One Mad Dog

[Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition] – (Stan Sakai)
September 27, 2011, 5:04 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Stan Sakai

Fantagraphics released this deluxe slipcase set collecting the seven first Usagi books In honor of Usagi Yojimbo’s 20th anniversary.  It also has a boatload of extra material including more than 50 Usagi covers in full color. There are two monster hard covers contained within the slipcase and they are pretty heavy to hold in your hand whilst reading. The paper quality and presentation is excellent.

Miyamoto Usagi is an ex samurai, now Ronin, anthropomorphic rabbit bodyguard. He wanders around 17th-century Japan righting wrongs inflicted upon the other anthropomorphic animals (e.g. cats, snakes, rhinos, moles).

The black and white  artwork in Usagi Yojimbo could be described as simplistic and  it has a children’s cartoon comic book look to it. It’s pretty hard not to portray anamorphic characters such as rabbits without giving them a cute look.  The more you read Usagi the more the artwork begins to shine and the more the little details and backdrops please the eye.  Particular note must go to the strange lizards that appear all over the place for background amusement.   The artwork style really won me over.

This fantastic collection of seven books is absolutely first rate. The stories are engaging and addictive and the sense of location is particularly well done.  It is a light read and a great way to cleanse the reading palette between more serious graphic novels. The extras are also very impressive including lengthy interviews, artwork and plot discussions. The extras could easily be a standalone trade paperback in themselves.

This deluxe edition is highly recommended to graphic novel fans everywhere. If you buy this edition you’ll want the rest.  9/10. ISBN-13: 978-1606991541