May 31, 2017

From 1969 to 1974, Gidra, the unofficial voice of “the Movement,” chronicled changing tides and unfolding dramas within the Asian American community. Taking its name from a giant three-headed dragon out of Japanese monster movies of the 1960s, Gidra helped define the terms of the Asian American Movement and covered, among many other topics, the fight for ethnic studies on college campuses, activism against gentrification and urban renewal, the Vietnam War, and other anti-imperialist movements in Okinawa, the Philippines and Korea. Each issue also featured a healthy dose of art, poetry, and self-deprecating humor—as well as some serious fashion statements.

Keep scrolling for some of Gidra‘s greatest hits. (And then go check out the whole collection for a deep dive into the political awakenings and fevered dreams of ’70s Asian America.)

1. When this comic series gave a big fat middle finger to Orientalist stereotypes:

“Stereotypes” by Shark,  Vol. I, No. 1: page 2
“Stereotypes” by Shark, Vol. I, No. 2: page 2
“Stereotypes” by Shark, Vol. I, No. 3: page 2
“Stereotypes” by Shark, Vol. I, No. 4: page 2


2. When Gidra’s female staff took over and devoted an entire issue to Asian American womxn:

Vol. III, No. 1


3. When the Yellow Brotherhood was workin’ at the carwash (yeah):

Vol. I, No. 2: page 6


4. This hair:

From “Barefoot Journalism” by Mike Murase, Vol. VI, No. 4: pp 1, 34-39, 42-46. Photo by G. Hayashi.


5. This Hipster Sansei™ loungewear model:

Vol. II, No. 4: page 14


6. This painfully accurate commentary on the exorbitant costs of a college education (and the importance of always using protection?):

Vol. I, No. 9: page 5


7. When Santa Claus came to town:

From “Tutorial Project” by Neil Chan, Vol. II, No. 1: pp 12-13


8. When the Gidra staff had no patience for war machine complicity:

Vol. II, No. 6: page 8
Vol. II, No. 6: page 9


9. And speaking of war machines, this gut-punch memorial to the victims of Hiroshima:

Excerpt from “Hiroshima Revisted” by Foo Gwah, Vol. II, No. 7: page 9


10. When this retrospective on a 1946 Japanese American Committee for Democracy march reminded young folk that Nisei and even Issei were also down for the cause:

From “Activism, 1946 Style” by Pat Sumi, Vol. II, No. 11: page 14
From “Activism, 1946 Style” by Pat Sumi, Vol. II, No. 11: page 14


11. When Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon was “wanted for conspiring to murder tens of thousands of American soldiers and at least one million Vietnamese,” and “in connection with the murders of twenty-eight Black Panthers, four Kent State students, and two Jackson State students”:

Vol. II, No. 10: page 9


12. This pitch perfect response to sad white dudes looking to “obtain Japanese girls and ladies for maids, domestics, female servants”:

Vol. III, No. 1: page 3. Photo by Mike Murase.


13. When this little dude knew what’s up:

From “Yellow Paint Does Not an Asian Make,” Vol. II, No. 8: page 17. Photo by Mike Murase.


14. When this qween was just not that into you:

Vol. IV, No. 3: page 24


15. When Ho Chi Minh reminded us that a movement that excludes prisoners and other marginalized people does so at its own peril:

Vol. III, No. 3: page 3


16. When these incarcerated Gidra fans had zero time for respectability politics:

Vol. IV, No. 7: page 9


17. When it consistently covered the Vietnam War from the perspective of actual Vietnamese people:

From “Vietnamese Women and Culture” by Liz Nakahara, Vol. V, No. 9: page 18


18. When it ran a tutorial on “how to fix your John”:

From “High Tides and Rough Waters, Or How to Fix Your ‘John'” by Jeff Furumura, Vol. V, No. 3: pp 14-15


19. When this all-Asian American fashion show happened:

From “Stylin’: An Asian American Fashion Show” by Linda Fujikawa, Vol. V, No. 3: pp 8-9, 18. Photo by Marie Kodani/Evelyn Yoshimura.
From “Stylin’: An Asian American Fashion Show” by Linda Fujikawa, Vol. V, No. 3: pp 8-9, 18. Photos by Marie Kodani/Evelyn Yoshimura.


20. This 100% accurate depiction of how it feels dragging your ass out of bed on Monday morning to go line somebody else’s pockets:

From “Work” by Tom Okabe, Vol. V, No. 3: page 19


21. This response to white people asking where you learned to speakee Engrish so good:

From “Discovering the American Dream” by Alan Ota and Alan Takemoto, Vol. V, No. 4: page 9


22. When sno-cone toppings were serious business:

Vol. IV, No. 7: page 24


23. Every. Single. Thing. Happening in this photo:

Vol. V, No. 9: page 4


24. When Judy Chu reclaimed the complicated, oft co-opted legacy of Anna May Wong:

From “Anna May Wong” by Judy Chu, Vol. VI, No. 1: pp 14-16


25. And this epic showdown from Gidra’s final issue:

Vol. VI, No. 4: page 80

By Densho Staff

For additional background on the significance of Gidra, see Densho Content Director Brian Niiya’s earlier blog post, “Gidra: Now Available Online.”

[Header photo: Gidra masthead]