Henry Barajas is now calling parts for Gil Thorp

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Henry Barajas is now calling parts for Gil Thorp

Henry Barajasnew author of Gil Thorp comic, was kind enough to have a chat (via email) with The Daily Cartoonist about taking over as offensive coordinator for the long term (sixty-four years) Tribune Content Agency every day a month ago.

First, let Henry introduce himself:


My name is Henry Barajas and I write Gil Thorp with artist Rod Whigham. I’ve read comics all my life. I started reading comic books and Sunday jokes. Now I’m in the funny diaries – and I’ll live to tell the day!

I took over from Neal Rubin on Monday July 11. Please click here if you want to start from the beginning of this beautiful journey with me. I hope you subscribe to your local newspaper and read Gil that way. But the best way is to read it on GoComics where there’s a fun (sometimes harsh) community of Gil Thorp fans with the way they communicate. It’s unreal and confusing. But I love them.

Henry expanded on that a bit with The Daily Cartoonist.

I love comics and comics. Gil Thorp is one of those comedians that fell into my orbit when I was working in newsrooms because we were getting other newspapers from across the country. I’ve always jumped at funny since I was a kid.

The nice thing about Gil Thorp is that it’s more of a comic that reflects the times and the people and less of its actual space. I’ve already promised that this will be primarily a Gil Thorp story.

TDC asked about Henry, the comic book writer, adjusting to the daily rhythm of comics:

It was a fun exercise. There is a formula you can follow. I want my run on this strip to stand out, so some will have to adjust to a new pace. But I do my best to honor the creator Jack Berrill.

While there are continuity tapes, which won’t be named here, that seem to be hanging around with a single scene taking up an entire week, TDC is impressed with the faster pace Henry has brought to the daily funny pages. Trusted readers follow and even fill in some spots.

Thank you for saying that because I have a method. I write this in the spirit that I may remember the comics in graphic novel form. One thing I’ve learned from better writers than me is to never underestimate your audience – and the reader is always smarter than you. I intentionally leave things “vague” with a promise to follow through.

But it will take some getting used to for longtime fans. There was a tape when I had Rod Whigham do the heavy lifting. He drew a QB passing the ball to a receiver on the last down without dialogue. This threw people for a loop.

We asked about union advice and working with Rod Whigham.

I feel lucky because Tribune has been great with me. They give me room to do what I want to do with the strip. I really like the 6 day program. I would like a Sunday edition. But I’m happy with what I’m working with now.

Dedication to my editor Carrie [Williams] and the Tribune team. Rod is a dream to work with. He’s a professional. I wish we could clone him and he could draw all my ideas.

Although he somehow sidestepped the lead time issue:

We are working quite far ahead. Sometimes it’s best not to know how the sausage is made.

To research?

I’ve read a ton of GoComics archives. I purchased the one and only printed issue and the Gil Thorp Silver Yearbook collection. I’m really drawing inspiration from Berrill’s original vision. I think there are a lot of unexplored things. But my predecessor Neal Rubin was kind enough to leave me some documents giving me the lay of the land.

Henry on Luke Martinez, a new rival for Gil:

Luke Martinez is the opposite of everything Gil Thorp stands for. I think Gil deserves a worthy opponent, but someone who isn’t a total freak. We’ll learn more about Luke, and hopefully people will start opening up to him by the end of the year.

When Henry was first introduced to comic book audiences and Gil Thorp fans in particular, he said that Midford would encounter 21st century problems. We asked about the courting controversy.

I don’t want to say too much, but Gil will have to deal with something he had a heavy hand with twenty years ago. My career in mainstream comics gave me access to classrooms. Kids access the world on their phones, they vape, some are non-binary, and they face real dangers. I will do my best to reflect on what I have seen and heard with the utmost respect.

As Henry mentioned in his introduction, “there is a fun (sometimes harsh) community of Gil Thorp fans” who regularly post reviews on the GoComics site, and Henry has occasionally responded to some of the comments. We asked to wade through these snark infested waters.

I grew up on the internet. I went from discussion forums to creating my own site with GeoCities, and now to using social media. I have thick skin. But I also want to connect with people who read this tape every day. I want to give them a reason to come back, and I think they’re having fun with it.

We are grateful to Henry for accepting The Daily Cartoonist.

Read more about Henry’s pre-Gil career at NPR earlier this year.

This Week in Milford comments Gil Thorp’s comic daily.

That the author of a daily comic actively interacts with the readership of the comic speaks volumes, and in a positive way… Will we now behave better? No.

Henry Barajas comments on his Gil Thorp and that of Rod Whigham here

and has an ongoing dialogue with fans at discord here.

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