Usagi Yojimbo Tribute Illustration

Yeah, yeah, I know. You are probably thinking “Easter was last weekend. Why did he save the bunny for this weekend?” Well, I’ll tell you…


Usagi Yojimbo tribute
This is my Usagi Yojimbo illustration that will appear in Dark Horse Comics’ “The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo” being released in July, 2014.


My good friends Stan & Sharon Sakai have been going through a tough time over the past couple of years. Sharon has had an inoperable brain tumor for many years that slowly started altering her quality of life. While she was able to function normally for several years, in the past two years it really took hold and has made it so that she is completely dependent on 24/7 medical care with random emergency visits to the hospital (where she happened to go once again this week with pneumonia).


Taken in 2004 during healthier days, Stan & Sharon Sakai visiting the ancient aqueducts of Segovia, Spain.


Stan happens to be a fellow cartoonist having created the comic book Usagi Yojimbo (published by Dark Horse Comics) that is celebrating it’s 30th birthday this year. As a freelance artist, Stan has indeed had medical coverage for his family, but Sharon’s around-the-clock care has required more than what his insurance will cover.

The members of CAPS (the Comic Art Professional Society based in Burbank, CA), of which I am a member and a former president, got together and decided to put together a fundraiser for Stan & Sharon. Many fans and colleagues started sending in thousands of dollars for this dear couple, and original art also began pouring in.

Many artists were sending in original creations of Stan’s ronin rabbit, Usagi Yojimbo. It became evident that there was more that could be done than just sell the art. Why not a book? Dark Horse quickly gravitated to the idea and offered to pay for the publication and promotion of a book with all the proceeds from the sales going to the Sakais. The book was put together as CAPS’ first major publication under the guidance of CAPS member and professional editor Bill Morrison.

So, the bunny above is my contribution to the book The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo. Created with watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils, it is a large illustration (15.5 x 20.5″) of Stan’s character in a forest of bamboo lethally dealing with mysterious attackers.

The book will be released in July just in time for the San Diego Comic Con, and can be pre-ordered from your local comic book shop right now! It will include art by Jack Davis, Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes, Tim Sale, Frank Cho, Bill Morrison, Sergio Aragonès, Stephen Silver, Dean Yeagle, Kazu Kibuishi, Oscar Martin, Dan Brereton, Art Adams, Joyce Chin, Jeff Smith, Tom Richmond, Al Jaffee, Tom Richmond, Craig Thompson, Eric Powell, and hundreds more. Stan himself did the cover art which CAPS will be selling on eBay in the coming weeks.


Sakai Project book CAPS
Stan Sakai himself created the cover illustration of the forthcoming “The Sakai Project” book from CAPS and Dark Horse. Stan’s piece will be sold on eBay in the coming weeks.


In fact, all the original art that was donated by the artists is being sold by CAPS on eBay right now! Since March 6, CAPS has been listing 35-40 items each Thursday evening with auctions ending ten days later on Sunday evening. While it would be swell of you to be bidding on lots of great items as I have been, it would be even sweller if you bid on MY piece. It just went live on eBay last night!


Usagi Yojimbo up close
Sure, bunnies can be cute, but you would be ill advised to taunt one that is holding a sword.


I very rarely part with my original art, especially fully painted illustrations like this one. If I did, I would be asking $1,500.00 for this one. CAPS started this piece at $9.99 and there is NO minimum. This is a chance to acquire one of my published pieces for a potentially VERY good deal. More than that, you would be helping a very sweet couple in need.

So, for the next 9 days, go nuts! (Click on this or any of the images above to go to the auctions!) Thanks in advance for your support!