The painting I donated to the CAPS auction to benefit the Sakai family back in December is now up for bids! Here’s some info about the painting, if you are interested: the illustration is from the Japanese folktale Little Peachling and was originally done for the front cover of one of my earliest children’s books, Favorite Tales from Many Lands, written by Walter Retan and published by Grossett & Dunlap in 1989. This was painted on illustration board (basically, a piece of bristol board attached to a chipboard backing), then "stripped" (peeled off the backing board) because back in those days, children, artwork was color separated by wrapping it around a drum scanner. Because of this the backside is a bit fuzzy, but so is your cat's so don't judge.
Left to right: Linda Medley, Stan Sakai, Mark Crilley, and Jeff Smith. Not pictured: Charles Vess. Old Man's Cave, Ohio, November 1998
There's been tons of wonderful artwork donated, and right now you have the opportunity to bid on pieces from three of my old buddies above, counting Charlie who was there but didn't show up in the photo because faerie glamour.
Mark Crilley's fantastic watercolor of Usagi. Go watch the amazing video Mark made of him coloring this piece, be soothed by his awesome weatherman voice, then bid like crazy because this auction ends on Sunday.
Also ending Sunday is Charles Vess's huge, gorgeous watercolor spread which comes with bonus Neil Gaiman cooties! So it's well worth your consideration. And paycheck.
Also well worth it are the Sakais. Seriously, they are the nicest people in comics -- and beyond -- and Stan is a LEGEND. Even if you can't bid in the auctions, you can still donate via PayPal, and every little bit helps.
"Just as Usagi has learned that swordsmanship is more than fighting, Stan Sakai has obviously learned that art is more than drawing. The entire field would be richer if more artists embraced this lesson." – Robert Asprin, from the introduction
"If you haven't seen this ultra-cool series, you must! It involves a rabbit samurai — yes, a rabbit samurai — that young readers will love for the action and sophisticated art. I adore it for those reasons too, but there's more substance to it than you might expect. A good Zen comic is hard to find, and this one is nearly perfect." – USA Today Pop Candy
"These bittersweet adventure stories offer entertaining reading, especially for young Asian-Americans who feel excluded from mainstream juvenile literature." – Los Angeles Times
"One of the most original, innovative, well-executed comic books anywhere to be found." – Stan Lee
Another teaser from our new reprint of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road for you: a downloadable excerpt with 19 pages from the book, including most of the first story, "The Tower." When Usagi comes to the aid of a hungry tokagé (the little dinosaur-like lizards that populate the Usagiverse), they both find themselves in peril at the hands — and cleaver — of an angry cook. The exciting conclusion, and six other stories (helpfully listed in the included Table of Contents), await you in this timeless classic, which you can pre-order now for shipment in April.
152-page black & white 6" x 9" softcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-009-5
7th printing! Ships in April 2014 (subject to change) — Pre-Order Now
Perhaps the best samurai rabbit story ever told, Usagi Yojimbo Book 3 collects full-length Usagi stories from issues #7 through #12 of the original Fantagraphics series, including "The Tower" (which introduces Usagi's travelling companion Spot the Wonder Lizard), "Return of the Blind Swordspig," "A Mother's Love," "Blade of the Gods," "The Shogun's Gift," and the hilarious Groo tribute "The Tea Cup," co-starring the amoral mercenary rhino Gen. ("Gen does what Gen does best!") PLUS, the little-seen Usagi team-up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Turtle Soup and Rabbit Stew," written and drawn by Sakai. A must-have for adventure lovers of all ages!
The first softcover edition of Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road came out in 1989. Now, 25 years later, the 7th printing is soon to hit shelves. This is an essential volume of Stan Sakai's rabbit ronin saga, featuring the debut of Usagi's lizard pal Spot, the return of the Blind Swordspig, the introduction of the terrifying Jei (seen above), a hat-tip to Groo co-starring the mercenary Gen, deepening feudal intrigue featuring Tomoe and the Neko Ninja, and the first Ninja Turtle crossover story!
So many new readers of all ages discover Stan Sakai's wonderful, multiple-award-winning, now-classic Usagi Yojimbo as the years go on that we keep having to go back to press — twelve times on Book 1: The Ronin now! Read the rabbit ronin's first adventures in this compact softcover, sporting the new trade dress designed by Jacob Covey a few years back. Fresh copies in stock now and in stores soon!
The late Kim Thompson introduced the world to Stan Sakai in Fantagraphics' Critters anthology three decades ago. As Sakai's signature character Usagi Yojimbo nears its 30-year anniversary, the Baltimore Comic-Con honors this exceptional artist at the Baltimore Convention Center on Saturday.
Sakai will greet fans at booth 1902 before appearing at the Usagi Yojimbo Celebration with Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz in room 301 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. An exclusive Usagi Yojimbo tee shirt (pictured below) and yearbook featuring homages of the intrepid Samurai warrior by over 40 artists will be available at the convention. At 5:00 PM you can bid on the original art by Sakai and other contributors at booth 2505 in the Main Hall. Don't miss this opportunity to meet one of the world's most gifted cartoonists, not to mention one of the nicest people in our industry.
