Usagi Yojimbo Quits IDW, Back at Dark Horse & Stan Sakai Imprint Dogu

In 2019, Bleeding Cool reported what we called a "serious blow to Dark Horse's martial arts skilled anthropomorphic animal output" with the news that Dark Horse mainstay, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo was moving to rival publisher IDW in June, a move that coincided with the then-upcoming Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles TV show from Netflix.

Usaji Yojimbo Quits IDW, Back at Dark Horse & Stan Sakai Imprint Dogu

Well now, it's back. Dark Horse Comics has just announced a new partnership with Stan Sakai's new imprint Dogu Publishing, alongside season 2 of the Netflix cartoon. It comes alongside the news that IDW lost its Star Wars license to Dark Horse, and its Transformers and GI Joe licenses to parts unknown but suspected as Skybound. Dogu Publishing is led by Creative Chairman Stan Sakai, CEO Jeremiah Blank, COO Julie Sakai, and Daniel Fujii, President/Publisher for Dogu Publishing. Stan Sakai stated;

Usaji Yojimbo Quits IDW, Back at Dark Horse & Stan Sakai Imprint Dogu

"I'm very excited, honored and thankful to have my own publishing imprint with Dark Horse. As the sole creator and owner of Usagi Yojimbo, this is a significant milestone. I've known Mike Richardson for more than 30 years and he is one of the pioneers and champions of creator-owned IP. As the industry continues to change, I feel he brings a unique progressive perspective.

Julie (co-creator of Chibi Usagi, Owner/Creator of Chibi Time; COO of Usagi Studios Inc.) has been a god-send and wonderful partner in all regards. Chibi Usagi and the Attack of the Heebie Chibis was my favorite collaboration. One of my proudest moments was to see her at the podium as we accepted our Eisner Award for this book. She will be bringing more Chibi stories to Dogu Publishing which will be colored by Emi Fujii, Julie's multi-talented daughter!

Usaji Yojimbo Quits IDW, Back at Dark Horse & Stan Sakai Imprint Dogu

Daniel (Executive Producer, Samurai Rabbit; VP of Usagi Studios Inc.) has been with me for seven years now and he has brought a new energy to the Usagi brand. His drive, vision, and most importantly, genuine love of Usagi, has been most welcomed. He saw the Netflix deal through and has many intriguing projects planned for the Usagi Universe.

Jeremiah (VP of Business Development, Stan Lee; VP of Business Development, Boxes; co-founder of Fanmio) brings the knowledge of the industry, along with his forward-thinking vision and business savvy. He is also a co-founder of the successful entertainment/tech platform, Fanmio, which hosts celebrity interactions and sells merchandise direct-to-consumer. He has exciting plans for the imprint.

Having Julie, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Emi step into the business and creative support roles has been a welcomed addition to my brand. Being the sole creator of Usagi Yojimbo takes a tremendous amount of time and responsibility. I still write, hand-draw, and hand-letter each story. Because of this new synergy, I am able to continue to do what I love most: Create more Usagi Yojimbo stories. We feel that through this imprint with Dark Horse, an expanded Usagi Universe is becoming a reality."

Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson, definitely not using the word IDW, stated;

"It is with great excitement that we welcome back Stan Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo to the Dark Horse family. Stan is one of comics' legendary creators and we are extremely proud to announce the launch of Dogu Publishing. Stan and his team are preparing new adventures with Usagi Yojimbo, as well as bringing new and important voices to the comics community. Stan and I have been friends for a very long time and I am extremely pleased to renew our partnership at Dark Horse."

Usagi Yojimbo is set primarily at the beginning of the Edo period of Japanese history and features anthropomorphic animals replacing humans.  Usagi wanders the land on a warrior's pilgrimage, occasionally selling his services as a bodyguard. Usagi first appeared in the Albedo Anthropomorphics published by Fantagraphics in 1984, before appearing in his own series in 1987. Mirage Comics, publishers of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then published the book before Dark Horse Comics picked it up for a 172 issue run. And now it's back!

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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