Henry Barajas is the writer behind La Voz De M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo, which is live on Kickstarter through Wednesday, October 3. From the campaign’s description:
La Voz De M.A.Y.O. is the true story of Ramon Jaurigue, an orphan and WWII veteran who co-founded the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization, which successfully lobbied the Tucson City Council to improve living and working conditions for members of the local Pascua Yaqui tribe. Largely due to Ramon’s activism, both in M.A.Y.O. in and with Model Cities Program, Yaqui were successfully integrated into the expanding metropolis of Tucson: families bought property, roads and sidewalks were built, and sewage systems installed. Ramon and his colleagues even founded a night school to help adults learn English and established the region’s first low-cost clinic to offer birth control.
We asked Henry some questions about his comic, goals, and creative team (artist Jason “Gonzo” Gonzalez and editor Claire Napier).
What were the origins of La Voz De M.A.Y.O. as a comics project? How did you decide to start this undertaking?
I was no longer working for the Tucson Weekly. I was working for bars, doing stand-up comedy to keep the lights on, and hosting a radio show. I needed to do some self-discovery, so, I wanted to write about my family. I was told my entire life that my great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, did great things but they never told me the whole story. I wanted to put that oral history down so my family can share it with their curious youths in the future.
What does this project mean to you personally?
Everything. Honestly. This is my family’s history. I want to do them right and honor the Pascua tribe. This is Tucson history that has been long forgotten.
How much real-life detail were you able to incorporate into the finished product?
It’s based on true folklore. I have a lot of data, tangible evidence to support my story. The accomplishments are based on fact but it’s sensationalized. I’m lucky to have my family do a lot of research and newspaper clippings. I also tracked down some of the original MAYO and some of the families from the ones that passed.
What was it trying to fit your great-grandfather’s life in 32 pages? The kickstarter description paints quite a picture of him. Are there more issues/stories you would like to share about M.A.Y.O.?
It was fun and daunting. I have a four-issue mini-series in mind. I hope I get to tell the whole story. I want to tell my Tata Rambo’s bio, how the tribe got its recognition, and my tata’s downfall.
Based on the art on the kickstarter page, it looks like Jason “Gonzo” Gonzalez really drew the hell out of this.
Gonzo is doing amazing work. He is taking this seriously. He lives in Arizona so he knows the landscape and vibe. He truly is the best person for the job.
What was Claire Napier like as editor?
Claire is a serious talent. She works like she has something to prove. Her notes challenge me and help make this better than I could ever imagine it.
(For the skeptical readers out there ) How’s production coming along?
Expect a PDF on Columbus Day.
What’s on your horizon, project-wise?
I’ve got stuff cookin’ but this is taking up my undivided attention.
Thomas is a teen services librarian who reads way too many comics. He can be found gobbling pancakes at the nearest diner with Jessica Cruz, Forsythe Jones III, Jane Foster, and Hellboy. He reviews media for the public here and graphic novels for librarians at No Flying, No Tights.