Chico Bustamante is the coolest kid in small Pantlones, Texas, a place where the canyons are vast, the cars run fast and the chickens grow huge.
This new all-ages graphic novel from the good folks at Archaia is a thrilling, dynamic story full of high adventure, dramatic chases, giant battles and some good friendship, all wrapped up in a wonderful animated style.
Pantalones reads like a never-filmed cartoon that your kid begs you to watch with him, full of characters that would comfortably appear on children's clothing that your kid would wear out. There's Chico himself, who declares himself a legend in Pantalones. There are his loyal friends Bucky (who hails from New York – which is not a foreign country) and Pig Boy (who is, yes, a boy with pig paws and a pig's nose – and no, that's never explained in Pantalones). The book gives us Alma and Kim-Marie, two cool girls who work for the town radio station and are desperate for excitement. And of course we get the villains: Sherriff Cornwallis and his little friends Scotch and the Wedgies.
These characters are all so well thought out that it's obvious that Mercado has given his setting a lot of consideration, that this is the first of what he hopes will be a great multimedia explosion of stories featuring these characters. And, you know, based on the quality of this book, that would be a good thing for any families who pick up this book.
Pantalones, TX is full of entertaining, kid-friendly action. The opening race scenes are fun and silly and outlandish and awfully darn exciting, full of clever jokes that some smarter kids might get and some dumb jokes that are perfectly kid-friendly. Next the scenes when Chico works to figure out what stunt to take on are full of ridiculous puns, silly humor and a large dose of wackiness.
But all that panes before the giant chicken that pops up towards the middle of the book – a chicken so big it blocks out the sun, that makes men faint, priests cross themselves and the sheriff dream of winning blue ribbons. The specter of the chicken makes everyone frightened, but our hero knows he has to summon up his courage and ride the chicken, rodeo style. This is all pretty much the definition of "madcap", something that most any elementary school kid will love.
This is most definitely a graphic novel for kids or for adults who love graphic novels for kids. If you love that sort of thing or have a kid who would love that sort of thing, this wacky new graphic novel is for you.