin or fur of an animal? Don’t know? Well, I mean…! Wait, neither do I.

Oh, I get it:  If it corrodes a penny (certainly, tougher than an animal’s skin), then it could certainly be capable of harming a pet’s skin. So, you could say it is possible, but that doesn’t prove the lawn care product is directly responsible. Or could you?

Maybe Doc could try reading the label on the bottle to see if the ingredients are listed, though I doubt Honest Ernest took the trouble to go through the EPA first. In any event, I’m interested to see the results.