Deb Aoki offers a lighthearted look on living life as an API American.
Deb Aoki offers a lighthearted look on life as an Asian Pacific Islander American. Check out more of Aoki's work on

I love the comics section of the LA Times, except for one thing: the dearth of cartoon heroes of color.

I appreciate the inclusion of Jump Start, Frazz, and La Cucaracha, which acknowledge the presence of African Americans and Latino Americans in our society.  However, the majority of human comic strip characters are white.  And where, may I ask, are our Asian Pacific Islander (API) and Native American cartoon heroes?

In the February/March issue of Audrey Magazine, I first discovered Deb Aoki’s Bento Box, a cartoon featured in The Honolulu Advertiser.  Deb Aoki is a 3rd generation Japanese/Okinawan American woman who was born and raised in Honolulu and now lives in California.

It is so refreshing to see a comic strip written and illustrated by an API woman.  Her content is a nice mix of the joys and hassles of everyday life, cultural differences between Hawaii and “the mainland,” and a lighthearted look at API identity issues.  I especially appreciate that Aoki portrays her character as an everyday person and refrains from perpetuating API stereotypes.

The inclusion of more ethnically diverse comic strip characters in our national newspapers would be extremely beneficial to our society.  It would debunk stereotypes and affirm ethnic minorities of their presence and value in American culture.

— posted by Debbie Chong


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