The Sakai Project HC (Dark Horse)

CREDIT: Dark Horse

Rating: 5/5 – 100s of Artistic Takes on Usagi Yojimbo.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

I you love Stan Sakai’s character Usagi Yojimbo you’ve probably already bought or ordered this.  If you’ve never heard of Usagi you should be checking out one of the collected editions of Saki’s ronin rabbit.  It may feature anthropomorphics, but it’s got more humanity than many of the other comics on the stands.  If you’re just a lover of great art, taking the subject out of it, again, this is a must-buy.

In case you were not aware Stan Sakai’s wife Sharon became ill a few years ago.  Even though the Sakai family does have health insurance (not something every comics professional has the foresight to purchase) that insurance still doesn’t cover all necessary out-of-pocket expenses.  That’s where the Comic Art Professional Society (CAPA) and Tone Rodriguez came in.  They had the idea of doing a benefit book.  Then Mike Richardson of Dark Horse stepped up to the plate and offered to completely cover the costs of producing this book and donate all proceeds to the Sakai’s on top of that!  PLUS, all the original art (and a lot of other donated art not featuring Usagi) was auctioned off and those proceeds went to the Sakai’s.

Taking all that off the plate, this is a gorgeous book in it’s own right and well worth buying even if it wasn’t a benefit for one of the greats of the comics field and one of the nicest creators you could ever hope to meet (as anyone who has met Stan at a convention will surely attest t0).  This is a book I’ll revisit and flip though time and time again.  Play “guess the artist by examining their style” when you cover up the art credits on each page with a finger and drink in the art.  It’s a great tool for training your art appreciation.

As an art book alone this stands head and shoulders above ordinary sketchbooks and art books.  I love the idea of seeing hundreds of artists do their interpretation of the same character.  Every image is a unique artistic vision and spotlights both the style of the artist producing it and typically captures some core aspect of the common character being portrayed (in this case Usagi).  At $29.99 for 150 pages of wonderful art this is a terrific deal, and since all the profits go to Stan & Sharon Sakai, it’s a wonderful cause as well.  You benefit from the art you get to appreciate, Stan & Sharon benefit from the sale of the book, it’s good all around!  Seek this book out!  Let’s buy so many they need to go to a second printing!

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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