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Cooke, Sakai, Thompson and more nominated for Reuben Awards

Usagi Yojimbo #134

The National Cartoonists Society has announced the nominees for the 65th annual Reuben Awards, which honor creators in various illustration fields, including comics.

Nominees for the two comic book industry categories — comics books and graphic novels — are:

COMIC BOOKS
Stan Sakai “Usagi Yojimbo”
Chris Samnee “Thor the Mighty Avenger”
Jill Thompson “Beasts of Burden”

GRAPHIC NOVELS
Darwyn Cooke- “The Outfit”
Joyce Farmer “Special Exits”
James Sturm- “Market Day”

You can see the rest of the nominees in animation, comic strip and other categories, over at the NCS website. Winners will be announced over the Memorial Day weekend.

Stan Sakai interviews Usagi Yojimbo

In the grand tradition of Grant Morrison and Animal Man, the creators of Groo and, well, Usagi Yojimbo #100, Dark Horse presents a new strip by Usagi creator Stan Sakai that brings creator and created face to face. Hilarity and carnage ensue.

What Are You Reading?

Vietnamerica

Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.

Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.

To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales slip 3.5%, SD official wants Comic-Con parade

The Avengers #1

Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and magazines to comic stores declined slightly in 2010, slipping 3.5 percent from 2009, according to a year-end report released Thursday by Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller’s estimate places the North American market at between $410 million and $420 million, down from the 2008 peak of $437 million.

Marvel again emerged as the top publisher, leading the market in both dollar and unit sales. May’s Avengers #1 was the top-selling periodical, followed by X-Men #1, Blackest Night #8, Siege #1 and Blackest Night #7. As expected, The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim dominated the graphic novel and trade paperback list, taking eight of the Top 10 spots (the remaining two went to the Kick-Ass premium hardcover and Superman: Earth One). [Diamond Comic Distributors]

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Exclusive preview: Usagi Yojimbo #134

Usagi Yojimbo #134

Courtesy of our friends at Dark Horse Comics, we’re pleased to bring you a preview of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo #134, which arrives in stores Dec. 22. This standalone issue features the con artist Kitsune, who is selling snake, er, toad oil, claiming it has magical healing abilities. Unfortunately Usagi gets caught up in the con.

Usagi is consistently one of the most entertaining comics on the stands, so if you haven’t read it before, here’s a single-issue story to try out. You can find the preview and more info on issue #134 after the jump.

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What Are You Reading?

Usagi Yojimbo: Return of the Black Soul

Usagi Yojimbo: Return of the Black Soul

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Paul Maybury, creator of the webcomic Party Bear. His work can be found in Comic Book Tattoo, various volumes of Popgun and 24seven, and, of course, the full-length graphic novel Aqua Leung. Be sure to check out the sketches he shares.

To see what Paul and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click on the link …

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WonderCon | Comix Experience 21st anniversary party/CBLDF benefit

Usagi Yojimbo

Usagi Yojimbo

San Francisco’s Comix Experience, the comic shop owned by CBR columnist Brian Hibbs, celebrates its 21st birthday this weekend (hey, they’re legal!) with a birthday bash and benefit art auction for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The birthday bash begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 3rd, and will feature the El Toyanese Taco Truck, sponsored by Image Comics, and beer courtesy of 21st Amendment Brewery. The auction will include the above piece by artist Stan Sakai. If you’re in town and looking for something to do after WonderCon on Saturday, this sounds like a fun event.

Usagi Yojimbo to become fluffy, badass plush toy

Usagi Yojimbo

Usagi Yojimbo

Dark Horse sent out a preliminary sketch yesterday for a new Usagi Yojimbo plush doll they plan to release next May. Per the release, Dark Horse “brings this fluffy, badass bunny to life” as a plush toy with Stan Sakai overseeing the details of the design process.

“I have always thought that a doll of this type would be an excellent presentation of Usagi,” Sakai said in the release, “and have been happy to assist as the prototype evolved with commentary and revisions. I think he came out very well indeed.”

