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Usagi Yojimbo #1
Story by STAN SAKAI
Art & Cover by STAN SAKAI
Follow the adventures of rabbit r?nin Miyamoto Usagi as he wanders Edo period Japan on his warrior’s journey. In the start of this three-part story, Usagi becomes embroiled in a puppet drama where the players are not quite what they seem! Written, drawn, and lettered by comics legend Stan Sakai! Colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer)!
The start of an exciting new chapter in the epic ongoing saga of Usagi, now published by IDW!
Exciting retail incentive variants are offered for the serialized Usagi Yojimbo series for the first time!
This series will be in all color!
Diamond Code: APR190591
FOC due MAY 27TH, 2019
In stores on JUNE 19TH, 2019
Why It’s Cool:
“Usagi Yojimbo is one of those books that everyone talks about and yet no one seems to actually read, which is a shame because Usagi is awesome! Stan Sakai is one of the best cartoonists of all time and his work just keeps getting better and better. What more can you ask for in comics than a samurai rabbit wandering feudal Japan, righting wrongs, and occasionally teaming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?”
Q&A with Stan Sakai:
Tell us a little bit about this project. How did everything come together?
My first experience with IDW was back in 2017. I had spoken with my (now current) editor, Bobby Curnow, about doing an Usagi Yojimbo/TMNT crossover since Usagi would be appearing in a three part story arc for the final season of the prior TMNT TV series. This idea ended up becoming a self contained full color original graphic novel that was very successful. We had a great time working with IDW Publishing and with Bobby.
Fast forward about a year and we had started discussions with IDW on a few separate projects (some of which have still not yet been announced). This naturally led to discussions about publishing. Combined with the close proximity, IDW’s current line up, passion, and desire to recolor the entire UY library, it simply made the most sense.
What are you reading/watching/listening to as inspiration for this work?
I have intended to do a story about bunraku (Japanese puppet theater) for a few years now. Because I own the Usagi Yojimbo IP, I can decide what type of stories to tell. This allows me to put Usagi in many different genres–action/adventure, romance, mysteries, horror, cultural, etc– which leads to a diversity of stories. I did a bit of research into the Japanese puppet tradition and discovered it is completely different from the Western puppet traditions.
When you started this project who did you have in mind as an audience for this, and did it change by the time you finished?
Good question. As an artist/writer, I try not to focus on a particular audience. I’m quite fortunate that Usagi has been well received by a wide range of readers and consciously trying to tell a story to a specific audience may end up alienating readers. Or, it could end up messing with the natural flow. I like to keep things fresh.
With that being said, one of the things that I’m most proud of regarding the UY series, is that it continues to be enjoyed by many different generations. So, although my story content may not have changed much in regard to the targeted reader, the colorization of the series was intended to target a broader audience.
Can you give us an idea of what readers can look forward to in this series, maybe a little down the line?
Absolutely! Usagi’s 35th anniversary is coming up this November and I have a very special story planned…Let’s just say I’m revisiting a story from 35 years ago.
Gen, another fan favorite character will also be making an appearance. Finally, I’ve been….entertaining the idea of bringing Usagi back to his hometown. After all, based off his current location, he’s not too far from his village.
I have been writing and drawing Usagi stories for a long time. It is the journey of a character told by a single creator. He has matured and changed over the years just as I have matured as an artist and storyteller, and we will continue to grow together.
What’s great in comics right now that you’re currently reading?
Due to my fairly intense schedule, I haven’t been able to read many comics for pleasure for quite a while. With that being said, I had the wonderful opportunity to check out Ragnarök by Walter Simonson. Incredible book and the illustrations are phenomenal! It’s Walter, after all, so I’d expect nothing less. Additionally, since I do letter Sergio Aragonés’ Groo, I end up reading it, which is always fun.
We had heard exciting news about an Usagi TV show, what’s the current status and your involvement?
Speaking about things prematurely isn’t a good idea, but I will say I’m confident about our partners Gaumont, Dark Horse Entertainment, and Atomic Monster and their ability to put together an incredible team/show. Apparently, Usagi has been well received and I’ve heard positive things about the character/series from certain influential people in that industry – many of whom I was surprised read Usagi. Since it’s already public information, blockbuster director/producer James Wan (known most recently for Aquaman) is a perfect example of an amazing influencer who both enjoys Usagi Yojimbo and is involved in the TV development through his company Atomic Monster.
I’m confident with Gaumont’s ability to put together a solid team. Please keep in mind, Gaumont’s desire is to build a brand, which does take time and meticulous planning. They are the oldest film studio in the world and have the experience to pitch and develop a series.
Therefore, I can continue to focus on my comic series uninterrupted. No matter what, comics are my passion and I’m honored to keep creating as long as I can!
Thank you for your interest and support of Usagi Yojimbo.