Read a BOOK!
Hey Vomiteers! Today’s book is very special to me.  It’s “Shades of Death (Usagi Yojimbo: Book 8)” By Stan Sakai

Those who know me know that one of my biggest obsessions are Samurai.  I love reading books about it, playing games with them, drawing pictures of Oni killing badasses and watching movies with them.  When I finally found this book series I have been trying to read them all.  I haven’t been able to find them all in order but out of the first 15 I think I read 13 of them.  This is the 8th book in the series and like all the other books before and after it.  It’s truly amazing.

The biggest surprise opening this book was finding a crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Sakai is friends with the creators, and this is pretty common on both sides).  Even with some loose looking linework Sakai captures the turtles and their personalities in a dark and gritty way.  The details in the work are inspiring.  I don’t know how he puts so much time into robes and textures but it helps make the world believable.

He also tells some brilliant stories which is really where he shines.  It’s not easy to relate to a human sized rabbit that weilds a sowrd and kills bandits, but with each page Usagi’s heroics and demeanor really carve out a wonderful story.  You can tell from the image above he just slayed five bandits and there isn’t a tear on his kimono and he doesn’t even look exhausted.  He’s been through quite a few scrapes and has barely survived quite a few times but it’s great to see a hero who can be underestimated most of the time but always comes through no matter what.

This book is filled with a growing cast of characters and each volume works well alone and part of the series.  There is an overarching story in the books, but there are also some great one-shot stories.  When I start buying comic books again I’m going to read the newer stuff.  Sakai’s work is inspiring to say the least.