Exclusive Interview With Punk Taco Creator Adam Wallenta

I had a nice email chat with Punk Taco creator Adam Wallenta who is currently running a Kickstarter for the comic. I talked with him about Punk Taco and got to know more about the long and varied career of Adam Wallenta.



Punk Taco has to be special for you cause you wrote this with your 5-year-old son. How did that come about?

It’s very special to me. The name Punk Taco had been bouncing around in my head for almost ten years after joking around with my nephews. I knew I wanted to develop it but never had time. Or rather time flew by at the speed of light.

Then about a year ago I told my son about this name, and he started cracking up. He started making up this story about Punk Taco and who he was and what he did and who his nemesis would be. We acted it out and joked around a lot, coming up with the story, and I took his wacky thoughts and did my best to balance his child brilliance with a correctly formatted story. Based on his descriptions I designed the characters and wrote the script and hired my friend Gabriel to help with the art.
It’s a great feeling to work with my little man. I love sharing ideas and laughter with him and taking his enthusiasm and silliness and harnessing that to create something others will enjoy hopefully.  He loves to read and write stories right now, and I want to keep encouraging that so hopefully this inspires him to don more as well. I know it is inspiring me.
Aside from the inspiration of your son, what else inspires you to make comics?

I find inspiration all around me. I’ve loved comic books all my life. I started reading them when I was about 6, and I’m going to be 43 soon. So at this point, it is in my blood. Other artists and creators inspire me. Not just the ones working now but also the legends. I still read and go back to the classics, and I find great inspiration in everything Jack Kirby did. John Romita, Steve Ditko Rich Buckler, John Byrne, John Buscema, Ross Andru…these are the guys I grew up on. Also Arthur Adams, Lee Weeks, Paul Smith. So many great artists. Not to mention all the amazing writers.

The world, in general, is pretty inspiring. All of the beauty and ugliness inspires endless stories and art. This is always a tough question because there really is so much inspiration all around us and I’m always looking to the past, the present and thinking of the future- it’s all inspiring. Right now the basic thrill of getting this book done is inspiring me to work my butt off to bring the people a great product. I’m inspired by all of the support we are getting, and I don’t want to let anyone down.
Punk Taco is not your first comic. You have also worked on the official Public Enemy comic book. How in the world did you land such an awesome project like that? 
I actually started out as an intern at Marvel Comics many years ago and got my first professional work from them as a colorist. While I was at Marvel, they had a music division for a very brief period, and they were trying to put together a Public Enemy comic.
It was never released though because they cancelled that division for some reason I think that was around 94-95. In 1996 I started the publishing company American Mule Entertainment and for many years published an assortment of independent projects that focused on offbeat, humorous superhero titles.
Besides being a writer and an illustrator, I am also an emcee and have been recording and releasing music independently since 1992. Around 2001-2002 I was actually on tour opening up for Public Enemy, and I got to talking with Chuck D about our love for comic books, and I told him that I had an idea for a PE comic and he said: “Do it!” So with his help, we put it together and made it happen. It was extremely organic and natural. I loved Public Enemy, and comics and the two worlds fit together perfectly.  This was way before the “HipHop and Comic Books” craze, so we didn’t get to capitalise on that, unfortunately.
One of the great things that came out of it was I was able to start the original HipHop and Comic Books panel at NYCC that is still flourishing to this day thanks to my friend and moderator Patrick Reed. Now the panel travels to conventions all over the country and is usually one of the highlights of any con.
Because I work as both an illustrator and emcee I’ve been fortunate to illustrate and design albums for some of the greatest, including KRS-One, DJ Premier and Bumpy Knuckles, Craigh G, Blueprint, J-Live and more. Now if only Marvel would let me illustrate a HipHop variant cover for them. Haha.
That would be pretty cool! You have recently retired from the independent HipHop/music scene. Was it something in particular that made you decide this or was it just the grind wasn’t worth it anymore? And will comics like punk Taco become your main focus? 
I don’t know if retired is the correct word. I temporarily quit a lot. HipHop is in my blood. It’s part of who I am, and it is in everything I do. I do get frustrated with the business side of the music, and sometimes my emotional artist side gets the best of me, and I throw down my towel and scream “that’s it, I’m done!” But whether I actually stick to my guns and never record, only time will tell. So far I’ve been a pretty lousy quitter. I don’t mind grinding; I love working hard and creating despite whether the things I do are deemed a success by others but life, in general, gets tiring.
Now that I have a family I have fewer hours to myself. I can’t really do shows out of town that don’t pay well, and I can’t afford to record albums and release them for free. And when I say,’s not so much about actual money it’s all about time. I just don’t have the time. Any time I do have needs to be working on something I can release and get a return out of.
Right now I am very focused on my new books and my new publishing company and getting this off the ground. I want to build something I can pass down to my kids. So the goal is to definitely take Punk Taco as far as we can and use this momentum to keep creating and releasing new books and projects.
The age old stereotype is that comics are just for kids. You and I know this is not true. In fact, there are very few quality all-ages comics out in the market today. Was that also another motivation to make Punk Taco?
Absolutely. I keep hearing the big two want to make their comics more accessible to young readers but the product shows otherwise. I’m not saying they are bad, but I have yet to find any that are really for kids beyond the occasional Tiny Titans type book. Most aren’t even accessible to young adults. It’s sad. There are some non-traditional comic/graphic novel publishers producing some great books, though. So yes- my mission, for now, is to create books for kids and provide a little balance
That is great to hear!  What other types of comics do you have planned beyond the campaign? 
Before we decided to bring Punk Taco to life, I was in the middle of inking another project I have yet to announce. We have 250 pages completed, and I will get back to that next, but right now we are 100% committed to making Punk Taco a success. The other project is also for young readers but Punk Taco more so and we really wanted to take advantage of the fun contagious energy his creation inspired. It just felt like the right time for Punk Taco.
The types of comics I’m focused on these days are definitely all-ages and young adult. I have other adult projects in my head, but right now while my kids are young, I want to make books for them and with them. 

The Punk Taco campaign is currently just over 50% funded with $2,335 of $4,000 goal with 49 backers and 22 days left to reach their goal (Thu, March 9, 2017, 7:40 AM EST is the deadline)
If you are interested in getting a copy of Punk Taco check out the reward tiers on Kickstarter
Follow Adam Wallenta on Twitter

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  1. illusmedia
    February 14, 18:26 illusmedia

    Thank you to everyone for checking out this great interview and supporting Pop Culture Pipe Bomb and thank you for supporting Punk Taco!

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