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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Rafael Garcia: Henchman is the Latinx Bond comic we need right now

By Henry Barajas
Rafael Garcia Henchman Cover by Ramon Villalobos

When you think of spies and espionage you don’t typically picture Latino leads who work in the janitorial department. But two-time Emmy Award-winning author Peter Murrieta (for Wizards of Waverly Place) and David Schrader are flipping the script and doing something a little bit different with their Kickstarter campaign to fund Rafael Garcia: Henchman, an original comic series they’re co-creating, which they launched the Kickstarter for in August.

Rafael Garcia is an action/comedy, described as a cross between James Bond and Office Space. We are introduced to Garcia when he is trying to get a promotion at his dead-end job at a diabolical rogue corporation, hoping this advancement in his career will impress his ex-girlfriend. But his life is turned upside down when he learns a dark secret at the heart of his employer, Maverick Inc. You can see the 20 years of experience come through artist Ben Herrera's storytelling in the preview pages teased on Kickstarter. Emmanuel "Menyo" Torres' color art highlights the action, while Clay Adams' well-placed lettering spotlights not only the art but the script by Murrieta and Schrader.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, Murrieta took time from polishing his Emmy awards to give SYFY WIRE a deeper look at Rafael Garcia: Henchman.

Is Rafael Garcia based on anyone you know — or is the character something you want to see in superhero/espionage comics?  You don't see many overweight, brown lead characters to be the super spy who saves the day and gets the girl. What do you think readers are going to identify with Garcia most?

I feel like the whole book is about diving into the lives of people who aren’t often the center of a story. Whether it’s a henchman for a super-villain, or a Mexican American in a superhero universe, or a guy with a dad bod who isn’t a dad, representation matters, and this book is for anyone who wonders what it’s like to move and shift the lens on stories.

You've had so much success in the television world, why not try live action or animation first? I'm sure you're aware of the financial rewards — if there are any — that come with making a comic. Why write a comic book?

I’m a lifelong comic book reader and fan. Been to San Diego [Comic-Con] every year since 1997, and been reading comics since 1977! I love them so much, and they taught me so much about storytelling in my day job of being a TV writer. I can’t believe it took me this long to take the plunge, but I love that I did. It’s about getting this story into the world with a kick-ass team of Latinx artists doing cool covers and pinups and posters that makes it all worth it.

Do you have a dream cast for your comic, if it were to get adapted for film, TV, or animation?

I know so many actors who would just kill at this. I have a dream cast, but let’s take it one step at a time, get the book out there and get people seeing how exciting it is. There’s a character in there called Danny, who looks like Danny Trejo, and I wouldn’t want anyone doing that voice except Danny Trejo, so there’s at least that one I’ll tell you about. 

Rafael Garcia: Henchman

Why was it essential to publish the book in Spanish? Are there any Spanish comics, films, or television shows that you enjoyed as a kid that you're trying to pay homage to? 

The El Santo movies were big as a kid. And I’ve been trying to just move our stories into the world by announcing, “Here we are!” The true inspiration for doing this with Rafael Garcia: Henchman was [publisher] Michael Calero from Starburns, he brought it up first. And when he did, I jumped. I had just written a foreword to an amazing bilingual book, Quince, for FanBase Press and really loved it, so it was a no-brainer.

This Kickstarter campaign is to fund the first issue. What are your plans for the next issues, and how long are readers going to have to wait to see what's next for Garcia?

We are thrilled we funded on the first day, in 12 hours. And now we get to try and go for these stretch goals. I feel like we have a chance to go all the way to the trade paperback, which would collect Issues #1-3. Dave and I have plotted out two more arcs after that, following Rafael’s life and his move through his world. I want to keep the book going, for sure. 

Tell us about your creative team. I'm sure you're used to working with a whole fleet of people. How does this compare to your day job to working with a few artists instead of a major studio?

Well, I still have that other job, too. I’m always thinking about my work as a collaboration – and with this one, it’s with super cool artists like Ben Herrera (X-Men Adventures), colors by Emmanuel Torres, and letters by Clay Adams — with a cool alt cover by Kyle Roberts. Also adding variant covers and pinups are superstar Latinx artists Ramon Villalobos, Dan Mendoza, Jules Rivera, and Orlando “Mexifunk” Arocena.

Starburns Industries Press has a record of publishing funny comics by the likes of Patton Oswalt. Were you nervous about delivering, or is Starburns the best place to publish a story like Rafael Garcia?

[Laughs] Great question. Look, I’m not a standup, but I’ve been writing comedy for 20 years, and I’ve got a couple of Emmys for it. I’m not afraid of No One!