Friday, January 31, 2014

Yun Gee at Montross Gallery 1941, 1942

The New York Sun
June 7, 1941

The New York Sun
June 12, 1942

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(Tomorrow: Yun Gee at Milch Gallery)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Yun Gee and the WPA

The New York Times
May 10, 1941
A new class in landscape painting and composition, with Yun Gee, Chinese artist, as instructor, has recently opened at the Museum of the City of New York, where an exhibition of water-colors by artists of the New York City WPA Art Project is in progress through May 21. The classes are being held on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, from 1:30 to 5:30, under the direction of the Art Teacher Division of the New York City WPA Art Project.

Related Posts

(Tomorrow: Yun Gee at Montross Gallery 1941, 1942)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Yun Gee in Paris, 1938

Corpus Christi Times
April 18, 1938
Salon des Independents

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yun Gee Performs

The New York Times
January 7, 1934
Tomorrow evening the Chinese modernist painter, Yun Gee, who is also a dancer, will give a dance recital in conjunction with the exhibition of his paintings at the National Musical Benefit Society. His program will be as follows: Ancient Chinese Dragon Knife Dance, Song of Li Po, performed on Yan Chum (Chinese piano), Chinese Immortal Sword Dance, accompanied by tom-tom and cymbals; Ancient Song of “The Sorrow of Cho Kun,” Yan Kew Fei (for Chinese flute); Dragon Spear Dance. The dancer will be assisted by C.Y. Chu.

The New York Times
January 14, 1934
...With a dance recital of dubious artistic quality and held under most trying conditions, the Chinese modernist Yun Gee opened last Monday evening at 21 Gramercy Park an exhibition of paintings. At his best when departing the least insistently from Chinese traditions, Yun Gee has on view little if anything that can compare favorably with the mural designs he contributed to the Museum of Modern Art's American mural exhibition in 1932.

The New York Times
May 7, 1934
...Music and art of China and Egypt will be discussed. Yun Gee will illustrate dances and play on the Chinese flute and piano.

The New York Times
June 3, 1934
List of the year’s performances includes two performances by Yun Gee for the National Music Benefit Society, and University Settlement.

Brooklyn Eagle

Continuing its United Nations series, the Brooklyn Museum will present a free program of Chinese music Saturday afternoon in the lecture hall.

The program to include both classical and modern Chinese music, will be given by David LeVita and Yun Gee.

The New York Times
September 18, 1943
A concert of Chinese music will be presented tomorrow at 3:30 at the Brooklyn Museum by the Chinese People's Chorus, under Liu Liang-mo, and Yun Gee, singer and instrumentalist.

Related Posts

(Tomorrow: Yun Gee in Paris, 1938)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yun Gee 1932–1933

The New York Times
May 8, 1932
Balzac Galleries—Work by…Yun Gee, a Sino-Franco-American, whose work is imaginative and deft, if occasionally lurid. Opened May 3, closes May 28.

Oakland Tribune
June 5, 1932
(click images to enlarge)

Oakland Tribune
February 19, 1933

Oakland Tribune
February 26, 1933

The Chinese Christian Student
April 1933
p4: Water Colors: Yun Gee Shows Twenty New Abstractions
Six years ago a tousled-haired, wild-eyed Chinese boy broke away from art  school in San Francisco and defied tradition. He painted impressionistic vogues, was acclaimed, and founded a revolutionary school of art. What happened since is San Francisco art history. He hied to Paris, executed fifty canvases, returned to New York, and recently his City Alma Mater on the Coast saw twenty of his new water-colors at the Art Center.

Studies in abstraction, they included eight sensations: four about dancing and four about travel impressions. One group fused sound and tone via composition, another air and water via rhythm movement. Two—The Octopus and Living Stone—were inspired by his wife’s poetry. One was called, “Jade Mountain.”

This new abstractionist angle of Yun Gee amazed visitors, and critics felt that he was lost in Western influence, without a trace of the East. His unity of emotional, abstract expression, leaving no identity of either East or West, was a calamity to them.

In six years Gee has developed from a subject impressionist to an intellectual abstractionist, tarrying long enough in the intervening stages of cubism, surrealism, etc. During the transition, he painted some admirable canvasses that synthesized Chinese art feelings and themes on Western forms. His “Confucius” and “Yang Kwei-fei” brought him high critical claims. His present intellectualism completes the cycle of growth. Inevitably, he will revert to his “Confucius” style, in which medium he is now executing “The Last Supper” for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York.

The New York Times
June 25, 1933
...A painting of “The Last Supper” by Yun Gee, the Chinese-American artist, was publicly shown last week at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in the Bronx, for which it was painted as an altar-piece. A preliminary sketch of the painting was exhibited by the artist in the recent Salons of America, at the American-Anderson Galleries.

Related Posts

(Tomorrow: Yun Gee Performs)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Yun Gee at the Museum of Modern Art

The New York Times
April 24, 1932
Exhibition of Murals to Open New Museum
The names of forty-nine American painters and photographers who have sent murals to be shown in an exhibition which will open the new quarters of the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West Fifty-third Street have just been made public. The mural exhibition and the museum will be open to the public Wednesday, May 4.

...The exhibitors include: ...Yun Gee...

Museum of Modern Art
Murals by American Painters and Photographers
Exhibition catalog and press releases

The New York Times
May 3, 1932
The Museum of Modern Art Gives Private Showing Today of Murals by American Painters.
...The artists who arrive within hailing distance of mural probity, or who achieve results of genuine consequence, are Reginald Marsh, George Biddle, Yun Gee, Thomas LaFarge, Edward Biberman, James E. Davis, Philip Evergood (although his Easter egg colors are not very reassuring), Kimon Nicolaides and Henry Varnum Poor....

