News & Notes

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: