REVIEW: ‘Punk Taco,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Out of the mouths of sentient taco front men for intergalactic bands of aliens spreading love across the galaxy. Less catchy than “out of the mouths of babes” but since Punk Taco was co-written by illustrator Adam Wallenta and his then 5-year-old son Makana that might apply too. And it certainly has that blunt way of putting things in perspective that children are so good at. Wallenta wrote, illustrated and inked Punk Taco with story assists by Makana. The creative team is rounded out with letterer Gabriel Mayorga and colorist Lea Jean Badelles.

Punk Taco is an uplifting all-ages comic centering around the adventures of Punk Taco, a musician who finds himself caught up in interplanetary disputes and refugee rescue operations while out trying to buy ingredients for his famous nachos.

Punk (the taco’s stage name) has a chill laid back attitude but fiercely believes in equality and fairness and spreading love and music across the galaxy. He can’t help but help a hungry escaped prisoner separated from their family and when afterward he is kidnapped for his nacho recipe, he helps his kidnappers too both with helping fuel their ships and with defeating the orange bully attacking them.

The nice thing about the writing in Punk Taco is that it doesn’t shy away from making overt political analogies in a fun way. There are very real-world issues being tackled here and it doesn’t assume the intended audience is too young to understand. This leads to some clunkiness in the writing as interjections of lessons on how things should be are rarely smoothly inserted into works but there’s a charmingness to it too. While the long explanatory dialogue bubbles feel a bit out of place at times it is refreshing to see such political stances in an all-ages book and they seem like excellent ways to jump into conversations about real-world analogs with kids.

The urging to resist bullies and to help people in need and to ask questions when faced with the unknown rather than just assuming the worst are all great. Punk’s willingness to listen and go along with the flow are excellent qualities for a sentient taco. That being said, some of it feels like a white saviour trope being used in the narrative, especially when Punk calls the refugee a savage animal and then strips him of his name because he doesn’t like it which is uncomfortable and perhaps not the best lesson to be teaching kids. It’s important to respect names, no matter how silly or difficult they may seem.  Hopefully, in volume 2 this is smoothed out some.

The art and character design in Punk Taco are top notch. Makana helped to design the characters and we get to see some of his artwork in the book too. Fun and whimsical and high energy it’s definitely appreciated more than some of the lazy sexy humanoid designs we see in a lot of adult science fiction franchises.

The Kickstarter for Volume 2 of Punk Taco is currently going on with lots of cool related rewards and the opportunity to get signed copies of volume 1 and 2. If you’re just interested in volume 1 you can pick it up now.

Punk Taco Volume 1
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TL;DR

The art and character design in Punk Taco are top notch. Makana helped to design the characters and we get to see some of his artwork in the book too. Fun and whimsical and high energy it’s definitely appreciated more than some of the lazy sexy humanoid designs we see in a lot of adult science fiction franchises.