...One admires...Yun Gee’s “Wheels: Industrial New York” for their charming spirit of fantasy…

The New York Times
May 8, 1932
Exhibition of Murals Proves How Much Our Painters Have Yet to Learn
...It will not be possible today to take up in detail the mural problems presented by this exhibition for public appraisal. The subject invites considerable future discussion. But one is unwilling to end this installment of comment on a vital theme without a reiterated word or praise for the artists who here demonstrate either positive mural accomplishment or the possession of unmistakable gifts in that direction. Reginald Marsh, George Biddle, James E. Davis, Thomas La Farge, Kimon Nicolaides, Yun Gee, Henry Varnum Poor, Edward Biberman and Philip Evergood have already been suggested as candidates.…

The New York Times
May 22, 1932
...In the realm of paint much yet remains to be discussed. Careful reexamination of the murals on the second and fourth floors of the museum bolsters certain previously arrived at favorable evaluations, accentuates uneasy doubts, intensifies the prevailing mood of dismay and withal leaves me prepared to assert that six of the artists represented—George Biddle, Reginald Marsh, Henry Varnum Poor, James E. Davis, Kimon Nicolaides and Yun Gee—I would gladly, were they mine to distribute, entrust walls today.

…If Nicolaides’s grandly conceived “Merry-Go-Round” strikes one as possibly a shade too cool, there may be those who will object that Yun Gee’s gorgeous fugue on a similar theme is conceivably a shade too warm….At any rate each of these artists has substantially proved an aptitude for mural work, and among the remaining painters there are a few who need take only another turn or two before meriting walls.

Related Posts

(Tomorrow: Yun Gee 1932–1933)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Yun Gee at the Brooklyn Museum

The New York Times
June 12, 1931
Show by Brooklyn Museum.
Annual Summer Exhibition
…Painters not in the International Group are provided…with little cubicles, which plan gives each artist a chance to appear to the best advantage.

The following participate: Ben Benn, Douglas Brown, Frieda Hauswirth Das, William de Leftwich Dodge, Raphael Doktor, Paula Eliasoph, Yun Gee, Kai Gotzsche, Stefan Hirsch, George Laszlo, Joseph Lomoff, Hanz Meyer, Ann Neagoe, Agnes Pelton, Princess Paule de Ruess, Olive Rush, Miklos Suba and Irene Weir.

The New York Times
June 13, 1931
Brooklyn Exhibits Art.
Notables Attend Opening of Display at Museum.
...Among the exhibitors present were: Yun Gee, Kai Gotzsche, Hanz Meyer, Aaron J. Goodelman, Minna R. Harkavy, Jane Kende Rakhit, Joseph Teichner and Leo Ziemssen Moll.

Brooklyn Eagle
(New York)
June 13, 1931
…Among the paintings, the pictures by Frieda Hauswirth Das, the Hindu artist, and Yun Gee, the Chinese representative, attracted the most attention.

Brooklyn Eagle
June 22, 1931

The New York Times

June 14, 1931
Brooklyn Museum Annual Summer Show
…There are nine paintings by the young Chinese artist, Yun Gee.

The New York Times
September 24, 1931
...Yun Gee held his first New York one-man show last season. Fifteen of his paintings were included in the Summer show at the Brooklyn Museum, and he is to be represented in the self-portrait exhibition held by the College Art Association in its headquarters in West Fifty-eighth Street, opening next Monday.

Brooklyn Eagle
December 3, 1942

The New York Times
September 18, 1943
A concert of Chinese music will be presented tomorrow at 3:30 at the Brooklyn Museum by the Chinese People's Chorus, under Liu Liang-mo, and Yun Gee, singer and instrumentalist.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Yun Gee 1931

New York Sun
May 2, 1931
Yun Gee is a young Chinaman from Canton now showing his paintings in the gallery on Ninth street known as “In Tempo.” Mr. Gee studied in San Francisco, and has already exhibited in Paris. The paintings shown in Paris were the result of an academic outlook upon life which Mr. Gee has since dropped, apparently, as his new pictures are quite in the modern manner. This new language has not yet been assimilated by the young artist, and the heavy dependence it makes upon pure color is evidently a tax upon his strength. He has ability and confidence, however, and doubtless will make a name for himself.

The New York Times
May 3, 1931
Yun Gee, a Chinese artist, has been exhibiting at the gallery of In Tempo. The exhibition closed yesterday, but it is announced that some of his paintings will be shown at another gallery in a few weeks. Mr. Gee was born in Canton, China. When he came to America, at the age of 15, he established a modern art gallery in San Francisco. His work was shown not long ago at the Bernheim Jeune Galleries in Paris.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
June 22, 1931
Distinctive Coloring, Modern Treatment Feature Art Exhibit
Distinctive coloring and ultra-modern treatment are stressed in the group exhibition of paintings, sketches and sculpture by native and foreign artists at the Brooklyn Museum.

The display, opened to the public this month, closes in October.

Yesterday the museum was visited by Kay Shau Fung, Chinese Consul in New York City.

Among the studies are those by Yun Gee, young Chinese artist, whose wife is Princess Paule De Reuss, French poet and portrait painter.

Several volumes of her verse were sponsored by the Comtess de Noailles, prominent in Parisian literary circles. The Princess was married to Mr. Yun 18 months ago in Paris.

One of Yun’s outstanding works is a Kekemonos—oil painting—visualizing the Resurrection of the Messiah. Princess De Reuss’ oil portrait of her husband and his study of her are also exhibited.

Yun Gee was born in China and studied native art, later taking a course in a California art school.

The New York Times
September 24, 1931
Aids Flood Sufferers in China
Yun Gee, a Chinese artist living in New York, has been enthusiastically engaged in the task of helping spur on the Chinese flood relief campaign in behalf of his distressed countrymen. Mr. Gee has painted a mural seventeen feet long, which depicts the stricken area in China. It is on exhibition in this city at the Chinese public school, 16 Mott Street, and is to be sold in the interest of flood relief work.

