ERB's Mars books have been a favourite for many years and I have often
thought about how I might handle the stories. This was one attempt to come up
with a slightly different look from the usual comic book versions of the characters.
I have always had a fondness for all of the usual mythology and legends from around the world but
'Journey to the West' is a particular favourite. I first discovered it through the Japanese TV series,
'Monkey', that achieved cult status in Britain during the seventies.
The story, written in the sixteenth century by Wu Ch'eng En, mixes religion, politics, myth and magic in
an epic tale that is funny and fantastic on the surface but has layers of satire for those who are willing
to delve into the story. The nearest western equivalent might be George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'.
The strength and broad appeal of the stories and characters in ' Journey to the
West' has allowed for an incredible diversity of approaches when creating visuals of
the characters. Aside from the cult Japanese series there have been Chinese TV
series and movies of every type from animi cartoon to Chinese opera. There is an
even greater spectrum of choice in printed material from traditionally illustrated
books to comics aimed at every age group.
Over the years I have experimented with visual cues and genre types to see how I'd
like to draw the characters if the opportunity ever arose. The drawings on both
pages are all of Monkey with slight mood and emphasis variations.
These are felt tip sketches. A broad cartoon version and a more 'realistic' approach
rendered with Bellamy-esque pointillism.
There are plenty of sites to check out for anyone interested to know more about
Monkey or the various books, comics and DVD's available but one I'd highly
recommend is Gene Yang's wonderful comic adaptation which can be found in the
'American Born Chinese' site at... http://www.moderntales.com/