This comic contains the following stories:
Also contains "Usagi's Ark" by Ken Mitchroney and Stan
Send to: 7563 Lake City Way, Seattle, WA 98115
[We're getting a lot of questions about Usagi's appearance on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show (and, gratifyingly, a lot of new readers seem to be picking up the book - even though the sales figures, mysteriously, remain horizontal). So for those who came in late: no, the Turtles guys didn't steal Usagi or anything: they just thought it would be neat to integrate him into the Turtles universe on a one-shot basis and they arranged with Stan to do so. Yes, Stan got some money for it. No, it's not going to be an ongoing thing. (I haven't even seen the blamed thing myself.)
[On to the letters...
Dear ED & Stan,
Just wanted to send you guys a letter of compliment. I mean, it's really a joy every other month to pick up Usagi Yojimbo! It's the only book I buy that I end up re-reading at least three times or so to savor.
Just as a general comment, it seems that Fantagraphics does more funny-animal comics than any other comics company other than Gladstone.
Also, it was a nice touch putting Japanese characters of Atsuko and Nagao's names on the grave stones at the end of the story in Usagi #19.
The Nilson Groundthumper back-up was great! Too bad we don't have two Stans so we could have a Nilson comic too. Where Usagi is like watching a samurai movie Nilson & Hermy is like watching a Laurel & Hardy show.
By the way, where did Sharon Sakai (Stan's wife, right?) take those pictures of you and Sergio at?
[Those photos of Sergio and Stan signing were taken at Jelly's Records and Books, in your own home state. - ED.]
Greetings and hello Stan and Kim (a kind word to the both of you).
Being a newcomer, I was compelled to write to you and let you in on some of my thoughts, so here we go.
I found it very interesting to find that Usagi Yojimbo is not a violent comic-book, but relies instead on good, strong stories (revealing "human" morals from the characters), instead of the old "cut and slash" routine so many readers expect and desire from an oriental-themed product. I think such stories make Usagi Yojimbo special..."A Kite Story" is an excellent example of this. Heh! I'm pleased to see that you guys got such a response, albeit negative, from the readers who mourned the passing of "Spot"....It all goes to show their involvement in your comic and what happens therein. Yeah, I'm going to miss the poor little guy, too, but why add more fuel to the fire?
Paying homage to the "Miyamoto Usagi," I have drawn Usagi Yojimbo in the stance taken from the series of prints entitled "Fidelity in Revenge." Recognize it?
Thank you for delivering such an accomplished comic as Usagi Yojimbo to us the readers and, as usual, keep up the good (great) work! About Sharon's cake: What? No candles?
[I have no intention of letting on just how old I really am. By the way, we're not just being coy about "Riley's" whereabouts: he didn't include his address (or even his real name) on his letter, and of course the envelope didn't survive the initial triage. Please, guys, put your address on the letter itself! Great drawing of Usagi, though, I've gotta admit. - ED.]
Fanart by Mark "Riley" Swindel
The Usagi Yojimbo Color Special was magnificent, to say the least. The lead feature, "Tomoe's Story," was great. I'm glad you are finally exploring her past. Though she is one of the most popular supporting characters in the book, we knew little about her, up to this point. Tom Luth's coloring in this story was probably the best job I have seen in a long time.
The Nilson Groundthumper story was also a treat. Hermy's naiveness and innocence made for one of the funniest stories yet. And in only five pages, no less! How does Stan do that?
Next in line was the Gnuff story. I really enjoy Gnuff, but the story's presence just seemed out of place, surrounded by three Sakai stories. The story was great, though, and Mike Kazaleh's coloring really complemented the story. Though I agree with your statement in your editorial about the way black-and-white printing gives more clarity and enhances the mood of many stories (especially Usagi), I must say that, in my opinion, "Gnuff" is a series that is made for color, and I was happy to finally see Freddy Milton's artwork done justice.
And finally we see "Village of Fear" once again, but this time the color separators did an excellent job. I quickly pulled out my copy of Doomsday Squad #3 and compared the two, and was devastated by the difference in coloring. Thanks for doing it again; some people may be irritated that you ran a reprint, but I was thrilled.
I hope you will publish another color special in the future, but in the meantime, just keep up the great work on the regular book.
Thanks for listening.
[Response to the color special was good enough to more or less guarantee another one sometime down the road (although maybe not this year). Stan's casting around for ideas for stories that would look especially good in color. (We don't want it to end up being the one that takes place at night in a coal mine, with selected flashbacks to a fight on a snowy plain.) - ED.]
