The exodus continues, USAGI YOJIMBO is leaving Dark Horse for IDW – UPDATED

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Dark Horse just keeps bleeding properties, having lost Star Wars, Conan, Buffy, and now comes an unexpected departure:

Stan Sakai has announced, via the NY Times, that Usagi Yojimbo has a new home at IDW, which will kick off a new monthly series this June.

This will be the fourth home for the rabbit ronin (not counting Albedo Anthropomorphics) a list that includes Fantagraphics, Mirage Comics (the originators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, where many fans my age first got acquainted with Miyamoto Usagi, at least in animated form), and then it settled for decades at Dark Horse, starting in 1995; making it one of the longest published properties there.

It’s frankly, one of the greatest comics ever made, while heavily indebted works like Lone Wolf & Cub, Kurosawa films, Zatoichi, and other samurai classics, Sakai brings his own level of immense craftmanship to these tales that are consistently fabulous with every issue. In some ways, I like to think of him as the real inheritor of Carl Barks’ legacy. It’s honestly the kind of comic that’s maybe even taken for granted. Let us stop doing that, okay?

IDW will also be reprinting the entire series from the very beginning, in colorized collections this time. Not only that, but the new monthly coming this Summer will also be colored by Tom Luth, and involve a story about Japanese puppetry.

Sakai has, to date, published well over 200 issues of the series – pitting him, Erik Larsen and Fred Perry in a pretty tight race as to who might set the new record for longest ongoing comic by one (American) cartoonist.

Update: We reached out to Fantagraphics to get clarification on whether the first 38 issues, along with short stories that appeared in titles like Critters (all currently comprised of seven collections from the publisher), would remain at Fantagraphics. Jacq Cohen, Executive Director of Marketing, Publicity and Promotions shared the following:

Fantagraphics is still the home for the black and white editions of the first seven volumes of Usagi Yojimbo. As the first company to publish Usagi, it’s an honor to keep volumes 1-7 in print in their original black and white form. I, personally, am a massive fan of Sakai’s work and am looking forward to rereading the entire Usagi series in the newly colored editions.

So have no fear, gang! The original run of Usagi will still be available for those seeking to pick it up as it originally was presented.

 

13 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, man. Colorized collections? I already have all the black-and-white DH collections, but I may have to double-dip for color. Damn you, IDW!

  2. “pitting he…”

    WTF

    What is it with native English speakers not knowing how to use simple subject and object pronouns anymore?

    First came “between he and I….” Which is so common now you can hardly take offense.

    Now this.

    Soon: “Me saw he at the store yesterday.”

    Way off topic, sorry.

    On topic, this is indeed a huge surprise in every respect. There have long been Usagi color specials, but I’m surprised they’d go back to color all the stuff created for black and white. I’m surprised IDW will release the whole run so soon after Dark Horse put out their omnibuses. For that matter, is IDW republishing the oldest material from Fantagraphics, or will that stuff be kept separate as it was during the Dark Horse years?

    In any case, best of luck to Sakai, IDW, and Dark Horse–all good players, AFAIK.

  3. Breathe, Carl. It’s a typo. Try, “hey, man, there’s a typo; thought I’d point it out to you so you can fix it.”

  4. Speed is not my friend sometimes. Fixed. Thanks all.

    On your other question Carl, that’s a point that I’m not sure the announcement makes totally clear. Stay tuned.

  5. Wow. Will the last creator to exit Dark Horse, please turn out the lights?

    Where will Hellboy wind up when the Chinese investor’s money runs out? IDW seems like a good place for that, too.

  6. Unfashionable minority opinion: Stan Sakai’s art, with or without colour, has never been anything less than impressive — but as a writer he suffers horribly from ‘Captain Exposition’; even Roy Thomas and Chris Claremont look terse compared to him!

  7. Since Sakai is leaving a Chinese-owned publisher, could he please make sure that his IDW books aren’t printed in China, either? I mean, seriously, IDW’s Chinese paper and ink are toxic.

  8. I, too, wonder what this means for the existing Dark Horse B&W collections. It’d be nice if they stayed in print; I’m not much interested in seeing color versions. (Except maybe for the Mirage run, which was originally in color and is noticeable for its absence in a few places.)

    At a glance, it looks like the upcoming Vol 8 of the omnibus nearly gets the run caught up with the current comics; it collects up through vol 31 of the trades, while the latest is vol 33.

  9. […] I was really surprised to read today that Usagi Yojimbo is moving from Dark Horse to IDW. (And also surprised to read about it in the NY Times. I never really thought of Usagi as being mainstream enough to warrant a NY Times article.) There’s more detail at The Beat. […]

  10. This will also be the first time in decades that the Mirage issues will be reprinted in their proper color presentation. The Mirage floppies were printed in color, but the original separations we’re destroyed in a fire – when DH acquired the reprint rights, they opted to print the trades in B&W rather than hire a new colorist.

  11. I’m sorry to hear that they are parting each other. I’m a huge fan of both. I will enjoy rereading all of Yojimbo in color. But I also still want my new books also. Hope IDW will continue to produce. I am also a huge fan of IDW also.

    We’ll see how it all shakes out. And hope Stan comes out on top where he belongs.

  12. “Unfashionable minority opinion: Stan Sakai’s art, with or without colour, has never been anything less than impressive — but as a writer he suffers horribly from ‘Captain Exposition’; even Roy Thomas and Chris Claremont look terse compared to him!”

    Yeah, I don’t agree with that at all. Sakai’s writing is as elegant and efficient as his artwork. I can only guess it’s been a long time since you’ve actually read anything by Thomas or Claremont. Sakai’s (necessary and informative) exposition is nowhere near as cumbersome or impenetrable as theirs. Not that I don’t enjoy their work, as well. I do. But their writing doesn’t flow as well as Sakai’s at all.

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