Animator, illustrator, and artist Yehudi Mercado is responsible for the upcoming graphic novel Pantalones, TX which is being released this September through Archaia. He’s also got his ode to Community, ActionFigurology, along with homages to Game of Thrones and even the Biblical book of Esther in the pipe. Suffice it to say, he’s busy, but he was kind enough to take a couple of minutes out of his schedule to answer a few questions by e-mail about his upcoming work before C2E2 2012.
Find out more about Pantalones, TX, which Mercado calls “Smokey and the Bandit meets Peanuts” after the jump.
.Geek: So what does that mean anyway, it’s “Smokey and the Bandit meets Peanuts? Could you elaborate on that for our readers?
Yehudi Mercado: Pantalones,TX centers on a group of kids in a tiny Texas town. The town is so tiny that the local Sheriff is also the mayor, the school teacher and basically fulfills all of the town's authoritarian roles, which causes endless friction with the troublemaking kids. To be fair, it's more like a PG-rated South Park where the town revolves around this one group of kids and their shenanigans.
Geek: Walk us through some of your cast of characters.
Mercado: The ringleader is Chico Bustamante, he's a rough n' tough attention whore who is a legend in his own mind. A tiny Johnny Knoxville. He's the leap before you look type. Chico's best friend is Pig Boy, he's sweet and loves being Chico's second banana. When he's not seeking Chico's approval he's slurping on a frozen Slopee drink. New to town is Bucky Schultz, a timid fish out of water from the foreign land of New York City. He's the look three times before never leaping-type. Baby T is Chico's Corgi dog and co-pilot. The one cheerleader/ beauty queen in town is Kim-Marie Flynn, in true Texas fashion her hair gets bigger and blonder every year. Reporting on all the action is Alma Santa Maria Pantalones, she comes from a long proud lineage of Pantaloneses. Last but not least is the evil Sheriff Cornwallis, he's mean, he's power hungry and is only interested in pushing his delicious fried chicken and chicken fried products on the town folk.
A note about the three main boy characters (Chico, Pig Boy and Bucky), as a fat Mexican-Jew they represent the three Neapolitan portions of my personality.
Geek: Did you grow up in Texas or were you a transplant? How much of your life there inspired Pantalones?
Mercado: I was born in Mexico, spent some time in New Jersey but primarily grew up in Houston, TX. Pantalones, TX is most definitely inspired by my childhood in Texas. Asa kid we'd play in the sewers and bayous, I had a healthy aversion to authority figures and am equally horrified and proud of Texas. My dog's name is Texas.
Geek: Given your extensive animation work, can we expect to see Pantalones animated anytime soon?
Mercado: Nothing would thrill me more than to make Pantalones, TX into an animated series. It's come close several times. In fact I was hours away from getting an option from Disney Television, but the very next day Bob Iger took over for Michael Eisner and put a halt on all options, then cleaned house. I would love it to be on Cartoon Network. It would pair nicely with Adventure Time.
Geek: What was the path from animation and filmmaking to comics?
Mercado: I always drew as a kid, my father is an artist so I grew up with art supplies all over the house. Then in Jr.High and High School I got into theater. It wasn't until college where I discovered animation was the combination of acting and art. Animation propelled me into video games where I continued writing, designing characters and creating worlds. Filmmaking came later when I wrote a screenplay about my adventures as a Pizza Delivery Driver called
Geek: Who were some of your influences on both the animation and comics sides of things?
Mercado: Huge influences are Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCraken on the animation side. Their stuff for Cartoon Network was amazing. Comics side, it was Kevin Eastman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mike Zeck's Punisher miniseries and Secret Wars in the early 80s. Then I found Rob Schrab's SCUD and found my calling. I am a staunch advocate that there needs to be more comedy in comic books.
How did ActionFigurology start?
Mercado: I noticed other artists at conventions selling their versions of Batman and Ironman, I love TV so the first set of fan art I made was for Lost (blacksmokemoan.com) for which I immediately received a cease and desist call from Disney. I took it as a compliment—at least I was on someone's radar. I had been watching Community from the beginning and thought it was brilliant, when I love something I immediately search the internet for products I can buy to prove my love. The NBC store only had crap so I dreamt up a line of action figures for the show, and since all the show titles are fake names for classes I bought Game of Thrones of Muppets and the poster I did for Super 8 for which I got a handwritten note and a signed poster from JJ Abrams.
Geek: What else are you working on?
Pantalones, TX comes out in September. Hopefully I will be working on a sequel and an iPad game. I need to complete Throne of Secrets, it's my action packed Inglourious Basterds version of the Book of Esther (from the Bible). And then I'm either going to work on Rocket Salvage, my mechanics in space adventure comedy or MonsterJob Hunter, my Ghostbusters/Office Space horror comedy based on my short film, for which I received a cease and diciest letter from Monster.com.