25 Years of Usagi Yojimbo

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Creativity runs in my family, though not always as obviously expressed as through a career in art and design. I can recall countless projects undertaken by my parents, my mom’s strength being idea generation and my dad’s being execution. I dig the way my parents design their house, yards and living spaces; always warm, creative, modern and comfortable.

Oftentimes these projects would be built from scratch or from something salvageable from an antique store or garage sale. It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford to buy brand spanking new materials. They loved giving these discarded objects a new lease on life beyond what you could purchase new off a store shelf. When I take on projects like repairing and improving a broken iPod, I believe I have them to blame thank.

Growing up, I was a daydreamer. To this day I have a terrible sense of direction, partially because I was never really aware of the world outside the car window. I was too busy conjuring images of ninjas, aliens, robots, superheros and dinosaurs to pay attention to things like intersections and traffic. Similarly I was never fully cognizant of what my parents were looking for in any particular antique store, so much as I was engrossed in the task of finding comic books.

One flea market in particular held many such treasures. It was where I found my second issue of Groo and the Space Ghost one-shot by Mark Evanier and Steve Rude. Most importantly, it was where I discovered my first issue of Usagi Yojimbo.

This was fantastic! My young eyes were dazzled by the economy and expressiveness of the drawings while my mind was engaged and enamored with the authentic Japanese history infused with a hardy sense of adventure and fun. Here was a comic accessible to me, but which didn’t talk down to me. I was in love!

Many years later at San Diego Comic Con, I had the opportunity to meet the man behind Usagi, Stan Sakai, and express my admiration. To my delight, I found him both friendly and humble. His stories alone earn him such a large audience, yet his level of graciousness emphasizes how deserving he really is.

This year, Usagi celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. Members of the Usagi Yojimbo Dojo (a wonderful community-led forum in which Stan is an active participant) decided to put together a gift for Stan comprised of artwork, letters and congratulations from many of his appreciative fans.

While I was unable to attend this year’s Comic Con where fans presented the gift to Stan, I’m thankful to have contributed to the impressive, three-volume tome. I’m also thankful to Michael Takahara for publishing a video of the event (and for subsequently posting it to Vimeo for me to use here).

My Contribution

Usagi Yojimbo 25th Anniversary Note and Artwork

The Presentation