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Stan Sakai

Review: 'The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo'

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The Sakai ProjectStan Sakai created his first Usagi Yojimbo story in Steve Gallacci’s Albedo: Anthropomorphics #2 comic book, November 1984. Only 2,000 copies were printed.

From there, Usagi Yojimbo has grown to become a very famous comic book, traveling through several publishers, the most recent being Dark Horse Comics since 1996. The comic has always been written and drawn by Stan Sakai. During that time, he has become one of the most popular artists in the professional comic-book community, for his friendliness and readiness to join in numerous benefit projects. When furry fan artist Michael-Scot McMurry was dying of cancer in 2000, he drew the cover for a benefit comic book for McMurry’s expenses for an operation, showing Usagi and McMurry’s Zonie the coyote fighting monsters.

Stan has often been an attendee of furry conventions, sometimes with his wife, Sharon, and their two daughters. I remember one convention, probably a ConFurence in the mid-1990s, where Stan’s daughter Hannah, then about 3 years old, tried to climb up Kjartan Arnörsson, a lean 6'9". Stan was a member of Rowrbrazzle, the furry amateur press association, from 1990 to 1998. He is a member of the Furry Hall of Fame. His Usagi Yojimbo won the Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Book category in every year from 2001 to 2005. He has also won non-furry awards such as the Eisners, a Parent's Choice Award, the Comic-Con's Inkpot, Spain's Haxtur Award and many others. He has been a furry convention guest-of-honor on three continents, at an Anthrocon, a EuroFurence and an Australian MiDFur.

If you have not heard – it has been widely publicized - Stan’s wife Sharon has had an inoperable brain tumor for the past decade. It was mild at first, but has gotten progressively worse until she is now confined to bed and in need of round-the-clock care. The Sakais have medical insurance, but their medical expenses have far exceeded the amount of the insurance. Dark Horse Comics and the Comic Art Professional Society have organized The Sakai Project, this 160-page hardcover book, to both celebrate Usagi Yojimbo’s 30th anniversary and as a benefit project for the Sakais’ medical expenses. All proceeds go to them. Dark Horse is not even reimbursing itself for the printing expenses.

By various, foreword by Mark Evanier, preface by Tone Rodriguez, Milwaukie, OR, Dark Horse Books, July 2014, hardcover $29.99 (160 pages).

Review: 'The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy', by Stan Sakai

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Nilson Groundthumper and HermyThis is a collection of all twelve of Stan Sakai’s Nilson Groundthumper comic-art short stories, in an attractive hardcover full-color “graphic novel” format.

Sakai is most famous for his ongoing series about Miyamoto Usagi, the rabbit ronin in the early 1600s Tokugawa shogunate in an anthropomorphized-animal Japan.

Most people who know about Sakai’s Nilson Groundthumper series think of it as Sakai’s series just before the adventures of Usagi Yojimbo, but they were actually mostly contemporaneous. The first Nilson short story was published in Albedo: Anthropomorphics #1 in 1984; the first Usagi story was in Albedo #2.

The two alternated briefly, then Sakai concentrated on Usagi Yojimbo with an occasional Nilson story as a backup feature, or when Sakai wanted to do a standalone short story for a different magazine. Most of these were first published between 1985 and 1994, with a final story in 2013.

Milwaukie, OR, Dark Horse Books, March 2014, hardcover $14.99 (109 [+3] pages).

Sharon & Stan Sakai fundraising & call for submissions: hardcover to be published by Dark Horse Comics

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'Famous Bunnies', by Morrison As reported a few months ago, Sharon Sakai has been battling illness. The Cartoon Arts Professional Society (CAPS) have been fundraising for Sharon & Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo) to help with medical bills.

Dark Horse will be publishing a hardcover benefit book The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of "Usagi Yojimbo" in association with CAPS. On January 31 the participation of 47 creators was announced with a call for art submissions from industry professionals with a deadline of February 20. The Sakai Project will be released on July 23.

Participating artists include:

Stan Sakai’s Other Rabbit Warrior

This coming March, fans of Usagi Yojimbo will once again be able to check out one of creator Stan Sakai’s other well-known funny animal creations, Nilson Groundthumper (and his assistant Hermy) in a new full-color hardcover collection from Dark Horse Press. “Experience the rabbit action epic that might have been! More than just a precursor to Stan Sakai’s beloved Usagi Yojimbo, his tales of medieval un-wits Nilson and Hermy are every bit as funny, exciting, and beautifully illustrated as the saga of the familiar rabbit ronin!”  Collecting Nilson and Hermy’s complete exploits, the artwork is scanned from Stan Sakai’s original black & white artwork and newly colored by Usagi colorist Tom Luth. Check out The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy (an pre-order it) at the Dark Horse web site.


image c. 2013 Dark Horse Press

Help for a Famous Furry (Creator)

Stan Sakai is world-famous as the creator, writer, and artist of Usagi Yojimbo, a multiple-award-winning funny animal comic. He has given a lot to our furry fan community, not only from his creation but from his appearances at furry conventions around the country. Now, Stan needs some real help. His wife Sharon has been battling cancer, and she has been in and out of hospitals for some time — basically needing 24-hour care even when she is at home. The couple have insurance, but the bills have been piling up far past what their insurance will cover. The Cartoon Arts Professional Society have set up a site asking for donations to help Stan and Sharon cover their medical expenses.  Please visit and contribute this holiday season if you can. Give back to someone who’s given us great characters and great art!


image c. 2013 by Stan Sakai

MiDFur gains attention of regional media

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MidFur shieldAustralia's MiDFur has been noticed by reporters for local broadsheet The Age.

The article contains quotes from artist and guest of honour Stan Sakai, convention organizer CynWolfe, and a local philosopher.

Stan will also feature on Get Cereal TV and The Conversation Hour this Wednesday.

The event, now in its 12th year, is to be held this weekend in Melbourne, Victoria.

See more: MiDFur XII's trailer, venue tour and etiquette comic.

Stan Sakai Interview

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Stan Sakai of Usagi Yojimbo comic book fame was recently interviewed by Sequential Tart, a montly comics e-zine. Check out the interview here