Stan Sakai is moving Usagi Yojimbo back from IDW to previous publisher Dark Horse – and all under the aegis of a new imprint: Dogu.
Stan Sakai took to Facebook, saying:
“We are back at Dark Horse, with a new imprint!”
The Dark Horse Press Release:
Dark Horse Comics is pleased to announce a new partnership with Stan Sakai’s Dogu Publishing. The Usagi Yojimbo comics universe and more will return to Dark Horse under the umbrella of a new imprint, Dogu. The announcement of this new partnership comes just ahead of the September 1 release of Season 2 of the hit Netflix animated series, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, based on the world of Usagi Yojimbo created by Sakai.
Dark Horse Comics has been a longtime home of the works of Stan Sakai, most recently publishing the continuing new editions of The Usagi Yojimbo Saga. Dogu Publishing is led by Creative Chairman Stan Sakai, CEO Jeremiah Blank, COO Julie Sakai, and Daniel Fujii, President/Publisher for Dogu Publishing.
…. The goals of the Dogu imprint include: to create a space for up-and-coming creators and artists to be featured, and to expand the Usagi Yojimbo universe through working with other artists and writers. The expanding Usagi universe is sure to bring about exciting tales to please both new and longtime Usagi readers alike.
In the PR, Sakai talks about the new deal and the people he is bringing with him to run the Dogu imprint:
“I’m very excited, honored and thankful to have my own publishing imprint with Dark Horse. As the sole creator and owner of Usagi Yojimbo, this is a significant milestone. I’ve known Mike Richardson for more than 30 years and he is one of the pioneers and champions of creator-owned IP. As the industry continues to change, I feel he brings a unique progressive perspective.
“Julie (co-creator of Chibi Usagi, Owner/Creator of Chibi Time; COO of Usagi Studios Inc.) has been a god-send and wonderful partner in all regards. Chibi Usagi and the Attack of the Heebie Chibis was my favorite collaboration. One of my proudest moments was to see her at the podium as we accepted our Eisner Award for this book. She will be bringing more Chibi stories to Dogu Publishing which will be colored by Emi Fujii, Julie’s multi-talented daughter!
“Daniel (Executive Producer, Samurai Rabbit; VP of Usagi Studios Inc.) has been with me for seven years now and he has brought a new energy to the Usagi brand. His drive, vision, and most importantly, genuine love of Usagi, has been most welcomed. He saw the Netflix deal through and has many intriguing projects planned for the Usagi Universe.
“Jeremiah (VP of Business Development, Stan Lee; VP of Business Development, Boxes; co-founder of Fanmio) brings the knowledge of the industry, along with his forward-thinking vision and business savvy. He is also a co-founder of the successful entertainment/tech platform, Fanmio, which hosts celebrity interactions and sells merchandise direct-to-consumer. He has exciting plans for the imprint.
“Having Julie, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Emi step into the business and creative support roles has been a welcomed addition to my brand. Being the sole creator of Usagi Yojimbo takes a tremendous amount of time and responsibility. I still write, hand-draw, and hand-letter each story. Because of this new synergy, I am able to continue to do what I love most: Create more Usagi Yojimbo stories. We feel that through this imprint with Dark Horse, an expanded Usagi Universe is becoming a reality.”
Dark Horse head honcho Mike Richardson is also quoted, saying:
“It is with great excitement that we welcome back Stan Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo to the Dark Horse family. Stan is one of comics’ legendary creators and we are extremely proud to announce the launch of Dogu Publishing. Stan and his team are preparing new adventures with Usagi Yojimbo, as well as bringing new and important voices to the comics community. Stan and I have been friends for a very long time and I am extremely pleased to renew our partnership at Dark Horse.”
Stan Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo are no strangers to publisher moves. First published in 1984 at Thoughts and Images, Usagi since moved to Fantagraphics, Mirage Comics and then Dark Horse. In June 2019, Sakai brought the rabbit ronin to IDW where the main series continued, and additional projects involving the character began publication – including Chibi Usagi. One of the major changes that IDW brought to Usagi was to introduce coloured versions of the earliest parts of the series as a monthly book – Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics (somewhat controversial since the series has predominantly, if not solely, been in black and white). The color work was done by Ronda Pattison. It is uncertain whether this will still continue.
IDW has been seeing a steady dwindling of its license and publishing portfolio this past year. Thus far it has lost the Transformers and GI Joe, and Disney comic book licenses – and that’s not to mention the American Library of Comics going to Clover Press for their new Terry and the Pirates collections.