New York Evening Post
September 24, 1931
Mural to Aid Chinese
Native Artist’s Painting to Be Sold for Flood Sufferers
Yun  Gee, a Chinese artist living in New York, has painted a mural seventeen feet long which depicts the flood-stricken area in China. It is on exhibition at the Chinese public school, 18 Mott Street, and is to be sold in the interest of flood relief work.

Yun Gee held his first New York one-man show last  season. Fifteen of his paintings were included in the summer show at the Brooklyn Museum, and he is to be represented in the self-portrait, exhibition held by the College Art Association in its headquarters in West Fifty-eighth Street, opening next Monday.

The New York Times
September 29, 1931
...The self-portrait exhibition is built on a theme bound to interest pretty nearly everybody. The roster is of international scope, embracing artists of many lands. Its contrasts are, naturally, both many and (sometimes) quite violent. We find Anne Goldwaithe, for example, gently unconcerned in the presence of Yun Gee; Eugene Zak perfectly serene and cool before Max Beckman's startling fireworks.…

The New York Times
October 4, 1931
Self-portrait show at the College Art Association headquarters...Look at Max Beckman, look at Raoul Dufy (as a delightful youth) and A. Feder with his flair for the architectural arrangement and Kars with his red pumpkin-like face and Charles Kvapil and George Luks and William Nicholson and Henri de Waroquier and Yun Gee and Eugene Zac. But, for that matter, look at them all. “My face is my fortune, sir, she said.” It may also be an incorrigible index.

Standard Union
(Brooklyn, New York)
November 4, 1931
We happened to be looking over “Who’s Who in China” and read the sketch of Yun Gee, a youthful Chinese artist who confesses that at the age of fourteen “he had accumulated 200 canvasses, but to his awakened spirit they seemed to be the work of a man who had long been lost in blindness and symbols of his one-time slavery to the academic and he destroyed them in a bonfire with a prayer, pledging to forget.”

It’s just youth; nothing more. It’s a great spirit and if tamed and curbed it meant much. But unleavened with brains it is plain imbecility.

The spirit that impels youth to revolt against rules and conventions is wholesome, for it compels them to think things out. But many of them mistake form for substance, not realizing that there is more dynamite against existing ideas in the clean, well-written, completely understandable prose of a Mencken, for example, than in two hogsheads of Joyce and Gertrude Stein. They tend to believe that imbecility, whether in music, art or letters, if it is only different, is the substance of revolt—and therein they are as wrong as human beings can ever be.

When we hear callow unhatched youths just out of college sneering at those who discipline their minds we think of Gertrude and James and Yun Lee [sic], and are comforted. Those who are not crazy will grow up and all will be well.

The New York Times
November 22, 1931
Chinese Artists Hold Exhibition
...Paintings by Yun Gee and other Chinese artists are on view today at International House, 500 Riverside Drive, for the benefit of the Chinese Student Emergency Relief Fund.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

About the Artist: Chu F. Hing

Chu Fook Hing was born on January 17, 1897 in the city of Kapaa on the Kauai island of Hawaii.[1] His father was Chu Kin and his mother was Chong Shee (Miss Chong).[2] Chu was the family name; it was customary in Chinese culture to state the family name first. From China, Chu Kin arrived in Hawaii in 1882.[3] Chong Shee arrived ten years later and they married that year.[4] Chu Kin was a dry goods merchant.[5] Hing was the second of 15 children.[6] Around 1909 the Chu family moved from Kapaa to Hilo, Hawaii.[7]

Nothing is known of Hing’s Hawaiian art education but there was evidence of his enthusiasm. A Minnesota newspaper, Duluth News Tribune, published an article on October 13, 1912, about how its fifth and sixth grade students studied geography. The fifth graders mailed picture postcards and letters about Duluth to fifth graders in Arizona, Hawaii and other states. Soon, hundreds of cards arrived.
The most prolific correspondents of the Duluth school children seem to be the fifth graders of Hilo. In addition to dozens of cards from Chu Fook Hing, Chu Fook Tang and Dora Conradt, there are many letters careful and conventional in both English and punctuation, and containing such quaint bits of information as “Hilo is a rainy place and is called in sport the ‘Rainy City.’” “The chief industries of Hawaii are sugar-cane and coffee” and “Each gulch has ever-running streams.”[8]
Hing’s brother, Tang, was a year older.[9] Hing continued making art in junior high and high school. He was 21 years old when he filled out his military registration card on July 31, 1918.[10] Apparently he did not serve in the military. World War I ended three-and-a half months later. The coming year would be one of new opportunities for some of the Chu children.

In 1919, with financial support from his father, Hing decided to go to Chicago for professional training at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Some of Hing’s siblings decided to leave, too. His younger brother, Ngu, was the first to leave for Chicago; he boarded a freighter on July 14. Steaming through the Panama Canal, Ngu landed in Philadelphia on September 1. From there he went to New York where he stayed for two-and-a-half days and then continued to Chicago.[11] Next to leave was Hing who boarded the S.S. Niagara at Honolulu on September 23; he landed at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on September 29.[12] After a week in Vancouver, he departed aboard the S.S. Princess Victoria on October 7 and arrived in Seattle the next day.[13] His younger brother, Fong, followed in December.[14] His sister, Mew Kee, arrived in Chicago in September 1920.[15]

