Filled with ridiculous amounts of irreverent fun, “Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out” features the coming-of-age tale of Chico Bustamante. Yehudi Mercado’s study of the town where underwear was invented feels like a modern-day allegory to “Peanuts,” welcoming readers of all ages and offering plenty of silliness built around a boy’s dream to become a Texas Legend.
As with all intentionally funny all ages material, there is plenty here to fuel laugh tracks of all ages and sizes, intellects and interests. I dialed in to the incredible faux ads and use of hackneyed Texas flora and fauna. After all, what could be funnier visually than a stagecoach wagon equipped with all-terrain tires being pulled by a team of six armadillos? Mercado’s art is strong, stylized and stylish, using graphic design sensibilities and fun filters to craft a memorable landscape visual collection that quickly establishes itself as a recognizable brand.
Mercado uses the story and dialog to display his saucy wit through such glorious descriptions as a mechanical bull being “raised only on habanero peppers, punches to the face and talk radio.” That bull, Devastator by name, is feared by the toughest of grown men and plays a critical role in the overall narrative of “Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out.” Mercado doesn’t limit his humor to the text of the tale, providing plenty of chuckle-inducing visuals and silly scene cues, like flashbacks that are branded with “A buncha years ago… ” coupled with scenery that includes school busses sinking into the Pantalones River and jackalopes roaming the desert.
The characters in “Pantalones, TX” are fun and entertaining. While there are several adult characters, the action of this adventure focuses on the kids of Pantalones, who actually play outside and interact with one another in person. The lead, Chico, is a loveable scamp who sometimes makes the wrong decisions, but is quick to correct his errors. He is surrounded by his pooch, Baby T, with whom he shares a solemn vow; Bucky Schultz, a transplant resident of Pantalones originally hailing from New York; Alma Santamaria, the town “reporter” who is never without her handicam; Kim-Marie, the cheer-filled cheerleader with a mean streak; and Pig Boy, who — well, let’s just say his name covers it pretty well.
“Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out” strikes me as a keen mashup of “Kim Possible,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “Reed Gunther,” “Looney Toons” and even a tiny bit of “Chew” with a bent sense of humor that plays to multiple audiences — and it doesn’t hurt to have a number of underwear references. After all, underwear references are the great humorous common denominator. I thoroughly enjoyed this madcap, unreserved romp through southwestern subculture misconceptions and exaggerations. Mercado’s given Archaia an offbeat brand to bring some silliness to their offerings. I’ll be looking forward to the further adventures of Chico Bustamante and his gang of pals as they continue to find excitement and adventure in the town where underwear was invented. I’m just not sure how Mercado’s going to follow up the attack of a giant chicken, though.