Straight for the art | Can you find the throwing star?

Usagi Hidden Pictures

Usagi Hidden Pictures

I remember as a kid one of the highlights — ok, the only highlight — of going to the doctor’s office was getting to read issues of Highlight magazine in the waiting room. My favorite feature, besides “Goofus and Gallant,” was “Hidden Pictures,” where you had to find all the hidden items in a picture. Now Stan Sakai has taken a page from the magazine — page 14, to be exact — and made a Hidden Pictures featuring Usagi Yojimbo. Tip: Always check the clouds and tree leaves first … click on the link to go check out the full image

Limited edition Usagi Yojimbo shirts arrive in L.A., San Francisco this weekend

Usagi Yojimbo T-shirt

Usagi Yojimbo T-shirt

Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with clothing label The Hundreds to release two limited edition T-shirts featuring new Usagi Yojimbo art from Stan Sakai. The shirts are limited to 200 of each design and will be released this Saturday at the Hundreds locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In addition, Sakai will be at the Hundreds location in L.A. from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. to sign copies of Usagi. The first 25 people will receive a signed copy of the recently released Usagi Yojimbo graphic novel, Yokai.

“I am always excited to hear stories of the impact of Usagi on other creative individuals, especially those working outside of comics,” Sakai said in a press release. “I hope that this collaboration exposes a whole new group of people to Usagi, and comics in general. I’m grateful to have had the chance to work on this project with Bobby and everyone at The Hundreds.”

“Much of what I do today, as creative director for the Hundreds, stems from poring over Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo art as a youth,” said The Hundreds co-founder Bobby Kim. “To this day, it was one of the most influential comic books in my life, and so it was an honor to work with Stan on two exclusive pieces of art for The Hundreds. To any fan of The Hundreds, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate Usagi Yojimbo’s inspiration to the brand.” You can read more of this thoughts on Usagi on the Hundreds’ blog.

More T-shirt images and a flyer for the events can be found after the jump …

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Exclusive: Stan Sakai covers Strange Tales #3

Strange Tales #3

Strange Tales #3

Courtesy of Marvel Comics, check out the cover to Strange Tales #3, the final issue of the mini-series that features a host of independent comics creators working on Marvel characters. This issue and its cover feature Stan Sakai’s long and eagerly awaited Samurai Hulk.

Here’s the text that Marvel sent with the cover, which includes the list of contributors:

Marvel is pleased to unveil the cover to Strange Tales #3 from legendary creator Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo). The final issue of the red-hot Marvel Knights anthology showcases Marvel’s greatest characters re-imagined by the best and brightest talents working in independent comics today! You’ve never seen Marvel heroes like this before as Peter Bagge, Max Cannon, Chris Chua, Becky Cloonan, Nicholas Gurewitch, Paul Hornschemeier, Jonathan Jay Lee, Corey Lewis, Stan Sakai, Jay Stephens and Jhonen Vasquez! A jam packed 48 page special—with no ads—no Marvel fan can afford to miss Strange Tales #3 this November!

STRANGE TALES #3 (of 3)

Written by PETER BAGGE, MAX CANNON, CHRIS CHUA, BECKY CLOONAN, NICHOLAS GUREWITCH, PAUL HORNSCHEMEIER, JONATHAN JAY LEE, COREY LEWIS, STAN SAKAI , JAY STEPHENS AND JHONEN VASQUEZ
Art by PETER BAGGE, MAX CANNON, CHRIS CHUA, BECKY CLOONAN, NICHOLAS GUREWITCH, PAUL HORNSCHEMEIER, JONATHAN JAY LEE, COREY LEWIS, STAN SAKAI, JAY STEPHENS AND JHONEN VASQUEZ

Cover by STAN SAKAI
Explicit Content …$4.99
ON SALE IN NOVEMBER!

