Dark Pants, issue 4 by Matt MacFarland

Comic: Dark Pants, issue 4
Release date:  Spring 2019
Writer: Matt MacFarland
Artist: Matt MacFarland
Cover: full-color
Interior: mostly black/white with some pages in color, 80 pages
Synopsis:  In issue 4 of the ongoing series, the mysterious pair of dark trousers finds Lisa DeSano, a married mother of two, who lives and works in Eagle Rock, California. Her innocent crush on her bearded and topbunned yoga instructor becomes much more serious and threatens to upend her entire life.

The Deal

I received an email from Matt MacFarland when he sent me a synopsis of the Dark Pants series and I was immediately intrigued by the concept. After I saw some of the panels I was completely sold on the idea. Matt sent me a hard copy of Dark Pants from the City of Angels and it arrived incredibly fast. I read the issue when we were on a long car journey. Since that first time I keep coming back to it and have now read it several times. Not just for the review, but also because the snippet of life depicted is so relatable. 

The Feel

The square comic has a full-color cover and mostly black and white interior with the exception of some pages which have been color enhanced. The stock paper used is the same for the cover and the interior, though the cover is thicker. The pages are held together with perfect binding. The printer did an excellent job on the books keeping everything nice and tight. 
The thing about using mostly black ink for the pages is that it's easy to spot the printer flaws. I can't find any they have been printed to perfection. The fully saturated ink has been evenly distributed and has been fully absorbed by the paper. The paper doesn't even have that fresh inky smell about it. The gradients in the water-colored pages are without banding or grain. Kudos to the printer because the watercolored panels look amazing.  

The Story

The main character, for this issue is Lisa DeSano. She's a successful realtor with her name, and face, plastered all over billboards in Eagle Rock, California and she is wife to Danny and mother of two boys. She's stuck in a rut and asks herself if this is the life she wants to lead. It's certainly not the life she'd dreamed of when she was younger. She longs for excitement, which she hopes to find with her yoga instructor who dons a 'man-bun' named Cal. The yoga lessons seem to be the only thing Lisa looks forward to. It certainly isn't doing the family's laundry or her real estate agency. She finds the beautiful dark pants with the snake logo on the back pockets and when she wears them she takes the first steps to change the rest of her life. She lies to her husband and goes out with the man-bun, which starts a cataclysmic series of events that change Lisa's life. 
If you think there's a wise lesson in these panels then you might be right. Living the life you lead might not be as bad as you think when you're lying in bed with an underperforming yoga instructor. The pants work in mysterious ways and in the end it's Lisa finds what she's looking for on a California highway. 

The Look

Matt's drawings are very expressive and his visual characterisations are very realistic. This fits perfectly with the mostly empty backgrounds, because the story becomes very character-driven. All characters feel so real you can probably substitute any of them for someone in your life. I've never been a big fan of black/white art, but it's artists like Matt MacFarland who are turning me into one. The dabs of color on the pages where the unnamed creature is seen are well thought out and they make the story come alive even more in those moments, giving them an almost dreamy state. 

The Conclusion

This story is fun to read and its easy to relate to the main protagonist and I think that's why I've read it a couple of times already. It's all about being human and it feels almost autobiographical. 
Matt takes us on a journey that we might be too scared to take ourselves. Is my life boring? Do I need to do something? Do I need freedom? Do I want freedom? Can I spruce life up without fucking it up? 
Time to don the Dark Pants in our own lives and maybe give life a little jolt. 
I hope Matt MacFarland gathers a following for these Dark Pants issues. I certainly love this issue and I would certainly buy it if I spotted it in my local comic store.

How to get a copy

There are some sexually explicit panels so if you're younger, or getting this issue for someone younger, you might want to take this into consideration. 
You can shop for a copy online at Matt MacFarland's own website where you can also buy some back issues of Dark Pants and his other comic series 'My Trouble with Crumb'. 
Dark Pants Issue no.4 can be store bought and ordered online from the LA County Story
If you'd like to buy your own hard copy, you can do so at the following stores in Los Angeles, California: A Shop Called Quest, Bookshow, Comics vs. Toys and The Pop-Hop Books & Print.
Keep your eye on this series, because the next instalment is titled 'The Origin of Dark Pants'. Now that really peaked my interest. I'm keeping my eyes on this series.
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