Q&A: Stan Sakai
At UGO.com, Stan Sakai discusses 20 years of Usagi Yojimbo, the new hardcover art book, and more:
UGO: I've been reading your work for a long time. Did Usagi start out the way Cerebus did, as a parody of a genre?
Stan: No, it actually started because I wanted to do a series based on a real samurai named Miyamoto Musashi, and one day I just drew a rabbit with his ears tied in a chonmage or a traditional samurai topknot. I loved the design, so instead of Miyamoto Musashi I just renamed him Miyamoto Usagi because Usagi means rabbit in Japanese. I just continued his adventures as if he was a real person.
UGO: Were rabbits ever a big deal for you?
Stan: Mostly it was just me drawing in my sketchbook, but rabbits play an important part in Japanese folklore. In the West we have the man in the moon, but in Japan the legend is that there is a rabbit -- or rather, a hare -- in the moon. Rabbits are also a part of Japanese folktales and are usually the good guy. It was just natural for Usagi to be a white rabbit.