Home | Monkey in the Media


The following is a list of Monkey King-related media in English. I chose to limit the list to English-language media for two reasons. First, it's the language I'm most comfortable with. Second, if I included Asian languages the list would be ENORMOUS.


by Wu Ch'eng-en
translated by Arthur Waley
Available at Amazon.com

Waley's translation is the classic English-language version of Journey to the West. This books contains all sorts of interesting tidbits about the origins of the Monkey King's demon enemies. It's a bit heavy at times (it was first published in the late 1940s) but readable.

Monkey: A Journey to the West
by Wu Ch'eng-en
translated by David Kherdian
Available at Amazon.com

As pure entertainment, this is my favorite translation. Kherdian has a wonderful writing voice, and the whole book reads like a Harry Potter novel. It's not quite as detailed as the Waley version, but it's a page-turner.

Comic Books

American Born Chinese
written and drawn by Gene Yang

This one's by yours truly. Read more about it in the Comics by Gene Yang section.

Journey to the West (two volumes)
A humorous interpretation of the historical Chinese classic
written and drawn by Tsai Chi Chung
translated by Alan Chong
Available from Asiapac Books

Tsai Chih Chung is the Taiwanese Charles Schultz, and these two volumes are translated from daily newspaper strips. In this parody, Tsai makes fun of everything from Mah Jhong to Ronald Reagan. And, as dictated by the traditions of Chinese humor, fart jokes abound.

The Birth of the Monkey King
written and drawn by Chang Boon Kiat
translated by Geraldine Goh
Available from Asiapac Books

This book is drawn in an action manga style. Chang is obviously influenced by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo. The character designs look very modern and the story-telling is fluid. The emphasis is on the adventurous aspects of the original, rather than the spiritual or political.


Monkey Magic
Available at Amazon.com

This cartoon series looks a little funny at times; the animators tried to blend traditional cel and 3D animation with mixed results. Still, the stories remain faithful to the original and the character designs are very charismatic. The series got cancelled after 12 episodes, but video cassettes and DVDs are still available. Definitely worth watching.

Lost Empire
directed by Peter MacDonald
Available at Amazon.com

NBC aired this miniseries in early 2001. Unfortunately, the thrill of watching a live-action Sun Wukong fly through the clouds wasn't enough to save it from being a steaming, racist pile of crap. Not only does the Goddess of Mercy make out with Greg from Dharma and Greg, but the producers of the series actually mandated that screenwriter David Hwang make a white man/Asian goddess romance the centerpiece of the story. And why is it that three of the four main heroes of this "Chinese epic" are played by non-Asian actors, while all of the demons are slant-eyed?