[PR] Celebrate 25 Years of Usagi Yojimbo in First-Ever Full-Color Graphic Novel



JUNE 1, NEW YORK, NYHailed across the world for his unparalleled storytelling, comics auteur Stan Sakai sets the bar even higher with Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai—writing, hand-painting, and lettering a thrilling original story.

Yokai are the monsters, demons, and spirits of Japanese folklore, such as the shape-changing kitsune, the obakeneko demon cats, and the evil oni ogres. Usagi faces all these and more when a desperate woman begs for his help in finding her kidnapped daughter. In his quest to find the girl, he encounters these creatures of Japanese legend, who need a living soul as the captor for their army to enter the world of the living. Fortunately, Usagi is joined by Sasuke the Demon Queller, who fights for the same cause. However, things aren’t always as they seem, especially when dealing with the supernatural!

Yokai is my most ambitious project to date–writing, drawing, and painting a standalone story that is a good introduction for new readers and expands on the Usagi storyline to appeal to longtime fans. I also had a great time researching the folklore and legends of Japan from its malevolent spirits to its goofier creatures,” says creator Stan Sakai.

“Longtime Usagi Yojimbo designer Cary Grazzini and I were tossing around ideas for Usagi’s 25th anniversary,” says editor Diana Schutz, “and Cary commented that he would love to see Stan hand-paint an original story. Fans don’t often get to see Usagi in color, much less painted by Stan himself, so the standalone graphic novel seemed a perfect way to celebrate this special anniversary. And painted color will bring the fantastical creatures of Yokai to outstanding life!”

With beautiful watercolor art and story by the masterful Stan Sakai, this new mass-market hardcover graphic novel is a perfect introduction to the beloved samurai rabbit for first time readera and a must-own for any Usagi fan!

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai arrives on shelves this November!



JUNE 1, NEW YORK, NY–Jane Yolen, the best-selling author Newsweek called “The Hans Christian Andersen of America,” comes to Dark Horse with her upcoming graphic novel, The Last Dragon. Painted by legendary fantasy artist Rebecca Guay, The Last Dragon is a textured and lyrical story of adventure, homelands, and heroism the hard way.

Two hundred years ago, humans drove the last of the dragons from the islands of May. For two hundred years, they have gone about their lives, fishing and farming, never expecting the great wyrms to return. But now, the last of the dragons has risen, and the islanders must once again band together in the face of a threat greater than any their peaceful lives have prepared them to battle.

“I have written a lot of girl power novels, stories, and picture books over the last forty years,” says writer Jane Yolen. “They have won awards like the Nebula (for the novella ‘Lost Girls’) and ALA Notable Award (for the folk tale collection Not One Damsel in Distress), the Golden Kite (for the collection of original fairy tales The Girl Who Cried Flowers), the Jewish Book Award (for the Holocaust novel The Devil’s Arithmetic), and others.” Yolen continues, “But nothing has been more fun than working on The Last Dragon, about the daughter of a healer who shows a reluctant hero how to fight the dragon that has killed her father and terrorized her village."

Artist Rebecca Guay adds, “The Last Dragon, and the vision that Jane and I have for the book, will have all of the fiercely imaginative elements that drew me to comics in my teen years (and kept me reading them as an adult). We are given a hero on a mission of self-discovery and a heroine who leads him to his true path; love and falling in love; mystery, history, glittering and fantastic; and, at the fiery heart of it all, the gorgeous, dangerous, and inevitable Last Dragon. ”

The Last Dragon features story by Jane Yolen, with art by Rebecca Guay, and joins the ever-growing line of Dark Horse books for young adults in 2010.

Higurashi When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc Vol 2 by Ryukishi07 & Suzuragi Manga Review

Title: Higurashi When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc Vol 2

Story:  Ryukishi07

Art: Karin Suzuragi

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 9780759529847

May Contain Spoilers

Wowsers.  This was a deliciously creepy read.  I am not normally a fan of psychological suspense, but something about this title didn’t let me put it down.  Keiichi’s idyllic life is about to take a drastic u-turn, plunging him into mystery and terror.  After learning of the suspicious deaths that take place during the Cotton Festival in the small town of Hinamizawa, he suddenly can’t trust anyone.  When it appears that his best friends, Rena and Mion, have something to do with the deaths, he is trapped in a nightmare.  Has Keiichi really been marked as the next victim of Oyashiro-sama’s Curse?

My complaints about the first volume and it’s humdrum events vanish with this dramatic conclusion to the Abducted by Demons story-arc.  Keiichi gets run through the wringer, and it’s no wonder he gets a little unhinged.  Rena, the sweet, charming friend he thought he knew so well, has been transformed into a frightening, menacing presence that he just can’t escape from.  Fearing for his life, he starts to avoid his classmates, and that only makes matters worse.  Rena is everywhere, creepy, different, and oh, so scary.  As events begin to chase Keiichi down the road to danger, his terror of Rena grows and grows.  Is she really behind the other deaths that have occurred in the village?

The narrative was tense and gripping, as Keiichi uncovers one mystery after another.  His life is in danger, and he has nowhere to turn.  The entire village has to be in on the gruesome murders, and the rumors of Oyashiro-sama’s Curse keeps him awake at night.  Learning that the village was once possessed by murderous demons doesn’t make his mind rest any easier.  As he untangles one creepy circumstance after another, the dark and menacing atmosphere ratchets up another notch.  Through expressive art, terse dialog, and the creative use of fonts and word balloons, Keiichi’s horror and the very intense fear for his life is convincingly relayed to the reader.  I could not put this one down.   At two volumes, this is worth a try if you enjoy suspenseful thrillers.  

Grade:  A-