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Usagi Yojimbo

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

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

Help for a Famous Furry (Creator)

Stan Sakai is world-famous as the creator, writer, and artist of Usagi Yojimbo, a multiple-award-winning funny animal comic. He has given a lot to our furry fan community, not only from his creation but from his appearances at furry conventions around the country. Now, Stan needs some real help. His wife Sharon has been battling cancer, and she has been in and out of hospitals for some time — basically needing 24-hour care even when she is at home. The couple have insurance, but the bills have been piling up far past what their insurance will cover. The Cartoon Arts Professional Society have set up a site asking for donations to help Stan and Sharon cover their medical expenses.  Please visit and contribute this holiday season if you can. Give back to someone who’s given us great characters and great art!

image c. 2013 by Stan Sakai

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

Usagi Turns 200

Issue #141 of the multi-award-winning black & white comic book Usagi Yojimbo marks a special milestone: It’s the 200th issue over-all of the series created, as always, by Stan Sakai. And to celebrate, Stan has created a special self-contained story for this historic issue, 200 Buddhas. “With a ruthless gang terrorizing his small town, a humble stonecutter receives a vision and sets out to carve two hundred stone figures. Just as he has finished the 199th, a long-eared stranger comes to his door seeking shelter from the rain!” That long-eared stranger, of course, is the warrior rabbit that furry fans love. Usagi Yojimbo #141 hits the stands from Dark Horse Press this October.

image c. 2011 Stan Sakai

Early Usagi

If you just can’t get enough of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, you might want to check out this new, very large compilation. For the first 10 years of its existence, Usagi was published by Fantagraphics Press. Now, to celebrate the comic’s 25th anniversary, Fantagraphics has released Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition, a 1200-page two-hardcover-book collection of the first seven Usagi Yojimbo books. There are lots of extras too, including a full-color cover gallery, behind-the-scenes art, an interview with Stan Sakai, and more. There’s also a special limited version available, each individually autographed by Stan himself.

Peter Laird Speaks!

The June 2009 issue of Previews magalog featured an interview with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird. Among other things, they asked him “What are you reading?”. Here’s what Peter had to say: “I don’t read many comics these days, but the two that stick out are Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai and Runners by Sean Wang. UsagiYojimbo has been around as long as the Turtles, and Stan Sakai has performed the admirable feat of doing it all himself for the last twenty-five years, and just getting better at it as he continues. I’d say Usagi Yojimbo is pretty much the gold standard for serious anthropomorphic comics. [Might have something to do with why it won the Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Comic Book for five years running — Ye Ed-Otter] Runners is a much younger book — I think Sean Wang has only been doing it for the last decade or so — and it doesn’t come out on a regular basis. But when it does, I eagerly read it, as it combines great, detailed art with a very clever science fiction storyline. [Visit Sean’s web site to find out more.] At the risk of sounding self-serving, there’s another book (published by Mirage Studios) that, in my opinion, is worth checking out — Tales of the TMNT. It’s not a series with an ongoing continuity like my TMNT comic, but rather a more free-ranging exercise in which pretty much each issue is a single story. This series features a wide array of different artists and writers, some Mirage veterans, and others new to the business. It’s an exciting mix.” So says one of the originals, folks.