Paul Robeson for Beginners


By Paul Von Blum, illustrated by Elizabeth Von Notias & Ramsess (For Beginners)
ISBN: 978-1-934389-81-2

The For Beginners series of books are heavily illustrated text primers: accessible graphic non-fiction foundation courses in a vast variety of subjects from art to philosophy, politics to history and much more, all tackled in an accessible yet readily respectful manner. This particular volume was written by Paul Von Blum, author and Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA with a wealth of strips and illustrations by graphic design specialist Elizabeth Von Notias and self-taught multi-media creator Ramsess.

If remembered at all, Paul Robeson (April 9th 1898 – January 23rd 1976) is thought of by most people as that African American singer/actor with an incredible bass voice. Maybe some will recall that he was a left wing political activist who fell foul of Joe McCarthy during America’s infamous “Red-baiting” witch-hunting period.

That’s true enough, but he was also one of the most accomplished and gifted individuals in the nation’s history: a true Renaissance man who was cheated of his ultimate potential simply because his skin was the wrong colour…

The Introduction lists Robeson’s astonishing accomplishments – all the more amazing when you realise the lack of opportunities if not outright repression facing negroes in a segregated America at the time of his birth and not truly tackled until the Civil Rights movement began gaining traction in the late 1950s.

As told in more telling detail – both in word and pictures in ‘The Early Days’, ‘Paul Robeson the Athlete’, ‘Paul Robeson the Stage Actor’, ‘Paul Robeson the Screen Actor’ and ‘Paul Robeson the Singer’ – he was born in Princeton, New Jersey; the son of a preacher.

He was the last of five children in a time and place rigidly defined by class and race divisions.

A brilliant student, he graduated Somerville High School in 1915 and won a four-year scholarship to Rutgers University where, despite initial hostility and actual physical assaults – he became the star of the Football, Baseball, Basketball and athletics squads, twice designated “All-American”.

From there he attended New YorkUniversityLawSchool, before transferring to ColumbiaUniversityLawSchool.

Talented and seemingly tireless, he turned an interest in the dramatic arts into a part-time stage career and became a professional Football player in 1920. He got married, acted, sang, played Pro ball and kept on studying, graduating Columbia in 1923 and worked as a lawyer at a prestigious law firm until the bigotry he experienced from his own subordinates became too much.

In 1924 he switched from stage acting to movies but still carried on a glittering international career: starring as Othello in London and playing in many hit plays and musicals such as Showboat, Emperor Jones, Stevedore and All God’s Chillun’s Got Wings

Always politically active, he visited the Soviet Union in 1934, spoke out against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War, co-founded the anti-colonial Council on African Affairs and used his name and fame to agitate for social and legal changes in such contentious areas as Southern lynch law and trade union legislation.

Such activities made him a prime target in the USA and in 1941 J. Edgar Hoover ordered the FBI to open a file on him…

In 1950 the US government took away his passport because he refused to recant his pro-Soviet, pro-socialist stance and he became an exile in his own country. He was unable to leave America for eight years, until a Supreme Court ruling decreed the State Department had no right to revoke passports due to an individual’s political beliefs.

Robeson’s life was filled with such landmarks. Once free to travel again, he became an international political celebrity and social commentator, using his concerts and stage appearances in places as disparate as Wales, Australia, Russia, East Germany and elsewhere to promote a dream of World “Freedom, Peace and Brotherhood”…

His beliefs, struggles achievements and failures are then examined in ‘Paul Robeson the International Activist’, ‘Paul Robeson the Domestic Political Activist’ before a thorough appreciation in ‘The Final Years and His Lasting Legacy’

Augmented by a ‘Bibliography’, ‘Selected Chronology’ and creator biographies, this absorbing documentary proves again the astounding power of visual narrative when wedded to the life story of a truly unique individual.
© 2013 Paul Von Blum. Illustrations © 2013 Elizabeth Von Notias & Ramsess. All rights reserved. A For Beginners Documentary Comic Book © 2013.

Black is the Color


By Julia Gfrörer (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-717-8

There’s never been a better time to find dark and imaginative horror comics tales and the genre has seldom been better represented than with this eerie yet elegiac historical fantasy from Julia Gfrörer.

The relative newcomer hails from Portland, Oregon – having been born in 1982 and raised in historic Concord, New Hampshire. She studied Painting and Printmaking at Seattle’s CornishCollege of the Arts and first began turning heads a few years ago with her thoughtfully terrifying comicbooks Flesh and Bone and Too Dark to See as well as appearances in Thickness, Arthur Magazine, Black Eye, Study Group Magazine and Best American Comics.

The author brings a gift for sensitive emotional scrutiny and quirkily macabre understatement to this slim monochrome tome detailing the last days of a marooned mariner and the strange creature who temporarily adopts him…

It begins in the middle of the ocean as sailors Xavier and Warren are approached by the Captain’s Mate. The voyage is going badly. Storms have battered the frail wooden vessel and provisions are low.

As they were the last to join the ship’s company, the crew expects the pair to calmly get into the dinghy and drift away, giving the rest some slim chance of survival…

Xavier is already quite ill and Warren enquires why they can’t just be shot, but nobody wants a murder on their already benighted souls…

Cast adrift and enduring harsh exposure, the pair float aimlessly. Hardship and privation soon ends Xavier, but as angry, resentful Warren languishes in the boat awaiting his own death, he thinks he hears singing in the night and is soon conversing with a woman who seems to know impossible things – such as how and what his far away wife and child are doing…

More than half convinced he’s gone mad he continues his strange delirious conversations with her, all the while certain that his life is slowly ebbing away…

She won’t save Warren but the sea siren is quite content to stay with him as he expires, sharing intimate memories. And far away across the waves, his former shipmates sail helplessly into another storm as mermaids gather to watch…

Bleak, beautiful and lyrically elegant, this oddly mesmerising, gently scary, utterly visual yarn tellingly explores pride and loneliness but is cunningly underpinned by wry, anachronous humour and a cleverly memorable conclusion which will delight fans of mystery and imagination and lovers of beguiling illustration.
© 2013 Julia Gfrörer. This edition © 2013 Fantagraphics Books, Inc. All rights reserved.