Stan and Kim Good work.
Why can't all comic book stories be as good as "The Kite Story" in Usagi Yojimbo #20? Next to Usagi #4 and 15, #20 has to be my favorite issue. The multiple "tales" told by each character, the way two different stories intervened...these details are what made this issue a real charmer (not to mention the totally aggro back-up by Jim Lawson). Very innovative material. Let's just hope that you guys push for more stories of this caliber in future issues.
Well, it's suggestion time again! Consider these tips: (1) More greedy assassin swine for Usagi to fight violently with. I'm sure he's been eager for a good duel lately. (2) Let's get Usagi and Tomoe hitched! Either that or have them become novias of some sort...c'mon, it's been 20 issues already! It's time for a little metamorphosis of plotlines, so to speak. (3) Let's get that Usagi-Nilson team-up drawn, already. And please try to clear up the continuity between them before you try anything like that, O.K.?
Your most letter-happy fan,
[What if we just say it's an imaginary story? No, huh?
[On another subject, "totally aggro"? I am getting old...
Dear Stan Sakai,
I really think your comic, Usagi Yojimbo, is the absolute best comic I've ever read. It has intriguing stories, and fantastic artwork that is simple and fluid. The characters in Usagi Yojimbo are people you can really believe in and sympathize with. Your comic is so wonderful in every way that I can hardly believe it. You are like the Akira Kurosawa of comics. Like his movies, your comics have a touch of humanity in them and a message.
I have only one complaint about your last few comics. That is that the action in your comics has not been very good. These days, all Usagi has to do is make a fist or draw his sword and ten of his enemies fall back. I would like it if the action was more like it was in the early issues of Usagi or in the old Critters stories. I wish that you would at least show each individual move Usagi makes to finish off each opponent, or show the path of his sword as he cuts through his enemies. Could you please do this? It would bring more life into each issue of Usagi and would make it more interesting. I'm not saying that the comic has to be bloody and gory like in Lone Wolf and Cub, I'm just saying that the action should be a little more realistic. I'm not trying to insult your work or anything, it's just a suggestion I would like you to use. I still think Usagi is the greatest comic. I also have a few other things to say.
(1) Could you please not have Usagi fall in love with or marry Tomoe? Have Gen fall in love with Tomoe.
(2) Could you make more Usagi T-shirts, except with the adult Usagi on them?
(3) Do the Neko Ninja wear their chain mail under their shirts?
(4) Could you please print the picture that I drew?
[Zach sent along a splendid drawing of Usagi engaging in some serious action; unfortunately, he colored it, and we discovered we couldn't print it without its muddying up. Stan and I really enjoyed it, at any rate. As for the Tomoe question, you might want to discuss this further with our good friend Todd Shogun. The Neko Ninja put their mail in mailboxes like everyone else, even chain letters - oh, chain mail! Sorry... - ED.]
Dear Kim Thompson and Mr. Sakai,
I guess I should really write this letter after reading the issue, but #20 was great! I say this because it always is, and because my letter was printed.
Now I noticed by the response that my letter received you were a little bit confused. So, let me put it straight...BRING BACK SPOT, DAMMIT (Jim). Of course you did sort of make up for it by printing Jim Lawson's story, but it DON'T QUITE CUT IT!
Now about the rest of my letter (great cake, Sharon!). I just thought I should say two things. One, either you or someone else spelled Doug Gray's name wrong. It is spelled with an "a" not an "e." Doug is a great man who has a great comic. It is published by the one and only Fantagraphics and is called The Eye of Mongombo; issue #3 had a really great cover. Doug also did a short for Critters #50 (just a bit after his ad for The Eye of Mongombo). Also for people who like to be informed, the "Alex" I mentioned in my letter is an upstart artist who may be doing Tommy and the Monsters or a limited series of children's books (none of these are certain). So look for Alexander David Johnson. And as a final plug, I'd like to tell everyone who lives in the Fremont-Newark (even San Jose) area about Bobby the K's World Famous Comic Depot, for which Doug Gray made the flyers.
Thank you, Ah'm outta here,
Fanart by Doug Gray
[Here I always thought Newark was in New Jersey and Fremont in Seattle. That Doug Gray flyer is a hoot - how much will you pay me not to print it, Doug? (Let's just say that ol' Doug apparently got a lot better in the intervening four years.) There's a good chance Doug will be doing a back-up for Usagi one of these days - and we misspelled his name just to keep him humble. - ED.]