When Lone Wolf and Cub was first released in Japan in 1970, it became wildly popular (some 8 million copies were sold in Japan) for its powerful, epic samurai story and its stark and gruesome depiction of violence during Tokugawa era Japan.
Lone Wolf and Cub is one of most highly regarded manga due to its epic scope, detailed historical accuracy, masterful artwork and nostalgic recollection of the bushido ethos. The story spans 28 volumes of manga, with over 300 pages each (totaling over 8,700 pages in all). Many of the frames of the series are hauntingly beautiful depictions of nature, historical locations in Japan and traditional activities done in the classical ukiyo-e style.
Lone Wolf and Cub was initially released in North America in a translated English edition by First Comics in 1987, as a series of monthly, comic-book-sized, square-bound prestige-format black-and-white comics containing between 64 and 128 pages, with covers by Frank Miller, and later by Bill Sienkiewicz, Matt Wagner, Mike Ploog, and Ray Lago. Sales were initially strong, but fell sharply as the company went into a general decline. First Comics shut down in 1991 without completing the series, publishing less than a third of the total series in 45 prestige-format issues.
Starting in September 2000, Dark Horse Comics began to release the full series in 28 smaller-sized trade paperback volumes, similar to the volumes published in Japan, completing the series with the 28th volume in December 2002. Dark Horse reused all of Miller’s covers from the First Comics edition, as well as several done by Sienkiewicz, and commissioned Wagner, Guy Davis, and Vince Locke to produce new covers for several volumes of the collections. In October 2012, Dark Horse completed the release of all 28 volumes in digital format, as part of their “Dark Horse Digital” online service.