Fight the Power – a Visual History of Protest Among the English Speaking Peoples


By Seán Michael Wilson, Benjamin Dickson, Hunt Emerson, John Spelling, Adam Pasion with additional cartoon by Polyp (New Internationalist)
ISBN: 978-1-78026-122-5

Politics is composed of and utilised equally by firebrands and coldly calculating grandees, and that’s probably the only guiding maxim you can trust. Most normal people don’t give a toss about all that until it affects them in the pocket or impacts their kids and, no matter to what end of the political spectrum one belongs, the greatest enemy of the impassioned ideologue is apathy. This simple fact forces activists and visionaries to ever-more devious and imaginative stunts and tactics…

However, all entrenched Powers-That-Be are ultimately hopeless before one thing: collective unified resistance by the very masses they’re holding down through force of arms, artificial boundaries of class or race, capitalist dogmas, various forms of mind control like bread, circuses and religion, divisive propagandas or just the insurmountable ennui of grudging acceptance to a status quo and orchestrated fear that unknown change might make things worse.

From its earliest inception cartooning has been used to sell: initially ideas or values but eventually actual products too. In newspapers, magazines and especially comicbooks the sheer power of narrative with its ability to create emotional affinities has been linked to the creation of unforgettable images and characters. When those stories affect the lives of generations of readers, the force that they can apply in a commercial, social or especially political arena is almost irresistible…

The compelling power of graphic narrative to efficiently, potently and evocatively disseminate vast amounts of information and seductively advocate complex issues with great conviction through layered levels has always been most effectively used in works with a political or social component. That’s never been more evident than in this stunning and scholarly new graphic anthology detailing some of the most infamous and effective instances of popular protest.

In Britain the cartoonist has always occupied a perilously precarious position of power: with deftly designed bombastic broadsides or savagely surgical satirical slices instantly capable of ridiculing, exposing and always deflating the powerfully elevated and apparently untouchable with a simple shaped charge of scandalous wit and crushingly clear, universally understandable visual metaphor …or sometimes just the plain and simple facts of the matter…

For this universal and welcomingly basic method of concept transmission, levels of literacy or lack of education are no barrier. As the Catholic Church proved millennia ago with the Stations of the Cross, stained glass windows and a pantheon of idealised, sanitised saints, a picture is absolutely worth a thousand words, and as William the Conqueror saw with the triumphalist Bayeux Tapestry, picture narratives are worth a few million more…

Following a thought-provoking Introduction by author, journalist and filmmaker Tariq Ali, this procession through the history of dissent compiled and scripted by Seán Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson begins with an agenda-setting ‘Prologue’ – illustrated by Adam Pasion – which can best be described without giving the game away as “Uncle Sam, John Bull and the Statue of Liberty (AKA ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’) walk into a bar…”

Their heated discussion on the value and need of people using their right to dissent is then captivatingly illustrated through a series of erudite, fascinating, shocking and even funny tutorial episodes beginning with a compelling account of ‘The Luddites and the Swing Riots, 1811-1832’ written by Wilson and rendered both palatable and mesmerising by comics legend Hunt Emerson.

The artist then turns his talents to recreating the horrific events and aftermath of ‘The Battle of Peterloo, 1819’ from Dickson’s script before, with Wilson, cataloguing a wave of ‘Colonial Rebellions, 1836-1865’ which the British Empire dealt with in its traditional even-handed, temperate manner (and in case you were wondering, that’s called “sarcasm”…)

Wilson & Pasion then detail the global impact of the ‘Irish Rebellions, 1791-1922’ whilst Dickson & Emerson’s account of ‘The Suffragettes, 1903-1918’ actually follows the story of Votes for Women right up to the present. The practically forgotten and brutally savage sagas of ‘The Australian General Strike, 1917’ (by Wilson & Pasion) and the equally appalling landmark events of ‘The Boston Police Strike, 1919’ – as told by Dickson & John Spelling – reveal the pattern of modern labour conflicts with working folk ranged against intransigent and greedy commercial interests.

The age-old struggle escalated during the ‘UK General Strike and the Battle of George Square, 1918-1926’ (Wilson & Spelling) and reached an intolerable strike-busting peak in Ohio during ‘The Battle of Toledo, 1934’ (Wilson & Spelling): a struggle which cemented management and labour into the intractable ideologically opposed positions they still inhabit today…

The championing of Human Rights is commemorated by Dickson & Pasion in ‘Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott, 1955-1956’ and a deeply moving account of ‘The Trial of Nelson Mandela, 1964’ whilst the modern American soldier’s method of combating unwelcome or insane orders is reviewed in the brilliantly trenchant ‘Fragging’ by Wilson & Emerson…

Back home and still etched in many peoples memories, ‘The Poll Tax Riots, 1989-1991’ offers a surprisingly even-handed account of Margaret Thatcher’s greatest political blunder by Dickson & Spelling, before hitting today’s headlines with the origins and outcomes – to date – of ‘Occupy, 2011-’

Returning to that bar and Lady Liberty, Dickson, Wilson & Pasion then draw a few telling Conclusions to close the cartoon course in mass resistance, after which the writers discuss their process in Authors Notes: Why This Book? before then listing the truly phenomenal rewards of all those campaigns and protests with a long list of Rights Won (ranging from Women’s Suffrage to the universal formal acknowledgement of the Human Right to Protest).

Understanding the value of a strategically targeted chuckle, this fabulous monochrome chronicle concludes with one last strip as Dickson & Emerson hilariously reveal ‘The Four Stages of Protest’ courtesy of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi…

More so than work, sport, religion, fighting or even sex, politics has always been the very grist that feeds the pictorial gadfly’s mill. Of course cartooning can only accomplish so much and whilst Fight the Power! recounts a number of instances where physical and intellectual action were necessary to achieve or maintain justice, at least our art form can galvanise the unconvinced into action and help in the useful dissemination of knowledge about protest: the Who, Where, When, and How.

If you don’t understand What or Why then you’re probably already on the other side of the barricades…
© 2013 Seán Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson. Illustrations © 2013 Hunt Emerson, John Spelling and Adam Pasion. Cartoons © 2013 Polyp. All rights reserved.

This book was reviewed and scheduled before the announcement of the death of Nelson Mandela. After briefly considering postponing the posting I’ve decided to go ahead. If you can’t understand why perhaps you should think really hard about what he stood for and what Fight the Power! is about.
Win – proudly wearing his little red rebel’s hat…

Pompeii


By Frank Santoro (Picturebox)
ISBN: 978-1-939799-10-4

A short while ago I carped on about America not producing many historically flavoured comic strips and, as if by condemnatory return, this lovely cartoon chronicle cropped up in my review pile; not only a captivating yarn of ordinary folk trapped in one of the most tragically infamous events of all time, but also a boldly experimental and mesmerisingly effective exercise in reductionist visual storytelling.

