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.