SDCC ’09 | A few more last-minute pre-con notes

Re-Evolution

Re-Evolution

Creators | Re-Evolution creator Gus Higuera dropped us a note and some artwork about being at the con and the warp-up of season one of Re-Evolution at Zuda:

“It’s hard to believe a year has already passed since we competed in last year’s Zuda Invitational. We would like to thank Zuda and all our supporters for giving us this once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of DC Comics and letting us tell our story. For those of you visiting San Diego Comic Con, stop by and say hello to me and Re-Evolution’s artist Juan Felipe Salcedo at the Zuda section of the DC Comics booth Thurs. – Sat. from 11:00AM-11:30AM and all weekend in booth #5335 in the Indy Press section. We have tons of free stuff for our fans in celebration of the end of our first Season. We would also like to invite all our supporters to send Zuda feedback to bring us back for a Season 2. http://www.zudacomics.com/feedback. Don’t forgot to also follow us via Twitter during Zuda’s virtual con under the #zudacon tag. Thanks once again and see you in San Diego. Viva La Re-Evolution!” –Gus Higuera

Fandom | If you can’t go to the con this year, you can live vicariously through Mighty Mugg Spidey. (Via)

Creators | Steve Epting, Michael Ryan and Christina Strain will be at The Palm Restaurant at 615 J Street in San Diego tomorrow at noon to add some artwork to an ongoing Marvel character mural at the restaurant.

Manga | What’s Tokyopop up to at the show? Glad you asked.

Manga | Viz is there, too.

Creators | Stan Sakai has “under construction” pictures from the showroom floor on Tuesday.

Straight for the art | Stan Lee draws Usagi Yojimbo

Stan Lee's Usagi

Stan Lee's Usagi

Every year the San Diego Comic-Con puts together a souvenir book that spotlights various anniversaries, such as the 50th anniversary of Green Lantern or 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The book features artwork from professionals and fans celebrating these anniversaries.

Well, this year is the 25th anniversary of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, and he’s posted artwork by none other than Stan Lee featuring everyone’s favorite ronin rabbit wearing everyone’s favorite webslinger’s mask. “Other contributors include Sergio Aragones, Dan Spiegle, Dean Yeagle, Kazu Kibiushi, Bill Morrison, Mell Lazarus (Mama as Usagi), and Scott Shaw!” Sakai said on his blog.

Straight for the art | Usagi Yojimbo:Yokai preview

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai

Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai previews the cover and a couple of pages from his upcoming full-color Usagi grapic novel, Yokai. “It will be hardcover, scheduled for a November release, and will retail for $14.95,” he writes. “I’m coloring it in watercolors.”

Talking Comics with Tim: Andrew Farago

Cartoon Art Museum

Cartoon Art Museum

Back in late January, I completed this email interview with Andrew Farago, curator of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. Events on my end delayed it being run until this week. As detailed at the museum’s site: “The Cartoon Art Museum is committed to fostering and promoting a greater appreciation of cartoon art.  This it achieves through collecting, cataloging, preserving and displaying the finest representations of original cartoon art as well as providing innovative educational programs designed to enrich the cultural life of our community.” While I am pleased to run this interview, before launching into it, I want to offer my condolences to Farago and the museum staff on the February 26 death of Rod Gilchrist, the museum’s executive director for the past 11 years. My thanks to Farago for his time.

Tim O’Shea: How long has the Museum had a Cartoonist-in-Residence program–and how did you land the latest person in residence, Mike Gray?

Andrew Farago: The Cartoonist-in-Residence program was started several years back as a joint effort between the Cartoon Art Museum, The Charles M. Schulz Museum and the Northern California chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. We wanted to take advantage of the fact that we’ve got such a wealth of cartoonists in our area and give the public a regular opportunity to interact with them (and vice versa).

The artists come to us in a variety of ways. Often, someone will contact me, or another staff or board member, about his upcoming book, or a new strip launching in a local publication, or a new piece of animation that they’ve created, and that person wants to work with us to promote it.

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