Pittsburgh-based Frank Santoro has been a bit quiet since the release of his magnificent Storeyville (except for Cold Heat, Mome, the Comics Comics blog and about a zillion mini comics and other projects) but with the release of Pompeii proves the wait has been worthwhile.

The story is beguilingly simple: exploring not only the complex web of lies which entangle a philandering artist, his wife, new favourite model and naïve assistant (still in the flush of first love), but also the very nature and layered reality of art itself.

The story opens in the blithely unaware doomed city – a flashy resort for Rome’s high and mighty situated in the scenic Bay of Naples – where keen Marcus acts as general dogsbody to the great Flavius, a painter of great renown and salacious appetites.

The lad’s duties include fetching and carrying, cleaning, grinding minerals to mix into pigments, painting backgrounds, and keeping the maestro’s wife Alba from discovering her husband’s infidelities.

There’s a particularly close call as Flavius and the Princess he’s immortalising are nearly discovered by the knowing suspicious spouse and, once the crisis is averted, the master makes his unwilling pupil a full partner in the deception…

Marcus has talent and dreams of being a great painter, but for the moment he and his beloved Lucia toil in relative poverty with little more than their love to sustain them. The hot-blooded girl has come with him all the way from distant Paestum, but now, just as the relationship deepens, Marcus is neglecting her: spending more and more time with Flavius.

Bored and lonely, she’s alternately talking about having children and returning to her family even though she knows her lover would rather die than go back.

During the next sitting the Princess wants to talk about the small earthquake that occurred that morning but Flavius is oblivious: in full swing he invites Marcus to work on the background whilst he is still finishing the figure.

That minor triumph is spoiled at home when Lucia again starts up about Paestum or inviting her mother to live with them in Pompeii. In a rage Marcus storms off to sleep in Flavius’ studio and accidentally overhears an assignation wherein the Princess begs the maestro to move with her to Rome. The besotted noble is even prepared for her artist to bring the inconvenient wife along too…

Fearing the death of his dream and assured of the end of his relationship, the lad is surprised and gratified when Flavius invites him to accompany him to Rome. Everything suddenly stalls, however, when smouldering, somnolent Mount Vesuvius explosively begins spewing smoke and gas for the first time in living memory…

The fates of the assorted characters is a grim and powerful reminder of the power of love in the face of death, and the rough, raw pencil illustrations and tone washes – all created at publication size rather than being reduced for publication – perfectly recall and invoke the loose, flowing style of fresco and pottery images of the time.

Santoro apparently translated his own experiences as student/assistant to painter Francesco Clemente to get inside the head of young Marcus and the result is a timeless and irresistible exploration of human relationships (master and servant, teacher and pupil, lovers, spouses and infidelities) all viewed through an intimate lens of storytelling in its purest and most intimately immediate form.

A perfect example of the vivacious renaissance of Comics as Art, Pompeii is book no aficionado of the medium should miss.
© 2013 Frank Santoro. All rights reserved.

Papyrus volume 2: Imhotep’s Transformation


By Lucien De Geiter, coloured by Colette De Geiter & translated by Luke Spear (Cinebooks)
ISBN: 978-1- 905460-50-2

Once you get a certain taste in your mind you just can’t stop – well I can’t – so here’s another all-ages sword & sandals saga just not available through American funnybooks these days.

British and European comics have always been happier with historical strips than our cousins across the pond (a pugnacious part of me wants to say that’s because we have so much more past to play with – and yes, I know they’re responsible for Prince Valiant, but it’s an exception, not a rule) and our Franco-Belgian brethren in particular have made an astonishing art form out of days gone by.

The happy combination of past lives and world-changing events blended with drama, action and especially broad humour has resulted in a genre uniquely suited to beguiling readers of all ages and tastes. Don’t take my word for it – just check out Asterix, Adèle Blanc-Sec, The Towers of Bois-Maury, Iznogoud or Thorgal to a name few which have made it into English, or even our own much missed classics such as Olac the Gladiator, Dick Turpin, Heros the Spartan or Wrath of the Gods …all long overdue for collection in album form.

Papyrus is the spectacular magnum opus of Belgian cartoonist Lucien de Gieter. It began in 1974 in the legendary weekly Spirou, running to more than 30 albums, plus a wealth of merchandise, a television cartoon show and a video game.

The plucky “fellah” (look it up) was blessed by the gods and gifted with a magic sword courtesy of the daughter of crocodile-headed Sobek. His original brief was to free supreme Horus from imprisonment in the Black Pyramid of Ombos and thereby restore peace to the Two Kingdoms. More immediately however the lad was also charged with protecting of Pharaoh’s wilful and high-handed daughter Theti-Cheri – a princess with a unmatchable talent for finding trouble…

De Gieter was born in 1932 and, studied at Saint-Luc Art Institute in Brussels, before going into industrial design and interior decorating. He made the logical jump into sequential narrative in 1961, first through ‘mini-récits’ inserts (fold-in, half-sized-booklets) for Spirou, of his jovial little cowboy ‘Pony’, and later by writing for established regulars as Kiko, Jem, Eddy Ryssack and Francis.

He then joined Peyo’s studio as inker on ‘Les Schtroumpfs’ – AKA The Smurfs – and took over the long-running newspaper strip ‘Poussy’.

In the mid 1960s he created South Seas mermaid fantasy ‘Tôôôt et Puit’ even as Pony was promoted to the full-sized pages of Spirou, so De Gieter deep-sixed his Smurfs gig to expand his horizons producing work for Tintin and Le Journal de Mickey.

From 1972-1974 he assisted cartooning legend Berck on ‘Mischa’ for Germany’s Primo, whilst putting the finishing touches to his new project. This creation would occupy his full attention – and delight millions of fervent fans – for the next forty years.

The annals of Papyrus encompass a huge range of themes and milieus, blending boys-own adventure with historical fiction and interventionist mythology, gradually evolving from traditionally appealing “Bigfoot” cartoon content towards a more realistic, dramatic and authentic iteration, through light fantasy romps starring a fearlessly forthright boy fisherman favoured by the gods as a hero of Egypt and friend to Pharaohs.

Imhotep’s Transformation is the second Cinebook translation (and 8th yarn, originally released in 1985 as La Métamorphose d’Imhotep) opening with Papyrus and his one-legged friend Imhotep (no relation) paddling a canoe through the marshes of the Nile.

The peaceful idyll is wrecked when Theti-Cheri and her handmaidens hurtle by in their flashy boat, but the boys don’t mind as they have a message for the princess.

The new holy statue of her father has arrived from the Priests of Memphis and the daughter of Heaven is required at the ceremony to install it at the pyramid of Saqqara before the annual “Heb Sed” King’s Jubilee.

As the girls and boys race back an old peasant is attacked by a crocodile. Diving after him Papyrus wrestles the reptile away and is about to kill it when Sobek appears, beseeching him to spare it.

On the surface Theti-Cheri and her attendants are ministering to the aged victim and the princess can’t help noticing how he bears an uncanny resemblance to her dad…

By the time they all reach the pyramid the monumental task of hauling the statue into place is well under way, but suddenly blood begins pouring out of the monolith’s eyes.

The terrified workers panic and the colossal effigy slips, crashing to destruction. The populace are aghast and murmurs of curses and ill omens abound.

Rather than running away Imhotep heads for the rubble and discovers the statue’s head is hollow. Moreover, inside there is a dead dwarf and a smashed flask which had held blood…

Papyrus is in the royal compound where the recent events have blighted the anticipation of the court. During Heb Sed the Pharaoh has to run around the sacred pyramid three times and fire his bow at the four corners of the kingdoms to prove his fitness to rule, but now it appears the gods have turned against their chosen emissary on Earth…

Papyrus is not so sure and when he tries to speak to a royal server the man bolts. Giving chase the lad is in time to prevent the attendant’s murder, but not his escape.

And then a cry goes up: Pharaoh has been poisoned…

Knowing there is no love lost between the MemphisPriests of Ptah and the loyal Theban clerics doctoring the fallen king, Papyrus warns of a possible plot, but has no proof. What is worse, Chepseska, leader of the Memphis faction, is of royal blood too and would inherit if Pharaoh was unable to complete the Heb Sed ritual…

As loyal physicians and priests struggle to save their overlord’s life, Theti-Cheri remembers the old man in the swamp. If only the crocodile bite has not left him too weak to run…

The doughty dotard is willing to try and also knows of a wise woman whose knowledge of herbs can cure Pharaoh, but ruthless Chepseska is on to the kids’ ploy and dispatches a band of killers to stop Papyrus and Imhotep.

However, the gods are behind the brave lads and the after the assassins fall to the ghastly judgement of Sobek, the boys rush an antidote back to Saqqara, only to fall into the lost tomb of Great Imhotep, first Pharaoh, builder-god and divine lord of the Ibis.

With time running out for his distant descendent, the resurrected ruler rouses himself to administer justice for Egypt and inflict the punishment of the gods upon the usurpers…

This is another epic and amazing exploit which will thrill and astound fans of fantastic fantasy and bombastic adventure. Papyrus is one more brilliant addition to the family-friendly pantheon of continental champions who marry heroism and humour with wit and charm, and anybody who has worn out those Tintin or Asterix volumes would be wise beyond their years in acquiring these classic chronicles tales.

© Dupis, 1985 by De Gieter. All rights reserved. English translation © 2008 Cinebook Ltd.

Papyrus volume 1: The Rameses’ Revenge


By Lucien De Geiter, translated by Luke Spear (Cinebooks)
ISBN: 978-1- 905460-35-9

British and European Comics have always been keener on historical strips than our American cousins, and the Franco-Belgian contingent in particular have made an art form out of combining the fascinations of past lives with drama, action and especially broad humour in a genre uniquely suited to beguiling readers of all ages and tastes.

One ideal example of this is the long-running Papyrus by Belgian cartoonist Lucien de Gieter, which began in Spirou in 1974. It subsequently spawned more than 30 collected albums, a wealth of merchandise, a TV cartoon series and a video game through its progression of light fantasy adventures starring a simple child fisherman favoured by the gods who became the hero of Egypt and a friend to Pharaohs.

De Gieter was born in Etterbeek, Belgium on September 4th 1932 and, after attending Saint-Luc Art Institute in Brussels, worked as an industrial designer and interior decorator before moving into comics in 1961.

Initially he worked on inserts (fold-in half-sized-booklets known as ‘mini-récits’) for Spirou, such as the little cowboy ‘Pony’, and produced scripts for established Spirou creators such as Kiko (Roger Camille), Jem (Jean Mortier), Eddy Ryssack and Francis (Bertrand) before joining Peyo’s (Pierre Culliford) studio as inker on ‘Les Schtroumpfs’ – which you’ll know as The Smurfs – and soloed on long-running newspaper comic cat strip ‘Poussy’.

After creating mermaid strip ‘Tôôôt et Puit’  in 1966 and seeing Pony graduate to the full-sized pages of Spirou in 1968, De Gieter relinquished his Smurfs gig, but kept himself busy producing work for Tintin and Le Journal de Mickey. From 1972-1974 he assisted Flemish cartooning legend Arthur Berckmans (AKA Berck) on comedy science-fiction series ‘Mischa’ for the German Rolf Kauka Studios magazine Primo, whilst he prepared the creation which would occupy his full attention – and millions of avid fans – for the next four decades.

The stories of Papyrus encompass a vast range of themes and milieus, blending boys-own adventure with historical fiction and living mythology, gradually evolving from a traditionally welcoming and inclusive “Bigfoot” cartooning content towards a more realistic, dramatic and authentic iteration.

That’s not a concern in this first Cinebook translation as The Rameses’ Revenge (actually the seventh collected album, originally released in 1984 as La Vengeance des Ramsès) finds Papyrus en route to the newly finished temple at Abu-Simbel on a royal barge, part of a vast flotilla destined to commemorate the magnificent Tomb of Rameses II.

The worthy peasant had been given a magic sword by the daughter of crocodile-headed god Sobek to free Horus from imprisonment in the black pyramid of Ombos and restore peace to the Two Kingdoms – but that’s a tale for another tome. The lad was also charged with being lifelong protector of wilful Pharaoh’s daughter Theti-Cheri

Here his sedate Nile journey is plagued with frightful dreams but good friend Imhotep tells him not to worry. Nevertheless the boy hero consults a priest and is deeply worried when the sage declares the dreams are a warning…

That tension only grows when headstrong, impatient Theti-Cheri informs him that she has permission to go on ahead of the Pharaoh’s retinue in a small, poorly-armed skiff. Unable to dissuade her, Papyrus is ordered to remain behind. The Princess and Imhotep are blissfully unaware that a member of her small guard has been replaced by a sinister impostor…

The vessel is well underway before they discover Papyrus has stowed away, but before the furious girl can have him thrown overboard, the boat is hit by an impossibly sudden storm and attacked by a pair of monsters.

Although the boy hero drives them away with his sword, Theti-Cheri sees nothing, having been knocked out in the storm. Still seething, she refuses to believe him or Imhotep and orders them onward to Abu-Simbel. The next morning Papyrus and the guards are missing…

Pressing on anyway, the Princess and her remaining attendants reach the incredible edifice only to be seized by the band of brigands who have captured it. They want the enormous treasure hidden within the sprawling complex and already hold Papyrus prisoner.

If Theti-Cheri or the hostageTemple Priests don’t hand it over the boy will die horribly…

The repentant Princess cannot convince the clerics to betray their holy vows, however, and in desperation declares that she will hand herself over instead. Appalled and moved by her noble intention, High Priest Hapu determines that only extreme measures can avenge the bandits’ sacrilegious insult and calls on mighty Ra to inflict the vengeance of the gods upon them…

The astounding, spectacular, terrifying result perfectly concludes this initial escapade and will thrill and delight lovers of fantastic fantasy and bombastic adventure. Papyrus is another superb addition to the all-ages pantheon of continental champions who combine action and mirth with wit and charm, and anybody who has worn out the Tintin and Asterix collections would be well rewarded by checking out these epic tales.

© Dupis, 1984 by De Gieter. All rights reserved. English translation © 2007 Cinebook Ltd.

Usagi Yojimbo Book 5: Lone Goat and Kid


By Stan Sakai (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-56097-088-0

The wandering rabbit bodyguard Miyamoto Usagi began as a background character in Stan Sakai’s anthropomorphic comedy The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper before indomitably carving his own unique path to graphic glory.

Creative mastermind Sakai was born in 1953 in Kyoto, Japan before the family moved to Hawaii two years later. After graduating from the University of Hawaii with a BA in Fine Arts, he pursued further studies at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design in California and started in comics as a letterer, most famously for the inimitable Groo the Wanderer.

Eventually the cartoonist within resurfaced: blending his storytelling drive with a love of Japanese history and legend, and hearty interest in the filmic works of Akira Kurosawa and his peers, into one of the most enticing and impressive fantasy sagas of all time.

And it’s still more educational, informative and authentic than any dozen Samurai sagas you can name…

The addictive period epic is set in a world of sentient animals (with a few unobtrusive human characters scattered about) but scrupulously mirrors the Feudal Edo Period of Japan – (the 17th century by our reckoning), simultaneously referencing classic contemporary cultural icons from sources as varied as Zatoichi and Godzilla, whilst specifically recounting the life of a peripatetic masterless Samurai eking out an honourable living as a Yojimbo (bodyguard-for-hire).

As such, his fate is to be drawn constantly into a plethora of incredible situations.

And yes, he’s a rabbit – brave, noble, sentimental, gentle, artistic, empathetic, long-suffering, conscientious and devoted to the tenets of Bushido, the heroic everyman bunny simply cannot turn down any request for help or ignore the slightest evidence of injustice…

This fantastically funny fifth monochrome masterwork gathers tales from Fantagraphics’ Usagi Yojimbo comicbook volume 1, #19-24 and offers a selection of complete adventures culminating in an unbelievably welcome and long-awaited spoof of Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima’s legendary samurai manga Kozure Ōkami, best known in the West as Lone Wolf and Cub

Following a fulsome Introduction from Stan Lee, the restless Ronin takes on a paying gig with very little honour attached in ‘Frost and Fire’. On the recommendation of friend and occasional patron Lord Noriyuki, Usagi contracts with the cold and snobbish Lady Koriko to recover the priceless antique swords – but not the body – of her husband; recently expired in a distant village.

On arrival however Usagi finds a thorny dilemma: fallen and shamed samurai Nagao broke all class stricture and protocol by consorting with a peasant girl. Grief-stricken Atsuko wants to keep his family’s blades as the only reminder of the man she loved and who loved her in return…

This impossible impasse is only broken when Atsuko’s greedy brother intervenes, more concerned with the blades’ monetary value than their sentimental worth…

‘A Kite Story’ is an enchanting agglomeration of connected vignettes divided into four visual epigrams beginning with ‘The Kite Maker’s Tale’ in which master craftsman Tatsusaburo describes his process and motivation in building the largest Odako ever to challenge the clouds…

Next comes disreputable Hatsu who in ‘The Gambler’s Tale’ discloses how a long-eared Ronin exposed his cheating and ruined his business. Now, Yojimbo has returned and the games-man sees a way to pay him back, but fails in his scurrilous scheme due to the warrior’s ingenuity and the giant kite in ‘The Ronin’s Tale’ after which the elegant micro-saga comes full circle with ‘The Kite Maker’s Tale II’

Although telling short stories here, everything is a fragment of a greater mosaic. Sakai is gradually constructing a massive overarching history and in the 2-part ‘Blood Wings’ the wanderer stumbles upon a man cut to ribbons by a flying killer. He soon discovers a village plagued by Komori ninja – a clan of bats trained in all the deadly tactics of Chi no Tsubasa – killing silently from above on “wings of blood”…

Although Usagi succeeds in helping the desperate villagers he has no way of knowing how the sky killers will affect his future, as the Komori are actually striving to prove themselves worthy replacements for the decimated Neko ninjas who have fallen from the good graces of scheming Lord Hebi since the end of the Dragon Bellows Conspiracy…

In the next tale the Yojimbo meets martial legend General Oyaneko but is distressed to learn the aged warrior is dying of a wasting disease. He’s even more upset when the General attempts to kill him, wanting to earn a clean end in ‘The Way of the Samurai’

This volume concludes with ‘Lone Goat and Kid’ wherein former imperial official Yagi – who became an assassin after being framed by underlings of Lord Hirone – is tricked into fighting a certain rabbit Ronin who has no idea he is the latest pawn in a Machiavellian scheme to destroy the noble goat and his capable kid Gorogoro

However, even though Usagi is tricked into fighting the doom-laden duo, the guilty impatience of the plotters soon reveals the true state of affairs…

Despite changing publishers a few times, Usagi Yojimbo has been in continuous publication since 1987, resulting in dozens of graphic novel collections and books to date. The Legendary Lepus has guest-starred in many other series and nearly had his own TV show – there’s still time yet, and fashions can revive as quickly as they die out…

As well as generating a horde of high-end collectibles, art prints, computer games and RPGs, a spin-off sci-fi series and lots of toys to promote popularity, Sakai and his creation have deservedly won numerous awards both within the Comics community and amongst the greater reading public.

