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.
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.
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.
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.