5 Questions with Stephen Shaskan!

PIZZA AND TACO creator Stephen Shaskan answers some important questions about his new graphic novel series!

Why do you love comics? 

I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics–my favorites were the X-Men and Teen Titans. I immediately connected to them because I loved to draw and didn’t like to read. I loved the use of visual story telling and poured over the art on each page. I was considered a reluctant reader (or whatever name they had for it back in the late 1970’s) but somehow managed to read thousands of comics. The art drew me in and I was hooked.

What inspired Pizza and Taco?

My wife Trisha Speed Shaskan and I worked together on the graphic novel series Q & Ray. I fell in love with the comic form. It brought back so many fantastic memories of reading and drawing comics as a kid. For the Q & Ray series, Trisha and I presented at many schools together and had students help create a group of comic characters; pizza and tacos were always the characters’ favorite foods. I always like to put a little nonsense in my stories, so having a slice of pizza and a taco be best friends that have a rivalry worked perfect.

Your favorite part of the first story? 

I think my favorite part of this story is Pizza and Taco are not perfect. They make mistakes. They aren’t always good friends. They are self-absorbed and sometimes a little jerkish to themselves and others, but in the end they also really love and need each other as friends. And it’s that friendship that shines through. For being a slice of pizza and hard shell taco they are extremely human.

Tell us how you get started on writing a new story

The Pizza and Taco series is a new way of creating stories for me. For each story, I’ve started sketching and writing the story in my sketchbook from beginning to end. I just run with the idea and keep going until it’s finished. My sketches are super loose; a triangle for Pizza and a semicircle for Taco. I’ve never had typed manuscript; the story is handwritten in speech bubbles in my sketchbook and then transferred to type in speech bubbles in the finished art. These stories really have been writing themselves; there is something about them that is so natural for me to create.

The really hard question: Team Pizza or Team Taco? 

This is a really hard question. My favorite is New York style pizza. I grew up in Upstate New York with amazing pizza, but then I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and at the time there was only one good pizza place for NY pizza: Galooney’s (two slices and pop $5) run by a guy who moved from Brooklyn and he imported his water from NYC (or so the legend goes). Sadly, Galooney’s closed, but there have been a few places that have popped up: fancy ingredient pizza places like Pizza Lola, a great local Neapolitan pizza chain called Punch, and a fantastic local coal fired pizza chain Black Sheep Pizza (my personal favorite; their fennel sausage reminds me of home). Since I’ve moved to Minneapolis there have also been so many amazing Mexican restaurants and food trucks like Maya, Los Ocampos, El Burrito, Taqueria Victor Hugo, El Ranchito, and Taco Taxi and they all serve the best tacos. But hands down if it’s pizza vs. taco gringo (hard shell, ground beef, Ortega seasoning, and yellow cheese), pizza wins.

 

Are you Team Pizza or Team Taco?

 

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