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Panel: Stan Sakai

It's Usagi Yojimbo's 20th anniversary so Stan Sakai had a panel. I've uploaded small gallery of photos, and you can read on to see my outline notes of his talk.

Stan Sakai Comic-Con 2004 Panel Gallery (11 Photos)

Why a rabbit? Wanted to base a series on Musashi Miyamoto. In one of his drawings he drew Musashi as a rabbit and loved it, so he went with it.

When Mirage was going under (with prior warning), Sakai sent out seven requests for other companies to pick up the series, eleven replies came back.

For one of his awards he had to wear a tuxedo. Ended up getting his tuxedo from a guy in XXX who was shot (squib) in the chest.

His daughter Hanna (13 years-old) is now inking for him.

Does a lot of research for his stories (within reason). Sometimes his stories will develop over the course of years of research.

3rd generation Japanese American.

For the kite story he had drawn a picture of a kit with a rabbit holding on, flying above the ground. This sketch inspired the story and he did a bunch of research, including finding out how gamblers cheated back then.

Where do his ideas come from? "I don't know." * one idea came from a story about a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji where people get lost or go to commit suicide * his biggest source of ideas is his editor, Diana Schultz, who gives him inspiration in the form of deadlines. Diana: "[Sakai] never misses a deadline." Sakai is terrified of deadlines.

He has a classical education in drawing. He could draw more realistic but doesn't. He thought having rabbits alongside humans was weird, so we went (mostly) with animals. Humans are few and far between. Regrets depicting Lord Hikiji as a human, only because it would be cooler to not even show him ever.

Talked about his idea for Nealson Groundthumper for college days. Was inspired by Lord of the Rings. Character called Herme. Some cross-over with Usagi. Went on about how great the story was going to be. "You would have loved. Anyway, that story is never going to happen."

How he works: 1. Diana threatens him with a deadline 2. Writes down ideas, dialogue, and action 3. Does thumbnails. Starts drawing in front of us the story of "Diana's Day." Adds the script on the side of the thumbs. 4. Pencils 5. Inks 6. Xeroxes/scans work to send to colorist (if necessary). Used to physically color. Tom new all the different color codes. 7. 4-color separation for color pages. Showed us an example of the 4-color printing for one of the covers.

Mistakes: * Usagi's little finger on the sword. Thought it's cute, though it's wrong. * In one story had a game of Go. What Sakai had grown up playing thinking was Go was actually Go-moku (same board, pieces). Corrected it in the trades after several letters.

2176 dots on Usagi's kimono on an example cover he showed us. He keeps track of the number of dots on the top of the page. Usually does dots while watching TV.

Animated Usagi: * Commodore 64. Has to atone for killing a peasant by committing seppuku. Little skulls when characters die. * Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: showed us an episode clip I now remember seeing when I was a kid with Usagi. * Space Usage for TV: needed toy sponsor, but Bucky O'Hare had failed so bad that the whole idea of any bunny in space was dead. Funny clip of Gen shooting at a Tokage * CGI Usagi: really bad pitch to Sakai to license Usagi. "He's a rabbit bodyguard." * New TMNT episodes * Big Brawl: playstation 2 game

Never had idea of what Usagi would sound like. Thought about Brooklyn accent, Japanese with subtitles, dubbing over in English.

Art of Usagi in November.

1 six-issue Space Usagi story left.

Story that introduces scientist with big robots into Usagi storyline.

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