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This week brought some great news for fans of Stan Sakai’s long-eared ronin — Dark Horse announced that the ongoing Usagi Yojimbo will return this May.
While it’s been three years since we last saw an issue of the Usagi Yojimbo regular series, neither Sakai nor Usagi haven’t been absent from comic shelves. During that time Dark Horse released the Eisner-nominated 47 Ronin, by Sakai and writer Mike Richardson. And last year brought the War of the Worlds-inspired Usagi Yojimbo: Senso miniseries, a “What if?”-like tale that saw an older Usagi battling an alien invasion.
On his Facebook page, Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai offers a glimpse into his process, showing the evolution of a single panel from rough sketch to final inks.
Sakai’s historical fantasy, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, continues next month with the conclusion of Usagi Yojimo: Senso, the six-issue miniseries with a War of the Worlds-like twist.
See the full panel process on Sakai’s Facebook page.
Southwark Playhouse in London has released a trailer for its Christmas show, a stage production of Stan Sakai’s long-running historical fantasy Usagi Yojimbo.
Adapted by Stewart Melton for ages 7 and up, the play opened Nov. 28 to positive reviews, with particular attention given to its production design and original live music (you get a little taste of both in the trailer). It closes Jan. 4.
While Usagi Yojimbo may not be what comes to mind when you think “Christmas show,” in previous years Southwark Playhouse has staged Howl’s Moving Castle and Anansi: An African Fairy Tale for the holidays. So, more kids’ fare than Christmas fare.
Passings | Tony Auth, editorial cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1971 to 2012, died Sunday at age 72. Auth, who won both the Pulitzer and Herblock prizes during his lengthy career with the newspaper, began drawing as a child, when a lengthy illness confined him to bed for a year and a half. He graduated from UCLA in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in biological illustration, and worked as a medical illustrator for a time. He began his cartooning career doing a weekly cartoon for a local alternative newspaper and then started drawing a thrice-weekly cartoon for the UCLA Daily Bruin. He left the Inquirer in 2012 to pursue digital cartooning and became the Digital Artist in Residence for WHYY’s News Works. In addition to his cartooning work, he illustrated 11 children’s books. His editorial cartoons have been collected into two books, and Temple University has begun fund-raising for an archive of his work. Michael Cavna has a roundup of tributes from Auth’s colleagues at Comic Riffs. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
Fans who attended the “30 Years of Usagi Yojimbo” panel at Comic-Con International were treated to a peek at Usagi Yojimbo: The Last Request, a stop-motion animated short that’s still not quite complete. Now Lintika Films has released online the latest version of the proof-of-concept short that convinced Stan Sakai to grant director Roel Robles the feature film rights to the property.
“It’s a still a work-in-progress and about 90% complete,” Lintika explains on its YouTube page. “We’re currently working on the sound mix and refining the film for the DVD release which will include behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, deleted scenes, and interesting details regarding the making of the featurette.”
Dark Horse Comics has announced the impressive list of artists who have contributed to The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo, the oversized hardcover benefit book for Stan and Sharon Sakai.
All proceeds from the book will go to the couple to help pay for the medical expenses of Sharon Sakai, who suffers from a debilitating illness that required an extended hospital stay and convalescence, followed by 24-hour home care and medications. The Comic Art Professional Society, which spearheaded a series of auctions to benefit the Sakais, is working in conjunction with Dark Horse to produce the book. The auctions are ongoing and can be found on the organization’s eBay page.
You can find the complete list of artists, along with the page number where their art will appear, below. The 160-page book will be released next Wednesday in comic shops and at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and will cost $29.99.
As part of the 30th-anniversary celebration of Stan Sakai’s famed samurai rabbit, Usagi Yojimbo will return in August in a six-issue miniseries from Dark Horse. Its debut will be followed in October by the release of the first volume in a new series of deluxe compilations.
Set 20 years in his future, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso follows Miyamoto Usagi has he fights as a general for Lord Noriyuki against Lord Hikiji. But in a sci-fi twist, a rocket crashes to Earth in the middle of the final battle, containing an enemy that neither side could have imagined. Sakai teased the project last summer in an interview with ROBOT 6, explaining, “The entire premise is,’What if the Martians from HG Wells’ War of the Worlds had sent a few scout ships 200 years before their invasion of Victorian England?’ It may not be as historically or culturally accurate as my stories usually are, but it sure will be fun.”
Dark Horse will bring three con-exclusive variant covers to WonderCon April 18-20, as well as two limited-edition hardcovers.