Complying with Chinese Exclusion Act regulations, Hing went to the Seattle immigration office and applied for admission; a case file was opened. He answered, in English, questions by the Examining Inspector of the Immigration Service. Below is his October 8, 1919 testimony.
Q. What is your name? A. Chu Fook Hing.
Q. Give me the date of your birth. A. January 17, 1896. [His World War I draft card said 1897.]
Q. You were born where? A. Kaapa, Hawaii.
Q. Your father's name? A. Chu Kin.
Q. What does he do? A. Tailor
Q. Is he Chinese born or Hawaiian? A. Chinese.
Q. Your mother's name? A. Chong Shee.
Q. Where was she born? A. China.
Q. Are you a full blooded Chinese? A. Yes.
Q. Ever been in China? A. No, I have never been there.
Q. What is your father’s financial standing? A. I don’t know.
Q. You have how many brothers and sisters? A. 14.
Q. Has your father had more than one wife? A. Only one.
Q. How many of your brothers and sisters are in the United States? A. One.
Q. What is his name? A. Chu Fook Ng You [sic].
Q. How old is he? A. Between 17 and 18.
Q. When did he come to the mainland? A. Reached Chicago September 8th this year.
Q. How does it come you didn’t come together? A. Couldn’t get a boat; traffic all tied up at San Francisco; he went by way of the Panama Canal and worked his way up through Philadelphia.
Q. What is your brother doing here? A. He is studying automobile business.
Q. And you are going to do what? A. Study art; I am going to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
Q. Who will support you? A. My father (presents Certificate of Identity 2012 issued at Honolulu January 12, 1909 to Chu Fook Hing, aged 13, height 4' 4"; scar on first finger of left hand).
Q. It will be necessary for you to bring to this office a photograph for identification purpose. A. Yes.[16]
Hing signed the transcript of his testimony and his entry was approved. A black-and-white photograph of him was in his file.[17] Additional information about him was found on the S.S. Princess Victoria passenger list: he had two hundred dollars and was going to meet his younger brother, Ngu, at “1519 Wabash Avenue” in Chicago; “Chicago Academy of Fine Arts” was written after the address; Hing’s height was recorded as “5 feet, 6 inches” and he had a “scar on first finger of left hand”.[18] Hing probably traveled by train to Chicago.

Hing and his brothers have not been found in the 1920 United States Census that was conducted in early January. Ngu “took a course in a mechanical school at 1519 South Wabash Avenue”, and his residential address as “1219 S. Wabash.”[19] (He was at the immigration office, on May 18, 1920, applying for a new certificate of identity, a document with a photograph of the applicant and a serial number; this identification document was a another requirement of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Unfortunately, Ngu was not asked for the addresses of his brothers.) The census listed 16 people at 1219 South Wabash including two Chinese restaurant workers but not Ngu, who may have moved there after the census.[20] That location was about a mile north of Chinatown and about a mile south of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts was founded by Carl N. Werntz in 1903, and, in 1916, located at 81 East Madison Street.[21] Art Education in the Public Schools of the United States published a description of the academy, “The school is a private unendowed school supported by tuition fees. The normal course includes charcoal and color work from life, still life, flowers, etc.; principles of design, composition and color, applied design, perspective, construction work, pedagogy, physiology, psychology and history of art.”[22] A Handbook of American Private Schools said the academy “gives instruction in fine, decorative, and normal art and dress design, with emphasis on the vocational and commercial aspects”.[23] The academy was notable for having a number of students who became cartoonists including Walt Disney (1917),[24] Roy Crane (1920),[25] Hal Foster (1921),[26] and C.C. Beck (1928).[27] (This school should not be confused with the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, of 1879, that changed its name to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1892.[28].)

The Art Institute of Chicago Forty-Fourth Annual Report for the Year 1922 said the Frederick Magnus Brand Memorial prizes for composition were awarded to six students including Hing who received twenty dollars. 

Both the Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Institute had male and female students. Maybe at one of those institutions, Hing met another aspiring artist, Helga Marie Jensen, who had immigrated from Copenhagen, Denmark in 1922.[29] Exactly how and where they met is not known but the mutual attraction was genuine; they married on June 30, 1924 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they resided.[30] The Providence News (Rhode Island), July 5, 1924, published a late report about their wedding plan.
Girl to Wed Chinese Despite Church Ban
Grand Rapids, Mich.—Despite the refusal of the Rev. David Huber, pastor of the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church, of which they are members, to officiate at their wedding and his attempt to prevent the ceremony, Chu Fook Hing, a 27-year-old Chinaman, employed here as a decorator, and Miss Hilga [sic] Elfrida M. Jensen, 27, also a decorator, obtained a marriage license. 

They said they would be married by a justice of the peace. Miss Jensen is a daughter of Jens Peter Jensen.
Coincidentally, Hing and Helga shared the same birth date.[31] She probably met Hing’s brother, Ngu, and sister, Mew Kee. Hing also attended the Art Institute of Chicago. The Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1922, reported that Hing was one of four recipients of the Frederick Magnus Brand Memorial prize for composition.[32] In a 1966 letter to Mrs. Paepcke, asking for her help to exhibit Hing’s paintings at the Art Institute, Helga wrote: “...he has excellent grades from there”.[33] At some point Hing and Helga completed their schooling and sought work. Eventually they decided to look elsewhere to start a new life.

In June 1925 they made their way to San Francisco where they boarded the S.S. President Taft on June 27 and sailed for Hawaii. On July 3 they arrived at Honolulu.[34] Helga was introduced to the rest of the Chu family. 

The Chicago Sunday Tribune, August 9, 1925, reported Hing and Helga’s plan.
Mr. and Mrs. Fook Hing Chu, former students in the school of the Art institute, write from Hawaii, where they are spending the summer, that they are planning to go to Paris in the autumn for a year of further study.
For some reason, Helga returned to the mainland, through Los Angeles, on May 14, 1926.[35] She stayed until January 6, 1928 when she sailed aboard the S.S. President Madison to Honolulu; she arrived six days later.[36]

Presumably Hing and Helga found work and pursued their artistic endeavors. Eleven months later on December 21, 1928, Hing and Helga departed on the S.S. Sierra from Honolulu; they arrived in San Francisco on December 27 and continued on to Chicago.[37] 

According to the 1930 United States Census, the couple resided at the Lincoln Park Arms Hotel, located at 2738 Pine Grove Avenue. Hing’s occupation was commercial artist in the printing industry; Helga’s occupation was listed as none.[38] They took in all that Chicago had to offer. In the same 1966 letter, Helga wrote: “Hing has one hundred and 20 beautiful watercolors from Chicago early mornings and evenings. They are from our young days when we walked the shores of the lake....O how we long to see Michigan Ave, the Art Institute and walk the shores as in the old days”.[39] As the nation staggered through the Great Depression, Hing and Helga looked eastward.

