USAGI YOJIMBO Book 13: Grey Shadows






 
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USAGI YOJIMBO Book 13

Grey Shadows

USAGI YOJIMBO Book Twelve: Grasscutter <-- --> USAGI YOJIMBO Book 14: Demon Mask

Contents
  Synopsis for My Father's Swords
Synopsis for Taméshigiri: An Inspector Ishida Mystery
Synopsis for The Demon Flute
Synopsis for Momo-Usagi-Taro
Synopsis for The Case of the Hairpin Murders Part 1: An Inspector Ishida Mystery
Synopsis for The Case of the Hairpin Murders Part 2: An Inspector Ishida Mystery
Synopsis for The Courtesan, Part 1
Synopsis for The Courtesan, Part 2
The Case of Usagi Yojimbo
The Case of Usagi Yojimbo
  by Max Allan Collins (with Nathan Collins)

Max Allan Collins is the author of the Shamus Award winning Nathan Heller novels (including Damned in Paradise, in which Chang Apana appears), and his comics scripting includes the Dick Tracy comic strip (1977-1993), Ms. Tree, Batman, Johnny Dynamite, and the acclaimed graphic novel Road To Perdition. Nathan Collins is a seventeen-year-old high school student whose interests include band, computer games, and Usagi Yojimbo. He has appeared as an actor in three independent features directed by his father.

I am grateful to Stan Sakai for a number of reasons.

First, and foremost, he has created one of the best and longest-running independent comic-book series in the history of the medium.

Second, he has been nice enough to acknowledge me, in the story notes for "The Hairpin Murders," as one of his two favorite mystery writers. (His other favorite is Ed McBain, whose 87th Precinct novels I have followed since I was about the age that my son Nathan discovered Usagi Yojimbo.)

And finally, Stan Sakai did the impossible: he (however briefly) managed to make my teenage son impressed with his old man.

Stan Sakai is Nate's favorite cartoonist, and Usagi Yojimbo is his favorite comic book. None of this is surprising, because Stan's work is about as good as current comics get, and Nate was raised on a steady diet of Lone Wolf and Cub manga, John Woo movies, and Japanese video games.

For my entire life (short as it may be), I have been a great fan of comics. Living with a writer of comics made it inevitable: I grew up on everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Calvin and Hobbes. But at the tender age of eleven, I was subjected by my father to a different type of comic book - the manga. After I had read graphic novels like Barefoot Gen and the Lone Wolf and Cub series, my father steered me to Usagi Yojimbo.

These brief moments of respect I receive from Nate - however fleeting - have occurred at comics conventions when we have approached Stan, to get copies of Nate's Usagi comics signed. And, invariably, inevitably, Stan lights up, seeing me, and informs Nate and me that he - the creator of Usagi Yojimbo! - has brought books of mine to have me sign.

This admiration of course bewilders my son, but somewhere in the confusion is a stirring notion that his father may have some value... after all, Stan Sakai approves.

Which is fine with me, because I sure approve of Stan Sakai. Having worked, off and on, in this field since the late '70s, I've become pretty jaded and little impresses me, particularly new stuff. But Stan Sakai is an exception: he stirs in me memories of the classic comic strips, where the likes of Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie and Wash Tubbs could - despite their cartoony depictions - enjoy thrilling adventures. His "funny animal" approach invokes the great Carl Barks guiding Uncle Scrooge through journeys of mystery and excitement, in exotic settings, thrilling tales that dared not to be terribly funny...just terrific. His boyish yet courageous Usagi summons the ghost of Herge's Tintin, that kid reporter whose exploits managed to have a childlike innocence while being extremely adult.

I quickly became addicted to the cute rabbit and his adventures. I was drawn in by many aspects of the comic: the beautiful artwork, so detailed and simple at the same time; the Japanese culture and mythology, with demons, ninja, and sword fights; and the rich story lines that held it all together, stories that brought alive Japanese folklore to an audience that would never have seen it otherwise...and fueled my interest in Japanese culture.

Stan Sakai has written and drawn a series that both Nate and I can read - and that Nate has been able to keep reading as he grows to adulthood.

In the stories in this book, Stan introduced one of his best characters - Inspector Ishida - who shares the same real-life role model as Charlie Chan: Honolulu detective Chang Apana. Ishida - who spouts wisdom in a vaguely Chan-like manner - is more like the hardboiled Apana than the mild-mannered Chan of Earl Derr Biggers' novels (and the many films they spawned). Ishida is an action hero, and Usagi makes a great, sword-slinging Watson for him in mystery yarns that are involving, exciting, and deftly plotted.

Besides being an expert storyteller and artist, Stan Sakai is a genuinely kind man. He has always been very nice and personable to me and the rest of his fans I have met at various conventions. Stan Sakai deserves every bit of praise and respect that he has received, and I have no doubt that after reading this collection, you would agree with me.

- Max Allan Collins (with Nathan Collins)

 
 
USAGI YOJIMBO Book Twelve: Grasscutter <-- --> USAGI YOJIMBO Book 14: Demon Mask


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Last change: 19. May 2003

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Usagi Yojimbo, including all prominent characters featured in the stories and the distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of Stan Sakai and Usagi Studios. Usagi Yojimbo is a registered trademark of Stan Sakai. Names, characters, places, and incidents featured in this publication either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events, institutions, or locales, without satiric content, is coincidental.