The first issues of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 each get a variant, by Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton and Angel & Faith artist Steve Morris, respectively. They cost $5 each, and you’re limited to five copies of each.
Usagi Yojimbo artist Stan Sakai has drawn a variant cover for Dark Horse’s upcoming The Witcher comic, based on the video game of the same name. All proceeds from the sale of this limited-edition variant will benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai.
Finally, they will be selling limited hardcovers collecting the recent Itty Bitty Hellboy miniseries by Art Baltazar and Franco, and The Last of Us: American Dreams by Faith Erin Hicks and Neil Druckmann.
Check out the covers after the jump.
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week we focus in on some great new comics, including Veil and Afterlife with Archie, as well as the benefit auctions for Stan Sakai and his wife. Plus free comics! What’s better than that? So without further ado, let’s get to it …
The first of the Comic Art Professional Society benefit auctions for Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai and his wife Sharon has launched on eBay, featuring original artwork by the likes of Mike Allred, Dan Brereton, Josè Luis Garcìa-Lòpez, Mike Mignola and Jeff Smith.
Sharon Sakai suffers from a debilitating illness that required an extended hospital stay and convalescence; she’s back at home but requires 24-hour care and medications that exceed their insurance coverage. All of the proceeds from the auction will go to the Sakais to help cover their medical expenses.
Legal | It looks as if Tunisian cartoonist Jabeur Mejri will not be released from prison any time soon, despite being pardoned by President Moncef Marzouki for charges stemming from his cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. It turns out that the mysterious other criminal case that’s been holding things up is a charge of embezzlement that dates back a few years to when Mejri was working for the Tunisian railways. Neither Mejri’s lawyer nor his family had been aware of the charge, but the judge in the case issued a warrant for Mejri’s continued detention on Jan. 9. His lawyer will submit a bail request, which he hopes will be granted next week. [Independent Online]
Creators | Chris Ware talks about his Building Stories in an interview that was recorded before a live audience in Portland, Oregon. [Oregon Public Broadcasting]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Dark Horse will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo with the release in July of the oversized hardcover benefit book The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of “Usagi Yojimbo.” All proceeds will go to Stan and Sharon Sakai.
Sharon Sakai suffers from a debilitating illness that required an extended hospital stay and convalescence, and while she’s now back home, she requires 24-hour care and medications that exceed their insurance coverage. The Comic Art Professional Society, which spearheaded an earlier fundraiser for the Sakais, is working in conjunction with Dark Horse to produce the book.
“It has been an absolute pleasure publishing Stan’s work over the years, and recently collaborating with him directly on 47 Ronin,” Dark Horse President Mike Richardson said in a statement. “With the thirtieth anniversary of his most beloved creation, Usagi, and in a time of need for Stan and his family, we are honored to publish this tribute to Stan and his work. We are donating all of the proceeds to Stan and his wife, Sharon. We hope you will join us in honoring one of the comics industry’s shining lights.”
The list of contributors to The Sakai Project already includes the likes of Arthur Adams, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Groening, Mike Mignola, Bill Morrison and Jeff Smith, but Dark Horse is seeking to involve more professionals. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 20; email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
According to the organization, Sharon has suffered from a debilitating illness that required an extended hospital stay and convalescence. She’s now back home, but requires 24-hour care and medications that exceed their insurance coverage.
To help, CAPS Vice President Tone Rodriguez is spearheading an art auction, with all proceeds going to benefit the Sakais. Creators and publishers who wish to contribute original art are encouraged to print out this form to mail with the work to Rodriguez. This with questions are encouraged to contact CAPS President Pat McGreal, whose email address and phone number appear on the form.
Anyone who wishes to donate money, can do so through PayPal.
Before Baltimore Comic-Con, I had the chance to talk with Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai, and he mentioned that not only was he working on a new Nilson Groundthumper story for Dark Horse Presents, but also that the publisher would release a collection next year of previous stories featuring the swordsrabbit and his pal Hermy.
According to ComicsAlliance, The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy will arrive March 19. The 104-page hardcover will include all of the previously published material featuring the duo from the late 1970s/early 1980s. It’ll also include extra art and new coloring by Tom Luth.
Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy preceded Usagi by a year or two, and like Usagi, Nilson is a sword-wielding rabbit — although of the medieval adventurer sort, vs. a samurai. Their stories take place in a sword-and-sorcery setting (some of which feature a wizard named Sénogara, in honor of one of Sakai’s Groo-vy collaborators on another book) and originally appeared in various anthologies like Critters and Albedo. The stories were quite funny, so it’ll be fun to see them introduced to a new generation — and to see the new story Sakai is working on for DHP.