Our favorite samurai rabbit has found a new home, as Stan Sakai’s “Usagi Yojimbo” series is jumping from Dark Horse Comics to IDW Publishing.
The New York Times broke the news earlier today, and wrote that IDW will take the helm for the next full-color series from Stan Sakai. The new comics begin this June, with a monthly ongoing series, and will also be releasing full-color collected editions of the entire Usagi Yojimbo saga, which spans from 1984 until today.
Sakai spoke to the times for a telephone interview on Wednesday, and explained to their reporter that the series is “mainly fantasy and action and adventure, but there’s a lot of teaching there, too,” as it is set in an anthropomorphic version of 17th-century Japan. “I draw from that history and culture and folklore to make my stories.”
Indeed, one of my favorite elements of the comic is how much fact is intertwined with the fiction. My entry point was the “Daisho” storyline, which is centered around the historic and cultural significance of the pair of swords a Samurai wields. I was hooked immediately from then on for all future books.
Sakai hopes to continue the adventures of Usagi for many more years (and we here at NN2D hope he does for decades). “I have no other job skills,” he said with a laugh. “If not for Usagi, I’m unemployed.”
The new series will be colored by Tom Luth, and will begin with a three-part story involving bunraku (Japanese puppetry).
Dark Horse has been the home of Usagi since 1995, which was still a black-and-white comic back then. Their partnership ended with the most recent tale, “The Hidden”, which explored Christianity’s emergence in 17th century Japan.
Usagi Yojimbo has been a busy bunny ronin in the past few years. He has appeared numerous times in other places, including a crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Ghostbusters. A little over a year ago, Gaumont optioned Usagi Yojimbo for an animated movie, although we have not heard much about that since the initial news. Most recently, he was part of the upcoming TMNT board game as a playable character.
We wish Stan Sakai much success on this next chapter of Usagi Yojimbo, and we will be certainly following him there for the ride!