[Editorial comments in boldface text.]
Who are Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy?
(WWW Board, November 2000) Nilson and Hermy appeared in various anthologies such as Critters, Albedo and even three of the four UY Color Specials.
There was a one issue special devoted to them from Fantagraphics.
(Comic Culture Vol 2 #2, Dec 1994 FIXME Broken link) Nilson Groundthumper, he's appeared in just a handful of stories. Whereas Usagi takes place in Japan, Nilson takes place in Europe, during that same time period. Kind of a medieval setting, I haven't specifically pinpointed a country or anything. He's basically a wanderer like Usagi, but Nilson tends to be more humorous, as far as the story goes. Whereas Usagi tends to be more factual and also a bit more dramatic. Nilson wanders around with his companion Hermy, and again there's always those little lizard things running around.
Actually Nilson predates Usagi by about a year or so. Nilson first appeared in a comic book called Albedo number one, this was in 1983, I think, or 1984. Usagi appeared in Albedo number two, it's hard to find. This was right before the black and white boom started.
Have you got any other characters in the works besides Nilson Groundthumper?
(UY Vol 1, #7) I do have some other characters I would like to work on but I just don't have the time to fully develop them right now.
How are the books Usagi Yojimbo and Nilson Groundthumper related? Were you planning to have them meet one another?
(WWW Board November 2000) That storyline has long been abandoned though the possibility of it resurfacing is always there.
The Nilson saga was originally thought of as a 1000 (or so) page epic chronicling his entire life. Usagi was to have been a secondary character in that story. Yes, they were both to have died. Hermy survives, though.
(WWW Board May 2000) Usagi was originally written as part of the Nilson storyline and yes, he was to have died at the end as was Nilson himself. However, I abandoned that storyline long ago and Nilson has taken a much less prominent role in my life -- though I do hope to bring him back someday.
The original story was a huge Tolkienesque fantasy written around Nilson and his development as a master swordsman, and eventually a king. Usagi was to be one of his later companions along with Hermy and a big guy named either Bhoar or Bhear.
Tomoe, Hikiji, the Neko Ninja clan, etc. were not even part of the storyline -- they were all created after the focus shifted to Usagi.
But Usagi does die in the finale. He first loses an eye to an arrow and uses a tsuba <hand-guard on a sword> for a patch à la Katsuichi-sensei.
(The Comics Journal #192 Interview, December 1996 FIXME Broken link) As you know, Usagi was based upon Miyamoto Musashi, a samurai during the turn of the 17th century Japan. But when I first created Usagi he was a secondary character in the Nilson Groundthumper epic. Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy are characters I created before Usagi. I had a definite storyline for them that would take about 1,000 pages; it was a Tolkienesque story where they'd be on a quest and basically the entire story would deal with Nilson's life: First he'd meet Hermy and then they'd go on to meet Usagi and have adventures. Then it would lead to the death of Nilson and Usagi, until finally it would end with the death of Hermy. Basically, the entire story was about funny animals who were devolving into animals, and a race of goblins who were evolving into humans, and they were out to find out why. So the very first Nilson story, which appeared in Albedo #1, was the first story in the Nilson Groundthumper storyline; it was eight pages, and there was supposed to be 992 pages after that. But I did one Usagi story (in Albedo #2) and I preferred working with Usagi to the others so...what can I say? There are about 2,000 pages of Usagi now.
(Comic Culture Vol 2 #2, Dec 1994 FIXME Broken link) There's always a bunch of Nilson stories it's just finding time to do them. For Usagi and almost any other story that I do I'm not only the artist but I'm also the writer, the letterer, and I do just about everything except for the coloring. It takes a while, the research on the story takes a long time. If it weren't for the research I don't think Usagi would be around anymore.
(Comics Interview #44 Interview, August 1987 FIXME Broken link) Well, Nilson Groundthumper and Usagi both started out as human characters. In fact, I have an eight-page Nilson Groundthumper story with him as a human and Hermy as a little troll. Usagi was a secondary character in the Nilson Groundthumper storyline. Nilson Groundthumper was originally intended to be a full-length comic-book novel, and in it Usagi dies.
But anyway, I was just fooling around and changed them into animals and it took on a whole new personality. I really like them. Nilson kind of started off like...do you know the Taran the Wanderer series? It was kinda along that vein, but when I turned him into a rabbit he seemed to have a lot more character and he looked good, and Hermy instead of being a troll became this little...I haven't really quite figured out what Hermy is. He's kind of like a little potato with...something. I've called him a hedgehog, I've called him a mole, I've called him a groundhog. It never really bothered me.
But anyway, going on to Usagi, when I tied up his ears I loved it. Design-wise I was really pleased. It just felt right.
Have you done any of the remaining 992 pages of Nilson Groundthumper?
(The Comics Journal #192 Interview, December 1996 FIXME Broken link) Yeah, about a hundred. I had this grand epic all planned out: there'd be the final stand against the goblins at the castle, but they'd be overrun...very Tolkienesque and very grand scale...Hermy's the last one to die, he runs away with Nilson's son and...well, I had it all planned out.
Would you ever get rid of Hermy in the Nilson Groundthumper stories?
(UY Vol 1, #21) Never. Hermy is the character who most readers of Usagi identify with most.
Will there be a Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy trade paperback?
(WWW Board Aug 2000) There are not yet enough Nilson stories to fill a trade paperback collection.
How do you feel about Nilson and Hermy?
(Amazing Heroes #187 Interview, January 1991 FIXME Broken link) Yeah, I love Nilson. I love Hermy, actually. He's probably my favorite character.
After their appearance as a back-up of the Color Special, will we be seeing Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy stories soon?
(Amazing Heroes #187 Interview, January 1991 FIXME Broken link) Not for a while. I have a whole bunch of Nilson & Hermy stories that I would love to do, but I just do not have the time right now. Also, there's really no place for them to be published in the near future. Interestingly enough, the Usagi Color Specials have their own storyline and their own sense of continuity different from the black and white stories.