‘Usagi Yojimbo’ moves to IDW

Stan Sakai’s most famous creation leaves Dark Horse Comics for a full-color series that starts in June.

After more than 20 years at Dark Horse Comics, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo will migrate to a new publisher in June. The New York Times revealed today that everyone’s favorite samurai rabbit is making the jump to IDW Publishing.

And while Usagi has been published in black and white for most of its life, the IDW series will be in full color. Sakai will work with colorist and frequent collaborator Tom Luth on the new series. In addition, IDW will release color editions of previous Usagi volumes.

There’s nothing in the article that indicates why Sakai decided to move to IDW, but it’s notable that this isn’t the first time Usagi has switched publishers. The comic started out at Fantagraphics back in the 1980s, and moved to Mirage before landing at Dark Horse in 1995. The character has also appeared in several crossovers with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both in comics and even on TV, so the choice of IDW isn’t too surprising.

Update: IDW has sent out a press release, with some additional quotes from Sakai about the move and first storyline, which features Japanese puppetry:

“I’m delighted to work with IDW Publishing on the new Usagi Yojimbo color series. IDW is a creative company that brings a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement to the table. The IDW family includes many beloved characters, including (of course) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so it is a natural fit,” Sakai said. “Fans, please look forward to this coming June as we’ll be releasing IDW Usagi Yojimbo #1, action-packed and now fully colored.”

Sakai adds, “Bunraku (Japanese puppetry) captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: an adventure filled with Japanese culture, folklore, and history. It also features the return of a long-awaited fan favorite character and Yokai (Japanese supernatural creatures). I’d like to thank the readers for their continued support of Usagi, and if you haven’t read Usagi before, this is a great place to start.”

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