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The Rabbit Gets Bigger

It’s no news to anyone by now that Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai is not only one of the most celebrated anthropomorphic comics ever, but one of the most celebrated comics, period! Well now Dark Horse Press have announced that the ronin rabbit’s adventures will soon be presented as they deserve: Bigger, and in full color! No, not a Usagi animated film (yet), but use this to tide you over: The Usagi Yojimbo Gallery Edition, Volume 1. This large format hardcover (12 by 17 inches) features the Usagi origin story Samurai as well as the very first Usagi comic, plus never-before-seen artwork and a new introduction by Stan Sakai. Check it out over at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2015 Dark Horse Press

image c. 2015 Dark Horse Press

30 Years of Bunny and Blade

You might have heard that Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai is turning 30, yes? The word is getting around. Well in celebration of this milestone Dark Horse Press will release The Usagi Yojimbo Saga, a collection of more than 600 pages coming this October. It brings together Usagi Yojimbo Volume 2 issues 1 thru 16 and Volume 3 issues 1 thru 6, as well as a full-color cover gallery. Check out the Dark Horse web page to find out more. Saga will be available as a (very thick!) trade paperback, and also in a limited-edition hardcover version (only 900 will be made!) signed by Stan Sakai himself.

image c. 2014 Dark Horse Press

image c. 2014 Dark Horse Press

Usagi on the Big Screen?

At this year’s San Diego Comic Con there was a 30 year celebration of Usagi Yojimbo — created by Stan Sakai, of course. One of the items featured during the event was a screening of Usagi Yojimbo: The Last Request, an animated short film created by Lintika Films (using both 2D and stop motion techniques) and directed by Roel Robles. The big news is that Mr. Sakai was impressed enough with the project that he has allowed the studio to use Last Request as a proof-of-concept film for a possible Usagi feature. Now they’re out seeking funds to work on that project. Over at Cartoon Brew they have an article about the project that also includes a link to the short.

image c. 2014 Lintika Films

image c. 2014 Lintika Films

The Creator of Samurai Cat — RIP

Word came out recently that one of the originals of Furry Fandom, Mark E. Rogers, passed away this past weekend while out hiking with his family. Some might even call him a patron spirit of anthropomorphics. In 1984 (back when a certain group of Ninja Turtles were making their very first appearance) mark published his first book chronicling the adventures of Miaowara Tomokato, the Samurai Cat. Almost every other page of Rogers’ Samurai Cat books featured a black and white or full-color illustration by the author, connected with the action on the previous page. Through a series of five such books of historical satire, Mark was one of the first to take anthropomorphics away from “funny animal” silliness and into something completely new, in a big way. Ron Miller has a detailed obituary of Rogers which he posted up on I09. Sayonara, Mark-san.

image c. 2014 by Mark E. Rogers

Samurai Secrets of the Animals

We think it best to let the publisher, Shambhala, explain this one themselves: “The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts is a classic collection of martial arts parables, written by Issai Chozanshi, an 18th-century samurai. The stories, which feature demons, insects, birds, cats, and numerous other creatures, may seem whimsical, but they contain essential teachings that offer insight into the fundamental principles of the martial arts. This manga version, based on Chozanshi’s text, brings these tales alive in a captivating and immediately accessible way.” It’s translated by Sean Michael Wilson, illustrated in full color by Michiru Morikawa, and coming this March in paperback from Shambhala. Amazon has more information.

image c. 2013 Shambhala

Rabbit Samurai vs. Rabid Zombies

In the latest collection of Usagi Yojimbo comics coming from Dark Horse, the rabbit ronin faces an army of the undead! Here’s the publisher’s description of Usagi Yojimbo Volume 26: Traitors of the Earth — “With hundreds of zombies and an evil wizard to contend with, Usagi finds himself far out of his depth! Fortunately, he has the aid of fan-favorite character Sasuké the Demon Queller, most recently seen in the Yokai graphic novel. This volume also features several action-packed short stories, including the Eisner-nominated “Death of Lord Hikiji”! This volume collects Usagi Yojimbo #117–#123 and stories from Dark Horse Maverick 2001 and MySpace Dark Horse Presents #35.” When it arrives in stores it’ll be available in softcover, and also in a special signed hardcover edition that will be limited to 350 copies. The introduction is by well-known comic book great Walter Simonson (Thor, Orion). All of this brought to you by the multi-award-winning writer and artist Stan Sakai, of course.

image c. 2012 Dark Horse