Sample from a cartoon by Eddie Sato called 'The Vulgar Boatmen'.

Eddie Hirofumi Sato was an American-Japanese cartoonist and commercial artist. As one of many Japanese-American citizens incarcerated during World War II, he drew the comic strip 'Dokie' (1942-1943) for his camp newspaper, The Minidoka Irrigator.

Eddie Hirofumi Sato was born in 1930 in Seattle into a family of Japanese descent. As a child, he loved reading Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster's 'Superman' comic books. On 7 December 1941, the Japanese army attacked the U.S. military base Pearl Harbor, causing the U.S. to declare war on Japan. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Executive Order 9066, all first and second generation Japanese-Americans were interned in the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Santa Anita, California. There were no exceptions for people born on U.S. soil and naturalized citizens. Over 2,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to this detention center. Other (future) Japanese-American cartoonists who were incarcerated at that time were Rosie Arima, Chris Ishii, Willie Ito, Jack Ito, Harry Kuwada, Bob Kuwahara, Bennie Nobori, Esther Takei, Tom Okamoto, Iwao Takamoto and Tom Yabu.

Sato was 19 years old when he was sent off to the Puyallup Assembly Center, aka "Camp Harmony", in Puyallup, Washington. Afterwards, he spent time in the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. He drew comics and cartoons for the prison newspaper The Minidoka Irrigator. He invented his own comic character which he wanted to name 'Potato'. But his editors decided to organize a contest and let the camp detainees choose a suitable name. On 7 November 1942, the name submitted by Yasuko Koyama was declared the winner: 'Dokie'. Dokie was a young boy who always complained about food, came out of bed late or playing tricks. The series ran until May 1943, after which Sato left the relocation center to serve in the U.S. military.

Sato was part of the combat engineers of the 442nd Battalion (442nd Regimental Comba Team) and fought during the Allied Invasion of Italy. When peace returned in 1945 he went back to Seattle. In 1947, he graduated from Adna High School. He married and remained active as a commercial artist.

Final years and death
All through life, Sato kept the memory of the incarcerated Japanese-Americans alive. In 1975, he donated one of his camp days sketchbooks to the University of Washington. In 1986, additional eight pen and ink drawings were added to the collection. Eddie Sato passed away in 2005 in Chicago, Illinois, at age 82.

Series and books by Eddie Sato you can order today:


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