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Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition (Usagi Yojimbo) Paperback – Special Edition, June 5, 2018
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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.
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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.
The paperback edition is similar to many of the omnibus editions being put out by publishers these days, with an increase in the overall quality. Where as my Walking Dead omnibus editions seem to be printed on something akin to laser printer paper, these Usagi books use slightly heavier stock. The pages are glued and the spines slightly on the thin side, so I'm not sure how durable these will be in the long run for people buying these for reading rather than for bookshelf decoration. The glue does seem pretty thick, but the spine already has some creases from just the first few reads (and the kid I got this for is pretty delicate with his books, we're not folding these in half like a phone book). So far no issues and only time will tell with durability though.
Inside, the pages and lines are crisp - the paper bright white and flawless. Even better quality than what the original comics were printed on. Sakai-san's art looks flawlessly reproduced in these volumes.
This Fantagraphics set is a great set to pick up for introducing new readers to Usagi's world, since it includes the "Samurai" storyline, which is basically the origin story, explaining how Usagi went from a samurai in service to a powerful lord, to the wandering ronin that he is now.
All-in-all, a great set of books to pick up for both the longtime Usagi fan, or for those new readers who want to find out why Stan Sakai's work is so revered in the comic world.