If you haven’t picked up a print newspaper in the last few months, or read Asian American Village, then, like me, you probably haven’t heard of Secret Asian Man either. But soon, newspaper-reading people across the US will know of it.
Written and drawn by cartoonist Tak Toyoshima, in May 2007 Secret Asian Man became the first comic strip featuring an Asian American leading character to become nationally syndicated in the US. Way to go Tak!
Born & bred in New York City, Tak now lives in Boston, though I won’t hold that against him (hehe). In an interview with Winston-Salem Journal, he tells of a highly creative & nurturing environment growing up:
My dad was an artist in Japan, my mom designed clothes. My older brother and I used to play hours of Dungeons and Dragons, drawing our characters, creatures, armor, weapons and treasures. We were allowed to draw on the walls, and the loft that I grew up in had my Dad’s metalworking machines, so I pretty much grew up in a creative environment.
His first break came when he landed a gig as an inker for the comic strip The Tick (Spoooooon!), then later as the art director of
Boston’s Weekly Dig, where in 1999 he began the Secret Asian Man.
Tak describes the strip as “an often brutally honest commentary on the state of race relations in America.” It features the lovable Japanese American cartoonist Sam Takahashi (modeled off of Tak, perhaps?) who’s wife is white and son is three years old. Other characters include “activist Grace, burly Charlie and well-intentioned-but-goofy Richie.”
You can check out a couple of month’s worth of strips on
his site or Comics.com, or even older ones at Asian American Village.