 “Late Summer; Forset Preserve, Chicago”, 1934

Hing’s signature in Chinese and English

In the 1930’s the artistic couple gradually made their way to New York City. A watercolor by Hing titled “Twilight, Central Park, N.Y., At the Moll [sic]” was dated April 26, 1935.[40] The New York Times, July 13, 1936, reported the results of a contest, for art school students, for the best painting of the Tudor City tulip gardens. Hing, a Wood Ridge, New Jersey resident, was one of four artists who received honorable mention.[41]

In November 1936 Hing had two watercolors, “Sunset Over Belmont Harbor” and “Early Morning in November”, exhibited in the Thirty-Fourth Annual Water Color Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The catalogue listed his address as 136-05 Sanford Avenue, Flushing, New York.[42] The following year Hing was in the Thirty-Fifth Annual Philadelphia Water Color Exhibition with a tempera painting titled, “Devil Dancers; Tibet”.[43] Helga may have referred to it or a similar painting in her 1966 letter: “Hing has beautiful compositions from Shakespears [sic] Tempest and from the Devil Dancers of Tibet”.[44]

Helga departed New York on December 13, 1938 bound for Copenhagen to visit her sister Ester. On May 22, 1939, Helga returned home aboard the S.S. Queen Mary that had sailed from Cherbourg, France and then from Southampton, England.[45] The year 1939 marked a high point in Hing’s artistic career; in Helga’s 1966 letter she wrote: “Hing had 2 watercolors exhibited at Le Salon Paris in the spring of 1939.”[46] Helga returned home to a major event in her neighborhood, the New York World’s Fair that had opened April 30. While the fair celebrated the world of tomorrow, the world was just months away from Germany’s invasion of Poland.

The 1940 United States Census recorded Hing and Helga in Queens, New York, at 136-05 Sanford Avenue. Hing’s occupation was commercial artist in the printing industry.[47]

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the world war. A massive military draft was underway. On April 27, 1942, Chu signed his World War II draft card. His address was the Larchmont Acres Apartments in Larchmont, New York. He was employed by the Milprint Corporation which was located in the Graybar Building, Room 827, in New York City. Chu’s description was five feet six inches, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.[47a]
As the draft enlisted more comics artists, replacements were needed. In 1943, Hing found work at Lloyd Jacquet’s Funnies Inc.[48] In an interview conducted by Jim Amash for Alter Ego, Leonard Starr, who was also at Funnies, Inc., said: “…Chu Hing, who did nice work and boasted he had studied with Harvey Dunn—but his characters’ eyes always looked Oriental when he drew them, no matter who they were…He was very, very proud of himself…”[49] Later, Hing was on staff at Timely Publications, which would evolve into Marvel Comics. Artist Pierce Rice joined Timely in 1948 and recalled how the bullpen operated:

…“One of the mistakes Stan [Lee] made is whenever a penciler finished a job, he’d have him hand it to an inker.” Rice said. “Whichever inker was free. No partnerships developed, and no continuity.” He lived in fear of two inkers on the staff: Hing Chu and Fred Eng. “I used to dread the thought of something falling into Fred’s hands, but we had no choice in the matter.”[50]

Hing was part of a small group of Asian Americans working on comic books. Ben Oda was lettering for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Early in his career Bob Fujitani worked at Eisner & Iger, Hillman, and MLJ.[51] Min Matsuda, Irving Watanabe and John Yakata were on the staff at the Biro-Wood shop.[52] Helen Chou, Fred Eng, Morrie Kuramoto, Tsung Li, and Kaem Wong were contributors at various publishers.[53] Syndicated comic strip artist Paul Fung produced art for National Comics’ All Funny Comics among others.[54]

Hing’s comic book work can be viewed here: The Art of Chu F. Hing, Part 1: one-page features; The Art of Chu F. Hing, Part 2: covers and stories for various publishers; The Art of Chu F. Hing, Part 3: Marvel Comics; The Art of Chu F. Hing, Part 4: the Green Turtle, and the Judge and the Jury.

As early as 1944, Hing and Helga were living in Larchmont, New York, a suburb of New York City.[55] As they had done in Chicago, they walked along the shoreline, in this case, of Long Island Sound. Hing commuted to the Funnies Inc. office at 45 West 45th Street,[56] and later to the Empire State Building where Timely was located.[57]

In addition to art and comics, Hing explored other business opportunities. On August 10, 1942, Hing obtained a copyright on his “convertible loose wing & fixed tip vacuum wing, tailless kite, with sound effect”.[58] Apparently, this kite was the first of several projects that Hing and Helga copyrighted. Here are their works and company names from the Catalogue of Copyright Entries.

1. Viking tailless kite; Viking Tailless Kite Company[59]
2. Viking reversible cloth dolls; Viking Tailless Kite & Toy Company[60]
3. Zoo; Viking Toy Company[61]
4. Circus; Viking Toy Company[62]
5. Adventures of Marco Polo[63]
6. Chinese New Year festival[64]
7. Designs for kites[65]
8. Facts not fiction[66]
9. Atomic man; Viking Tailless Kite Company[67]

Some of the copyrighted items were also patented. From 1944 to 1947, they filed five patent applications, and all were granted. The inventors’ names on the documents read: “Hing F. Chu and Helga M. Chu, Larchmont, N.Y.”

1. Kite[68]
2. Alternating Cloth Doll and Method of Constructing Same[69]
3. Tailless Kite[70]
4. One Piece, Third Dimension, Cutout Toy[71]
5. Frame Construction for Kites and Like Toys[72] 

The Larchmont Times, July 15, 1944, reported the following.
Kite-Making Demonstration to Be Given by Chu F. Hing
Wading, baseball games and arts and crafts are activities to be enjoyed this Summer by the younger set under the recreational program being conducted by J. A. Matthews at Mamaroneck schools.

A special feature was scheduled for Monday between 1 and 3 P. M. on the bleachers of Mamaroneck Senior High School, where Chu F. Hing, kite designer, gave a demonstration of kite making and sailing.

Mr. Chu and his wife, residents of Larchmont Acres, have achieved wide recognition for their discovery and application of the principles of kite designing, to the extent that the U. S. government has used some of their ideas in furthering the war effort.

In a more humorous vein, however, the Chus have designed all sorts of kites—with wings and sound effects—guaranteed to capture the hearts of boys and girls from seven to 70. ...
Hing and Helga formed a corporation according to the Times, November 29, 1945.
Albany—The following Larchmont and Mamaroneck corporations have been chartered by the Secretary of State:

Viking Creations, Inc., Larch­mont, with capital of 100 shares no par value stock, three shares subscribed, to deal in novelties and toys. Hing F. Chu, Helga M. Jensen Chu, Mott House, Larch­mont Acres, Larchmont, Elliott Lasker, 270 Broadway, New York City, directors and subscribers. Elliott Lasker, 270 Broadway, attorney. ...
Hing’s watercolor show was reported in the Times, November 17, 1949.
An informal exhibit of water colors by Hing F. Chu of Larchmont Acres, Larchmont, opened Monday at Mamaroneck Senior High School, where residents attending the evening school classes will have an opportunity to view the paintings. They will remain on display in the halls this week.

Mr. Chu. a commercial artist, has on exhibit water colors of American scenes, completed during the past 25 years. Several of the paintings have not been shown before, while others have been exhibited at the Academy of Fine Arts in Pennsylvania, and Le Salon in Paris. 

The display, which includes sunsets, twilights, clouds, sunrises. New England coastal pictures arranged by Mrs. Chu, and the evening school at Mamaroneck High School. Mr. Chu teaches art on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the evening school. 

Born in Hawaii of Chinese parents, Mr. Chu was first tutored by an uncle, who had studied to become a governor of China. He is a direct descendent of the last ruler of the Ming Dynasty. The resident was graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, and received instruction from Harry [sic] Dunn, Dean Cromwell [sic] and Reynolds.

He was married in 1924 to a Danish-American girl, while both were studying art in Chicago, and they recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. One of the paintings on exhibit shows Mrs. Chu playing a guitar.
The 1950 census counted Hing and Helga in Mamaroneck, New York at 526 Richbell Road, apartment D. He was a designer at an industrial plant. (Other Richbell Road residents included Superman artist Wayne Boring at 816; animator Paul Sommer at 128; and editor Frank Zachary at 121.)

On October 9, 1951 Helga returned from trip to Denmark; the air passenger manifest has her address as “Larchmont Acres, Larchmont, N.Y.”[73] (A photograph of a Larchmont Acres apartment complex can be viewed at the Larchmont Historical Society web site.) In the early 1950s Hing’s comic book work ended.[74] Apparently the couple had not been able to get their kites, doll and toys produced. 
With limited finances, they eventually moved out of New York sometime in the late 1950s. 

Hing and Helga settled in Honolulu, Hawaii and lived off their Social Security checks.[75] The couple continued making art. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 14, 1960, reviewed the Chinese art exhibit which featured their work.
At the Chinese Chamber of Commerce may be seen, rather briefly, the 11th annual art exhibit, held in conjunction with the Narcissus Festival. It opened Tuesday, and will run through this week during daytime. ...

... The work of four diverse artists sets the directions of the compass for the exhibition. ...

... Helga Marie Chu favors a pointillistic texture for illustrative scenes such as “Chinese Christian Church,” “Nuuanu Stream” and the two of “Lum Temple.”

A more free use of the same technique gives atmosphere to “Aala Park.” In “Chinese Still Life” and “The Eight Immortals” there is a rather self-conscious picturesqueness.

Chu F. Hing’s watercolors include a striking diagonal composition in “Fishermen’s Pier” and a carefully controlled “Portrait of Helga Marie Chu”—not an easy thing to achieve in the medium.

His “Devil Dancers of Tibet” in tempera is rich in delineation that might be a study for a mural. ...
The Star-Bulletin, March 4, 1960, announced the couple’s show.
A two-man oil and watercolor show by the husband and wife team of Helga and Hing F. Chu will open at Grossman-Moody’s tomorrow (Monday).

Both artists have studied at the Chicago Art Institute and in New York City and have exhibited their work in galleries and shows in a number of Mainland cities.

Paintings by Hing Chu, who was born in Kapaa, Kauai, were recently included in the Narcissus Festival art show.

Helga Chu was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she studied art before coming to the United States to continue her training.
A review was printed in the Star-Bulletin, March 11, 1960.
Couple’s Waikiki Show in Diversified Moods
Helga and Hing Chu, whose paintings are being shown at Grossman Moody in Waikiki, divide the field amicably between them. He does water colors; she does oils. He favors moods of nature; she is interested in people and buildings. His palette leans to blues and greens and darks; hers emphasizes pinks and reds and lights.

Both agree in an essentially affirmative view. The nature he paints is poetic and philosophical, and her dolls and churches are glowing with ruddy vitality.

Mrs. Chu’s fondness for the French impressionist painters is self-confessed (“That one looks like Monet, doesn’t it?” she said with engaging candor) and her accustomed technique is the pointillistic one of bits of prismatic color juxtaposed with the palette knife.

Such are “Lum Temple 1” with the river in the foreground, and “Lum Temple 2” with a busy throng of people on the street.

“Maunakea, Hilo” shows receding distance and the rising mountain. “Alewa Heights” attacks an opposite problem, and looks down from a detailed foreground to an almost abstract swirl of distance.


Technical brilliance is particularly apparent in her portrait of Hing Chu. The background is a strong fig­ured brocade or screen; the subject is wearing a classical Chinese gown in mild pur­ple. The concentration of in­terest in the face is achieved by what amounts to an infinitely detailed mosaic of color.

Most striking among Hing Chu’s water colors are three moonscapes painted in succession an hour apart, full of night atmosphere of boats and shadows and ripples and moonpath. They progress from the strong contrast of the newly risen moon to the diffused radiance of high moonlinght [sic].


How you can paint at night with colors meant to be beheld by day, but still looking like night, is the art­ist’s secret.

While light is Hing Chu’s particular interest, a power­ful zig-zag composition gives strength to “Fisherman’s Pier”, and the point of view from above adds interest to “Repairing the Trawling Lines.”

Chu favors the mild and imprecise, in a wet technique. But he is not limited to it, for the mural design “Tibetan Devil Dancers is richly decorative, with an exact finish of line and plane.

The exhibition suffers from being too copious—over 100 items.

Having fewer on display, with reserves in portifolio [sic], would give a more cogent impression of the artists’ message.
Hing filed an Application for Certificate of Hawaiian Birth on October 5, 1965. The notes of his testimony were written in shorthand. His bother, Lorrin, was a witness. The application listed his siblings: Fook Tang, Helen, Fook Fong, Fook Miu, Mu In, Fook Ung, Fook Chuck, Liu Yee, Lorrin, Gilbert, Fook Kip and Fook Chow. Hing’s application was approved by the assistant to the Lieutenant Governor.[75a]

On May 6, 1965 Helga wrote a letter to Mrs. Elizabeth Paepcke who was married to Walter Paul Paepcke, the founded the Container Corporation of America. (“With Walter, Elizabeth became an important figure in the cultural and social life of Chicago. She was involved in the Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera and numerous other organizations.”[76])

Dear Mrs. Paepcke,
Please listen to my prayer. I am Helga Chu. I would ask you because I know how generous and sympathetic you are. Hing is going blind. The doctors here, Dr. Fouljner and other, have given him 3 more months and the last light will be going out forever.[77]
In her letter Helga laments that the local art academy was not interested in exhibiting Hing’s art. She also revealed the tension between them and Hing's family.
We are both very depressed. Hing's family does not care if we live or die. To them I have never been more than a Polack [sic] as his sisters call me or an old hag.[78]
Helga still had hope of returning to Chicago and she shared her idea with Mrs. Paepcke.
Hing and I were 69 years of age on January 17. We are receiving Social Security of 180 dollars a month and from July doctors and hospitals are free. We have a life insurance of 2 tousand [sic] dollars...We can borrow 1000 dollars and come to Chicago...I am sure I can find a nice little studio in Chicago and we will live there.[79]
How Mrs. Paepcke responded is not known. 

Helga and Hing remained in Honolulu. Hing passed away August 1967.[80] An obituary appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, August 24, 1967. 
Hing Fook Chu, 70, of 730 Capt. Cook died Friday [August 18] at his home. He was born Jan. 17, 1897 at Kapaa, Kauai. 

Friends may call at Williams Mortuary Chapel from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow. A graveside service at the Valley of the Temples will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Burial will follow. 

Mr. Chu is survived by his wife, Helga Marie Chu; seven brothers. Dr. Tang Fook Chu, Fonk Fook Chu, Lorrin Fook Chu, Albert Fook Chu, Charles Fook Chu, Chow Fook Chu and Hung Fook Chu, all of Hilo; two sisters, Mrs. Helen Chu and Miss Molly Fook Chu of Chicago.

Mr. Chu studied at the Chicago Art Institute and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Both he and his wife exhibited paintings throughout the United States and Europe. Their paintings bore a wide range of topics; landscapes, seascapes, buildings, waterfronts, legendary figures and temples. 

Mr. Chu was also renowned as a kite designer. 
Fourteen years later Helga passed away July 1981.[81]

• • •

Special thanks to the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library for permission to use Helga Chu’s letter from the Elizabeth H. Paepcke Papers, and to Avery B. Chumbley for his assistance in Hawaii.

Today is Hing’s birthday. His portrait of Helga is here. A painting by Helga, below, was on eBay.

• • •

1. World War I Military Registration Card, 31 Jul. 1918.

2-5. Thirteenth U.S. Federal Census, Hilo Town, Hawaii, 15 May 1910.

6-7. Chu Fook Ngu, Chinese Exclusion Act Case File 2029/43, National Archives and Records Administration-Great Lakes Region (Chicago, Illinois), 18 May 1920.

8. Emily Petzold, “Geography Has Changed Considerably Since Mother Was a Girl – Something of the New Kind”, Duluth News Tribune (Minnesota), 13 Oct. 1912: 4.

9. Chu Fook Ngu.

10. World War I Military Registration Card.

11. Chu Fook Ngu.

12. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Seattle, Washington, 1890-1957. Micropublication M1383. RG085. 357 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C., Microfilm Roll Number M1383_42.

13. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Seattle, Washington, 1890-1957. Microfilm Roll Number M1383_43.

14. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, 1893-1953. Microfilm Publication M1410, 429 rolls. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Microfilm Roll Number M1410_128.

15. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Seattle, Washington, 1890-1957. Micropublication M1383. RG085. 357 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C., Microfilm Roll Number M1383_52.

16-17. Chu Fook Hing, Chinese Exclusion Act Case File 36863/1-1, National Archives and Records Administration-Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle, Washington), 8 Oct. 1919.

18. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Seattle, Washington, 1890-1957. Micropublication M1383. RG085. 357 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C., Microfilm Roll Number M1383_43.

19. Chu Fook Ngu.

20. Fourteenth U.S. Federal Census, Chicago City, Cook County, Illinois; 8 Jan. 1920.

21. Porter Sargent, A Handbook of American Private Schools (Boston: Sargent's Handbooks, 1916) 228, <>.

22. James Parton Haney, Art Education in the Public Schools of the United States (New York: American Art Annual, 1908) 334, <>.

23. Porter Sargent.

24. Walt Disney Timeline, The Walt Disney Family Museum; <>.

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27. P. C. Hamerlinck, Fawcett Companion: The Best of FCA (North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001) 135.

28. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, “SAIC History”, <>.

29. Fifteenth U.S. Federal Census, Chicago City, Cook County, Illinois; 26 Apr. 1930.

30. Michigan Marriage Record,

31. Social Security Death Index. Roots Web <>, Genealogy Bank <>.

32. Eleanor Jewett, “Graduation Marks Close of Splendid Year for Art School”, Chicago Tribune (Illinois), 17 Jun. 1922: 11.

33. Elizabeth H. Paepcke. Papers, Box #26, Folder #5, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library, Helga Chu, 6 May 1966 letter.

34. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, 1900-1953. Microfilm Publication A3422, 269 rolls. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Microfilm Roll Number A3422, Roll 82.

35. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Pedro/Wilmington/Los Angeles, California, June 29, 1907-June 30, 1948. Microfilm Publication M1764, 118 rolls. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Microfilm Roll Number M1764:11.

36. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, 1900-1953; Microfilm Roll Number A3422, Roll 95.

37. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, 1893–1953; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1410, 429 rolls); Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Microfilm Roll Number M1410_242.

38. Fifteenth U.S. Federal Census.

39. Elizabeth H. Paepcke.

40. Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Copenhagen, Denmark, 8–14 Oct. 2012 <> ; Helga visited her sister, Ester, and gave Hing’s watercolors to her.

41. “Artist Wins Contest”, The New York Times, 13 July 1936.

42. Catalogue of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Water Color Exhibition and Thirty-Fifth Annual Exhibition of Miniatures (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1936) 37, 42 and 57.

43. Catalogue of the Thirty-Fifth Annual Philadelphia Water Color Exhibition and the Thirty-Sixth Annual Exhibition of Miniatures (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1937) 32.

44. Elizabeth H. Paepcke.

45. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957; (National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, 8892 rolls); Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_6333; Line: 3.

46. Elizabeth H. Paepcke.

47. Sixteenth U.S. Federal Census

47a. Draft Registration Card,

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50. Steve Duin, Mike Richardson, Comics Between the Panels (Dark Horse, 1998) 370.

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53. David Hajdu, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008) 339, 341, 345, 350.

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55. United States Patent Office, 2,394,366, 5 Feb. 1946; Application 27 Jun 1944, Serial No. 542,384; city and state on first page.

56. Wikipedia, “Funnies Inc.”, <>

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59. Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc., New Series, Vol. 40, No. 1 (1945) 26. <>

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61. Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc., New Series, Vol. 40, No. 7 (1945) 136. <©+1+c.+Apr.+3,+1945;+G+45365%22&source=bl&ots=_nCx_avYMX&sig=LbGvy3YqfBLeM6lu2AyumOm7x88&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KxXXUsqZBZK_sQTM7YLoAw&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Zoo.%20©%201%20c.%20Apr.%203%2C%201945%3B%20G%2045365%22&f=false>

62. Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc., New Series, Vol. 40, No. 8 (1945) 187. <©+1+c.+Aug.+2,+1945%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=i_XXUvnpM8vNsQTqtoLoAQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Chu%5D%3A%20Circus.%20©%201%20c.%20Aug.%202%2C%201945%22&f=false>

63. Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc., New Series, Vol. 41 (1946) 21. <>

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65. Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Vol. 1, Parts 7-11A, No. 2; Works of Art, etc. (Jul–Dec. 1947) 135.

66. Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Vol. 1, Parts 7–11A, No. 1, Works of Art, etc. (Jan.-Jun. 1949) 15. <>

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68. United States Patent Office, 2,394,366, 5 Feb. 1946; Application 27 Jun 1944, Serial No. 542,384. <>

69. United States Patent Office, 2,406,994, 3 Sep. 1946; Application 9 Oct 1944, Serial No. 557, 816. <>

70. United States Patent Office, 2,412,322, 10 Dec. 1946; Application 17 May 1945, Serial No. 594,316. <>

71. United States Patent Office, 2,412,321, 10 Dec. 1946; Application 8 Mar 1945, Serial No. 581,588. <>

72. United States Patent Office, 2,461,465, 8 Feb. 1949; Application 14 Nov. 1947, Serial No. 785,992. <>

73. Scandinavian Airlines Air Passenger Manifest, 8 Oct. 1951. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957; (National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, 8892 rolls); Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_8050; Line: 2.

74. Who’s Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999.

75. Elizabeth H. Paepcke.

75a. Application for Certificate of Hawaiian Birth,

76–79. Elizabeth H. Paepcke.

80–81. Social Security Death Index.

Further Reading and Viewing
Comic Book Marketplace
#109, December 2003
pages 33–37: “B-Littled Golden Age Titles” by Jon Berk

Men of Mystery
#25, 2000
unpaginated; “The Mystery of the Green Turtle!” by Jeff Gelb

Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History
Mike Benton
Taylor Publishing, 1992
page 153: Blazing Comics

Chinese Historic Sites and Pioneer Families of Kauai
Tin-Yuke Char, Wai Jane Char
A Local History Project of the Hawaii Chinese History Center, 1980
page 134: Chu Kin and Chu Wai Families

Rocket’s Blast Comic Collector
#93, August 1972
page 42: “Blazing Comics” by Joe Stoner