Attendees at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con are in for a special treat, as they’ll have the opportunity to purchase an art book featuring Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo as drawn by more than 30 artists.
Earlier today, we heard from Thom Zahler and Brad Tree on how the project came together, and now Sakai shares his thoughts on the book, his work on the recently wrapped 47 Ronin and some details on his next projects, which include a new Nilson Groundthumper tale and a Usagi story that will be out of this world. My thanks to Stan for his time in answering my questions, and to Thom and Brad, who arranged the interview.
Graphic novel sales | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores last month was the 18th volume of The Walking Dead, according to BookScan, followed by Naruto, Vol. 61, Saga, Vol. 2, Sailor Moon, Vol. 11, and perennial bestseller The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 1. It was a good month for manga, which took 10 of the Top 20 slots; not so much for DC, which had just one book in the Top 20, and Marvel, which had none. [ICv2]
Comics sales | Comic and graphic novel sales were up in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, but ICv2 termed it a “solid but unspectacular” quarter compared to a “torrid” Q1. Anemic sales in June were partly to blame — comics sales were up, graphic novel sales were down. [ICv2]
Stan Sakai is taking a break from his long-running series Usagi Yojimbo, and he explains why in a short comic on the Dark Horse site: He’s taking time off to draw 47 Ronin, a historical tale written by Dark Horse President Mike Richardson. The comic is cute and turns what could just be a creator’s note into a dynamic encounter with lots of action and a funny twist at the end. In other words, it’s pure Sakai. And yes, he promises he will resume work on Usagi Yojimbo once he’s done with 47 Ronin.
(via Comics Worth Reading)
Digital comics | The Japanese web portal JManga today launched an unlimited-access site JManga7, although it won’t be putting any actual content on it until October. Unlike JManga, which sells digital manga one volume at a time, JManga7 operates on an “all-you-can-eat” model, with single chapters of a variety of titles available for free, and a wider selection with a paid subscription. The site will be updated daily and will include a mix of genres, with some new content that is being published close to its Japanese release date as well as some older series. The idea is for readers to check out the manga at JManga7 and ultimately buy them for keeps at JManga. To encourage readers to pre-register, JManga is raffling off seven Nexus 7 tablets and seven free subscriptions. Plans for the site were unveiled last month at Comic-Con International in an exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources. [JManga]
[Update: Thank you to Ryan Estrada for pointing out Stan Sakai's Facebook comments about this post. By way of clarification, these pages were already posted in their entirety on the Tumblr account credited at the bottom of the post. I didn't scan them myself, but it was still thoughtless not to contact Mr. Sakai and ask before sharing them here. I regret not doing that and apologize.]
The January 1991 issue of Amazing Heroes (Issue 187) included this cool eight-page comic by Stan Sakai on his process in producing Usagi Yojimbo. There was also an accompanying interview with gems like this: “I’m not really that into manga. It’s funny: whenever I go to conventions around the country I’m always put on a manga panel, I guess because I’m Japanese and Usagi’s about Japan. But I know almost nothing about manga. So I just say my two cents’ worth and keep quiet the rest of the panel.”
Twenty years later, it’s still an insightful (and delightful) read. Check out a couple of the pages below; Vingt Et Un has the rest.
Video games | Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai has revealed a video game will be released later this year for smartphones, tablets and personal computers based on his long-running historical action-fantasy comic. Called Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin, it’s not the first video game to feature the samurai rabbit: Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo debuted in 1987 for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Expect more details next month at Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Facebook]
Conventions | Organizers of the Denver Comic Con anticipate that this weekend’s show was their second-largest ever. Batgirl writer Gail Simone praised the show, noting it sold out Friday and Saturday: “Sheesh, both Friday and Saturday completely sold out, the place was packed. There are tons of interesting guests, lots of great panels, and a real emphasis on diversity. The attendees have huge percentages of females, there’s more cosplayers here than any con this size I have been to, and very welcome indeed, there are lots and lots of kids.” [Denver Post]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.
To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
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.
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.
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
I’d be all about the Axe Cop, Volume 1 ($14.99). Should be the best thing since Katie Mignola’s The Magician and the Snake.
If I had $30:
I’d add On the Case with Holmes and Watson, Volume 5: The Adventure of the Speckled Band ($6.95) and Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #1 ($7.99). Those On the Case books are cool and a Howard anthology of new and reprinted material sounds awesome. Especially when the creators involved include Paul Tobin, Marc Andreyko, Tim Bradstreet and Barry Windsor Smith.
Welcome to our weekly “Food or Comics?” feature, where we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home for Christmas dinner and which ones stay on the shelves, sitting cold and lonely through the holidays. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week to play along. Because of weather issues, shops on the West Coast won’t be getting everything; Brian Hibbs has a list of what to expect in his store in San Francisco, which should give you an idea of what is and isn’t showing up out here.
If I had $15…
No question, I’d get the first trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger ($14.99). Back when I read superhero comics, The Mighty Thor was one of my favorites, and I’d love to revisit the character without getting tripped up by all the continuity I missed. This series has gotten great word-of-blog, particularly since it was canceled, and that has me curious as well.
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.
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 …
On the heels of similar initiatives from DC Comics, Marvel and Image, Dark Horse has announced its “1 for $1″ program offering reprints of 12 of its most popular comics for $1 each.
The campaign debuts in August with six comics: Aliens vs. Predator, Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, Usagi Yojimbo, Conan and The Goon.
Twenty-eight page comics from creators like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Stan Sakai, Kurt Busiek, Cary Nord and Eric Powell — for $1 apiece? That’s tough to beat.
You can see the solicitations for the six titles below:
It’s probably not a shock that the first few days of January brings a lot of looking back over the year before. Of course, the fans with their comic blogs are doing it too.
Anj of the Comic Box Commentary gives us a very Supergirl-centric look at his favorite moments over the past year:
So when I was reading Cosmic Adventures #6 and saw the hand emerging from that swirl, I knew just what Landry Walker and Eric Jones were referencing. I knew this was ‘the hand that Krona saw’, the hand of creation. And then we see that the hand belongs to Supergirl!! It was the best mix of DC history and Supergirl that this DC history/Supergirl fan could ask for. Perfect! Readers who don’t know the Krona connection probably did not get as big a bang for this scene as I did. But I had a silly grin on my face for a while after reading it.