Creating Comics: Panel Borders – Defensive Animals, with Leomi Sadler and Stan Sakai

In the second of two programmes looking at anthropomorphic comics, Alex Fitch talks to a pair of comic creators – Leomi Sadler and Stan Sakai – about their titles featuring combative animal characters, in the latest episode of Panel Borders.

Leomi Sadler discusses their strips about insects, gargoyles, bacteria and other creatures that are featured in a new collection – Tummy Bugs – published by Breakdown Press.

Art by Leomi Sadler​
Art by Leomi Sadler​

The stories inside Tummy Bugs are by turn absurd, surreal and funny. Short luridly coloured vignettes transport the reader into a deeply individual landscape, populated by strange creatures, where the line between fantasy, reality and science fiction is constantly shifting.

Leomi Sadler has been a cult figure in the alternative comics scene for over a decade, running the critically acclaimed publisher Famicon Express. Sadler’s commercial illustration work has seen them collaborate with Givenchy, Nike and Vice Magazine as their artistic tendrils continue to extend beyond comics and into the worlds of fashion and contemporary art.

Sadler’s comics work has previously only seen the light of day in glimpses, as small print runs of self-published zines and in prestigious anthologies like Kramer’s Ergot or Lagon Revue. With Tummy Bugs, Breakdown Press aims to bring Sadler’s unique vision to its widest audience yet.

When Breakdown Press approached her to create a collection of her comics, Sadler decided to tackle it in a way that felt right to her.

“I couldn’t help but feel like if I made a big compendium of everything I’d ever done, it would be intensely incoherent, and would also feel like I had died,” Sadler told Creative Review recently. “So instead we decided to do a library of books, each one centred around a separate channel of my output.”

Stan Sakai at the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. Image: LICAF

Also, in an interview recorded at the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival, veteran cartoonist Stan Sakai chats about his long running comic Usagi Yojimbo, which chronicles the adventures of a samurai rabbit…

Award-winning comic creator Stan Sakai was born in Kyoto, Japan, grew up in Hawaii, and now lives in Southern California. He received a Fine Arts degree from the University of Hawaii, and did further studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai

His creation, Usagi Yojimbo, is the story of a samurai rabbit living in a feudal Japan populated by anthropomorphic animals. Since Usagi first appeared in Albedo Comics #2 in 1984, he has been on television as a guest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, on clothing, toys, in comic books, games, and in a series of trade paperback collections. His books have been translated into ten languages, including Polish and Croatian. In 1991, Stan also created Space Usagi, the adventures of a descendant of the original Usagi, dealing with the samurai in a futuristic setting.

Last year, Netflix announced it had ordered the animated series Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, based on Usagi Yojimbo, and that Sakai would serve as executive producer of the CGI series, along with Gaumont, Dark Horse Entertainment and Atomic Monster.

• Panel Borders: Defensive Animals airs at 5.30pm, Wednesday 7th April 2021, repeated 2.30am Friday 9th April, Resonance 104.4 FM and DAB (London) / broadcast streamed at | extended podcast after broadcast at


Leomi Sadler is online at | Instagram | Twitter

More about Tummy Bugs here in the Breakdown Press web site

• Stan Sakai is online at

• Find out more about Usagi Yojimbo at

• Usagi Yojimbo collections on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Usagi Yojimbo © Stan Sakai

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