Readers who love the dozens of genres celebrated at the Tucson Festival of Books will also get to meet authors at special panels this weekend.

For comic book author Henry Barajas, it’s a homecoming of sorts. His journey has taken him from Tucson to Los Angeles and several big-name comic studios.

This Sunday, Barajas will share his family’s history in Tucson and Southern Arizona. That history, he said, shaped the heroes and social issues he highlights in his works.

Before he sits down for that panel discussion, Barajas wanted to visit one of his favorite places growing up: Fantasy Comics on First Avenue, north of Grant. Back in the 1990s, Barajas said his parents bought comic books thinking they’d be worth a lot of money to sell in the future.

They didn’t expect him to read the boxes of issues cover-to-cover. The experience sparked his love for the art form, and at an early age, Barajas said he also learned about civil rights leaders like his great-grandfather Ramn Jaurigue.

In his research as an adult, Barajas said he took a deep historical dive into how Jaurigue helped found the group La Voz de M.A.Y.O. (Mexican-American, Yaqui & Others) and, in turn, helped the Pascua Yaqui tribe and community gain official recognition from the United States government.

Barajas said he’s grateful this passion project turned into a book that Joe Schmidt, an educator and contact in New York City, felt was so important it had to be shared in schools thousands of miles away.

“He incorporated ‘La Voz de M.A.Y.O.’ into the New York public education curriculum, which is the largest in the nation,” Barajas said. “Millions of children are going to read (it) in New York and learn about Tucson and my great-grandfather.”

This partnership gave Barajas the idea to write his newest comic book another project into a historical figure who also shaped history.

Barajas pointed out that presently, many kids in Arizona schools may know much more about Cesar Chavez’ legacy as a labor activist. Students, however, may now less so about how Dolores Huerta, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, and co-founded the United Farmworkers Association.

Through that partnership with the NYC Department of Education, Barajas found the support to write a biography on Huerta, but he also wanted to highlight how Asian farm workers played a pivotal role in changing the history of labor rights in the U.S. after the 1965 Delano grape strike.

“I hope (this book) challenges people and what they think they know,” Barajas said. “I learned a lot and I hope… they learn something, and that’s the goal if you’re picking up a comic and you learned something that you would have never thought you’d be able to glean from something like this.”

When he comes back home, Barajas also likes to visit another part of his neighborhood. This week, he made time to visit teenagers inside the Pima County Juvenile Corrections Center in South Tucson along Ajo Way.

For Barajas, these visits are a chance to show the next generation two things: art can give them a tool to express themselves, and a reminder that their current situation is only a bump in the road of a long life filled with promise.