Stan Sakai previews new Usagi Yojimbo, TMNT crossover — exclusive

Stan Sakai
Anything else you can preview about Usagi’s future? Stan Sakai
David Petersen
This story will come in a special hardcover edition. So I’m happy, I love what I do, and each day I think I get better at doing Usagi. It’s a fold-out, and then if you want to see the whole thing in one long panel you’d probably have to get two copies. It will have thumbnails, my story outline, pretty much the creative process. What have you learned about Usagi over the time you’ve been writing and drawing him? My storytelling has improved, character designs, and overall just the way I tell stories. However, Usagi and Leo, because they both use a sword, have always had a unique relationship. It’s been 20 years since Usagi crossed over with the Turtles in the comic books. That keeps it fresh for me. I think this is a really good story with a lot of action, and I know fans will not be disappointed. In an interview with EW, Sakai discussed his plans for the story and Usagi’s bright future. Usagi’s also crossing over into their animated series, Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,   in a three-part story arc. As you said, these are ninjas, versus Usagi who is a samurai. I enjoy doing stories about Japanese culture, history, and folklore. I love the character, I love drawing him, and I look forward to it every day. So he wants the Japanese islands to be destroyed and is preventing them from completing their mission. I’ve always wanted to do a story about that, and when this opportunity with the turtles came about, I thought this would be the perfect time for it because it’s exciting and includes Japanese mythology. A rabbit samurai and turtle ninjas — they seem like they fit together, don’t they? It’s been years since Usagi Yojimbo last encountered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the pages of a comic book, but these anthropomorphic warriors of justice will finally reunite this July in a new comic written and drawn by the legendary creator of Usagi Yojimbo, Stan Sakai himself. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you preview   what the crossover   will be like? It seems like each story I do can be a springboard for another story. There’s a god, Kashima, who had trapped it, pinned it down with a huge capstone. What’s the dynamic between Usagi and the turtles? When it moves, that’s what causes earthquakes. These are new incarnations of the turtles, so they’re slightly different from what I’m used to drawing. He started about the same time as the Ninja Turtles did. They have different styles, ninja versus samurai, and I had a ball with it. He reasons if he destroys all people, he’ll be destroying evil. I even have a double double-page spread, which is four huge panels of Usagi, the turtles, Jei, and Splinter having a huge fight during an earthquake. What are you most excited for fans to see in the crossover? People have been asking a number of times, when is he going to meet the Turtles again? There’s a lot of Usagi stuff coming out. STAN SAKAI:   The story is called “Namazu.” It’s based upon the folklore of a giant catfish that lives underneath the Japanese islands. It’s just full of fun. How did you decide on using the giant catfish? There’s many theories about what causes them; some have a giant insect or a giant beetle that lives underground, but the catfish seemed the most unique and dynamic. Fans always ask me for a fight between Usagi and Leo, and there is one here. You’re so good at using Japanese myths and tying them into your stories. Oh, okay. He’s a ninja, they’re samurai; he’s unflappable, they’re all over the place. One of my characters called Jei is on a sacred quest to destroy all evil in the world. I’ve been doing Usagi for more than 30 years. Otherwise, it will literally tear the Japanese islands apart. There’s lots of action all the way. It’s fun. There are little things like that. It will also have story notes, background. So they’ve got to reestablish group dynamics, they have to reestablish relationships, and there are suspicions all the way around. Check that out below, along with an interior page from the story, a variant cover drawn by   Mouse Guard‘s David Petersen, and a special bonus drawing of Usagi reading a copy of EW. For one thing, when I turned in the rough copy, my editor said these turtles don’t have tails. My version of Splinter is in this as well. Can you talk about what goodies will be included? Show Full Article I also wanted to do a bibliography of story notes about the earthquake fish. Though Usagi is familiar with the Turtles, he’s not familiar with these   Turtles. Usagi and the Turtles come into possession of a fragment of the capstone, and they have to put the fragments back together to trap the catfish. I’m really blessed because other comic artists don’t have the type of freedom I enjoy. Personally, I like Leo; he’s my favorite. I’ve been really happy this year. The special one-shot story will be available both in standard comic book format and a special hardcover edition. Usagi has met the turtles many times before, but this incarnation of the Turtles is very different since the series has been rebooted. In my story, a piece of the capstone has crumbled off centuries ago, and that has weakened it. Because of that, the catfish has gotten stronger and is able to move a bit more. I came across the story of the catfish early on, about 15 years ago. I own the character so I can do anything I want with him — adventure stories, romance, cultural stories, ghost stories. These four panels connect, so I’ve got to make sure everything is connected to the next page. The hardcover will include the preliminary drawings and notes I had done.