Monday, May 6, 2024

Comics: Bill Yoshida, Singer, Chef, Bowler and Letterer

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

William Saburo “Bill” Yoshida was born on December 2, 1921, in Brawley, California, according to his World War II draft card. Yoshida’s Social Security application said his parents were Kenichi Yoshida and Chiyo Tasaki. 

The 1930 United States Census said Yoshida (line 19) was the second of three siblings. The family of five were residents of Beverly Hills, California at 7375 Santa Monica Boulevard. His father was a gardener for a private family. 

The 1940 census recorded the Yoshidas (lines 18–22) in Los Angeles, California at 519 North Virgil Avenue. Yoshida was a salesman who had finished four years of high school. He earned $800 in 1939. 

On February 16, 1942, Yoshida signed his World War II draft card. His address was the same. Yoshida was self-employed gardener. He was described as five feet nine inches, 155 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. 

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 that authorized military commanders to exclude civilians from military areas. The West Coast had been divided into military zones. 

On March 29, 1942, General DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 4, which began the forced evacuation and detention of Japanese-American West Coast residents on a 48-hour notice. 

Over the next six months, approximately 122,000 men, women, and children were forcibly sent to “assembly centers.” Next, they were moved again to internment camps. Ten sites were in remote areas: Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Tule Lake and Manzanar, California; Topaz, Utah; Poston and Gila River, Arizona; Granada, Colorado; Minidoka, Idaho; and Jerome and Rowher, Arkansas.

“Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II”, at, listed the Yoshidas at Manzanar. “Final Accountability Rosters of Evacuees at Relocation Centers”, at, said “Saburo Sonny Yoshida”, #10,779, was born on “December 2, 1920”. He departed Manzanar on April 17, 1944. Chicago was his destination. 

According to the 1950 census, Yoshida (line 13) was a cook. He was married to Dorothy and had two sons, Ronald and Donald. They lived in Chicago at 1252 Clark Street. In Alter Ego #48, May 2005, Jim Amash wrote an obituary and said Yoshida was a chef and nightclub singer. 

At some point the marriage ended in divorce. Yoshida moved to New York City. 

The New York, New York Marriage License Index, at, said Yoshida and Sachiko Terada obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 7137. 

The 1957, 1959 and 1960 Manhattan, New York City telephone directories listed Yoshida at 540 West 112th Street. Amash said Yoshida “worked as a cook at the Campus Grill on the Upper West Side of Manhattan near Columbia University. He also worked part-time as a pantry chef at Pine Hollow Country Club in Long Island, New York.” 

Amash said Yoshida bowled in an all-Japanese league in New York City. Teammate Ben Oda taught him lettering. Oda advised Yoshida on assembling a lettering portfolio and he got his start with Archie Comics Publications in 1965. Yoshida’s lettering accompanied Angelo Torres’ illustration on page 19 of Witzend #1, 1966. He lettered “The Rejects” from Witzend #4, 1968. Creepy #15, June 1967, said 
... The penciled pages are given to Ben Oda for lettering. Lately we have also been using up and coming young letterer Bill Yoshida to help lighten Ben’s burgeoning burden. …
Many of his credits are at the Grand Comics Database

Amash said Yoshida also lettered for Tower Comics, Harvey, Marvel and DC. In X-Men #64, January 1970, Sunfire’s father was named Saburo Yoshida. 

Amash said Yoshida moved in 1969 to Waldwick, New Jersey. A photograph of him is here

In late 1999, Yoshida had thyroid cancer but continued lettering until Christmas 2004. 

Yoshida passed away on February 17, 2005, in Waldwick, New Jersey. Yoshida’s two wives passed way: Dorie Morisse, March 4, 2014, and Sachiko, July 20, 2017.

Further Viewing
Internet Archive, Bill Yoshida’s lettering in several Archie comics 

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