Fast-paced yet lyrical, funny and scary, always moving, astoundingly visceral, ferociously thrilling and simply bursting with veracity and verve, Usagi Yojimbo is a cartoon masterpiece of irresistible appeal that will delight devotees and make converts of the most hardened hater of “funny animal” stories and comics.
Text and illustrations © 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 Stan Sakai. Usagi Yojimbo is ® Stan Sakai. Book editions © 1992, 2005 Fantagraphics Books. All rights reserved.

Persia Blues volume 1: Leaving Home


By Dara Naraghi & Brent Bowman (NBM/ComicsLit)
ISBN: 978-1-56163-706-5

We do it for fame, we do it for fortune (or at least to pay bills), we do it for fun but all of us primarily make comics because we absolutely have to. Every story we hear, each pedestrian observation provokes the reaction “how would I break that down into panels? How many to a page?”…

All real world input – from shopping lists to bad TV – is taken in, screened through an internal grid and then we worry about how we’ll draw the damn thing. One day…

All creative people are a little bit chained to their art-form, and Iranian ex-pat Dara Naraghi far more so than most. As well as his own celebrated BigCityBlues comic he keeps busy adapting licensed properties such as Robert Patterson’s Witch & Wizard novels, Terminator: Salvation, It! The Terror From Beyond Space and Ghostbusters into comics form, writing for DC, Image and IDW and running his own publishing house Ferret Press.

His breakthrough graphic anthology Lifelike set new standards for expressive exploratory tale-telling and he was a founding member of comics creators collective PANEL. He also scripts (and occasionally draws) utterly wonderful tales covering every aspect of the human experience from wild fantasy to chilling slice-of-life in a splendid series of webcomics.

Artist and illustrator Brent Bowman has created art for the Age of Empires collector card game and worked at Caliber Press and Image Comics. He too is a member of PANEL, devoted to pushing the envelope (probably after covering it with doodles and sketches) of graphic narrative.

Together they have begun a series of graphic novels implausibly blending real-world reportage with high fantasy in a manner both intriguing and captivating.

Persia Blues: Leaving Home introduces spirited young woman Minoo Shirazi who has a history of troublemaking in two worlds…

Far away and long ago a bold warrior with an inexplicable magical power is battling beside her lover against brigands and worse to retrieve a holy book in the heyday of the Persian Empire.

Four years ago in Shiraz, Iran, forthright and independent architecture student Minoo meets another rebellious, frustrated young woman and cleverly outwits the Ayatollah’s Morality Police when they accuse the girls of immodesty – a pretty serious crime in a state that appears to hate women and fear individualism…

In Ancient Persia the war woman returns the sacred Avesta to a venerable cleric at Zoroaster’s Fire Temple and learns about the eternal struggle between the light of Ahura Mazda and dark, evil Ahriman, before somehow lapsing into a bitter argument with the parochial paternalistic priest.

Back in Iran, Minoo gets home safely but word of her brush with the authorities has reached her father. Loving but scared, once-eminent history professor Bijan Shiraz provokes a very similar argument with much the same result. This wise man has reason to fear.

Every day he fights a losing battle as religious fundamentalists slowly destroy his overweening passion, rewriting and revising the grand and glorious history of Persia to suit the self-serving demands of a theocratic, clerical dictatorship. With his wife and son gone, Bijan cannot bear the thought that his wilful daughter might also be lost to him…

In the days of Zoroaster, the sex-fuelled, shamelessly exhausted slumber of barbarian Minoo and her lover Tyler is shattered when she experiences a horrifying vision. Rushing to the FireTemple, they discover the priest on the verge of expiring, claiming with his last breaths that Ahriman himself was his killer.

He makes her promise to voyage to the distant capital Persepolis and discloses that Minoo’s long-lost mother is there. Although Minoo refuses to believe the dying man’s delusions, when a giant, wingless talking Hippogriff (an Opinicus?) appears she has no choice but to accept the prediction and the quest…

Iran 18 years ago: seven year old Minoo has a furious tantrum on learning that she must now wear a Hijab whenever she goes outside. The government edict applies to all girls starting school, and the child’s explosive reaction prompts a fight between her father and mother Manijeh. Eventually, however, Mum’s pragmatic wisdom and Dad’s gentle humour calm the tense situation…

In Persia, swordswoman Minoo is equally reluctant to bow to authority but just as susceptible to reason as the Hippogriff decrees that she will play a key part in the battle between good and evil and must accept her fate…

Now minus six years: teen rebel Minoo is playing fast and loose with a flashy rich punk from Tehran. When her furious father furiously ejects the lecher another row erupts and his daughter throws in his face her lack of choice and opportunity under the Mullahs – a crushing blow to a man who almost lost his life defending personal freedom and intellectual liberty…

Four days have passed in Ancient Persia and, as Tyler and Minoo dutifully attend the funeral rites of the murdered holy man, appalling Ahriman himself appears and sets a pride of lions on the questers…

In oppressed Iran 15 years ago, Bijan and Manijeh are having a terrible fight. She wants the family to leave but the scholar refuses to leave the proud history of Persia in the hands of revisionist maniacs. Minoo eavesdrops from outside, terrified hr parents are divorcing, but older brother Ramin soon calms her and assuages her fears…

Near death but reluctant to harm innocent beasts, Minoo is astounded when Ahura Mazda manifests and rewards their forbearance with healing light and sage advice…

Three years ago in the Shiraz’ Vakil Bazaar, Minoo and her father discuss her recent graduation. Her prospects have long been a brittle bone of contention, and she cannot accept the confirmed intellectual’s argument that she should pursue a Master’s Degree. Not in a country that openly suppresses choice and opportunity for women…

