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Henry Barajas and Gil Thorp Getting Real – Fast

Friday introduced another real world, but heretofore unseen, occurrence into the World of Gil Thorp.

As the top commenter Ravenswing noted Friday about the new development:

Henry, I say this with all the wish to see you succeed at this as I may, but you need to slow your roll here. This is a daily comic strip, not a full-length novel, there are only so many subplots and asides people can swallow …

As it was, you started with a bunch of changes and twists: Gil’s and Mimi’s marriage in trouble, the return of Keri and Jami, Keri considering herself gender fluid and being at odds with her mother, the antagonistic newbie coach, Mimi’s mother terminally ill …

Not to mention a transgender student and a rivalry developing for Keri’s affections.

But there is a lot of work to do to bring Milford up-to-date.

Others joined in – some for, some against the multiple thread approach.

And it is hard to argue with commenter JymDyer who wrote: “Have you spent any time around high school kids lately? This strip is currently the most accurate portrayal I’ve seen anywhere.”

The comic strip’s writer, Henry Barajas, chimed in with a lighthearted response:

I appreciate the comment[s]! More plots and characters! Got it!

So The Daily Cartoonist asked Henry about the need for speed:

Henry: No. I’m not afraid of introducing new ideas, concepts, things we fear daily, and stories too fast. The thing about comics and strips is folks don’t read these daily. People often tell me I used to read Gil or that I haven’t read a comic strip in years. I have a year-long plan. I think I’m not getting through this fast enough. But I am listening. This ride is going 100 mph. I’m running red lights and stop signs. Buckle up, buttercup. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

In that case when can we expect a book banning story?

Henry: Book banning will come but probably next year. This is a real problem. We need to talk about these things. Sometimes it will interrupt the Leave It to Beaver vibe. Think of this like Gary Ross’ Pleasantville. The black-and-white facade is fading, and the hard colors are sinking in.

The old Gil Thorp had a game last for weeks, these days four strips is a long game. We mentioned a general liking of the family life being as important as the sporting life.

Henry: I call them story beats. Family problems and sports drama are equally important. Gil is not the same at the dinner table as when he’s on the field. There are different stakes involved. I’m getting the hang of the sport’s rules, but I’m having fun. The “rainbow kick” and “Thorp Special” are just funny. It’s called “funny papers” for a reason.

Some commenters noted that it is written as a comic book more than a comic strip. In rereading the strip in preparation we noted that it does read better in one or two week stretches. It seems to confuse the readers who take it one day at a time.

Henry: I can’t help that. I’m listening and adjusting my tone when needed. But they are mostly complaining about LGBTQIA+ representation and gender pronouns. 

Speaking of that we see readers enjoying rival coach Luke’s villainy as a worthy foe to Gil, but don’t see themselves as such when trashing the transgender, differently religious, and non-binary characters.

Henry: Luke lives in a special place in my heart. He’s the unabashed, insecure character that really makes Gil shine. Gil could have the keys to the town, but he’s a humble guy. Give Luke, he’s going to take 100 yards for the touchdown. I think it’s interesting that folks assume that Luke will act negatively toward non-binary characters. I can’t wait to challenge what the readers think about who Luke is and what he stands for.

We asked about Keri Thorp’s role in the comic strip.

Henry: I think Keri represents the brave children I see today. They’re the Greta Thunberg of Milford. The world is burning, and the kids will suffer the consequences. But kids will have kids problems, and I can’t wait to explore that with them and the rest of the youths.

Artist Rod Whigham is a generation older than you, is he with you on the NEW Gil Thorp?

Henry: Rod Whigham doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is. He’s the best artist I’ve worked with. We have chatted a couple of times about the more controversial stories and themes I want to discuss, and he’s game. 

© Tribune Content Agency

We older folks were used to duck and cover drills to survive The Big One, but we find it horrifying that schoolchildren now have the absolute need of active shooter drills to defend against U.S. citizens.

Henry: Mass shootings are preventable. The fact that the children and faculty are being trained to respond to a gunman with an AR15 is inexcusable. When I was a kid we had to do fire drills. We should’ve been prepared for mass shootings because Arizona would arm every man, woman, and child if they could afford to gut public education and divert tax-payers.

The Daily Cartoonist thanks Henry for being generous with his time.

You can keep track of Henry Barajas and Gil Thorp at Latinx Press.




Community Comments

#1 Eugenio
@ 8:03 am

Sorry, Henry: It’s not good if people can’t follow the story. And ignoring constructive criticism from the people who are actually reading it is egotistical and foolish.

A story about mass shooter drills can be good. But if people can’t follow it, it’s worthless. This is also not what they’re like at all, and some research into what you’re writing about might be a good idea.

#2 Joe T
@ 8:22 pm

Um, sorry Eugenio, but yes, some of the drills are EXACTLY like that. Maybe a small minority, but this type of drill has been run in some schools.

#3 Kurt Garbe
@ 11:53 pm

Keep up the good work, Henry. Art imitating life.

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