A portrait of Stan Sakai illustrator Eric Muller donated for Comic Art Professional Society's upcoming auction for Stan & Sharon Sakai. Measures 8" x 10" created in pen and ink.

A portrait of Stan Sakai illustrator Eric Muller donated for Comic Art Professional Society’s upcoming auction for Stan & Sharon Sakai. Measures 8″ x 10″ created in pen and ink.

by Hannah Carter, contributing writer

Today is Stan Sakai’s birthday. The 61 year-old comic book artist was born in Kyoto, Japan in 1953. Sakai got his start lettering comics by other artists (Groo the Wanderer by Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier, for example) but he has been illustrating and writing his own comics since 1984, when the characters in his series The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy first appeared in Albedo #1. He is best-known for his series Usagi Yojimbo, which chronicles the life and travels of a rabbit samurai named Miyamoto Usagi.

The series is set in late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Japan, with the exception of the spin-off series Space Usagi (a futuristic space adventure that was featured in three mini-series consisting of three issues each). Miyamoto Usagi is a ronin, a samurai without a master, which means he is constantly moving from town to town and encountering various objects and creatures from Japanese lore. In 2011, he made it into IGN Entertainment’s top 100 comic book heroes. Usagi has been featured in his own full comic volumes since 1987 and Sakai continues to write and illustrate new volumes.

Sakai is currently raising money to help with the costs of his wife’s medical care by collecting donated artwork to sell. Anyone who wants to contribute to the fund can send in original art to be auctioned off, purchase art that is being auctioned off, or donate money directly through Paypal.

Despite his wife’s weakened state of health Sakai finds joy in simple things, such as making bread and muffins out of the fresh blueberries he finds on sale at his local market. Undoubtedly, he will be surrounded by friends and family and delicious food today.

Happy birthday, Stan Sakai, and many more to come!

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