Passing By

Today on the site John Kelly looks at the highly racist and rich (literally) in coding comic strip, Ching Chow.

While a whole book could focus on the stereotypical treatment of Asians in this and other comics, that’s not our goal here.  Instead, we’ll focus on Ching Chow’s “secret” legacy, as a de facto encrypted tip sheet for gambles who played the horses and numbers games.

A bit of clarity on this is provided via author Nick Tosches’ 1988 novel Cut Numbers (Little, Brown and Company): “In his youth, he had watched his elders pour over ‘Ching Chow’ in the Daily News. This little cartoon, which occupied a two-by-three-inch space every day near the racing charts, was believed by many of those elders to contain the key to the next winning Brooklyn number. By counting the buttons on Ching Chow’s mandarin jacket, by noting how many of his fingers were extended and in which direction they pointed, by adding and subtracting blades of grass or the drawn lines of this or that, by studying Ching Chow’s aphorism of the day—by these and assorted other hermeneutic methods, people sought to decipher the secret information they believed was hidden there daily. In retrospect, it was always there: If 321 was the winning Brooklyn number, a look back at that morning’s ‘Ching Chow’ surely would reveal three buttons, two pointing fingers, and a lone bird flying overhead. If the number was 749, a look back—discounting, of course, the buttons, fingers and bird—would reveal seven pebbles, four sunrays, and nine words in the aphorism. It was widely held that this secret information was conveyed to the artist by an unknown but actual Chinaman who had grown fabulously wealth from his occult knowledge of numbers and who now, in his old age, wished to impart hat knowledge in his own inscrutable way.”


Today's header image is one of those Superman comic strips that Wayne Boring sold himself. When Superman wasn't in the strip, he offered to draw him in. That, to me, is the best thing in the world. I've never seen one of these in person, but I need to. I really do. Wayne Boring. He ruled.

Publisher Chris Oliveros and translator Zack Davisson remember Shigeru Mizuki.

Kelly Sue Deconnick on the work and life balance.

No one talks much about the Wizard of Id, but I sure love it. Here are some Sundays.