Usagi Yojimbo Issue #100

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Usagi Yojimbo Issue #100
By Stan Sakai

Stan Sakai‘Usagi means rabbit or hare in Japanese,’ explains author Stan Sakai, on the inside cover of the 100th Darkhorse issue of Usagi Yojimbo (the key word being ‘Darkhorse,’ as the comic is quick to point out multiple times for comedic effect; including Sakai’s Fantagraphics and Mirage issues, the number is somewhere closer to 160). Let us preface this preface by saying that, despite Sakai’s crash course letter, issue 100 is quite possibly the worse place to leap into the adventures of the samurai rabbit. This is one strictly for the fans, Usagi only occasionally popping his ears in for an appearance in the book.

Issue 100 is a high-profile, slightly inside-joke tribute to the rabbit, featuring a number of high profile guest artists—including Frank Miller, Sergio Argones, and Bone’s Jeff Smith—formatted as an industry roast to Sakai, the book’s infamously hardworking creator. The bulk of the works maintains this fairly loose roast structure. Miller’s two-panel single page manages to deviate entirely, devoting itself to a bad pun, involving Sin City’s Marv crashing in through a skylight, booting the rabbit off of a grill (get it?). Sandman Mystery Theater’s Guy Davis utilizes half of a panel in which a sleeping Sakai dreams of Usagi, in order to justify the inclusion of a goofy little Usagi adventure strip.

The remainder of the book involves Sakai doing a one to two page introduction of the next artist, who then uses the space to, for the most part, recount funny Sakai stores. Argones tells of traveling the world eating—and sometimes not eating—various, occassionally off-putting local delicacies, such as ungarnished sheep’s heads in Bergen, Norway. Smith’s single-page is a similarly amusing tale of sitting on a panel with Sakai.

Sakai ends the book on his own terms, unleashing his army of characters on his roasters, a loving roast of his fellow creators, one of the few points in which Usagi gets some good face time in. Issue 100 is less of a tribute to the rabbit that his creator, but hell, after 100 issues spent writing, drawing, and lettering the anthropomorphic samurai’s every move, Sakai deserves a little panel-time himself.

–Brian Heater