• Awards: Congratulations to the great Joost Swarte, awarded the 2012 Marten Toonder Prize and its concomitant fat cash prize by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, as reported by Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
• Review (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell is joined by Paul Gravett, Joe McCulloch and Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion of Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez and other books
• Review: "Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails.... What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. ...I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Anyone can be grotesque and horrifying. To truly get under the skin of the audience is an ability not many have. Someone who does is Thomas Ott, and he uses his ability to the highest effect in Cinema Panopticum. ...[I]f you are looking for an unsettling horror story rendered beautifully by an expert craftsman there is no doubt this should be in your collection." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview (Audio): Spend 3 minutes with Michael Kupperman as Tom Gambino of Pronto Comics talks to Michael from the floor of last April's MoCCA Fest on the ProntoCast podcast
• Film Studies: At Boing Boing, Jim Woodring writes about the 1931 Fleischer Bros. short that expanded his young mind: "I might have come to grips with the overwhelming mystery of life in a rational, organic manner if it weren't for a cartoon I saw on my family's old black and white TV in the mid '50s when I was three or four years old. This cartoon rang a bell so loud that I can still feel its reverberations.... Whatever [the creators'] motivation and intent, 'Bimbo's Initiation' became my prime symbolic interpreter, the foundation of my life's path and endlessly exploding bomb at the core of my creative output."
• Review: "Josh Simmons' book The Furry Trap is truly disturbing in its depravity. Makes Ultra Gash Inferno look cute. An inspiring & exhilarating read! How many comics can you honestly say made you sick or upset when you read them? Furry Trap made me question the First Amendment at times." – Sammy Harkham
• Review: "By this point, the reader will know if [Dungeon Quest] is their cup of tea; anyone who enjoys alt-comics takes on fantasy and/or stoner humor will find this a sheer delight. I'd say the sheer level of craftsmanship and the way Daly shifts storytelling modes so quickly would at least interest other readers, especially those who enjoy deadpan absurdism, since that's the core of Daly's sense of humor. For the continuing fan of this series, Daly continues to raise the stakes in each volume and adds richness and depth for those who are looking for more detail. Above all else, he does for the reader what he does with his party: he keeps things moving even when his characters are navel-gazing." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Moto Hagio has more on her agenda than simply trotting out tired 'girly' storylines. Her protagonists struggle with loss, rejection, and insecurity in a manner sure to strike readers as honest and familiar, never reductive or patronizing.... The stories collected here [in A Drunken Dream] span 31 years of Hagio’s career and, while the later stories do seem a bit looser and more confident, the earlier stories certainly don’t suffer by comparison." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Boasting [Fantagraphics'] usual high-production values and showcasing the genesis of the indie comics icon, [Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1:] The Ronin is a meticulously curated artifact of comics history.... The book is worth buying for the art alone. Sharply reproduced on gratifyingly durable stock, the quality of the lines leap out from the page even in these early stories." – Abhimanyu Das, Slant Magazine
• Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Nicolas Mahler about his superhero spoof Angelman: "Mahler said he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the major events and storylines [in superhero comics] of recent years, but said he is still familiar with the culture. 'I think my point of view is very '80s, that is when I stopped reading them,' he said. 'After that, I only have very superficial information. I know more about the fanboys, actually. I enjoy the scene around superheroes more than the stories themselves. I like it when people take this very seriously, and can debate endlessly about little faults in a superhero's universe."'
• Interview: Following an introduction in his native Greek, Comicdom's Tomas Papadimitropoulos posts his untranslated (i.e. English) Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I am compelled to draw these comics.... These stories follow a certain pattern of logic that makes sense to me. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how it works, that is why I draw them as comic strips."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps has a great Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I can look at my early work and see what a pained struggle it was to draw what I was drawing. I was trying so hard to get this specific look that was in my head, and always falling short. I could see the frustration in the lines, and I remember my hand being tensed and redrawing things a thousand times until I finally inked it, and just having this general tense anxiety about every drawing. I think that comes through in the artwork, and gives it this certain kind of manic energy, this kind of repressed energy, so you feel like it’s sort of bursting at the seams or something."
• Interview (Audio):Daniel Clowes sits down for a chat on Bay Area NPR station KQED's Forum with host Michael Krasny
• Video: Via Meltdown Comics and Boing Boing, a charming short film by Rocío Mesa about a couple of dedicated Daniel Clowes fans
• Plug: "...[W]e recommend checking out Love and Rockets Library: The Complete Vol. 1 from Fantagraphics, which collects every issue of the landmark alt-comic series between 1982 and 1996. In Love and Rockets, Gilbert and his brother Jaime Hernandez wrote stories ranging from satire to political intrigue, and introduced such noteworthy characters as Luba, the temperamental, full-figured mayor of a Central American village, and Maggie Chascarrillo, a punk rock-loving Mexican girl who becomes a solar mechanic. ...[T]here's no better time to become a Los Bros Hernandez zombie than right now." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition, the deluxe, slipcased two-volume hardcover set collecting the complete first decade of Stan Sakai's long-running, beloved series, with bonus materials including a color cover gallery, a career-spanning interview and more, has sold through its print run and is now a collectible. However! We have received a small shipment of dent-and-ding copies returned from the distributor, so if you don't mind a slipcase with a bonked corner or other superficial damage and you love bargains, good news because you can buy one of them for $50 — that's half price — from our mail-order department or from the fabled back room at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Fifty bucks for 1,160 pages of top-notch comics and fascinating bonus features is a heck of a deal, and we don't imagine these will last long, so don't delay!