Q: What's the big deal with Usagi Yojimbo, anyway? - @cwidtz
A: If you're not already familiar with Usagi Yojimbo, I can see why it might be a hard sell. On paper, it just sounds weird. I mean, it's a long-running samurai story where all the characters are cute furry animals, and that's just the start of things. It's exhaustively researched and set in feudal Japan, frequently using actual historical events as the centerpieces of its stories, but also ghosts and magic are completely real, it's cartoonish and frequently very funny with great buddy comedy bits and a ton of slapstick humor, but it's also very serious and violent, with the highest on-panel body count of any comic I read, and everyone who really loves it won't shut up about how great the word balloons are when people die. Even if you're willing to believe that it's very good, there's a lot there that sounds like it'd be hard to get into.
But since you asked, here's the big deal with Usagi Yojimbo: Stan Sakai's been doing this comic for over thirty years, and he hasn't done a bad issue yet.
In case you don't have it written on your calendar, May 4 kicks off Children's Book Week, which means that it's time once again to decorate the Children's Book Tree, carve up a turkey with a copy of Watership Down and, of course, send your sweetheart a lovely children's bookentine. Or... or maybe you should buy books for kids? Yeah, it's probably that one.
Fortunately, the folks over at Humble Bundle have made it very easy: For the next two weeks, they're offering up a whole lot of comics that are great for younger readers on their usual pay-what-you want setup, including books from Archie, Dark Horse, Image and more - including an amazing full-color Usagi Yojimbo original graphic novel by Stan Sakai.
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!
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.
With hundreds of panels to choose from at San Diego Comic-Con, the show can be an overwhelming experience — and it’s far too easy to miss a panel you think you might have loved, or to find yourself on the wrong side of the con floor five minutes before a great panel is about to start!
Take heart, brave reader. ComicsAlliance has sifted through the schedule to offer up our pick of the best programming at the con. Today we offer our suggested highlights for day three, Saturday July 26, 2014 — with an emphasis on comics programming. We’ll also let you know where and when you can find ComicsAlliance contributors at the San Diego show.
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!
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