- Series: Usagi Yojimbo
- Paperback: 1160 pages
- Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1 edition (October 12, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1606998870
- ISBN-13: 978-1606998878
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 2.8 x 10.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition (Usagi Yojimbo) Paperback – Deluxe Edition, October 12, 2015
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“Usagi Yojimbo is one of the most acclaimed comics of the last 30 years. It deserves as wide an audience as possible. This is a sturdy set, well constructed and respectfully designed. It’s hard to imagine any comics reader who doesn’t already have these stories would regret having this on their shelf.” (Tim O'Neil - The A.V. Club)
“I don’t think I’m exaggerating at all when I say that Stan Sakai is arguably the greatest living comic book creator in the world, and Usagi Yojimbo is a thirty-year masterpiece that has a consistency and craftsmanship that other comics only touch when they’re at their peak.” (Chris Sims - ComicsAlliance)
About the Author
Stan Sakai is a third-generation Japanese American and multiple Eisner-Award-winning cartoonist, creator of the popular and long-running Usagi Yojimbo comic book. (Usagi Yojimbo is a recurring "guest star" in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle universe.) Born in Japan, he grew up in Hawaii and lives in Pasadena, CA.
Stan Lee is the co-creator of many of the Marvel Comics iconic heroes, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Daredevil, Thor, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, and the X-Men. His movie and television work includes cameo roles in most of the Marvel Comics movies, co-creating and hosting the TV reality show Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, and voice work on many of the Marvel animated series, including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and Super Hero Squad Show.
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Top Customer Reviews
With this in mind I have decided to limit the review below to the physical package of the book and its extras only.
Let me start by saying this is an extremely handsome set. The slipcase features beautiful examples of Sakai's artwork, the cover to the magazine "Anything Goes" #6 on the right side and the cover of "The Dragon Below Conspiracy"/UY vol #4 (both covers are also reprinted within) on the left respectively. The slipcase is thick and sturdy as are the covers for both of the volumes it contains. The binding on the set is glued rather than sewn (I suppose that would have raised the price past the hundred mark?) I can't imagine this being a problem for a copy that is reasonably taken care of though. Anyone familiar with their "Complete Peanuts" reprint series knows that Fantagraphics does not skimp on the materials in their prestige/special edition books and this set is no exception.
All of the pages are glossy and the print is clear though the pages do run to the thin side (to keep the package compact I suppose) so sometimes you will see lines from the next page. I find this to be a bit distracting and it's probably the biggest flaw in the set.
It's almost a little jarring to go from seeing these comics in their original newsprint to being this clearly and slickly reproduced. But it is without doubt a welcome sight, and Sakai's work certainly deserves it.
The covers of the two books are almost identical, white with a beautiful painting of Usagi riding a dragon from the cover of Comics Journal #192, also reprinted within. The only variation between the book covers being whether one or two small gray clan crests are below Usagi and the dragon, to denote which volume is which without having to look at the spine, a nice touch.
The back of the slipcase extols the virtues of this set with a list of features that is sure to be almost identical to the one(s) you'll see on Amazon or other sites so let's just do a rundown of the features touted there:
***"The first seven volumes of the collected Usagi Yojimbo, totaling almost 1,000 pages of classic comics, presented in their original size and format!"***
As I already mentioned, this set is quite handsome. And it will take up surprisingly little shelf space without being flimsy or feeling cramped.
***"`The Origins of Usagi': the earliest character sketches and never-used story pages!"***
There are 8 pages of early sketches from Sakai, one of these sketches was recently reproduced in the excellent "The Art of Usagi Yojimbo" from Dark Horse, but most should be new. There is also a reprinting of an early version of the story "Samurai" that was previously printed in the above mentioned Dark Horse collection.
***"An extensive full-color Usagi cover gallery!"***
This was the only one that was a bit disappointing for me really. There are indeed 22 nice, full color pages reprinting Usagi covers from Albedo Anthropomorphics, Critters, Usagi's own first series and the collected Fantagraphics volumes, plus a few magazine covers for good measure. While the reproduction is crisp, I was a little disappointed to find that the vast majority of these covers are shoved into a tiny 4-to-a-page format, with seemingly random covers selected to be shown at full page while (to me) much more interesting and beautiful ones were squashed down and crammed together to make us squint.
***"Two hilarious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles + Usagi crossovers by Sakai!"***
"Turtle Soup & Rabbit Stew" 6pgs and "The Treaty" 10pgs
Both written and illustrated by Sakai, both good fun. I can't remember just now but I believe there might have been more crossover material in the comics from this Fantagraphics period, but even if so I'm sure the license just to get these two was a nightmare. A nice, hard to find bonus.
***"An in-depth, feature-length interview with Stan Sakai from 1995!"***
Well, at least the box and the book itself are upfront about the age of the interview*. It's the same one that I've seen on amazon and elsewhere touted as "a career spanning interview!" without mentioning the little fact that it's over a decade old. Well it's still a nice, interesting treat for fans. Especially those curious about Sakai himself as well as his creation. It's from "The Comics Journal" (#192 I'll wager) and the original interviewer, who also edited this set, has added notes to bring some points from it up-to-date. It's 13 pages with illustrations to aid the points discussed.
***"Stan Sakai shows you 'How I draw Usagi Yojimbo!'"***
This has to be the most-often reprinted Usagi extra, or close to it. A cute 12 page comic in which Stan guides you through his process of inspiration, creation and publication in writing Usagi. I already have it 2 or 3 times over and if you've got "The Art of Usagi Yojimbo" you've got it to. By no means a bad little extra, but not really exclusive or rare enough to warrant so much attention.
***"Introductions by Stan Lee and Stan Sakai!"***
These are the only introductions you will find in this set. The thoughtful introductions by various artists found in the regular edition volumes are entirely absent. Perhaps one of the few advantages the regular edition carries over this slipcase. Both of the introductions which are provided here are very nice though.
This is an excellent set for the money you pay on amazon at the time of this writing, less than buying the regular editions separately! (EDIT: Since the time I wrote this review the book has gone out of print and rocketed in value, so it is no longer the case that this set is cheaper than the regular edition volumes separately.)
And definitely the version to get for someone just discovering the series.
But if you already have the volumes and aren't sure whether it would be worth it to "upgrade" to this set I will say in my opinion this upgrade shouldn't be considered "essential". The set is beautiful, the extras are nice and it seems built to weather decades. But unless the smaller format of the regular reprints really bugs you you won't be missing too terribly much by sticking with your older set.
*Actually the book lists the interview as having taken place in 1996, the slipcase is in the wrong here. Not a big deal though.
Hardcore Usagi fans will have read these stories over and over. I welcomed the chance to relive them in this format, instead of pulling out my singles or TPBs. The art is as fresh as ever, printed perfectly on glossy paper and clear as can be. I will not spend time reviewing the story content, as this is a set designed specifically for fans and collectors, of which there are many.
I have read that Fantagraphics only plans on this first print run. If that is the case, and given the ferocity with which some Usagi fans collect the hardcover collections, I would expect this set to become scarce in the future. Get it while you can! If you had any worries about its quality, rest assured, it is worth every penny and manufactured to the highest standards.
Many years later I recalled that rabbit after spotting him on a cover of an issue at a local comic shop, and decided to read from the beginning.
My first review noted my letdown, but I was prompted with follow-ups that I should continue reading. That, indeed, the beginning was very choppy; Sakai was getting his grounding, and dipping lightly into the pools of his creativity.
Many of the first stories are silly and disparate in overall plot. This box set collects all of the issues pre-Dark Horse, so everything from Mirage and Fantagraphics.
Nevertheless, it begins his more serious journeys, whereas the Dark Horse era really sets Usagi in its own level of respect.
The box set is beautiful and worth every penny. The covers show the cover for the trade paperback of The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy (I'm working off my memory here, so forgive me if I mistitle the name), as well as one of the earlier comics. You get two hardcover books in the slipcase, and each volume is numbered one and two by spheres.
It's slightly larger than the trade paperbacks, which is great. These scans lose no distortion.
A remarkable set and the definitive version to own and read the comics before Sakai's transition to Dark Horse Comics.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This collection is thick, heavy, and gorgeous.Read more