Only Ten Percent of Ma Wing-shing’s Epic Chinese Manhua _Chinese Hero_ Has Been Translated Into English

I recently found out that one of the first and only manhua to be translated into English and published in North America was edited to remove anti-Caucasian racism. In the first issue of the original version of Chinese Hero 中 華英雄, created by Ma Wing-shing (馬榮成) which was published in the early 1980s in  《金報》 [Golden Daily?] , the protagonist’s parents are killed by ‘foreign devils‘ 洋鬼子:

chinese hero 2

chinese hero 1

According to the publisher of the 2006 English translation, DrMaster, however “[a]s a child, Hero’s1 family was attacked and killed by a practitioner of Northern Mantis kung fu.”2 Rather than going back and re-drawing the comic, though, DrMaster skipped the first [undetermined number of issues of] Chinese Hero comics and jumped ahead to the birth of Hero’s son. The publisher also had the art re-colored and re-touched.

The murder of Hero’s parents by foreign devils is not the only plot point that Anglophone readers of Chinese Hero are missing out on. The original series ran for 159 issues with Ma Wing-shing at the helm before being passed on to Cheung Ma Yau (張萬有) in 1989, with each issue averaging around 130 pages. The eight translated volumes published by DrMaster average around 270 pages, meaning they each contain two issues of the original run. This means only  about 10% of Ma’s Chinese Hero have been translated into English.3

In her book Hong Kong Comics: A History of Manhua (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), Wendy Siuyi Wong devotes two full pages of illustrations to Ma’s magnum opus of martial chivalry, reporting that Chinese Hero achieved an impressive average circulation of 60,000, reaching peaks as high as 200,000. As a point of comparison, only 16 comics in North America had sales exceeding 60,000 in January, 2014, and the average circulation for the top 300 comics for the same month was only 20,000.4 It is even more impressive when you consider that this was a city of 5.6 million as opposed to a country of 317 million.

Given that Chinese Hero would seem to be one of the important Hong Kong comics of the 1980s, it seems unfortunate the vast majority of the work is only available in Chinese.Of course, this is true of almost all Chinese manhua, which unlike Japanese manga are virtually unknown outside of Asia.

  1. The protagonist of Chinese Hero is named Hua Yingxiong [Wah Ying-hung] (华英雄), literally ‘Chinese Hero’. []
  2. DGN Production/DrMaster Publications: Chinese Hero: Tales of the Blood Sword vol 1 []
  3. And that’s not even counting the more than 250 issues that were done by Cheung and other artists though the 90s and 00s! []
  4. Comicchron: January 2014 Comic Book Sales Figures Estimated Comics Sold to North American Comics Shops as Reported by Diamond Comic Distributors []
Nick Stember
Nick Stember is a translator of Chinese comics and folk rock who lives in Vancouver, BC. In 2015 he earned a Master of Arts in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia with his (very readable and not at all obscure) thesis on the formation of the Shanghai Manhua Society in the mid-1920s.

His work has been featured on the websites of The Comics Journal, Paper Republic, Danwei, Frog in a Well, Optical Sloth, Tor, Boing Boing, iO9, Rolling Stone, the BBC World Service, and the South China Morning Post. For the past two years, he has worked as a consultant for a variety of ventures, including Storycom and Clarkesworld Magazine's Chinese Science Fiction Translation Project and the Grayhawk Agency and the Ministry of Culture (ROC)'s Books from Taiwan Vol. III: Comics.

He is currently working on a translation of the "Chinese Game of Thrones."

This blog is part of a larger project to build the world's first English language encyclopedia of Chinese comics and animation, the Encyclopædia Manhuannica 漫畫百科.

If you have any suggestions for future projects, or would like to donate to support Nick's translations, there is a Patreon page for that now!
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One thought on “Only Ten Percent of Ma Wing-shing’s Epic Chinese Manhua _Chinese Hero_ Has Been Translated Into English

  1. Pingback: Don’t Call it ‘Manga’: a short intro to Chinese Comics and Manhua - Nick Stember

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