Zhang Guangyu’s Manhua Journey to the West (1945) – Part 5 of 67 min read

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…

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41. 于是改编的“水廉洞”新剧出现在台上,果然情形不同,表现众猴子个个在勤俭进行工作中。

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.


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42. 最后一幕表演建设新乐园成功,狂欢之曲高奏,一座花果山居然现代化了。

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.


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43. 却说三藏等留阿房宫中,不知不觉已过了月余时光,有一天想起往西天取书的任务,他们聚议决计结束山间逍遥享乐生活,一同到市长那里去辞别,市长听了连说:“走不得!走不得!”说着,指壁上所挂的地图,他又说道:

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…

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44. “山去[区?]西陲有个“伪秦”妖国”,都是些本朝叛逆与“倭秦”等结合而成,作恶多端,以假乱真,一切暴政,应有尽有,君等若由平地过去,必然要遇到这些恶魔,我的意思,不若派一队轻汽球,护送你们过此一段恶境,比较稳妥,……”众人听了,都说:“善哉!善哉!”

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!”


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45. 汽 球翱翔天空飘飘荡荡正飘在伪秦国的头顶上,孙悟空往下一望,见众妖们要发炮射击,孙猴也不肯放松,先下手为强,拔下七十二根毫毛,迎风一吹,叫 声: “变!”变了许许多多的汽球,满布天空,再叫声:“变!”,汽球全部丢下炸弹,轰隆轰隆,弹如雨下,爆裂处,浓烟直冒,火光灼天,又听得墙塌壁倒以 及呼号叫喊之声,三藏喝住道:“你这泼猴,好生多事,杀人造孽,不可!不可!”

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!”


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46. 大圣念一念咒语,将身子一抖,收了毫毛,按住云头,命令汽球队徐徐下降,只见伪秦城楼,坚起一面白旗,上书“无条件投降”五个大字,又只见众多伪官伪兵,尽 皆跪在城边,哀哀乞降,大圣命令他们报名自首,将全部武器限日交出,不得有藏匿移走等情,如敢故违,定斩不饶。骇得众伪官们连连称[承?]诺。

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.


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47. 大圣一面遣使报与埃秦国君知道,法老始皇即派梦得快乐市长飞抵伪秦受降,圣旨上写得明明白白,宣他们无罪之外,还要增发枪械,并添制冬衣,着他们好好防范乘机作歹之徒,努力维持地方治安。

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.


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48. 孙大圣弄得莫名其妙,市长倒说:“这就叫做“心理的受降”。”言罢扬长去了。只是这里的伪官伪军们经过一番奖励后,个个趾高气扬,指孙大圣等为危险份子,要拿下来问罪,骇得大圣等有口难辨,六六三十六着,赶快逃走了事。

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.


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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?


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50. 四个影子一溜烟钻进那个漆黑世界里,大有如鱼得水之势,这股黑气,倒底是什么东西呢?原来是从就近有个“黑市场”里发出来的,四个影子入得市口,不但不用在暗中摸索,反而眼明智利,抬头见有标语写道:“莫笑山地黑如漆,肯看人间梦未醒。”

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.”


Nick Stember
Nick Stember is a translator and historian of Chinese comics and science fiction, currently working on his PhD in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. In 2016 he completed his Master of Arts in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia with his (very readable and not at all obscure) thesis on the formation of the Shanghai Manhua Society in the mid-1920s.