Shaloha, readers! Jason Enright, here! I recently caught up with comic creator/animator/man-of-many-talents Yehudi Mercado to discuss his new Archaia graphic novel, Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out. Here’s what he had to say about his hilarious, new book.
This interview was conducted on January 29, 2013.
Jason Enright: What is Pantalones, TX, all about?
Yehudi Mercado: Pantalones, TX is about a tiny, Texas town (where underwear was invented) and the pack of troublemakin’ kids who rule it. Chico Bustamante, the town’s mini-Burt Reynolds Bandit, runs amuck and makes life a living hell for the corrupt Sheriff Cornwallis. The first story, Don’t Chicken Out, is all about Chico betting the Sheriff that he can ride the Sheriff’s giant chicken for 9 full second. If Chico wins, he gets to eat the giant chicken. If Chico loses, the giant chicken gets to eat Chico.
Two themes that repeatedly pop up in all my creations are Manhood and Questioning Authority. In this story Chico must train harder than he’s ever trained in order to ride the giant chicken. He even goes so far as to get a Bar Mitzvah in order to become a man. I was always in trouble all through junior high and high school, because I had the knack to piss off teachers and principles. Everything I say comes out as snarky and sarcastic, so authority figures automatically think I’m undermining them. So, I spent a lot of time in detention for things such as “Jiving” and wearing a tuxedo to school.
JE: How did you come up with this crazy group of characters and this funny town?
YM: Each of the main characters is a part of my personae. I’m a fat, Mexican Jew and the three main characters are Chico, Bucky, and Pig Boy. South Park was a big influence in the way that it’s about a small town with its own set of rules. Also, Blazing Saddles was major inspiration for the insane mix-up of weirdos. It all started as a pitch to Disney as an animated series; it was originally called Speed Trap, TX.
JE: How do you find a balance between the humor and the action, and yet still make the story appropriate as an all-ages book?
YM: The balance between humor and action is something I do naturally. I loved movies like Beverly Hill Cop, Ghostbusters, and Midnight Run as a kid and later movies like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim. Everything I do has action and humor in it. Buffalo Speedway (my pizza boy comedy) is full of car chases and shoot outs. Monster Job Hunter is my nerds vs. monsters property; it spoofs the Kaiju/Godzilla genre while still adding to the genre. I think the key is to have real stakes, real danger. In Pantalones, TX, Chico feels nervous before riding the giant chicken and when things go haywire and the town is in peril, the kids feel scared. And, that fear helps sell the funny parts like when Chico wears the Sheriff’s mustache and Stetson and takes everything super seriously.
JE: What can we expect to see next from you? More comics, cartoons, or more crazy art mashups on tumblr?
YM: Next up is an animated short for Pantalones, TX, called Ghost Town and Down; it’s all about how Chico and Sheriff Cornwallis must band together to stop Pantalones from becoming a ghost town by Day of the Dead sugar ghosts. It’ll be about 7 minutes, and I’m hoping to raise some money on Kickstarter to help finish it. I had a friend of mine write a Pantalones, TX, theme song and it’s amazing. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. And, I’m also working on the second Pantalones, TX, book called Night of the UnderwearWolf. This story centers a little more on the girl characters when Alma becomes an underwearwolf, but also gets to converse with Baby T (Chico’s corgi).
JE: Ok, pitch time. Why should people who read this hop into their chicken taco trucks and head to their local comic shop or book store to buy Pantalones, TX?
YM: If you’re a fan of Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, or Regular Show, then I think you’ll dig the irreverent humor and action. It reads like a cartoon and it will make you want to eat fried chicken, jump in a go-kart, and get in a car chase. To celebrate the release, I’m having a Book Release Rodeo at Austin Books & Comics on March 9th. There will be free BBQ, live music, sketches, prizes, and you’ll get to meet the real Baby T.
Learn more about the book at www.PantalonesTexas.com.