Seems that I’ve been on a Stan Sakai kick of late. (Actually, I have several reviews, not to mention a couple of interviews, that probably should have come before my second Sakai post in as many months, but I am too lazy. Such a bad blogger).
Today, I’ve got an interview with Sakai that I conducted for darkhorse.com in May, but which went live today to publicize the recent release of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo twenty-fifth anniversary graphic novel, Yokai. It’s somewhat shorter than my usual interviews, a little more rigorously edited, and, for obvious reasons, a bit more promotionally minded, but there are still lots of interesting details about Sakai’s artistic process, his influences, and the evolution of the Usagi series.
Plus, in keeping with my last post, another exclusive back-of-the-art doodle!
Usagi Yojimbo’s twenty-fifth anniversary demanded something truly special, and what could mark the occasion better than taking the opportunity to break new ground? Stan Sakai’s covers for the Usagi book collections have showcased his incredible talent with watercolors, but Stan rarely has the chance to paint entire stories. Recently, Stan talked to me about the inspiration for Yokai’s story and the process of taking Miyamoto Usagi’s world from black-and-white to fully painted color. A shorter version of this interview ran in the Yokai graphic novel, but this is the whole deal.
Was Yokai a story you’d been planning for the regular Usagi series, or did you come up with it once you knew you’d be creating this color graphic novel?
I wrote it for the color graphic novel. I wanted the story to be special, because I had never done a painted story on this scale before. Two stories came to mind. One was the return of Jei, one of my more popular characters, and this story about the yokai, the ghosts, goblins, and haunts of Japanese mythology. I needed a standalone story that those unfamiliar with Usagi could enjoy, but that would satisfy the longtime readers as well.
PS: I promise not to use The Wright Opinion to shill for Dark Horse, but will continue to draw attention to interviews I myself conduct if they’re interesting on the merits, should I do any more.