Here's the best news you'll hear all week: After a three-year hiatus, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is finally returning to shelves this May!
If you've never read it, I imagine this marks a great place to jump on, and that's something you should definitely do. Over the past 30 years, Usagi has consistently been one of the greatest comics of all time, with a level of craftsmanship and skill that goes beyond virtually everything else out there with a combination of adventure, comedy and incredibly compelling relationships. Like, for instance, the one at the center of the new story, which finds the wandering samurai teaming up with his friend, a thief, to battle a ninja who wants to recover something she stole at all costs.
The thing about Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is that it's been one of the best comics on the stands for over 30 years. It's both fantastic and consistent to the point where I can't think of a bad issue, but when every single installment of a comic is at that high a level of quality, you sort of get used to it. It gets to the point where the stories are as epic and thrilling as they've ever been, but they don't quite surprise you in the way that you want them to, if only because you're expecting them to be that good, and as much as I love Sakai's work, it's been a while since I've actually been surprised by it.
Until I read Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, I mean. Because really, if you want to spice up an exhaustively researched samurai adventure story about a cast of furry animals, it just makes sense to throw a Martian invasion into the mix.
I'm a pretty big fan of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, for the simple reason that it's one of the single greatest epics in comic book history. The mix of meticulously researched history, funny animal comics and high adventure, along wth Sakai's legendarily consistent high level of craftsmanship, has made it an amazing comic. That said, I never expected it to make the transition from the page to the stage.
And yet, that's exactly what's happening in London, as the Southwark Playhouse's Stewart Melton has adapted Usagi Yojimbo as their annual Christmas play -- and not only that, but it seems to be getting rave reviews for its use of live music and a whole lot of swordplay.
If there's one thing we've learned from our years on the Internet, it's that there's no aspect of comics that can't be broken down and quantified in a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of five or ten. And since there's no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we're taking it upon ourselves to compile lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.
This week, we're heading away from the Big Two for a look at some of the scariest bad guys from the world of indie comics. The catch? We're also staying away from horror comics, just to make things a little more interesting!
With the exception of perhaps Marvel, Dark Horse Comics may have been the publisher that broke the most news about its upcoming books at New York Comic-Con this year. That includes new stories from Eric Powell and Sergio Aragonés, the latest adventures from the Eisner-winning Itty Bitty team, prestige collections of Kabuki and Pistolwhip, brand new horror tales from some of the masters of the form, and much more.
Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai has been in the news quite a bit over the past few months as his peers, publisher and fans have raised money to help him out of a dire financial situation. Plus, it's Usagi's 30th anniversary.
So far, the efforts seem to have gone pretty well, and there seems to be more good news on the horizon: An animated, direct-to-DVD feature film starring the rabbit ronin, whose exploits are currently published by Dark Horse Comics.
Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is a favorite here at ComicsAlliance for a very good reason. For the past thirty years, it's been one of the most beautifully constructed comics on the stands, blending note-perfect character work with epic storytelling, building a world that feels real even when it's populated by wandering bunny rabbits and grumpy rhinos. Now, in celebration of the book's 30th anniversary, Dark Horse is putting out a massive tribute to Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo called The Sakai Project, with a roster of 262 creators paying tribute to one of comics' true masterpieces.
The Sakai Project will debut this week at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where it will be available at the Dark Horse booth for $29.99. All proceeds will go to Sakai and his wife, to help them with recent medical expenses. Check out the full roster of creators below!
Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is a modern masterpiece of comic book storytelling, in a way, that's kind of its only problem. The long-running series is consistently and unquestionably one of the best things on the stands month in and month out, but it's been so good for so long that it can be difficult for your ol' pals at ComicsAlliance to talk about. For Usagi Yojimbo, being phenomenally good isn't news, it's the status quo.
That's why I'm always on the lookout for a big shake-up to happen in the story of everyone's favorite bunny rabbit samurai, and this week, Dark Horse announced a good one: Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, a new miniseries set 20 years after the events of the ongoing series, where the final battle between Lord Noriyuki and Lord Hikiji is interrupted... by a crashed rocket ship. Really. Check out a preview below!
Stan Sakai's name has been in the news lately as the Cartoon Art Professional Society has been raising money to help pay the medical bills for his wife, Sharon, who suffers a debilitating illness. That financial setback hasn't stopped the prolific creator of Usagi Yojimbo from working, however. Indeed a new, six-issue miniseries titled Usagi Yojimbo: Senso is set to start in August. Plus, in celebration of the character's 30th anniversary, Dark Horse will publish The Usagi Yojimbo Saga, a series of omnibus collections will gather the samurai rabbit's adventures.
If you weren’t aware of it before the past few weeks, even a passing interest in the recent Internet comics community likely informed you of the medical-expense-related plight a high-profile pair of comic book creators have been experiencing . First, there was Stan Sakai, the creator of Usagi Yojimbo, in dire straits because of an extended hospital stay for his wife, Sharon. Then there’s Bill Mantlo, the co-creator of Rocket Raccoon, who was severely injured in a skating accident 22 years ago and has required full-time care ever since. (He’s been under care for two decades, but Rocket's appearance in the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie has brought him back into the public eye.)
Both of these men have had to turn to donations from fans and colleagues to help with their considerable expenses, and those people have made admirable efforts to help these creative artists whose work has brightened their lives. Generosity is a good thing. But it shouldn’t have to be this way.
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