Monkey Puzzle


Monkey is the great trickster hero of Asia, kin to Coyote and Odysseus, Brer Rabbit, Mouse Deer and the rest. Monkey is always wandering, bragging, grabbing at everything and never shutting up, showing off, asking questions, and getting in and out of trouble. They call him "the animal with a hundred hands" because he's always grabbing at things, like the mind that won't stay still but gets itself into unnecessary trouble: the mind, the Zen masters tell us, IS a monkey.
I made this drawing some years ago as part of a long abandoned project. The monkey bodies spell out his name. There's a big painted version in color as well, with the word MONKEY arranged vertically, a blue-green background and the monkeys in red and yellow. An art lover paid me good money for that one (now will I believe that there are unicorns), so it either hangs on some wall or in a rummage sale somewhere.
Monkey: Journey to the West is a classic Buddhist novel of Monkey's adventures traveling with a Buddhist monk in search of enlightenment, faced with 80 impossible tasks 100 chapters and demons and temptations galore-- even pissing on Buddha's hand-- and despite all his character flaws, Monkey finally achieves enlightenment, hope for the silliest.



Now I'm pleased that Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl and the Gorillaz) has combined Monkey's adventures with the Olympics as an intro for BBC Sports. It's a connection that was hanging there waiting for someone to grab it, so I'm glad it was them and not Disney or some other corporate thief of other people's dreams. Carlo Collodi invented Pinocchio and James Barrie created Peter Pan. Felix Salten wrote Bambi and Hans Christian Anderson dreamed the Little Mermaid (with an unhappy ending) and Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Books" is ten times more profound than that jazz-track abomination. Walt Disney may have been the Thomas Edison of idea factories, but that's scarcely a recommendation.

4 comments:

jef said...

That is so cool. This two-minute intro has everything: monkeys, pigmen, monsters and fighting (well, everything that's important to me anyway).

John Martin said...

When we were little, my Dad always told us that Disney were a bunch of fascists who either planned the brainwashing of children or went along with it and carried it out. We read the real Grimm's. Fuck Disney.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I'm old and can't remember, but I think Alan Moore used The Trickster Monkey in SWAMP THING. You get paid for your art, wow. I sketch Aaron Longoria reading at Twilight Tales and he just snatches the page from my hands.

Michael Fountain: Blood for Ink said...

It's Disney putting the possessive on all its adaptations I object to:WALT DISNEY'S Three Musketeers, WALT DISNEY'S Holy Bible, etc.
I've never gotten around to reading Moore's Swamp Thing, though I hear good things, and if I'd been in a state of mind to have two more drinks, it would have been Eva Longoria, not Aaron that was asking me to draw unicorns and dragons on living canvas instead of paper, and though it might still have ended with Wayne screaming at soulless architecture in Wrigleyville, would have made a much better story than me getting lost in Indiana. It's a fallen world we live in.