Last weekend I was wandering around the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco gazing at all the art and zines and comics on display when I rounded the corner and a small comic called DARK PANTS by Los Angeles artist Matt MacFarland caught my eye. With a title like Dark Pants, you can understand why.
Be forewarned, for the rest of this review I will be writing the words “dark” and “pants” as often as I can.
Dark Pants #1 is the first part of a larger narrative telling the story of a mysterious pair of Dark Pants that travels around LA changing the lives of those who put them on. Issue #1 tells the story of Middle School Computer Science teacher Diego who’s still feeling the effects of a recent romantic breakup. Diego has lost his verve, his sense of self, and his masculinity at the same time. Life has lost its salt and he’s stuck looking backward at the expense of his future.
Then, impulsively, he buys the Dark Pants and everything changes.
What could easily be written off as a casual exploration of appearance vs. reality, the masks we wear in the world we walk, or how self and presentation intermingle to create attitude is subverted by MacFarland’s subtle, graceful, and mildly devious artistry. There is more going on in this book than just a man and his Dark Pants, something ominous, but something universally true. MacFarland is making statements through his casual cartooning about the dark side of personality. These Dark Pants reflect the tar pits inside of us, the ones that suck us down, hold us tight, and keep us from things. Put on Dark Pants and examine our own sense of failure, leading us to self-loathing and the anger it engenders.
Dark Pants accentuate the primal at the expense of our socialized mind and its over-reliance on coherence. Dark Pants bring out the beast in us, much to the horror of the conceptions of self we so tenuously clutch to, especially as the heat rises, certainly when lust boils in the back of the throat.
Is that blood or ketchup staining the Dark Pants? What does it really mean to be “a lady-killer”? Where do Dark Pants lead us? What do we lose in the darkness and can we ever get it back?
Dark Pants may also be the creative urge, the procreate desire to either take apart, construct, or destroy to create. Dark Pants are the Shiva in this mythology, wearing Vasuki as a belt. Do Dark Pants make your ass look fat? Not at all, baby, they make it look as enticing as Peach Cobbler suffused with everything held in Pandora’s Box.
Dark Pants are always in fashion, because Dark Pants dictate our desires.
MacFarland has got something in the works here. As the series continues, where the Dark Pants lead will be anyone’s guess. It is in the hands of the artist.
You can purchase Dark Pants #1 directly from Matt MacFarland via his website.