Crescendo!‏

Now there’s a plan…  Mark is going to dive off the boat and catch the mouth breather red-handed, or slimy finned, or something like that…  I am so glad they let us in on their scheme, I would hate to have been caught off guard as the Saturday strip ends with Mark going over-board (literally and figuratively…)  But if the concern is truly about Rusty (which it’s not) They could just wait for Bassy and catfish to abandon their van (which apparently has stealth/ cloaking capabilities) and knock on the window- “Rusty, lad, you in there?”  “Muff, muff,  mufff,” the bound boy would reply… The priority here is to catch Bassy doing something wrong (can we even say illegal?  Since I doubt that there are any actual laws being broken here… what, transporting large bass across state lines with the intent to marry them to illegal light up lures?)

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But what hash has Bluegill pulled from the cook-top?  A steaming bowl of orange, nondescript something… mashed sweet potatoes?  Ground catfish?  The mind races!  And have we ever seen Mark cook, other than over an open fire whilst camping?  I suppose that fits with the Tralian Milieu…

Smug much?‏

Again, tortured logic in play!  Why in the world does the execution of Rod and Catfish’s evil plan hinge on their maintaining custody of Rusty, tied up, in the “Rod Bassy Stealth Van?”  Wouldn’t it be easier to just (perish the thought) snuff the life out of the little hell-boy and dump his body in a culvert?  And for use later if questioned, manufacture a plausible alibi (“I was with him- and oh yea, I was with him… we were polishing lures and sharpening hooks”)

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The look on Trail’s face in the second panel is priceless.  Mark is so sure of himself, even though, again, his reasoning is without foundation.  Committing the classic “post-hoc, ergo propter hoc,” fallacy, mark is trying his best to put his powers of prefrontal cortex reasoning into play, only to embarrass himself…  The woodland creatures, in quiet rumination, mock his supposed mental acuity…

Tortured Logic…‏

“…tough to find a van with “Rod Bassy” emblazoned on the side?  Really?  Well, Mark agrees, so it must be so!  With all the fishermen in town? What, no women?  And the van was so difficult to find all the other days- “Oh, look, there’s Rod Bassy’s van…”  

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But let us take stock of the situation…  a suspected kidnapping and never a mention of getting the local constable involved.  It’s like the only law enforcement that exists in the Trailian Universe are Park Rangers and Game Wardens, both of which care little about the welfare of humans or enforcing the laws designed to protect them…  “…fewer people the better,” they’d say…

See Mark gritting his teeth?  If the camera were allowed to pan down, we would see his fists-o-justice clenched for sure!  I trust that I am not just getting my hopes up only to have them dashed…

Too bad they aren’t fly fishing- looks like the hatch is on!

Hold it, Rusty!‏

I bet by now he really has to go to the bathroom!!

“Act like I don’t know anything” will be an act all right… “Rusty? Rusty who? Don’t know who you are talking about Trail…  If it doesn’t have gills and I can’t put it in my gunny sack, I don’t much know or care about it.  I am all about the BASS, you know?  That’s why they call me ‘Bassy.’  If I cared about kids they’d call me ‘Kiddy’ and I’d paint THAT on the side of my van.”

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That has to be the saddest Rusty face I have ever seen!  Do you think he has now seen the error of his ways, how his intrepid, get the shot at any cost style, might finally be his undoing??  And the bullfrogs are weighing in on Rod’s plan…  can you hear them?  “Bullshit…. Bullshit…”

OK, now THAT’S Funny…‏

…NO REASON anyone will SUSPECT US!  I guess you’d be wrong. Mr. Bassy… Not long from now you will be getting your come-uppance…

Poor Rusty!  He can hear everything that these evil men are saying…

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I love the manufactured urgency from Mark… “We’ve got to find that van SOON…”  And the dramatic use of light and shadow in frame one… they must have learned that from the “Draw Tippy the Turtle, and you could qualify for a scholarship” School of Art found on old matchbook covers…

At least now we know why they call him Catfish!!‏

Lying in the murky depths, looking for the light-up lure…  I am really having trouble buying this whole thing though, I mean it’s just not plausible…  lots of trouble to go to in order to make sure that you are bringing in the biggest catch of the day.  And where do they get their fish? Keep them alive.  I am growing bored with this.  Mark better be sharpening his fists and wrap this up in the coming week, or…

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But note Mark’s priorities- (1) Catch them cheating and (2) recover Rusty.  These are two mutually exclusive objectives…  hmmm.  Very telling.

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OK, I am sorry, but what about all those bubbles rising to the surface?  What do you suppose those are?  Fish Farts??

Again with Rod’s EQUIPMENT… And worrying about EXPOSURE…  I would be worrying about too many double entendres…

And now for the anti-climax…‏

I suppose this is what happens when the audience gets so far ahead of the storyteller…  that when the plot turns or truths become known, it’s kind of ho-hum… But let’s think for a moment about the creative process that brought us to this point.  I mean, at some point, Elrod and Co. had to conceive of a plot line that would get us to this juncture- where a cocky bass fisherman has built an entire empire upon a lie.  It’s not the Lures, people, it’s the fact that he has a bald accomplice with gills that plants large fish onto his “light-up” lure… Do you suppose that there is drinking involved?  or is this a process where they pull slips of paper of of different hats, one labeled “characters'” another labeled “plot dirvers” (like ‘rusty being kidnapped…’) and away they go?

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Not to mention they probably have a library of clip art including ‘Mark looks concerned’ as in panel 3…  What do you suppose he uses on his hair? the way the light dances off’n it…