Robert Kassebaum

The Usagi Yojimbo Experience

It is the Year of the Rabbit -- 1999. The place is the San Diego Comic Convention, celebrating its 30th anniversary. It is a warm Friday night and I am waiting in line for the Eisner Awards. You Stan, with your family, walk down the hall and pass by me. I call out and wish to you luck. You look and wave back as you enter the room. You are nominated for three Eisners and came away with one: Best Serialized Story. Saturday I come to your booth and get you to sign the program. I congratulate you and we chat about last night. I am also there for another reason: The UYD Event. Yet this gathering different than those in the past, it is the 15th anniversary of Usagi Yojimbo -- a milestone for the comic series. Dojo members from far and wide come to celebrate the tales of the Ronin Rabbit. We talk, take pictures, and hug. It is a great turn out -- a true Usagi Yojimbo Experience.
Now, ten years after, the 25
th anniversary is here and I feel Matt Brady put it best in the article he wrote about you and the comic for issue #1167 of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, “This rabbit bodyguard keeps on going… and going… and going.” And why not, Usagi Yojimbo keeps evolving -- both in writing and art -- with each issue. So what can one say but thank you. Yes, thank you Stan, for putting up with me these past 25 at the SDCC. I know I can be overwhelming at times. Thank you for making me feel like family. I always enjoy talking to Sharon at each convention and catching up on the past year. And thank you for your creation, Usagi Yojimbo. It is still one of the best comics being published today. So yes, happy 25th anniversary Stan -- another milestone to be sure.
While the Usagi Yojimbo Experience keeps getting better with each issue, the celebration of anniversaries will come and go. Each will be looked forward to and be as important as the last. I believe the next big event, Stan, is just around the corner. Just think, in the year 2034, it will be the 50
th anniversary of Usagi Yojimbo -- a stone throw away. I will be 74 years young and you Stan, an energetic 81, definitely a time for the UYD to gather and party like it is 1999. And I hope the Dojo puts another gift like this one together for you. I think I know what to write because history often repeats itself. Maybe it will start a little like this: It is the Year of the Ox -- 2009. The place is the Comic-Con International: San Diego, celebrating its 40th anniversary…

--Robert Kassebaum