Usagi Yojimbo (兎用心棒 Usagi Yōjinbō, “rabbit bodyguard”) is a comic book series created by Stan Sakai. Set primarily at the beginning of the Edo period of Japanese history, the series features anthropomorphic animals replacing humans. Miyamoto Usagi, the title character, debuted in “Albedo Anthropomorphic” #2 in November 1984 from Thoughts And Images. Fantagraphics then picked up the character, appearing in “Critters” and eventually landing his own monthly series. Usagi was also published for a time by Mirage Studios, the home of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for 16 issues until 1996 when Sakai and his series found their current home with Dark Horse Comics.
Usagi Yojimbo became a household name thanks in part to the 1980s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon and toy line. With his appearance on the cartoon and one of the most popular action figures in the line, it was only natural for the fans to discover the “Usagi Yojimbo” comic books. Not only did these characters crossover on the cartoon, but also they had multiple adventures in the comics as their worlds collided with one another, often focusing on tales of Usagi and Leonardo. As much fun as it was to read that, it was even greater to see independent comic creators bring one another along in their individual successes as Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird (TMNT Co-creators) did with Stan Sakai and vice versa.
Three publishers, 31 trade paperbacks, over 160 issues, and 5 Eisner awards later, it would seem Usagi’s still going strong and is more popular than ever. 2017 is going to be a BIG year for “Usagi Yojimbo” – Miyamoto Usagi will guest star in 3 episodes of Nickelodeon’s “Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” animated series, voiced by John Boyega of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Along with that, he’ll see 5 action figures from Playmates, his first in 13 years! The big news, though – Stan Sakai will be writing AND drawing an ALL NEW “Usagi Yojimbo/TMNT” one shot from IDW Publishing! No matter what your calendar tells you, 2017 is definitely looking like the Year Of The Rabbit
The “Usagi Yojimbo” exhibit will be running from April 20th in to late June.