USAGI YOJIMBO Color Special #1
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USAGI YOJIMBO Color Special #1

USAGI YOJIMBO Summer Special #1 <-- --> USAGI YOJIMBO Color Special #2

  Synopsis for Tomoe's Story
Synopsis for Village of Fear
  by Kim Thompson, ED.


Kim Thompson was the editor (- ED.) during the time Fantagraphics Books produced the comic Usagi Yojimbo.

It's hard to believe, but it's just four years ago that Stan Sakai's warrior bunny made his debut in Steven A. Gallacci's Albedo comic.

In the intervening 50 months, his fame and fortune have advanced by, if you'll pardon the expression, leaps and bounds. As I type this, Usagi has appeared in 18 issues of his own title; a couple dozen other comics including Critters and Turtle Soup; and two handsome paperback collections. He's even got his own action toy and computer game, and rumor has it that he'll be guest starring in a few episodes of an enormously-successful animated TV series starring a quartet of rambunctious reptiles.

We've published well over 500 pages of Usagi's adventures so far, and all but a paltry eight have been in black-and-white. Some people think it's just because we're too cheap to pay for color. Okay, so there's a grain of truth in that - we are cheap - but the main reason Usagi appears in black-and-white is that we like it that way. Black-and-white has gotten a bit of a bum's rush of late, both in comic books and the wider world of movies and such; but there's something about the clarity and directness of a black line on a white background that is very basic and very appealing. Magical, even.

But color has its charm, too, especially when you have someone as talented as Tom Luth as part of your creative constellation. Tom, who is best known for coloring Groo the Wanderer (which Stan letters), has been Usagi's colorist of choice virtually from the start, lending his hues to several dozen Usagi covers to date.

You know, no member of a comic's creative team is more vulnerable to technical difficulties than the colorist. Already forced to work with a comparatively limited palette of colors due to comics' technical idiosyncrasies, they fall victim to lousy separations, off-register printing, gross shifts in color, and other art director's nightmares with painful regularity. (Ask Tom about the Groo graphic novel someday.)

In fact, this is exactly what happened to Tom when Usagi took a tentative stab at color in an issue of Doomsday Squad. Tom turned in a lovely, subtle coloring job that, when it finally found its way to the printed page, was so out-of-register that it looked like 3-D and so muddy all the whites had turned purple! Can you blame us for not risking color for another three years after that?

So, in a sense, this one-shot is almost an apology to Tom. (God, I hope this book prints up decently. If it looks like hell, this introduction is going to look so stupid!) But it also gives Stan and Tom a chance to play around with color a bit, and for Stan to tell an out-of-continuity story starring our favorite supporting character, Tomoe Ame; allows us another forum for Stan's hilarious Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy series; and, last but not least, gives us the opportunity finally to hustle into print Freddy Milton's "Gnuff" story "A Star Is Born," which was (beautifully) colored by Mighty Mike (Captain Jack) Kazaleh years ago and has sat on the shelf ever since.

So, for this issue at least, Usagi's world goes Technicolor. We hope you enjoy it, and - who knows? - maybe we'll do it again someday.

Drop us a line to tell us if you enjoyed it!

- Kim Thompson

  This comic also contains Nilson and Hermy, "Lost in a Lost City", Familien Gnuff, "Double Star", and Village of Fear.
USAGI YOJIMBO Summer Special #1 <-- --> USAGI YOJIMBO Color Special #2

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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.