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#365599 - 12/12/06 01:22 PM USAGI YOJIMBO AT 100
Jennifer M. Contino Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA

BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
One of comic's most famous bunnies is reaching a milestone when Usagi Yojimbo hits # 100 from Dark Horse Comics. The special issue is sort of a roast to creator Stan Sakai and the ronin rabbit, with notables like Frank Miller, Sergio Aragones, Matt Wagner and Jeff Smith, to name a few, each providing pieces. Along with talking Usagi, Sakai told THE PULSE he's waiting for approval for a new Groo project and just wait until you see who The Wanderer might meet!

THE PULSE: When you were thinking about what to do for the 100th issue of Usagi Yojimbo, how did you want to make this story special?

STAN SAKAI:
There is no Usagi story per se. There will be tributes to myself or Usagi by other writers and artists: Rick Geary, Frank Miller, Sergio Aragones, Jamie Rich, Andi Watson, Diana Schutz, Matt Wagner, Guy Davis, Mark Evanier, Scott Shaw!, Jeff Smith, and even publisher Mike Richardson gets in there. I will provide a few framing sequences to tie the stories together.


THE PULSE: Reading the description, "a good-natured roast of both Usagi and Stan," this kind of reminds me of the old Fred Hembeck Marvel specials. How does it feel to have some of comics top talents roasting you and your creation?


SAKAI:
It's great because they are not only the top names in the industry and talents I admire, but they are also all good friends. For instance, I've known Sergio, Mark, and Scott for almost 30 years. A lot of it is just friends good naturedly kidding each other. They are all very busy--Frank and Jeff, especially--so I'm gratified that they made time in their schedule for this project.


THE PULSE: There seem to be a lot of people working on that issue. How did you fit everything into just 32 pages? Was there consideration of doing more?

SAKAI:
Actually, it was editor Diana Schutz' idea to have this roast. I made up a dream list of who I would like to have as contributors, and she contacted them, and figured out the logistics. I did not even see the stories until the artists had finished them completely, and I had to do the framing sequences.


THE PULSE: How does it feel for you to reach a milestone like a 100th issue with one publisher and have this character be so popular for over two decades?


SAKAI:
The running gag throughout the issue is that, true this is Dark Horse's 100th issue of Usagi Yojimbo, but he was previously published by two other publishers. If you count those issues, this will be more like UY #160. And that is not counting his appearances in various anthologies.


THE PULSE: What have been some of the challenges with working on this series?

SAKAI:
The biggest challenge has been the marketplace itself. When I started Usagi, there were only a few b&w titles. We could not even give them away. Now Albedo #2 with Usagi's first appearance is one of the most sought after comics from that period.


THE PULSE: So many people love Usagi Yojimbo, was there ever a time when you considered ending the series? If so, what made you soldier on? If not, is Usagi Yojimbo a series you'd like to do forever if possible?

SAKAI:
When Usagi was first conceived, he was to be in a finite series--about 3,000 pages. Things have changed a lot since then, and it is pretty much an ongoing series. I do have a related project that I would like to do, but will have to discuss it with Editor Diana first (she's in Europe right now, a guest of the Lucca Festival in Italy).


THE PULSE: How do you think you've changed as a creator or grown as a creator since the first appearance of Usagi Yojimbo?


SAKAI:
I've had to develop a discipline to meet my deadlines. There are about 10 individual issues a year, plus a trade collection. This gives me time to work on a few other projects.

I've also learned that comics can be a teaching tool as well as entertainment. I've tried to do as much research as I can on the history, folklore, and customs of Japan to give the stories a more authentic feel. My recent issue about the tea ceremony is probably one of my strongest stories ever. Many of the awards I've received have pointed out my attention to detail and the authentic feel of the stories, even if they do star funny animals.


THE PULSE: What problems will Usagi be facing after this special issue?

SAKAI:
Usagi had taken someone under his protection, but has had to abandon her in a safe location as his life just too dangerous. Unknown to him, though, a hired assassin is after him, and will use her as leverage.

I've also laid groundwork for future story arcs such as Lady Tomoe's wedding. It will take awhile to
research how marriages were arranged at that time.


THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?



SAKAI:
I've been lettering the Spider-Man Sundays for about 20 years now. It's still fun, because I get to work with Stan Lee. We're still waiting for the go-ahead on the next Groo the Wanderer project: Groo Meets Conan. And, as I said, there is something I would like to do, but will have to get Diana's input first.




Usagi Yojimbo # 100 is in stores this January.

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#365600 - 12/12/06 02:10 PM Re: USAGI YOJIMBO AT 100
neanderthal Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/02/00
Posts: 28
Loc: Pearl City, HI USA
Congratulations to Stan and family on the tremendous achievment of Usagi Yojimbo. Who would have dreamed of this kind of opportunity 30 years ago when the only comics being published were those by Archie, Gold Key, Charlton, Marvel, and DC. Usagi Yojimbo is a wonderful success story. Long live the H.S.C.C.C.

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#365601 - 12/13/06 11:53 PM Re: USAGI YOJIMBO AT 100
Colebuddy Offline
Member

Registered: 11/22/04
Posts: 39
Loc: Near reels, fields and deals
This is certainly a great accomplishment for any comic book but especially for one as distinguished as UY. In my over 30 years of comics reading, one of the regrets I have is missing the run of UY over the years. Now, I'll just have to save up and buy the trades. Hope they'll still be in print when I'm ready to buy ;^)
_________________________
"Superman was born Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race”.

Kill Bill, Vol. 2

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#365602 - 12/13/06 11:54 PM Re: USAGI YOJIMBO AT 100
usagigoya Offline
Junior member

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 24
Another great interview with Stan, Jennifer, the fifth one you have conducted with Stan which I have had the pleasure of reading.

I am glad that you asked some very interesting questions which managed to get around the fact that it yours is the fourth interview released in the past month concerning the upcoming one hundredth issue of Usagi Yojimbo from Dark Horse Comics.

With each successive interview with Stan concerning this monumental achievement and the future story-lines which are in the works, more tidbits of information are being leaked out.

Too bad Stan would not give out more information concerning his proposed project which he wants to get Diana Schutz' input for. Those couple references sure have made me curious.

Abayo.....

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#365603 - 12/17/06 05:09 PM Re: USAGI YOJIMBO AT 100
Alex Cruz Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/06
Posts: 38
The first drawing of Stan Sakai is so cool that I want see itself like wallpaper in resolution of 800x1024 to my screen. Please, somebody to say the webmaster of usagiyojimbo.com that publishes it in the section of wallpaper.
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ENTES Mohamad: "The magic is not eternal, only lives trapped in time and the rebirth of flowers. But if you destroy the flower, where go the magic?"

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