Jerry Ma: A Chinatown Odyssey (Jan. 18–March 8, 2020)

Jerry Ma: A Chinatown Odyssey (Jan. 18–March 8, 2020)

The Longevity Monk on a scared journey. Pigsy the reincarnated half-pig man. Sandy the man-eating sand demon. And the Monkey King, transmorgrifier, fighter, and all-around trickster. So are the gang of four in A CHINATOWN ODYSSEY, graphic novel artist Jerry Ma’s modern retelling of a Chinese classic.

"Hong bao" postcard with the Monkey King, his friends, and a rat in gold

In the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, a monk named Tang Sanzang is tasked with bringing back sacred Buddhist texts from Central Asia and India. To protect him are three companions: Zhu Bajie or Pigsy, Sha Wujing or Sandy, and, most famously, Sun Wukong or the Monkey King.

The Monkey King and his cohorts do a lion dance

In A CHINATOWN ODYSSEY, Ma plucks these legendary characters out of a fantasy world and places them in 1980s Manhattan Chinatown. Instead of monk’s robes, they wear hoodies and jeans. Instead of demons and other uncanny spirits, they encounter dim sum cart ladies, fish vendors, and some very angry arcade owners.

The Monkey King and his friends at the Golden Unicorn

The Monkey King and Co. at the fish market

At the same time, they — and the artist — celebrate NYC Chinatown. From historic Doyers Street to beloved 69 Bayard to the legendary Chinatown Fair arcade.

The Monkey King gang at Doyers Street

The Monkey King makes trouble at 69 Bayard

Illustration of Monkey King taking off with Chinatown Arcade tic tac toe chicken

Learn more about the artist in our interview with him and check out more pics from the exhibition and opening reception.

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