Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Holidays from Max the Monkey

Everyone's heard of the Monkey King right? 

The Journey to the West has inspired countless adaptations across the centuries. As legend has it, Wu Cheng'en wrote this Chinese novel during the 16th century's Ming dynasty. Later the story became renowned as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The others are Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber.

Modern versions of Journey to the West include the popular manga and anime Dragon Ball Z, created by Japan's prolific comics artist Akira Toriyama in 1984 As a little child, Goku starts off with a nice brown tail... but then it gets cut off! Ouch! A nice cartoon version of a boy's timeless rite of passage into adulthood, wouldn't you say? As a small consolation, at least in the future Goku gains a power that would put Clairol and many hairdressers out of business - our spiky headed hero enjoys free and instant hair coloring when he goes Super Saiyan.

In 2008, Hollywood was inspired. Lion's Gate got the bug with its Hong Kong flavored flick The Forbidden Kingdom. Here martial arts maven Jet Li transforms into old furry face himself to square off against the drunken master Jackie Chan. It's sort of the Asian cinematic equivalent of the Street Fighter IV but with better actors than Kylie Minogue and Jean Claude Van Damme.

In 2013 Kung Fu Hustle's Stephen Chow directed (but not starred) in a film aptly title Journey to the West. Therein the Buddhist hero undertakes the famed adventure by protecting a town from demons, falling in love with another fetching fighter, and searching for the fabled Mon-king.

Naturally, given the homegrown subject matter, this movie earned the most of any film in  China in its first day (beating the Transformers: Dark of the Moon only to be bested by the Transformer's even more boffo sequel Age of Extinction in 2014). Soon Chow's Journey became the highest grossing Chinese-language motion picture ever. Poor Wu Cheng'en. If he only had Walt Disney's lawyers, then he'd still be earning royalties.

Here is our first copy hot off the presses, nicely couched in the heavens.
Our first copy hot off the presses, nicely couched in the heavens.
Now what room in the world is left to say or show anything about the mythic Monkey King?

Well, we knew the upcoming turn of the calendar into 2016 (February 8th to be exact) would herald The Year of the Monkey.

What better way to commemorate this tradition (which has been celebrated for millennia) than to create a brand new character?


Max is the son of the legendary Monkey King and Monkey Queen!

Sure this tyke has a lot to live up to (don't we all)...but even the sky is the limit for Max! But like kids everywhere, Max is learning how to learn...as well as squeezing in as much fun as possible!

Amazingly illustrated by the DreamWorks animator Kenji Ono, The Year of the Monkey will inspire readers to fly high! We look forward to sharing this fabulous new 11th adventure in our series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac in the coming year.