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Punk Taco Is Made up of Love and Peace: Interview with Adam Wallenta

Comics or Graphic Novels tend to be viewed as either literature or over the top super power fantasies, depending on the view point of the person. But what makes this medium so special is that it's fun. Yet, sometimes that fun is missing in comics. Yes, there's some great fun or all-ages books out there like Usagi Yojimbo and Yotsuba&!. But with the rise of Kickstarter, we've seen more creator owned titles move away from the serious toned content to more of a fun and hopeful material towards an all-ages audience. Punk Taco is one of those books looking to bring the fun and hope back in comics.

Created by Adam Wallenta and his five year old son Kirby. Punk Taco is an all-ages fun, wacky, space adventure, sci-fi book. Punk Taco and his band mates rock out and spreading the message of love and peace across the galaxy. CBNAH spoke with Adam to talk all things Punk Taco and peace and love.

CBNAH: Your son, Kirby, came up with the idea of Punk Taco. Where and how did the concept get started?

Adam Wallenta: The name Punk Taco actually originated about 10 years ago from a conversation with my young nephews. It stuck with me all this time and about a year ago I mentioned it to my son and he cracked up laughing and out of nowhere he just started coming up with a story about who Punk Taco is and what he does and who his friends are and this nemesis of his. It was this elaborate freestyle of thoughts and he just made it up as he went and I was taking notes. It was really inspiring and brilliant because it was so pure and innocent. We were just sitting in our play room surrounded by toys and Lego and all kinds of creative visuals and next thing you knew we had this concept for a story. I started sketching the characters in crayons and then I later refined them.

CBNAH: What's the creative process like working with your son? How do you both balance ideas out?     

Adam Wallenta: It was very organic. He was 4 at the time when we started this and now he is 5 and only recently he had this amazing breakthrough where he is reading on his own and writing his own stories. So when he first came up with the story for Punk Taco that we are telling it was all verbal and acted out. I might have recorded it. I need to look. So the whole process is just a typical day for us, hanging out and talking and being silly. We have dozens of these little stories we brainstorm back and forth. Now because I am turning it into an actual book I have to take all this silliness and format it and try to have it make some sense so other people can enjoy it as well. It's not complicated but I have to edit this stream of thoughts that will often go in all kind of directions.           

                                                   

CBNAH: How did Gabriel Mayorga got involved in this project?

Adam Wallenta: Gabriel and I have been working together for awhile. He's awesome. I hired him to help pencil another one of my creations that I wrote which I am still inking and coloring. It's a much larger project and about 250 pages. I don't want to talk too much about it because it's not done but we will release that one next.

CBNAH: Do you find any challenges in doing an all-ages comic? Any ideas you had to scale back on?

Adam Wallenta: Every project has their challenges because you want to make the best possible product you can. I don't really struggle with creative challenges in regards to coming up with ideas, it's more challenging to figure out how to bring all the ideas to life. Because this is an all-ages book I actually found it quite liberating to be completely wacky and silly. I wasn't concerned about reality or making something that would win a pulitzer. We just wanted to have fun and make people smile and laugh. I guess that can be challenging because what may be funny to me and my kid may not translate but we were just being true to ourselves and that is all we can do. It certainly wasn't a project that either of us over thought. Nothing really got scaled back except the scope of the story. Our budget is limited at the moment to what we can produce so if we can raise more money through Kickstarter we can expand the story.

The biggest challenge for me is time and resources. Time because you don't want to trap yourself in a quest for perfection. You want to get it done and release it and move on but you still want it to be awesome so people love it. Resources goes back to time because you can go broke trying to perfect a project plus you need these creations to earn back what you put into them. Those are the biggest challenges.


CBNAH: After this initial volume, how much of the story have you planned out?

Adam Wallenta: My son and I brainstormed a bunch of adventures and I refined a few ideas but overall I wanted to see if the people supported this book first. I've been publishing a long time and I know not everyone is going to love every project. As a small independent publisher I have to be smart with what I spend my time on creating and smart with how I spend my money. If the people don't dig Punk Taco and don't support it I'll have to focus on a project they will. So for now I want to make this one the best I can and we'll see how it goes.

CBNAH: The main message of Punk Taco is about peace and love. How important is it and do you feel that this message is somewhat missing in life around us?

Adam Wallenta: It's very important to me personally and my son loves action and battles as much as the next kid but when it comes down to it he always prefers "nice shows" or "nice books" because he is naturally a kind spirit and wants to be loved and wants to help spread love. He loves making people laugh and loves being silly. There is an endless supply of amazing dark, realistic, post-apocalyptic, angry books. I enjoyed many of them. There's tons of great comics about damaged heroes, struggling and battling the forces of evil hell-bent on spreading doom and gloom. I still love these kinds of books although I don't read them as often. But we wanted to create something silly and fun that wasn't so serious. Hopefully we can bring some smiles and laughter to our readers.

CBNAH: On Facebook you recently posted that you were getting stressed about funding this project. If this project doesn't funded, do you have a backup plan for it? And have you gotten any support and advice from creators?

Adam Wallenta: It's definitely stressful because you really have to keep promoting the hell out of the campaign and as an artist that is the last thing I want to do. I want to just write, draw, ink, color....get the book done. But I spend a lot of time trying to connect with people and promote the book. I like connecting with supporters but it definitely takes away from the creative work. Every Kickstarter creator fantasizes about getting funded overnight and raising above and beyond their goal and we stress out every second it's not funded.

If we don't reach our goal I will be extremely disappointed but I still plan on producing this book. I started publishing in 1996, way before crowd funding. I did it with my own money then and I will do it that way again if need be. It will just take longer to bring to life.

I haven't gotten much advice this time around. I've read a lot of advice online and researched for this project more than my past musical projects though. There is a ton of great advice out there.


CBNAH: Did you see Punk Taco as a figure that can help and provide a strong inspiration for kids today?

Adam Wallenta: I would love that. I try to be a responsible creator no matter what I am creating and always have some kind of positive message but Punk Taco is ultimately just a silly fictional character. If he inspires children I am all for it but I will be equally honored if people just read the book and think it's a great story and it brings a smile to their faces. That's our goal- bring a little joyful escape.

CBNAH: With the concept of a sentient taco, did you see the readers or children not eating tacos or being freaked out trying to eat tacos?

Adam Wallenta: HAHA. That didn't cross my mind really but now that you mention it. Probably not. Kids love all kinds of characters they eat in real life- there are talking vegetables, talking cows, pigs, chickens. Hopefully we don't hurt the taco industry. I was hoping for an endorsement deal. Haha


CBNAH: You did a special bonus art piece of Punk Taco punching Trump (Which as you is a special homage to Captain America #1 where Cap punches Hitler). How did the idea of this piece came up?  

Adam Wallenta: The Punk Taco punching Trump piece will probably cost me some supporters but I'm a very politically opinionated person and that also seeps into everything I do. I couldn't help myself. The idea came when Trump said something like "there will be taco trucks on every corner", as if that is a bad thing. I also loathe this growing movement of white nationalism and nazis that support him. He has embraced them by not condemning them and treating them like the terrorists they are. So being a huge Jack Kirby fan and a person who hates nazis and racists I figured how perfect would it be for Punk Taco to punch Trump in the face. In the background we have Ann Coulter and Scott Baio, two vile Trump supporters.

You can check out the Kickstarter page for Punk Taco here.

 

 

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