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SYFY WIRE Usagi Yojimbo

Exclusive: Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo goes full color in IDW's new 3-part miniseries

By Jeff Spry
Usagi Hero

IDW Publishing is hopping into a sensational symbiotic relationship with the masterful comics veteran Stan Sakai as he brings his critically acclaimed samurai series, Usagi Yojimbo, to the San Diego-based mini-major starting next month. 

This all-new three-part Usagi Yojimbo story, presented for the first time in full color, is rooted in the Edo period of ancient Japan and sees Usagi embroiled in a compelling Bunraku puppet drama where the major players are not quite what they seem — and SYFY WIRE has a sneak peek at the premiere issue and chat with its Eisner Award-winning creator.

Usagi Yojimbo Cover

Chronicling the episodic adventures of the brave rabbit ronin, Miyamoto Usagi, this beloved anthropomorphic saga packed with fables and folklore has been written and drawn by Sakai since 1984 and is published in fourteen countries.

Usagi Yojimbo is set in a dynamic world based on 17th century feudal Japan and follows its valiant swordsrabbit, who once served as the personal bodyguard for a Japanese warlord, as he roams a wild landscape populated by ghosts, dinosaurs, mythological beasts, and skilled warriors of infinite variety. 

Sakai is thrilled and delighted to work with IDW on this new Usagi Yojimbo color series and believes the creative company brings enormous energy and excitement to the table. 

"Usagi Yojimbo #1 from IDW opens with the wizard, Sasuke, battling demons," Sakai tells SYFY WIRE. "This character was inspired by the 'historical' figure Sarutobi Sasuke, a famous ninja who lived during Japan's Age of Wars. I remember seeing a movie about him in the 1960's. In it, young Sasuke was taught magic by a mountain hermit."

Usagi Slice 1
 "My Sasuke has his own mentor, Shoki, who was inspired by the Chinese scholar and demon hunter Chung K'uei (AD 618-627)," he adds. "Sasuke is sent to scenes of outbreaks of evil magic.  So begins Bunraku, the story of Usagi and a cursed puppet theater."

IDW's Usagi Yojimbo #1 leaps into comic shops on June 19 and presents a main cover by Stan Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson (Murder Falcon), Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Walt Simonson (Ragnarök, The Mighty Thor). This 3-part epic also showcases vivid colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer).

Usagi Slice 2

“We’re all ecstatic to have Stan Sakai and Usagi join the IDW family,” says IDW President & Publisher Chris Ryall. “Usagi Yojimbo has been one of the most consistently wonderful comic-book series for decades now, a bright spot in publishing matched only by the consummate skill and professionalism its creator Stan brings to everything he does. It’s a thrill to not only be able to publish new Usagi comics but also present them all in an all-new, vibrantly colored way.”

Slice your way into our exclusive four-page preview of Usagi Yojimbo #1 in the full gallery below, then tell us if you're a fan of this sword-slashing samurai rabbit.