She is utterly astounded when her father reveals he has changed his mind and will use all his resources, contacts and waning influence to secure her a University place outside Iran. If the government will let her leave, that is…

Just outside Persepolis, Tyler and Minoo encounter the legendary Anusiya battling an horrific army of scorpion men. Dashing to join the hard-pressed Persian Royal Guard, their warrior spirits and battle savvy turn the tide and the grateful soldiers escort them to an audience with the Emperor…

In Iran the family are gossiping; shocked that Minoo won’t come out of her room to join the Saal. No matter how upset or modern she might be, a dutiful daughter should be present at the one-year anniversary ceremony to commemorate the death of her mother…

…Or rather Empress. Purandokht is Queen and Protector of the Persian Empire and would know to whom the realm owes thanks…

This is a tale of interconnected contrasts with the modern flashback scenes rendered in stark black line and the fantastic magical Persian adventure rendered in lush, painterly pencil-grey tones. Moreover, although the general dialogue and idiom is what you’d expect in an historical drama, Tyler and mystic Minoo only speak like American twenty-somethings…

Our suspicions are further tweaked by the brace of Epilogues in which the wandering warriors reveal to Purandokht that they are from “Columbus”– who has her own shocking personal revelation for the woman warrior – whilst in Shiraz two years ago Minoo joyously learns that she will be attending the University of Ohio in America…

Gleefully melding past and present, fact and fiction, this introductory volume revels in exploiting reader expectation and confusion to craft a beguiling multi-layered tale about family, responsibility, guilt, oppression and the hunger for independence that carries the reader along, promoting wonder and second-guessing whilst weaving a tapestry of mystery.

We’ll all have guesses about what’s really happening but Naraghi and Bowman won’t be telling any secrets too soon.

Engaging, rewarding and just plain refreshingly different, Persia Blues looks set to become a classic in years to come.

To Be Continued…
© 2013 Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman.

Wolfsmund volume 1


By Mitsuhisa Kuji, translated by Ko Ransom (Vertical)
ISBN: 978-193565475-9

All I can glean regarding pseudonymous woman of mystery Mitsuhisa Kuji is that she has worked as assistant to both Kentaro Miura (Berserk) and Kaoru Mori (Emma, Anything and Something), but that simply means that we can appreciate her solely through her work, such as this darkly nihilistic and bleakly beguiling historical re-enactment of the legend of William Tell as collected in this first English-language volume of Wolfsmund

Set in the 14th century and drawing on historical records, the serial debuted in 2009 as Ookami no Kuchi: Wolfsmund in Seinen publication Fellows! – with four tankōbon volumes collected thus far – and details the struggle of three autonomous alpine cantons, Uri, Unterwalden and Shwyz, for freedom and independence from the oppressive domination of invaders from what will become the Habsburg Empire.

Unconventionally, the oft-told tale centres around the monolithic fortress of Wolfsmund, situated in the Sankt Gotthard Pass: an impenetrable barrier station between mountains controlling the population’s ability to move, flee or obtain allies, intelligence or war material, and a crucial trade bottleneck between Germany and Italy.

The chilling black drama begins in ‘Liese and Georg’ as a highborn lady and daughter of the downtrodden proto-nation’s liberating hero undergoes appalling hardships and indignities at the hands of her most devoted servant in order to pass through the forbidding gate to freedom.

However all her determination and her bondsman’s wiles are as nothing to the insidious observations and deep suspicions of Wolfram the Bailiff; sadistic sentinel with an angel’s face, and undisputed master of Wolfsmund.

Although the wayfarers find sympathetic souls in the village around the castle – especially the seductive female innkeeper – their flight ends in discovery, combat and inevitable, inescapable doom…

The dark fable continues in ‘Johanna and Klaus’ wherein a lethally competent woman warrior undertakes to preserve her master’s treasures and the resistance’s war chest by passing through Wolfsmund to Italian bankers in Lugano. After also spending time with the enigmatic Guesthouse Madam, the deviously competent Johanna also fails to fool implacably diligent Wolfram and she is taken.

However, once inside the castle her true plan comes into play…

The notional stars of the legend at last appear in the final story in this initial volume.

The legend of ‘Wilhelm and Walter’ had long inspired the savagely repressed peoples of what will one day be Switzerland and, after a meeting with the innkeeper, Tell senior and junior opt for the unprecedented option of scaling the mountain rather than passing through the Wolf’s Mouth.

Wolfram however is a coldly calculating custodian and has made provision to counter even the most hare-brained and impossible attempts to escape his jurisdiction…

This is a harsh and visceral saga best enjoyed by older readers, and there’s a powerful aura of woodblock-etching (even a feeling of Albrecht Dürer) to the stark, uncompromising illustration that perfectly compliments the daunting milieu, adamantine scenery and cruelly brutal episodes in which assorted freedom fighters of “the Eternal Alliance” repeatedly try and fail to pass through the fortress gates and fool the cruelly beautiful sadistic angel in command.

However, with the mystery of the lovely libertine innkeeper to tease things along, this book feels more like prologue than main event and I for one can’t wait to see what comes next. After all, even if we know our eventual destination, it’s the journey that really matters…

Wolfsmund is printed in the ‘read-from-back-to-front’ manga format.
© 2010 Mitsuhisa Kuji. All rights reserved.

Usagi Yojimbo Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy


By Stan Sakai (Fantagraphics)
ISBN: 978-1-56097-063-7

Usagi Yojimbo (literally “rabbit bodyguard”) premiered as a background character in Stan Sakai’s anthropomorphic comedy The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper before indomitably carving his own unique path to graphic glory.

Sakai was born in 1953 in Kyoto, Japan before the family moved to Hawaii two years later. After graduating the University of Hawaii, with a BA in Fine Arts, he pursued further studies at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design in California and started in comics as a letterer, most famously for the inimitable Groo the Wanderer.

Eventually the cartoonist within resurfaced: blending his storytelling drive with a love of Japanese history and legend and hearty interest in the filmic works of Akira Kurosawa and his peers, into one of the most enticing and impressive fantasy sagas of all time.

And it’s still more educational, informative and authentic than any dozen Samurai sagas you can name…

The intoxicating period epic is set in a world of sentient animals (with a few unobtrusive human characters scattered about) but scrupulously mirrors the Edo Period of Feudal Japan – the early 17th century by our reckoning, simultaneously sampling classic contemporary cultural icons from sources as varied as Lone Wolf and Cub, Zatoichi and even Godzilla, whilst specifically recounting the life of Miyamoto Usagi, a peripatetic masterless Samurai, eking out an honourable living as a Yojimbo (bodyguard-for-hire).

