2009 marked the 25th anniversary of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo comic book series.
I’ve been exhibiting at Comic-Con International for 5 years and counting now, and have been waiting for Usagi to have some kind of celebration before finally submitting an illustration to their program guide. This happened to also be the first year that they printed the program guide in full-color. I had a lot of fun creating this piece, which is of Usagi Yojimbo (left) and his son, Jotaro (right).
Stan has been a profound influence on my art career. As a child, I studied his works and learned a great deal about storytelling through his example. The day I finally met him in person (at a very small comic convention) was indeed a momentous occassion.
When I started to draw my own comic works, Stan surprised me by writing a personal critique. I mean, here I was, just a fledgeling artist, and this prominent established comics creator was giving me props, as well as pointing out thing I could be improving on. Overall his review of my first work (it was “Babysitter,” a story published in Antarctic Press’ Ninja High School Yearbook anthology) was generally positive. Definitely blew my mind that he took the time to handwrite a personal critique!!! (I must have that letter somewhere…I hope my mom didn’t throw it out…)
At any rate, it is my pleasure to finally be able to draw a tribute to Stan Sakai. Thanks Stan, it’s an honor to be your friend and colleague