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:
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.
- The protagonist of Chinese Hero is named Hua Yingxiong [Wah Ying-hung] (华英雄), literally ‘Chinese Hero’. [↩]
- DGN Production/DrMaster Publications： Chinese Hero: Tales of the Blood Sword vol 1 [↩]
- And that’s not even counting the more than 250 issues that were done by Cheung and other artists though the 90s and 00s! [↩]
- Comicchron: January 2014 Comic Book Sales Figures Estimated Comics Sold to North American Comics Shops as Reported by Diamond Comic Distributors [↩]