News & Notes

Musings on Mermaids


In 2000, as Firecrackers was being printed in Hong Kong, my publicist at Ten Speed Press inquired if there were any national magazines that might be interested in featuring the book. I suggested Playboy, among others.

Although written for adults, Firecrackers would eventually be cited on several statewide librarian “Young Adult Reading Lists” as its mix of comic book style art, world history and pyrotechnics proved very appealing to many middle school boys. Not surprisingly, Playboy did review the book. Their readership was the same feisty group of boys, just bigger and older!

When queried by the publicist as to what image she might offer Playboy, it was a no- brainer: the Mermaid Brand firecracker label. The Mermaid was a bit of an anomaly as mermaids aren’t really found much in Asian folklore. As with the Cowboy and Pirate brands, this South China Sea Mermaid was designed to appeal to American market tastes. (You can see the label in the Books section of the website: Firecrackers!).

Here are two other mermaids. One, the face page of a city street map, recently found, and the other discovered at a flea market a few years back. Both were designed to promote tourism. Why travel related? The Mermaid is the coat-of-arms symbol of Poland’s capital, Warsaw. Mermaids have traditionally also been used to promote luxury sea liners, and even to this day The Little Mermaid is a prominent selling point of Disney Cruise Lines.