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Byline: Tim Clodfelter
Oct. 26--Cartoonist Tak Toyoshima has been taking a comedic approach to touchy issues since 1999. But his strip, Secret Asian Man, has only recently made the jump from independent papers to newspaper syndication.
Premiering nationally back in May, it is the first nationally syndicated strip to feature an Asian American leading character -- the titular "Secret Asian Man," Sam Takahashi. Though he (like his creator) is of Japanese heritage, Sam is frequently mistaken for Chinese. His wife is white, and they have a 3-year-old son. The cast also includes an ethnically diverse mix of characters, including activist Grace, burly Charlie and well-intentioned-but-goofy Richie.
Sam is a cartoonist who makes wry comments about how people perceive Asian Americans and other ethnic groups, and how those people view themselves. He also tackles broader subjects of gender, religion and whatever else draws his …