As such, his fate is to be drawn constantly into a plethora of incredible situations.

And yes, he’s a rabbit – brave, noble, sentimental, gentle, artistic, empathetic, long-suffering, conscientious and devoted to the tenets of Bushido, the heroic everyman bunny simply cannot turn down any request for help or ignore the slightest evidence of injustice…

This fabulous fourth black and white blockbuster gathers tales which originally appeared in Fantagraphics’ Usagi Yojimbo volume 1, #13-18 from 1988-1991, and temporarily sacrifices short stories and vignettes for another grand multi-chapter saga of blood and steel and cloak and dagger.

The drama begins after an illuminating Introduction from the legendary multi-media imagineer Alejandro Jodorowsky before the epic and slowly-brewing Dragon Bellows Conspiracy flares into fulgent fury in a grandiose epic where weather and environment are as much major players as the wide cast of regulars brought together by fate and a brewing tempest…

In recent days young Lord Noriyuki – new and still politically insecure leader of the prestigious Geishu Clan – had been targeted by various schemes to destabilise his position, and in ‘The Clouds Gather’ his devoted bodyguard Tomoe Ame is despatched to make diplomatic overtures and undertake covert inquiries at the castle of neighbouring Lord Tamakuro, an elder noble of undisclosed loyalties.

What she finds is an abomination: Tamakuro is stockpiling Teppo – forbidden western matchlock muskets and black powder weapons…

When she is discovered, her loyal entourage sacrifice themselves, allowing Tomoe time to escape and alert Noriyuki, but in her pell-mell flight she is relentlessly pursued…

Elsewhere, blind outlaw swords-pig Zato-Ino is still searching for peace and finding nothing but mercenaries and thugs hungry for the price on his head, with fate inevitably drawing him closer to a clash with money-mad bounty-hunter Gennosuké.

As the rains begin to fall, a wandering long-eared Ronin is forced off the road by a party of Samurai dragging the captured Tomoe towards the fortress of Lord Tamakuro…

The players begin to converge in ‘The Winds Howl’ when sinister imperial plotter Lord Hebi despatches Neko ninja chief Shingen to take command of an operation already underway in Tamakuro’s lands.

That paranoid rebel is keenly aware of official eyes upon him. Hurrying after Tomoe, Usagi wanders into a village laid waste by Tamakuro’s forces and finds himself blamed by Shingen for the slaughter of the inhabitants – every one an undercover Neko…

Barely surviving a savage protracted duel with the ninja chief, the weary Yojimbo at last reaches the gates of Tamakuro’s citadel in ‘Downpour’ and defeats many of the rebel warlord’s warriors to win an officer’s post in his new, musket-equipped army.

Even as, in the sodden lands beyond the gates, Gen closes in on Ino, within the fortress Usagi rashly breaks the brutally abused Tomoe free and the pair flee into the tumultuous night with hordes of troops hard on their heels.

At least that’s what the pursuing soldiers believe. In truth the Ronin has fled alone to draw the rebels away and warn Lord Noriyuki, but his rash ride brings him crashing right into another clash with the vengeance-crazed Shingen…

Awakening from horrific nightmares to ‘Thunder and Lightning’, Usagi realises that the ninja has been ministering to the rabbit’s many wounds. Shingen has realised the truth and now wants to work together to destroy Tamakuro and to that end has marshalled more Neko to attack the fortress.

Tamakuro, meanwhile, is restless. His plans have come undone and he has just learned that the diabolical Tomoe is hiding somewhere in his house, waiting for the right moment to strike…

As Usagi and the ninjas move on the castle, the Ronin finds an old friend on the road. Spot is a Tokagé lizard (ubiquitous, omnivorous reptiles that populate this world, replacing scavenger species like rats, cats and dogs in the fictitious ecosystem) and was once his faithful companion in his wanderings.

However the pet long ago switched his devotion to Blind Ino. If Spot is here, the blood-spilling porcine brigand – whose incredible olfactory sense more than compensates for his useless eyes – cannot be far away…

He isn’t – but Usagi finds him engaged in a furious fight to the death with Gennosuké under skies ablaze with electric fire and shattered by booming clamour…

Grimly determined, the rabbit convinces both of them to join his band in an assault on the castle in ‘The Heart of the Storm’ even as many miles distant a Neko ninja infiltrates Noriyuki’s private chambers with a message from Usagi.

Her deed done, she vanishes, leaving the Boy Lord to rouse the families loyal to the Shogun. It is not the last time we shall see the beautiful, deadly sister of Shingen…

By the time dawn breaks, however, it is all over and the ferocious bloodletting has ended with the deaths of many comrades and valiant souls as well as the explosive destruction of all Tamakuro’s dreams…

With the grand design concluded, the Dragon Bellows Conspiracy wraps up with two gentler episodes as, in ‘Storm Clouds Part’, Noriyuki formally offers the wandering Yojimbo the friendship of the Geishu Clan, whilst rough-handed Gen resumes his far more fraternal rivalry with Usagi.

Then ‘The Fate of the Blind Swordspig’ reveals one secret the bounty hunter refused to share with even his greatest friend as, far away, another major player is plagued with a tantalising, impossible choice…

Despite changing publishers a few times, Usagi Yojimbo has been in continuous publication since 1987, resulting in dozens of graphic novel collections and books to date. He has guest-starred in many other series and even nearly made it into his own TV show – there’s still time yet, and fashions can revive as quickly as they die out…

As well as generating a horde of high-end collectibles, art prints, computer games and RPGs, a spin-off sci-fi series and lots of toys to promote popularity, Sakai and his creation have deservedly won numerous awards both within the Comics community and amongst the greater reading public.

Fast-paced yet lyrical, funny and scary, always moving, ferociously thrilling and simply bursting with veracity and verve, Usagi Yojimbo is a cartoon masterpiece of irresistible appeal that will delight devotees and make converts of the most hardened hater of “funny animal” stories and comics.
Text and illustrations © 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 Stan Sakai. Usagi Yojimbo is ® Stan Sakai. Book editions © 1990, 1991, 1998 Fantagraphics Books. All rights reserved.