News & Notes

Light of India: Now an e-Matchbox Book


Light of India not only comes in it own slip case, but there is also a striking strip on the side of the box so that if you actually want to use it to light a match, you can. The production team at Ten Speed Press did a wonderful job to make this happen. Not only is it the first book about matchbox art from the Indian Subcontinent, but it is the first book ever to double as a matchbox. Seinfeld fans might recall Kramer’s book about coffee tables doubling as a coffee table. Well, it’s kinda like that!

A year ago Random House editors chose Light of India as a selection for their digital book initiative. It was with trepidation that I gave them permission to publish Light of India as an ebook. As its creator, I was concerned that it would be missing those unique features mentioned above. But it was a review on Amazon from Megan Doherty at Galaxy Ink Tattoo that changed my mind. She wrote that “Light of India has great pictures of matchbook artwork. I am inspired by the colors.” Then a comment on the London-based Indian illustrator, Parul Arora’s, terrific blog: “Living away from India has changed so much for me. Its helped me recognise the beauty in things that I took for granted earlier. Anyway, I think this book is beautiful and very inspiring and I feel very silly saying this but I’m extremely proud of it.”

As an author, to hear that your book inspired someone else’s artwork or to read that it made someone proud of their heritage and culture, is very gratifying. So perhaps it’s more important to get your work out there. After all, print editions run their course but digital books will be ongoing in the cloud.

So I am pleased to announce Light of India’s debut as an ebook this July. BTW, here is Parul Arora’s website review of Light of India:

Fireworks Super Hero: No Cha


As a kid I loved watching episodes of Superman on TV. Superpowers made him good at everything (and something to aspire to) but those abilities also made him ultimately infallible and a bit predictable. I suppose the success of Marvel comics was in great part having flawed superheroes with limited powers. For example, Thor has primarily his hammer-wielding strength and Captain America is armed only with an indestructible, boomerang-like shield.

When researching the Firecrackers book, I was surprised to see how few Asian mythologic heroes adorned the labels of firecracker packs from China. Perhaps the Chinese illustrators had mainly the American market in mind.

One character depicted on the Roger brand label did capture my attention. He is No Cha (also called Nezha). No Cha is particularly fond of fighting dragons, rides on a wheel of fire and battles his nemeses with a hand-held golden ring that can expand and shrink. No, he’s not a girl, even if he does favor a pigtail hairstyle and skirt. No Cha could fit right in with Marvel’s team of Avengers although he is hundreds of years older.

When Ten Speed Press asked me to produce a gift calendar based on the book Firecrackers: The Art & History, I was only too happy to put No Cha on the cover. I was not surprised to learn that No Cha’s star potential transcends print, starring in a 1979 Chinese animation film titled Nezha Conquers the Dragon King. You can see a snippet of it here, but I like the firecracker No Cha better: