In the world of
WITH JEFF SMITH
ORIGINALLY FEATURED IN 1996- by Andrew Goletz
Smithís story should be an inspiration to us all. As a child, Jeff
created the Bone character during ordinary doodle sessions. Years later,
the images of these creatures stuck with him, and when it came time to
develop a cartoon strip, his characters were already there. From the
strip, Jeff took Bone to self publishing, where he created Cartoon Books
and published Bone, rather successfully, on a bi-monthly schedule.
Eventually, the masses took notice of the work and the book became an
independent cult hit, even sometimes rivaling the be all and end all of
the self publishing world, Cerebus. With the industry in a state of
uncertainty. Jeff had a golden opportunity to ensure Boneís continued
safety and joined Image comics, making the entire industry take note.
AG: How did you come up with the idea for Bone?
JS: I first
created these characters when I was a kid. I was always a big animation
freak, and I also loved mythology and stuff like that. Iím a big Tolkien
fan, and I loved The Lord of the Rings. I wanted to somehow join the two
worlds together, so I took all of these ideas and created this
amalgamation of different genres and styles. When I got to college and
wanted to do a newspaper strip, I remembered that I had these characters
that I created as a kid that had remained with me for so long.
AG: What appealed to you about the idea and getting
AG: Who are your inspirations?
AG: I heard you worked in an animation studio?
AG: Why did you leave?
JS: I sold
my share to the other partners in 1992, when Bone really started taking
off. The company was just entering the feature film market when I left. We
did Rover Dangerfield and Ferngully, and now are at work on Space Jam.
AG: Any desire to do Bone: The Animated Movie?
JS: Yes. I
would like to do a movie with the characters, but I wouldnít want to
work on the animation myself. Iím working on a screenplay for it now.
AG: What do you think about the state of the comic industry now?
whole industry is in a state of flux. Self publishing is better now than
when I entered it. There is now a larger accepting of self publishing, and
I think it is easier now than ever before to get a book published. The
industry as a whole used to operate like this giant bubble economy and the
entire mess with the Speculation Boom was unreal, and then it finally
imploded, causing the mess and confusion we have now.
AG: What prompted you to take Bone to Image?
AG: So it wasnít the selling out that people claimed?
JS: I think
a lot of the confusion comes from the fact that not everyone totally
understands the concept of Image and how they operate. And no one knew
what the consequences were of me going to them. I still self publish all
of the related items like posters and trade paperbacks and I still control
Cartoon Books and Bone.
AG: Would you ever work for Marvel or DC or do work
for hire for a company?
AG: A lot of creators have their ideas completely planned out. Do you know how Bone will resolve itself? How many issues it will last, etc?
JS: I have
it set up basically as three acts. I know what each act is about, but by
the time I get around to doing them, they may turn out to be longer or
shorter than I intended. I perceive that it will last around 60 issues,
but that can, and probably will change.
I think Bone is different from what Dave Sim is doing and what Neil
Gaiman is doing in the sense that Cerebus is a characterís life in
review and Sandman is an episodic with series that will tie together to
form an entire story. Bone is a single story that starts and goes right to
AG: And life after Bone?
JS: I know
what I want to do for my next project and Iím looking forward to working
on it, but Iím very happy with what Iím doing now, and Iím not ready
to discuss that next project yet.
Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz