Monday, May 13, 2024

Comics: Daniel Bhang, Forgotten Fawcett Letterer

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Daniel Bhang was born on February 3, 1922, in Coalinga, California, according to his World War II registration card. His parents were Samuel/Sakum Bhang and Salome Lee

The 1925 Kansas state census recorded the Bhang family of six (lines 28–32 plus one) in Kearn County. Bhang’s parents were Korean emigrants. His father was laborer. Bhang was the third of four siblings. Audrey was the oldest and born in Washington. Next was Olive who was born in California. Henry, the youngest, was born in Illinois.

The family moved to Michigan.

The Coloma Courier (Michigan), April 20, 1928, mentioned Bhang in “Coloma School Notes”. 
Kindergarten notes—Daniel Bhang, Vernon Smith and Bessie Mae Phillips have been promoted to the “Bright Eyes” class, which is the high class. …
In the 1930 United States Census the Bhang family numbered eight members (lines 60–67). Anna and Youngfellow were born in Michigan. The family resided at 59 St. Joseph Street in Coloma, Michigan. Bhang’s father owned and operated a restaurant. 

The Coloma Courier, October 30, 1931, said
Coloma Children Win Two W.C.T.U. Prizes
The W.C.T.U. meeting held with Mrs. Mary Krause, Wednesday of last week, was well tended and many interesting reports of the district convention held in Dowagiac recently were given by the eight local ladies who attended. …

… At the convention two children of the Coloma school were awarded prizes for essay and booklet work done along the line of temperance and law observance. Daniel Bhang of the third grade received the district prize for the booklet against the use of alcohol and has been awarded the state prize which he will receive later. …
At some point, the family moved to Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis News (Indiana), June 3, 1936, mentioned Bhang’s contribution. 
Eighth-Grade Magazine Has Thrill Stories
Thrills and chills are included in the Story Magazine published this week by the Harrison Press Club, an eighth-grade organization of Benjamin Harrison School No. 2. One tale brings the thrill of a horse race won by a nose and another, concerning ghoulies and ghosties of old Ireland, produces the “cold chills.” 

The little publication is interesting and in addition to the stories, includes poetry, book and movie reviews, editorials and jokes. The cover design is the work of Edward Hines, Louis LeVier and Blanche Onken. The frontpispiece [sic], a pen and ink sketch of Benjamin Harrison, was drawn by Sherman Barnhart. Other illustrations were made by Daniel Bhang and Miles Birks. Daniel also was responsible for all the lettering in the book and prepared all stencils used in the illustrations. ...
The 1940 census said the Bhang family of ten (lines 41–40) resided at 1724 Compton Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. The family added four children, Eva (Michigan), Esther (Indiana), Samuel Jr. (Indiana) and David (Missouri). Audrey and Olive lived elsewhere. 

In June 1940 Bhang graduated from Roosevelt High School. The school yearbook, Bwana, said he had been at the Technical High School in Indianapolis, Indiana where he was member of the Art Club. At Roosevelt, Bhang was on the Apparatus and Tumbling Team. 

On October 6, 1999, Bhang and his sister, Audrey, were interviewed for an oral history project. In Segment 7, Bhang said after graduation he moved back to Indianapolis where his sister, Olive, lived. They worked at Chinese restaurant. Olive was engaged to Paul Yoon (see page 33) who was a member of Dante’s magic show that performed in Indianapolis. Bhang wanted to leave Indianapolis so he wrote to Dante who offered him a job. Bhang traveled to Chicago to join the show. During the tour, a member of the show, who was a commercial artist and from New York, invited Bhang to New York and offered to help him get a job during the tour’s break.

In 1941 the tour ended on the West Coast. Bhang went to New York and found a job at Fawcett Publications where he did lettering on the Captain Marvel line of comic books. He is not listed on Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 or the Grand Comics Database. He was a witness at Olive’s marriage to Paul. 

During World War II, Bhang enlisted in the Navy on June 17, 1942. He trained as a radio operator at the San Diego Naval Training Station, then in Idaho and Seattle, Washington. A muster roll, dated July 3, 1943, listed Bhang on the Bushnell AS-15. He served overseas in Guam where he intercepted and copied the Japanese radio transmissions. Bhang’s Department of Veterans Affairs file, at, said he was discharged, in Los Angeles, California, on November 20, 1945. Three days later on November 23, he signed a military registration card. He was described as five feet six inches, 135 pounds, with black eyes and hair. 

While in Los Angeles, Bhang stayed with his sister, Olive, and her family at 3568 1/2 South Van Ness Street. He returned to Fawcett Publications in New York and, through the G.I. Bill, enrolled at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, New York, to study illustration. 

Bhang and Yoshiye Vicki Tanbara applied for a marriage license twice: September 11, 1947 and March 18, 1948. During the war, Tanbara was relocated to the concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

According to the 1950 census, Bhang and his wife (lines 15 and 16) were Manhattan residents at 425 West 45th Street. He was an advertising artist. 

In the publication, Board of Elections in the City of New York, December 31, 1954, was a list of enrolled voters. Bhang and his wife resided in Forest Hills, Queens at 6637 Yellowstone Boulevard. 

In 1961 Bhang moved to Los Angeles to be closer to his siblings. He bought a house, worked at two design studios then freelanced. 

Bhang passed away on June 25, 2009, in Los Angeles, California.

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(Next post on Monday: John Yakata, Letterer)

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