Jeff(rey Alan) (Jeff Allen Smith) Smith (1960–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1960, in McKees Rock, PA; Education: Attended Ohio State University.
Agent—Cartoon Books, P.O. Box 16973, Columbus, OH 43216.
Cartoon Books, Columbus, OH, cartoonist and publisher of Bone comic books. Character Builders (animation studio), co-founder, producer, and director.
Eight Eisner awards for best humor publication, best continuing series, best writer/artist or cartoonist, and best serialized story, 1993–95; Genie Award for best continuing series, 1994; four Harvey awards for best cartoonist, best graphic album, and special award for humor, 1994–95; Prix Vienne (Germany) for best book, 1995; Comic Speedline awards for best newcomer and best graphic novel (Germany), 1995; Alph-Art Award for best comic originally written in a foreign language (France), 1996; award for best comic-book artist, National Cartoonist Society, 1996, 1997.
The Complete Bone Adventures, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 1993.
Bone, Volume One: Out from Boneville, Cartoon Books, 1995, colorized version, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
Bone, Volume Two: The Great Cow Race, Cartoon Books, 1996.
Bone, Volume Three: Eyes of the Storm, Cartoon Books, 1996.
Bone Reader, Cartoon Books, 1996.
Bone, Volume Four: The Dragonslayer, Cartoon Books, 1997.
Bone: Volume Five: Roch Jaw Master of the Eastern Border, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 1998.
Bone, Volume Six: Old Man's Cave, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 1999.
(Illustrator, with Stan Sakai) Tom Sniegoski, Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero [and] Riblet, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2000.
Bone, Volume Seven: Ghost Circles, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2002.
Bone, Volume Eight: Treasure Hunters, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2002.
Bone, Volume Nine: Crown of Horns, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2004.
Bone: One Volume Edition, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2004.
The "Bone" graphic-novel series has been translated into fifteen languages.
Work in Progress
A reworking of the "Captain Marvel" comic from the 1940s.
Cartoonist Jeff Smith is the creator of the popular "Bone" comic series, a fifty-five-issue epic that has also been released in graphic-novel-format in nine volumes and, when published in 2004 as Bone: One-Volume Edi-tion, was a hefty tome of over 1,300 pages. Winning over a dozen major awards, including several Eisners and Harveys, the series has become, as Steve Ratieri noted in Library Journal, "one of the most widely acclaimed graphic novel series in the United States," particularly among teen readers.
A fan of comic strips such as "Peanuts," "Uncle Scrooge" and Walt Kelly's "Pogo," as a child, Smith once admitted to Something about the Author (SATA) that he wished "that my childhood heroes would go out on an adventure that had actual danger in it … or an adventure that would have consequences that might actually alter their existence." He invented the saga's three main characters when he was in kindergarten: Fone Bone, a fan of Moby Dick; Phoney Bone, who is always plotting something; and Smiley Bone, who adopts a relaxed, "What, Me Worry?" attitude toward life. With the "Bone" saga, which has won its author several awards and been compared to epic works such as Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series and even J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Smith was able to fulfil his own wish, albeit over three decades later.
"'Bone' is about growing up and leaving home for the first time," Smith explained of the series, which he introduced in the comic books collected in 1991's Out from Boneville. "The story is about what happens when the Bone cousins leave Boneville … this sheltered little world they grew up in and then go out into this wilder, outside world." In the series, four-fingered cousins Fone, Phoney, and Smiley undertake the classic journey to enlightenment; they find themselves in a secret valley right out of a classic fairy tale. Spending a year in this new place, the cousins meet up with everything from dragons and talking bugs to vicious Rat Creatures and the evil Hooded One, the last two bent on destruction. Deciding to come to the aid of the goodhearted residents of the valley town of Atheia, they join with Gran'ma Ben, the valley kingdom's queen, and stand with the city against the coming invasion of evil.
Smith first drafted "Bone" as a serial comic strip for Ohio State University's student newspaper, the Lantern. Although his work drew the attention of national syndicates, Smith opted to start his own animation studio, Cartoon Books, and produce "Bone" in comic-book format himself. Following Smith's edition, the series was reissued by Scholastic, Inc., in a colorized version.
Critical response to Smith's efforts has been favorable. Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Katharine L. Kan, reviewing Bone, Volume Two: The Great Cow Race, asserted: "This is one for the whole family to enjoy, full of raucous humor, great dialogue and marvelously twisted plotting." Reviewing Bone, Volume One: Out from Boneville, Gordon Flagg noted in Booklist that Smith is "a major talent as skilled as the old masters," adding: "Such gentle, all-ages humor as Bone's has all but disappeared; consequently, Smith's neo-traditionalism seems fresher than anything else the com-ics medium offers today." In Publishers Weekly a critic attempted to describe the series as a whole, calling "Bone" "something like a Chuck Jones version of The Lord of the Rings; hilarious and action-packed, but rarely losing track of its darker subtext about power and evil." The "dark, witty, mysterious, and exciting" saga benefits from its creator's talents, according to Scott la Counte, who wrote in School Library Journal that the series' "animation and fresh story line put Smith in a league of his own." Flagg noted that "Ongoing series as beautifully sustained as "Bone" are rare in the comics industry," while School Library Journal critic Douglas P. Davey dubbed "Bone" "the greatest story Disney never told."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 1995, Gordon Flagg, review of Bone, Volume One: Out from Boneville, p. 1922; July, 1996; September 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Crown of Thorns; October 15, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Bone: One-Volume Edition, p. 396.
Entertainment Weekly, September 24, 2004, Rachel Lovinger, review of Bone, p. 117.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Treasure Hunters, p. 101; November 1, 2004, Steve Ratieri, review of Bone, p. 67.
Publishers Weekly, March 17, 2003, p. 28; October 18, 2004, Heidi Macdonald, interview with Smith; February 7, 2005, review of Out from Boneville, p. 44.
School Library Journal, October, 2003, p. 31; December, 2003, Douglas P. Davey, review of Out from Boneville; December, 2004, Steve Weiner, "Epic Proportions," p. 25; May, 2005, Scott La Counte, review of Out from Boneville, p. l53.
Time, October 11, 2004, Andrew Arnold, "A Comic That's Good to the Bone," p. 103.
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