Charlie discovered yet another reason to look in the mirror and cry: a comic strip that ran in newspapers nationwide from the 1920s to the 1980s starring a fortune-cookie-spouting ethnic stereotype named Ching Chow. Mr. Ching was based on Charlie’s great-grandfather, an immigrant whose calligraphy skills secured him a modest job as an assistant colorist at the Himmler comic syndicate in Chicago.
According to unsubstantiated family lore, Charlie’s grandfather submitted a proposal for an illustrated version of the Tao Te Ching, a sacred 1,500-year-old text that forms the basis for several religions. His white employer was so taken with the proposal that he commissioned instead a white man with little talent and even less imagination to take up his pen to convey the true Chinese experience. Hence, Ching Chow: