Thursday, May 31, 2012
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Chris Ishii
Kishio Christopher Ishii was born in Caruthers, Fresno County, California on August 11, 1919, according to the Archives of American Art (birthplace) and the California Birth Index, 1905-1995 at Ancestry.com. He was in Japan when the 1920 U.S. Federal Census was enumerated. On June 12, 1920, his family sailed from Kobe, Japan and arrived in Seattle, Washington on July 1. He was the youngest of four children born to Koshiro and Naka. His father was a farmer. They had visited his father's mother in Toyotamura Kagawa-ken.
The 1930 census recorded him in the 17th Judicial Township, Fresno County on Fig Avenue. He was the fourth of six children, and his father continued as a farmer. Ishii graduated from Caruthers Union High School. Archives of American Art said he attended "Chouinard School of Art…in Los Angeles and upon graduation worked for Walt Disney Studios until World War II." In late May 1941, a strike was called against Disney. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson (2006), said, "A local newspaper article of the time noted that all four of the Nisei artists went out on strike: Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Masao Kawaguchi, and James Tanaka." They found work elsewhere when the strike ended.
At the start of World War II he was interned at the Assembly Center at Santa Anita and then transferred to the Granada Relocation Center in Amache, Colorado. In both places, he worked on the camp newspapers as a cartoonist. Volunteering to join the U.S. Army from Amache in 1943, he served in the Military Intelligence Service as an illustrator for the Office of War Information, assigned to the India/China/Burma theater of war. He met and married his wife, Ada Suffiad in Shanghai, bringing her to the U.S. with him at demobilization. After the war he briefly studied art in Paris, France.
His wife passed away February 17, 1988. Ishii passed away November 6, 2001, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. A filmography is here.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles