11:51am PT by Graeme McMillan
'The Sakai Project' Celebrates 30 Years of 'Usagi Yojimbo'
Creators from all corners of the comic industry -- from Marvel's Brian Michael Bendis to fantasy artist William Stout and Simpsons creator Matt Groening -- are coming together for a special project that celebrates the work of Stan Sakai, creator of the long-running Usagi Yojimbo series.
The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of 'Usagi Yojimbo' was announced last week by Dark Horse Comics, which has been publishing Sakai's series for the last 15 years. In addition to inviting artists to offer their own take on Sakai's anthropomorphic samurai -- "Usagi Yojimbo" roughly translates as "rabbit bodyguard," and the series centers on a rabbit ronin in a version of 17th century Japan where humans have been replaced by animals -- the anthology will also benefit Sakai and his wife, Sharon, who have been dealing with increased medical costs since late last year.
"With the 30th anniversary of his most beloved creation, Usagi, and in a time of need for Stan and his family, we are honored to publish this tribute to Stan and his work," said Dark Horse president Mike Richardson in a statement about the project. "We are donating all of the proceeds to Stan and his wife, Sharon. We hope you will join us in honoring one of the comics industry’s shining lights."
In addition to Bendis, Stout and Groening, other creators involved in the project include Sergio Aragones, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, Bone's Jeff Smith and fan-favorite Thor writer/artist Walter Simonson. Artists interesting in contributing to the project have until February 20 to submit work, with technical specifications available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sakai Project will be released on July 23.