Zhang Guangyu’s 張光宇 (1900-1965) overlooked masterpiece, Manhua Journey to the West 西遊漫記 was originally created in the fall of 1945 while Zhang was living in the wartime capital of Chongqing. Deeply critical of the ruling KMT government, it was eventually banned and did not see print for another 13 years. For the sake of introducing Zhang’s out-of-print work to a larger audience, I’ve taken the liberty of translating the entire 60 page comic into English and will be posting it in installments on my blog over the next several weeks.
In part 5 of this 6 part translation, having taken over the opera from the actor playing him, Monkey has the his furry subjects learn various trades so that they can become farmers, merchants, builders, artists, and poets, eventually transforming the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit into a modern metropolis, complete with high rises and smoke stacks. An idle month passes in the Epang Palace before the pilgrims realize that they are getting no closer to their goal of retrieving the Celestial Tome from the Western Paradise, so they decide to leave the comforts of the palace and continue on their quest. The mayor warns them of the dangers they will face travelling through the neighboring kingdom of “False” Qin. This kingdom of monsters is said to be ruled by the “Japanese Dwarves” 倭秦with assistance from defectors from Ey-qin. For their protection, the mayor offers to send an escort of air balloons to take them over False Qin. The pilgrims agree, but as they are passing over False Qin, Monkey spies artillery being set up to attack the fleet…
When the new version of “Water Curtain” was performed on stage, the situation was indeed quite different, showing all the little monkeys hard at work.
The final scene portrayed the successful construction of a new paradise, in a crazed crescendo of music revealing the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit modernized.
Our story continues: without realizing it, Tripitaka and the others stayed in Epang Palace for over a month, until one day they remembered their task of going to the Western Heaven to retrieve the Celestial Tome. After discussing the matter, they decided to end their floating life of leisure in the mountains. When they went to the mayor to announce their intention to take their leave, the mayor replied, “You can’t leave! You can’t leave!” He then pointed to a map on the wall, saying…
At the western border of the mountains there is a “False Qin” kingdom of monsters. The “Japanese Dwarves” have banded together along with rebels from our own land to do multifarious acts of evil, passing off the false as real, and generally acting despotically, whatever you can imagine, they’ve done it all. If you, sirs, walk that way without a care in the world, then you will certainly run into some demons. I propose that it would be better if I send a fleet of air balloons to escort you past this nightmare land, that way things will go smoother….” Upon hearing this the assembled pilgrims all said in unison, “Excellent! Excellent!”
The air balloons soared through the sky. Upon arriving at the Kingdom of the False Qin, Sun Wukong looked down and saw that the assembled monsters wanted to use artillery to attack the fleet. The monkey Sun couldn’t let this happen and so he firmed up his resolve and plucked 72 hairs from his body and blew them into the wind, shouting, “Change!” And with that they changed into a multitude of air balloons, filling the sky. With that, he shouted, “Change!” again, and the air balloons all let loose bombs, and crashing thunder fell all around like the falling rain, exploding and sending off thick plumes of smoke, until the whole sky was filled with flames, until walls collapsed, ramparts fell in on themselves, and cries of distress could be heard, causing Tripitaka to shout loudly, “You brutish monkey, making a mess of things like this! You’ve committed a great sin by taking life, this is unacceptable, unacceptable!”
The Great Sage Sun read a spell, shook his body, bringing his 72 hairs back onto his body, and calling for his magic cloud, ordered the air balloons to make a gradual descent, whereupon he saw that a white flag had been hung from the city gate, on which had been written the words, “Unconditional Surrender.” The various false officials and false soldiers were all kneeling on the ground, crying pitifully and begging to surrender. The Great Sage ordered them to register for surrender, and to hand over their weapons by the end of the day, and not letting any of them slip away secretly. For any who dared to disobey, he had them beheaded without exception. In response the assembled false officials were all startled into submission.
The Great Sage dispatched an envoy to notify the monarch of Ey-qin. The Pharaoh then sent the mayor of the City of Pleasant Dreams to fly to the False Kingdom of Qin to accept their surrender on his behalf. The imperial edict clearly specified that the false officials were completely innocent, Not only that, but the edict specified that guns and winter clothing should be distributed, to prevent them from taking advantage of the situation and allow them to work hard to maintain public order.
Sun Wukong couldn’t make heads or tails of this, but the mayor said, “This is what is known as a psychological surrender.” When he was finished speaking, the mayor left. The false officials and false soldiers, meanwhile, began to feel rather high and mighty, and started calling Sun Wukong a dangerous element, and decided to arrest and denounce him, leaving Sun Wukong speechless at their deceitful behavior. Thus he decided to leave immediately.
49. 却说三藏等马不停蹄，足不停步，一路逃出伪秦虎口，直到人困马乏，只得停顿下来，倒在乱草堆里，八戒身重体胖，赶得汗流满头，躺倒在地上还不住的喘气，口里 只是埋怨悟空多事，不断地叽咕道：“什么真秦伪秦，原来他们真伪都是一家人，不是咱们多事，他们倒还分个你假我真，偏是我们硬要弄清楚谁真谁假，谁 黑……”这个“黑”字刚刚说出口，斗的西北角上一股黑气直逼过来，那股黑气好生利害，逼住他们四个人的影子，影子们被一逼，忽然一阵子骚动伸个懒腰，施展 手足渐渐的离开他们，直奔那股黑气。这里四个人瞠目不知所措，失去了影子又不能动弹，世上只有“如影遂形”，那有人追影子的道理？
Our story continues: Tripitaka and the others continued on their journey, man and beast alike carrying on without cease, in order to flee the tiger’s den of false officials, until they were entirely spent and had to stop to rest in a pile of scattered straw. Zhu Bajie, hefty and fat, had sweat streaming down his face, was lying on the ground, unable to catch his breath, so busy was he with cursing the meddlesome Sun Wukong, grumbling, “Who cares about Real Qin, False Qin? True or false, they were all on the same side all along. If it wasn’t for our meddling, then they’d still be able to keep things straight, you’re false, we’re real, but we just had to find out who was real and who was false, who’s black…” Just as he had said the word ‘black,’ a black force drifted in from the northwest. This black force was incredibly powerful, snatching up their four shadows, and with a loud uproar, stretched out, and gradually pulling their shadows away from their bodies by the hands and feet, whereupon they made a beeline right for the black force. The four pilgrims sat dumbstruck, unable to move after losing their shadows. We’ve all heard of the saying, “To follow someone like a shadow” but who’s heard of people following their own shadows?
The four shadows slipped into the shadow realm like wisps of smoke, moving like fish in water. What sort of thing was this black force, anyway? It turns out that it came from nearby ‘black market.’ When the four shadows arrived at the entryway to this market, not only did they not have to fumble in the dark, but to the contrary their eyes became sharp and bright. Lifting their heads, they say a slogan on the wall that read, “Whoever scoffs that the mountainous areas are black as lacquer, then they certainly haven’t awoken from the dream of the human world.”