is a comic book series created by Stan Sakai in 1987.
Set primarily at the beginning of Edo period of Japan (early 17th century), with anthropomorphic animals replacing humans, it features a rabbit ronin, Miyamoto Usagi, who is partially based on the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Usagi wanders the land on a musha shugyo (warrior's pilgrimage) occasionally selling his services as a bodyguard. Usagi Yojimbo is heavily influenced by Japanese cinema and has included references to the work of Akira Kurosawa (the title of the series is derived from Kurosawa's 1960 film Yojimbo) and to icons of popular Japanese cinema such as Lone Wolf and Cub, Zatoichi, and Godzilla. The series is also influenced somewhat by Groo the Wanderer by Sergio Aragonés (Sakai is the letterer for that series), but the overall tone of Usagi Yojimbo is typically less comedic.
The books consist of short stories, and occasionally novel-length stories, with underlying larger plot-lines which culminate in long extended story lines. The stories include many references to Japanese history and Japanese folklore, and sometimes include mythical creatures. The architecture, clothes, weapons, and other objects are drawn with a faithfulness to the period's style. There are often stories whose purpose is to illustrate various elements of Japanese arts and crafts, such as the fashioning of kite, sword, and pottery. Those efforts have been successful enough for the series to be awarded a Parents' Choice Award in 1990 for its educational value through Stan's "skillful weaving of facts and legends into his work." The series also follows the standard traditional Japanese naming convention for all featured characters: their family name followed by their given name. Usagi was named the thirty-first greatest comic book character by Empire Magazine.
Originally, Usagi and other characters in the series were going to be human in stories explicitly modeled after the life of Miyamoto Musashi. However when Sakai was idly doodling, he drew rabbit ears tied in a topknot on his proposed hero and was inspired by the distinctive image it gave him. Usagi was first conceived as a supporting character in The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy, a brief series that predates Usagi Yojimbo. Sakai quickly expanded on the idea and his story world quickly took on an anthropomorphized cartoonish nature which created a fantasy setting he decided suited his dramatic needs well with a unique look he thought could attract readers.
Read more about Usagi Yojimbo at Wikipedia ...
Official Site: Stan Sakai and Usagi Studios
Links: Wikipedia Entry Character Info Dark Horse Comics