Rafu Staff Report
Actor and activist George Takei has already appeared in the “Archie” comic books, in which he meets Kevin Keller, the series’ first openly gay character. What to do for an encore? Appear in another, even more established comic strip.
Takei announced on his Facebook page, “Beginning last Sunday (Jan. 13), and continuing for about two months, the ‘Dick Tracy’ comic strip on Sundays is featuring a storyline involving me and my husband Brad. I appear under the name ‘George Tawara.’ The story has a WWII internment connection, and we are truly honored to be a part of it.”
Drawn by Joe Staton and written by Mike Curtis, “Dick Tracy” was created by Chester Gould in 1931 (“Archie” dates back to 1941). The steadfast, chisel-jawed title character is one of America’s most enduring pop-culture icons.
The story begins with the draining of Lake Freedom, which uncovers the remnants of the fictitious Camp Freedom, where Japanese Americans were held during World War II. “Mudlarkers” searching for artifacts find a metal box containing a murder confession from almost 70 years ago — with a handprint in blood.
Tracy needs help from an expert, someone who lived in Camp Freedom. It just so happens that actor George Tawara is in town for the opening of his play about the internment, “Heart Mountain.” (In real life, Takei is working on a Broadway musical called “Allegiance.”)
Tawara and his husband meet Tracy and his assistant for dinner, and the actor recounts his experiences. “We arrived at Camp Freedom,” he says. “Of course, we didn’t call it that. Always under watch by guards with rifles, towers with searchlights and machine-gun emplacements … My family returned to California, but we had no property left … We had to start again from nothing.”
The Jan. 27 installment includes “Tracy’s Hall of Fame,” recognizing Ronald Tsukamoto, who was born in the Tule Lake camp and became Berkeley’s first Japanese American police officer in 1969. He was killed in the line of duty in August 1970 during a traffic stop. The case remains unsolved.
To view the comic strip online, go to www.gocomics.com/dicktracy.
In addition to his stage work with “Allegiance,” Takei has been busy promoting his new book, “Oh Myyy! (There Goes the Internet)”; supporting such causes as marriage equality and ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gays; appearing in such TV shows as “Hawaii Five-0,” “The New Normal,” “Conan,” “King of the Nerds,” “Totally Biased” and “The Neighbors”; and, of course, posting funny pictures on Facebook. For more information, visit www.georgetakei.com.